Radio variability on timescales from a few hours to several days in extragalactic flat spectrum radio sources is generally classified as intraday variability (IDV). The origin of this short term variability is still controversial and both extrinsic and intrinsic mechanisms must be considered and may both contribute to the observed variations. The measured linear and circular polarisation of IDV sources constrains the low energy end of the electron population. Any population of cold electrons within sources at or above the equipartition temperature of 1011 K depolarises the emission and can be ruled out. Intrinsic shock models are shown to either violate the large fraction of sources displaying IDV or they do not relax the light travel time argument for intrinsic variations. From structure function analysis, we further conclude that interstellar scintillation also leads to tight size estimates unless a very local cloud in the ISM is responsible for IDV.