Inflows: recruiting, screening and balancing in Recollective

Written by Steve Thompson • Posted on April 8, 2014
As some of our customers and partners might be aware, the vision for Recollective has always been to satisfy the entire end-to-end experience of building and running an online insight community. Our goal is to deliver everything you need - from recruiting to launch, moderation to incentive management - within the application. A huge part of that vision was completed and released this month: Recollective Inflows.

What is Inflows?

The idea behind Inflows is to provide the tools you need to openly invite people to any study, have them screened, balanced to quotas and for those that qualify, automatically added to the study.
The initial step, the ability to open registration into a study by sharing a URL or sending out bulk emails, has existed since 2013 (in addition to the convenient Bulk Upload tool). In this release, we've extended the "inflow" process to include screening, balancing with quotas and automated communications.

Participant Screening

Recruiting specific types of individual for a study is often essential but can be very expensive (both in terms of time and money) when done through a third-party recruiting agency or panel provider. With the introduction of Inflows, anyone can screen directly inside Recollective. That makes it feasible to post an open invitation to join a study anywhere online (e.g. Facebook, Twitter, a blog or website, bulk email to customer lists, etc) and ensure only people who meet your criteria are allowed into the study.

Screening Questions - Drinks Study

Specifically, Recollective Inflows now enables any researcher to:

  • Ask study applicants a series of customized open or closed-ended questions prior to entering a study
    • Closed ended questions can have choices that place applicants into one or more segments or cause automatic disqualification
    • Open-ended questions can be given minimum or maximum limits (word or character limit)
  • Automatically or manually approve recruits
  • Screening can take place in advance of the study being open
  • Ability to re-screen applicants which forces participants to redo a screener (ideal for testing or important changes to disqualifying criteria or quotas)
  • Option to add more screening questions mid-study and have new questions appear to existing participants


Set as many quotas as you need to make sure that different types of participant are ideally balanced in your study. Recollective automatically keeps track of qualifying participants and when quotas are met, prevents further people from joining the study. Quota Limits - Drinks Study
  • A total limit of study participants exists to cap overall participant registrations
  • Quotas can be defined to balance the population of applicants automatically via segments
  • Quotas can specify multiple segments (e.g. a 50% gender-split across two geographic regions is possible)
  • Manual approval of qualified applicants can be enabled while still making use of quotas

Communication and Management

Of course, Recollective Inflows includes all the tools you need as a moderator to manage the recruiting process and to communicate with applicants. Screening_Notices_-_Inflow_QA
  • Automated messages with full customization of all text related to screening, qualifying, rejecting and pending approval.
  • Applicant management permits filtering by both status and specific screening responses
  • Includes ability to bulk-approve and reject pending applicants (including forced acceptance to ignore quotas)
Recollective Inflows is an optional add-on module. Pricing is available on request. It is included at no cost on all annual sites licensed for 50 participants or more.

So Many More Improvements!

As if Inflows wasn't enough for a single release, we've completed some major improvements to existing Recollective features.


The first feature enhancement is to the Messages tool, which has now been split into two distinct lists: "Inbox" and "Sent". This should simplify browsing of new/unread messages while still being able to confirm email broadcasts were properly dispatched.
  • "Inbox" will show all inbound messages from participants and show a preview of the last message received
  • "Sent" will show all outbound messages to participants (including email broadcasts) and show a preview of the last message sent.
  • The message list interface has been updated to match the appearance of the individual message threads (and thus the stream). The Sent area now includes the profile photo of the administrator that initiated the most recent outbound message.

Improved Visibility of Moderator Probes


  • Comments on task responses by administrators are typically probing following-up questions that require a participant's response. These probing comments can now be marked as "Awaiting Reply" (similar to what has existed in Messages).
  • Comments awaiting a reply now attract more attention by their inclusion above all private messages and an additional red indicator on the right-hand Control Panel as seen by participants.
  • Comments that are awaiting reply remain highlighted to participants until a follow-up comment is posted.
  • Administrators can use the new "Sent" section of Messages to locate all task response comments awaiting a reply.

Discussion Topic Word Clouds


  • A new dedicated "Word Cloud" option appears above all discussion topic replies and provides an interactive and searchable interface for the topic.
  • Provides all the same features and benefits as other word clouds such as interactive word selection (e.g. drill-down to related words), multi-keyword search, contextual sentence fragment with thumbnails, instant excerpting and more.
  • Topic sorting options have improved to make room from this new option and for consistency with other sorting controls in Recollective.

Improved Transcripts

We're always interested in ways to improve the transcripts and reports in Recollective. Something several partners have asked for is a simplification of the transcript output as a formatted document (HTML).


So, in this release we have:
  • Updated formatting of metadata, headers, breadcrumbs and response content maximize legibility and ease of scanning.
  • Increased use of profile photos provides a better visual break between responses.
  • A new top-left option appears to "Simplify Transcript" which allows instant toggling of the table of contents, all grey metadata sections, profile photos and the participant appendix.
  • Improved layout of content for activity transcripts sorted by "Activity / Task / Participant".

Usability Improvements

The release included a host of smaller improvements and ongoing tweaks to optimize the user experience of Recollective that are too numerous to fully document. In particular, we have:
  • Removed the "Paste URL" option from the Video Task since it was almost universally misused.
  • Prompts/Poll - External destinations no longer mark the entire activity as completed by default (it can be re-enabled)
  • Words Overview - Dedicated "Reset" button now appears to simplify the clearing of an existing keyword search
  • Site Appearance - New ability to target custom CSS to specific studies (in addition to specific roles, languages and devices) which means you can further differentiate separate studies (and end-clients) in the same Recollective site.
  • And many more...
This was one of our most ambitious releases to date and we hope you're as thrilled as we are with the new tools available in Recollective.

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