Google has released a free Web-based service called Moderator that organizations can use to improve question-and-answer sessions during heavily attended meetings.
Moderator lets event participants both submit questions to meeting leaders and vote in favor or against the questions they like or dislike.
In theory, meeting leaders will be able to ask speakers the questions that the group democratically chose as the best ones.
The goal is to improve on the random, ad-hoc selection via the raised-hands method and thus make better use of the often limited question-and-answer periods.
Moderator also makes it possible for remote attendees to have as much of a say as in-person participants in the process of selecting questions.
Platform Engineer Taliver Heath developed the service for internal Google use as part of the 20 percent work time Google gives employees to work on projects of their own yet relevant to the company.
The idea came to him after attending the frequent "tech talks" Google holds and realizing that as the number of attendees has grown, many participants' questions went unasked due to time constraints, while not all questions that were asked seemed good ones.
"To help with this, I designed a tool in my 20 percent time that would allow anyone attending a tech talk to submit a question, and then give other participants a way to vote on whether or not that question should be asked. This way, the most popular and relevant questions would rise to the top so that the presenter or the moderator of an event could run the discussion more efficiently and in a transparent manner," Heath wrote on an official Google blog on Wednesday.
At Google, Moderator is known as Dory, like the character in the Disney/Pixar film "Finding Nemo" whose short-term memory loss forces her to constantly ask questions.
Moderator runs on Google's App Engine, a service for developers to build and host their Web-based applications using Google's computing infrastructure.