We've made the decision to be the world's best conversational debate content type. SquareOffs allow two possible answers for the following reasons:
Polls - readers typically just vote and are done with polls. The conversation then goes elsewhere, often off of your website. SquareOffs keeps readers on site and on longer. Our marriage of voting and commenting has many other benefits. SquareOffs add the "why" to typical polls, helping readers understand why they would choose one side or the other. This subjective data helps provide background information on the topic, sort out gray areas on the topic, provide audience insight, lead to the adoption of ideas, and lead to potential follow-up SquareOff questions.
Comments - comments typically don't have a lot of context. Readers often chime in with random thoughts and agendas. We've found that framing the conversation with a question keeps comments on topic, more thoughtful, and more valuable to other readers. It also inspires commenting. SquareOffs generate about 40% more comments that typical comment widgets at the bottom of an article.
Less is more. In this fast-paced world, bite-size content performs really well (Twitter, Instagram, etc.). Having two options keeps things concise, gets to the point, and allows people to make quick decisions. Our research has also shown that, in many content categories, standard polls use two options about 80% of the time.
The dual comment stream is also very intuitive, especially on larger screens, showing a side-by-side view of opposing comments with the most voted up comments showing at the top for easy access to relevant viewpoints on each side. A color is also applied to the commenter based on their vote. This color follows readers if they choose to reply within the opposing comment stream. For example, a commenter labeled blue in the red comment stream is identified as someone that initially voted for the other side. If there were more than two options available, the number of comment streams and colors would become confusing.
There is a time and place for multi-option polls. Classic polls are apples and SquareOffs are oranges. SquareOffs are simply a different content type and are better in certain situations.