16/09/2011 04:48 BST | Updated 15/11/2011 05:12 GMT

What Is the Gauge?

We've always been social creatures. Social networks and the web have not changed human nature, but they have provided a swifter delivery system for news and an engaging platform for discussion. Best of all, they're egalitarian and democratic spaces where every opinion can be instantaneously published, regardless of where or who you are - though on Twitter, of course, you get your best shot at 140 characters or less.

The Gauge is a new tool we're launching today that allows users to easily weigh in on news of the day - while also providing a quick, visual snapshot of what others are thinking about top stories of the day. It's the latest tool to take advantage of the real-time, interactive nature of the web in enabling our voices to be heard. And we hope you'll be as excited about it as we are.

The Huffington Post has always valued and solicited opinion from its readers. Its blogging platform is open to everyone, while the site offers a range of social tools allowing users to share articles at the click of a button.

Last month The Huffington Post passed 100 million comments. This staggering number is a testament to a finely tuned and sophisticated commenting platform that encourages passionate (but civil) discussion around engrossing content.

The Gauge was conceived with similar goals in mind and leverages the top story from The Huffington Post to engender a wider debate.

Users are invited to "agree" or "disagree" with a daily proposition, and thereafter they're invited to elaborate. It only takes a second or two to weigh in, and users can post more detailed responses on Twitter and Facebook.

If a user chooses Twitter the tweet field will be automatically pre-populated with a '#agree' or '#disagree' hashtag along with a link back to The Gauge so followers can also give their opinions. The goal with The Gauge is as much about sparking a dialogue - starting a conversation -- as it is about weighing in.

The Facebook share option populates a user's feed with a cool, interactive flash widget (think of it as a mini-Gauge) that enables friends to cast their votes on The Gauge -- without leaving Facebook.

The Gauge compiles all responses from The Huffington Post, Twitter and Facebook and shows them as a percentage across three segments, which are updated throughout the day. The headline percentage at the top of The Gauge displays the total sum of all votes in real-time while the bottom right column pulls in all opinion from the Twittersphere.

The bottom left column displays all responses from The Huffington Post blogging community so a user can contrast comments from the wider web against the opinions of the finest bloggers anywhere on the worldwide web (perhaps I'm a little biased on this one!)

Users can rate blogger comments with a virtual thumbs-up or thumbs-down or filter their view to display all 'agree' or 'disagree' comments. If a user is impressed with a particular blogger's tweet and wants to get to know the blogger better, they only need to rollover the profile image and click through to their Huffington Post profile page where all their posts are displayed.

Fancy joining the growing ranks of Huffington Post bloggers? A user simply needs to select one of the links from The Gauge to submit an idea for a blog.

The Gauge embodies a strong Huffington Post tradition - If you have something to say, say it on the Huffington Post. We're interested in your opinion short or long, instant or measured, tweet or blog. Have a look at The Gauge and let us know what you think?