Purpose: Define what an "Oustervote" is.

[Someone want to summarize what John Ousterhout meant by this term?]

Having seen and participated in enough oustervotes to start using the term myself, I think I can take a stab.

It just means "unscientific audience poll". Defining hallmarks of an 'oustervote' are:

  • it's a simple multiple choice, single-answer question, you answer by raising hands
  • you always include a catch-all choice so that everyone votes, even if it's "undecided" or "other"
  • you summarize the results in front of the audience right after the last choice
  • it's almost always used a piece of data to make a comment or plan a course of action right there ("So the majority of users still use emacs" or "So it's pretty clear even if we had this feature, less than a third present would ever touch it", etc.

(It's also often shamelessly rigged - John would make a running gag of overlooking raised hands, and so on. Of course, this was often when his mind was already made up on an issue where broad consensus was unlikely, rather than when he was actually trying to get information from the audience.)

Category Community