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I have measured out my life in Doodle polls

You know that song? The one you really liked the first time you heard it? And even the fifth or fifteenth? But now your skin crawls when you hear it? That’s me and Doodle.

In the last three months I have filled out at least a dozen Doodle polls for various meetings outside my organization. I complete these polls at work, where my two-monitor setup means I can review my Outlook calendar while scrolling through a Doodle poll with dozens of date and time options. I don’t like to inflict Doodle polls on our library admin because she has her hands full enough, including managing my real calendar.

I have largely given up on earmarking dates on my calendar for these polls, and I just wait for the inevitable scheduling conflicts that come up. Some of these polls have so many options I would have absolutely no time left on my calendar for work meetings, many of which need to be made on fairly short notice. Not only that, I gird my loins for the inevitable “we can’t find a date, we’re Doodling again” messages that mean once again, I’m going to spend 15 minutes checking my calendar against a Doodle poll.

I understand the allure of Doodle; when I first “met” Doodle, I was in love. At last, a way to pick meeting dates without long, painful email threads! But we’re now deep into the Tragedy of the Doodle Commons, with no relief in sight.

Here are some Doodle ideas–you may have your own to toss in.

First, when possible, before Doodling, I ask for blackout dates. That narrows the available date/time combos and helps reduce the “we gotta Doodle again” scenarios.

Second, if your poll requires more than a little right-scrolling, reconsider how many options you’re providing. A poll with 40 options might as well be asking me to block out April. And I can’t do that.

Third, I have taken exactly one poll where the pollster chose to suppress other people’s responses, and I hope to never see that again. There is a whole gaming side to Doodling in which early respondents get to drive the dates that are selected, and suppressing other’s responses eliminates that capability. Plus I want to know who has and hasn’t responded, and yes, I may further game things when I have that information.

Also, if you don’t have to Doodle, just say no.

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