Dot voting

Dot voting

Dot voting, also known as dotmocracy, allows individual participants to place sticky dots onto a range of options in order to vote on, or prioritise, ideas, comments or actions.

  • Time to do: can be done within a couple of minutes, depending on the number and complexity of the options
  • Staff: at least one facilitator to explain the rules and keep an eye on the voting process to ensure it is fair
  • Cost: £
  • Equipment: stickers or pens, paper or sticky notes to display the options, clear wall or table space
  • small groups
  • large groups
  • face-to-face

How to do it

  • Write up the options under consideration and display them in an accessible way, such as by using sticky notes on a wall or on flipcharts.
  • Give each participant a set number of stickers and ask them to stick them next to their preferred option(s).
  • The technique can be adapted in many ways, including using different coloured stickers to indicate different values (e.g. positive/negative) or to identify different types of participants. Participants can also rank their votes by using stickers with “1”, “2”, “3” and so on written on them in order to calculate a weighted vote.
  • If resources are limited, participants could use pens to tick or otherwise mark their preferred option – although it is harder to keep track of how many times each individual has voted using this method.

Advantages

  • Easy to set up and use
  • Engaging for participants
  • Low cost
  • Can be used with other tools (e.g. to vote on most popular ideas generated in a Focus Group, or actions identified in an After Action Review)
  • Provides a quantifiable and visible result

Challenges

  • Can suffer from the bandwagon effect, with people placing their dots where the majority of people have already voted.
  • There can be choice overload if there are too many options; similar options should be grouped together beforehand if possible.
  • No scope for explaining why a particular option has been chosen
Last Updated: 12 March 2020
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