Forms, Polls, Voting, Surveys & Contests

Rayos uses the Gravity Forms plugin as a tool to create forms including polls, surveys, voting forms, contest entries, and contact forms.

The plugin allows users to create forms from the simple to the advanced.  Features such as conditional logic, complex formatting, hidden fields, and dynamic data may require some level of HTML and programming knowledge. If you want to make a form that exceeds your knowledge, please file a ticket. The Support Team is happy to help.

Gravity Forms Basics

Full Gravity Forms documentation and user guides »

Examples

Polls

Polls are fun, one or two question forms meant to drive audience engagement. Polls can be set up to display results in real time to the website visitor. They have only minimal security and should not be used for anything with a winner or prize.

See an example of a poll »

Voting Form

Voting forms are similar to polls in that they ask questions, but they also require an email address in order to restrict submissions to the form. They can also include more aggressive security like CAPTCHA. If you will be declaring a winner from the voting, a legal disclaimer should be included.

See an example of a voting form »

Contests

Contests can ask any combination of questions and/or requests for information. Because something of value will be awarded based on the submissions, the highest levels of security and restrictions should be used. In addition, contest rules should always be included.

See an example of a contest form »

Survey

Surveys are intended to gather feedback. There are field types created specifically for this purpose, such as rankings and ratings. The key benefit to using survey questions is that Gravity Forms will calculate that data for you.

See an example of a survey »

Contact Us Forms 

Contact Us forms are alternatives to posting your email address on the website. The form will send website visitors’ messages to all emails indicated in the Notification settings. The level of security on Contact Us forms can be relatively low, unless your site is having a problem with spam traffic.

See an example of a contact us form »

Other Forms

There are a few other common situations when a form is needed that do not necessarily require Gravity Forms.

  • Collecting User Photos
    If you want to collect user-submitted images in a moderation queue, then have an easy way to review and approve images to display them in a gallery, TownNews recommends using UGC Photos instead of Gravity Forms.
  • Newsletter Signups
    Gathering site visitors’ email address to subscribe to your newsletter is best handled through forms created by your newsletter provider. If you use the Rayos MailChimp integration, see the Promoting Your Newsletter section of the MailChimp Newsletters Integration page for more information on Newsletter signups.

Confirmations & Notifications

Confirmations

Confirmations are messages website visitors see after they’ve submitted a form. You can configure the confirmation in various ways. Common configurations include:

Notifications

Notifications are emails your site’s staff or the form’s submitter receives when a website visitor submits a form.

By default, Gravity Forms will send a notification to your WordPress admin email address. Notifications can be turned off or routed to a different email address on a per-form basis. You can also set up more than one notification on each form. Common configurations include:

There is a limit of 5 email recipients for notifications. If more recipients are needed, please use a distribution group.
  • Route notifications to different email addresses/departments depending on the the type of information in the form.

Restrictions, Security & Legalese

Depending on the type of form you are creating, you may want to implement restrictions to prevent users from skewing the results by voting multiple times.

Important: The more significant the reason for limiting submissions (such as giving away a high value prize or announcing a winner on-air), the more likely people will attempt to manipulate the form via bots, scripts and other methods for automating submissions.

Restrictions

The first step will be to determine how you will restrict entries.

  • Cookie Method
    If you are gathering information purely for entertainment purposes, you should restrict entries using the cookie method. This blocks repeat votes by restricting the number of submissions by IP address. To restrict form submissions by cookie, make sure you are using a Poll field for the question and then go to Settings > Polls and check Block repeat voting using cookie and set a time frame.
  • Email Method
    If you will be announcing a winner or awarding a prize, you should restrict entries using the email method. This blocks repeat votes by blocking duplicate entries from the same email address. To restrict form submissions by email, go to Advanced Fields > Email and open the field settings. Check the No Duplicates checkbox on the General tab. Also, be sure to make the email field required.

Security

Once you have determined how you will restrict voting, you will need to decide if you want to add additional methods of security, including:

  • Captcha
    Captcha is the standard method for having the user validate that they are a real person by. This option can be found in Advanced Fields > CAPTCHA.
  • Anti-Spam Honeypot
    A honeypot is a field that’s invisible to users, but not bots; if a bot fills in the field, the form can’t be submitted. This option can be found Go by going to the form’s > Settings > Form Settings > Form Options.

Important: Whenever you ask what is the ‘Best’, especially as it relates to High School sports,  TownNews recommends using email validation to restrict voting and including both Captcha and anti-spam honeypot security measures.

Legalese

Most forms that collect information (polls, surveys, contests) should include legalese.

Your site can generate generic contest rules that cover any contest you have that can link to on all contest pages. There are several online contest rules generators that can be used to create these rules.

For forms with out prizes, consider adding a generic disclaimer that the form is created for entertainment purposes only. This disclaimer can be set up on a page and reused for as needed.[/vc_column_text]

Managing Results

View Form Entries

You can get to the interface to view form entries in two ways:

  • Go to Forms to find the full list of all your forms. Hover over the form you would like to see results for. This will reveal additional links. Select Entries.
    or
  • Go to Forms>Entries and use the filter in the top left to select the appropriate form.

