As we approach the United Way silly season, I can't help thinking that most of the really useful Domino web tricks I've come up with were not so much aimed at solving business problems, but at solving various charitable fundraising problems. Eventually, all of these methods made their way into one line-of-business support application or another, but the fact remains that the tricks came about because I needed new and compelling ways to separate people from their money. And the best part of doing it on Domino is that authenticated users can't deny participating when the collector comes around to their desks.
Games and pools need to be immediately usable. If the user has to ask, they will move on without actually asking. Most of these deals run on a fifty-fifty basis (the winners can claim half of the funds taken in, the charity gets the other half, and the administrators and developers can bask in the glow of a good deed well done), and a user can tell at a glance whether or not the potential winnings are worth the price of admission. After all, if you're the only one dumb enough to play, then all you can get is half of your money back. You might as well have just given the money to charity to begin with — and the reluctance to do that is why we're building the games in the first place.
What follows is a necessary disclaimer designed to cover my posterior like a pair of corduroy Dockers: I am not suggesting, even for a moment, that anyone develop or deploy any lottery or game of chance not fully licensed and approved by the appropriate federal, provincial, state and/or municipal authorities. We now return to our regularly-scheduled broadcast.
Take a look at any of the duly-authorized and completely above-board draws, bingos, auctions and/or pools that may be run in your organisation today, and think about how you might move them to the technological cutting edge using nothing more than your wits and your favorite collaboration platform. You'll probably find, as I did, that truly compelling game UIs are web creatures. It's not that you can't create a compelling UI in the Notes client; but the business-oriented Notes client isn't very good at the kind of Vegas-inspired UI effects needed to strip the very food from your co-workers' children's dinner plates. For charity, of course. If you do it right, though, you can bring some of what you've done back into your business apps and make it permanent.