Tuesday, September 9, 2014 - 22:43

"Dotmocracy" is now "idea rating sheets"As of today, September 9, 2014, I am renaming my Dotmocracy sheets as “idea rating sheets”.  I’m making this change so that the idea rating technique will no longer be confused with (sticker) dot voting, which has been a point of frustration since I first created Dotmocracy sheets over 10 years ago (see story below).

As part of this name change I have created a new website: IdeaRatingSheets.org

It has renamed versions of the simple instructions, the facilitator’s handbook, and of course, the idea rating sheets themselves. I'll be adding lots more useful resources to the site in the near future.


What’s the big difference between dot voting and idea rating sheets?

In short, dot voting is like a multiple choice survey with only one question. The options you can vote on are restricted and the results are overly simplistic and often unreliable.

Idea rating is more like collaborative ‘crowdsourcing’ software with features that allow for unlimited ideas to be proposed, rated and commented on. Results can be nuanced and are validated with signatures.

For a great comparison, view the slide show:  dot voting vs. idea rating sheets


Why the name change?  Here’s the long story...

Original sticker dotmocracy sheets from Karma Co-op, 2004-05The original idea rating sheet format, which I created in 2004 (for use in Karma Food Co-op in Toronto) used dot stickers on a rating scale. I considered it as a modest upgrade on the traditional sticker dot-voting technique, which I heard some experienced facilitators describe as “dot-mocracy”. I liked the name, and decided to call my forms “Dotmocracy Sheets”.   

With the publication of my first version of the Dotmocracy Handbook in 2006, the sheets no longer used stickers, and included areas for signatures and commenting. With the handbook also came more formal rules and guidelines, helping the process to produce more reliable and useful results - significant advantages over sticker voting.

I arrogantly thought that I could persuade the world to adopt my definition of “Dotmocracy” and forget about sticker dot voting, which I tried to differentiate as “multi-voting”.    While I did have some success with most of Google search results for “dotmocracy” going to my Dotmocracy.org resources, as well as Wikipedia agreeing with me, the fact was there were still many people that would always consider “dotmocracy” to be voting with dot stickers.   

I always felt this confusion between dot-voting and my rating sheets was a drag on adoption of the sheets.  People would flip through my handbook and web pages and say “Dotmocracy, oh yeah I’ve done that for years” and never actually use the rating sheets.

In 2013, I conceded to the momentum of history and started a consultation process with my 3,700 Dotmocracy.org email list subscribers, asking what alternative names they preferred for the paper rating forms. Over 220 people participated (see results of surveys 1 & 2). After considering some 200 different name ideas and variations, we whittled them down and landed on “idea rating sheets” as the most widely acceptable name option.


I like “idea rating sheets” because it’s unique, descriptive, and easy to translate into other languages. It’s a benign term that works for all sorts of groups: from corporate to activists, elementary school to post doctorates, amateurs to professionals.  While it may not be as catchy as “Dotmocracy” or as nifty as “WEvaluate” “Participaper” “Crowdpinion” “CollaboRater” or other combination words that were considered, I do think it will stand up to the test of time.

My goal is to have idea rating sheets to become as common to see in meetings as flip-charts or sticky-notes, which also have pretty boring and utilitarian names.  In the end, it’s what you do with the tool, not what you call it.

Thank you, to the many folks who continue to use these sheets, whatever you call them. I look forward to seeing you at IdeaRatingSheets.org 




Jason Diceman



Tuesday, December 17, 2013 - 16:15

With the aim of eliminating confusion with sticker dot-voting, and to improve the adoption of Dotmocracy Sheets, I have decided a new name is needed (see background article).  

Over the past few months I have been discussing and surveying Dotmocracy users from around the world on what they feel are the key benefits of the tool and what new names they like and suggest (see survey results summary).

After reviewing almost 200 different name ideas, we are now at the final short list of 12 name options, and I’m hoping you would be willing to take a 3 minute survey to let us know which new names you like most.  

Survey now closed - view results summary (PDF)
Tuesday, December 17, 2013 - 15:27

Thank you to the 179 wonderful individuals who responded to my “A New Name for Dotmocracy Sheets” survey  in late November 2013. Below is a quick summary, with complete details attached as a PDF.

Who Participated

Respondents were a decent spread of ages from about 25 to 74, although those under 35 or over 65 were less represented than in the average English speaking population (e.g. U.K, Canada, USA).

About 90% of respondents had used Dotmocracy sheets, and of these users, a minority of 41% were professional facailitators.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013 - 10:17

I'm excited to share a newly created DOC format of the original Dotmocracy Sheet. This standard file can be opened in  Microsoft Word, OpenOffice.org and other popular word processors, making it easy to modify, such as changing some of the wording, adding elements or translating into your preferred language.

Download it from the newly created Library of Dotmocracy Sheets

If you have created a custom or translated  Dotmocracy Sheet, please send me a copy so we can share it this site too!