Export Entries

Go to Forms> Import/Export to export entries in a CSV format. You can choose to export all data gathered by the form or just specific fields and/or specific date ranges.

View Poll/Survey Results

Poll and Survey Fields automatically tabulate results for that field. To view the raw number and percentage of voters who picked each option on those fields, create or edit an existing form and click on Poll Results or Survey Results

Hide Poll/Survey Results From Website Visitors

Turn off both the Results and Results Link settings by going to the form’s Settings > Polls to keep results hidden.

Select Winners

If you want to select a random winner from submitted entries, first export the form entries and open them in a spreadsheet. Next, use a random number generator, like Google’s Random Number Generator or Random.org, to generate a number based on the number of entries you have. Go to the applicable line in the spreadsheet to determine your winner.

Important: If you are selecting winners, please review your security settings and make sure you have appropriate rules posted.

Placing A Form On A Page

Advanced Configurations

Conditional Logic

Conditional logic can be set to automatically display certain fields based on the answers to earlier fields in the form.

Hidden Fields

Hidden Fields allow you to include information site visitors can’t see. You can have them pre-populated, or filled dynamically based on other answers.

Pre-Populating fields

See Gravity Forms’ three options for pre-populating fields.

Pre-Populate A Form With Answers From A Different Form

See instructions for setting up a form to receive answers from a different form’s submission.

Form Layout and Styling

Altering the layout of a form requires knowledge of HTML. If you are confident in your HTML skills, here are a few links to get you started with form layout modifications.

  • If you want to display an image next to a form field instead of text, use HTML to insert the image.
  • Gravity Forms has CSS Ready Classes that offer options for styling forms, including displaying fields and answer options in multiple columns; inserting scroll boxes; creating inline lists; and more.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I prevent site visitors from seeing poll results when they submit the form?

Yes. You’ll need to turn off both the Results and Results Link  by editing the form’s poll’s settings. When editing your form, go to Settings > Polls to adjust the results view-ability settings.

Can I use the personal information I gather about the people who submit to my form?

If you choose to collect personal information on a form you need to include an opt-in message that explicitly says what you plan to do with the personal information. Otherwise, you risk violating your site’s Privacy Policy.

For instance, if you plan to use a ballot to also collect email addresses for newsletter subscriptions, be sure to include a Radio Button or Checkbox field on your form asking visitors whether they want to subscribe to your newsletter.

Note: If you use the Rayos MailChimp Integration, there is a custom add-on we can enable that allows you to connect your Gravity Forms to your MailChimp subscriber lists. Please file a ticket to request this add-on.

Without custom work to connect your forms to your newsletter provider, you will have to manually add email addresses you collect to your mailing list either individually, or by following the instructions from your newsletter provider to batch import a list of new subscribers from your form entries

Can I set up a form so that the user sees a different confirmation message depending on how they filled out the form? 

Yes, you can use conditional logic to customize the user’s confirmation response based on responses in the form.

How do I set up a deadline for receiving entries?

If you have a deadline for receiving entries or votes, you can set an expiration time on the form to prevent additional submissions after a specific date and time. To schedule a form, edit an existing form or create a new form and go to Form Settings > Restrictions. Check “Schedule Form” and fill in the scheduling fields.

I turned on the form’s ‘Restrict Number Of Entries’ setting and set it to accept one entry. Now, the form isn’t working. What happened?

The Form Settings > Restrictions > Restrict Number Of Entries setting puts a limit on the total number of entries the form can receive; it’s not a limit on the number of submissions a single user can make. Turning on this setting and allowing one entry means the form shuts down after receiving a single entry.

See options for restricting the number of entries from individual website visitors here.

A poll on our site is being attacked with SPAM entries. What can we do?

If a poll or voting surveys is not setting up with the proper restrictions and security, it may be subject to attack from people trying to manipulate the results. See the Restrictions, Security, & Legalese section above to learn about form configurations to minimize your risk of attacks.

If you already have a poll up and running without restrictions or security measures in place and it is receiving spam entries, you have a few options, depending on your situation:

  • If the attack is impacting the performance of your site (for example, your site is loading very slowly or not at all), file a ticket and the TownNews Support Team will look into it right away.
  • If the attack seems to be limited to a small number of IP addresses, you can keep your form as is and filter the entries by IP address to eliminate duplicate entries and only count the ones from the legitimate submissions. (See instructions below for filtering entries by User IP address)
  • If the form is under significant attack and you want to prevent it from getting worse, you can switch out the form with a new one that has restrictions and security measures in place, per our recommendations above in the “Security, Restrictions, & Legalese” section of this page.You will have to compile entries from your original form and the new one, possibly using the strategy below to filter out duplicate IP addresses from your tally.

Filtering Form Entries by IP address:

  1. Go to Forms
  2. Click on the form in question and go to Entries
  3. Sort the entries by the User IP column and see if there are duplicate IP entries.
    Note: If the User IP column is not showing, you will have to enable it by clicking on the settings gear at the top right of the Entries screen and then clicking and dragging User IP from the Inactive Columns to Active Columns.