Saturday, June 8, 2013 - 23:28

Donnan M. Stoicovy, Lead Learner from Park Forest Elementary School in Pennsylvania, USA sent in this video and photos showing how her students used Dotmocracy sheets to help narrow down the Preamble, 8 Rights and 7 Responsibilities for their new school constitution. Jump to 4:30 in the video

It is inspiring to see young people defining their own institution's constitution.


Thursday, February 28, 2013 - 01:15

The 2012 Prize for Most Innovative Use of Dotmocracy goes to Martha Griffin in Dublin, Ireland.

Martha came up with a unique method that has the fun of voting with big smiley face stickers, and still the sophistication of rating ideas on a five point scale. Here is her story...

Martha works with the Gateway Mental Health Project, a community based member led initiative for people with self-experience of mental ill health.   The project aims to support the integration of members into the social, cultural, educational and commercial/working life of the community.

She has used Dotmocracy on multiple occasions with members to help decide which training courses and programs should be prioritized for funding applications.

Friday, January 11, 2013 - 22:29

Housing Collaborative Example Dotmocracy ResultHousing Collaborative Example Dotmocracy ResultThe 2012 Prize for Most Inspiring Use of Dotmocracy goes to Christine Galvin in Port Clinton, Ohio, USA.

Christine is a founding member of the Ottawa County Housing Collaborative, a public/private multi-agency partnership that encourages advocacy and education regarding housing needs. Their collaborators represent a wide range of important local organizations, including the government housing authority, planning commissions, schools, family services and charities such as Habitat for Humanity and the United Way.

She described how their group was was stuck in a failed strategic planning process for two or three years; in her words "spinning our wheels, and getting nowhere".

Tuesday, November 27, 2012 - 00:23
John Turton in Cambodia with StudentsJohn Turton in Cambodia with StudentsThe 2012 Prize for Most Frequent User of Dotmocracy Sheets goes to John Turton, a Pastor at St. Marks Uniting Church in Wellington, New Zealand.
John conservatively estimates he has used Dotmocracy sheets in over 40 different meetings since he first discovered the tool in 2009.
Sunday, May 20, 2012 - 14:21

Andy is a professor, who was researching "consensus decision-making" with his students. They learned about Dotmocracy and thought it was pretty cool. Thanks to Kathleen Huggard for posting this.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011 - 17:09

Dotting in progressUsing Dotmocracy Sheets and the step-by-step Dotmocracy process to recognize agreements in large group meetings can be very productive, but it doesn't always work out that way.

On more occasions then I'd like to count, I've seen plans for a Dotmocracy process get abandoned in favour of a more traditional meeting format, sometimes during the late stages of event planning or even  during the actual workshop.  Why does it happen and how can it be avoided?  Here are a few examples based on my experience...

Wednesday, January 5, 2011 - 10:49
Photo from a conference with participants passing Dotmocracy sheets on clipboardsBig events like a conference are such amazing opportunities to recognize important agreements among the many participants with shared interests, professional experience and related work.

Here are a few ideas of how you might use Dotmocracy sheets at your next conference:
Tuesday, December 7, 2010 - 10:48

UK event organizer and blogger, Julius Solaris, has included Dotmocracy as an example of the top 10 trends in event planning for 2011.  View his quick and insightful slide how on slideshare.net.


Sunday, May 2, 2010 - 00:40

[This book is no longe for sale.]

I am proud to announce the publishing of a new version of my Dotmocracy Handbook.  After three years in the making, version 2 is more than twice the length of my original handbook. It's filled with full colour photos, improved layout and much clearer and refined instructions based on years of challenging and inspiring Dotmocracy facilitation experience.


Thursday, November 5, 2009 - 15:27

Smiles while dottingI recently conducted two Dotmocracy sessions and took some great snap shots.  Check them out on flickr.com:

I'm currently working to finalize the Dotmocracy results of the BikeCampTO uncoference into an online database you can browse. See the database in action within the BikeCampTO case study page.
Saturday, April 11, 2009 - 13:32

A 1 1/2 minute video that shows the set-up of a Dotmocracy wall using hanging clipboards.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009 - 13:49

CV Harquail of AuthenticOrganizations.com blogs "Dotmocracy, a little example of a big change... it is a deceptively simple, easy way for a group of people to generate ideas and evaluate options. I especially like the way that this process helps us circumvent obstacles created by power dynamics and imbalances within groups of diverse participants."

Read the full article
Thursday, April 17, 2008 - 00:09

 Soon I plan to release a new version of the Dotmocracy Handbook and I need to know:

  • Have the Dotmocracy Sheets and instructions worked for you?

  • What worked well and how could the Handbook be improved?

Please contact me with your stories and suggestions. I would especially love to see photos of groups using the Dotmocracy Sheets.

You are also invited to post comments directly on pages of this site, join and start a conversation on the Dotmocracy Facilitators Google group or submit a short case study

If you are really savvy, you could post pictures from your Dotmocracy session on flickr.com, tag it with Dotmocracy and it will soon appear in the gallery.

I will use your suggestions, stories, insights and photos to develop version 2.0 of the free Dotmocrcay Handbook.

Thanks in advance!

- jd