Wednesday, April 17, 2019

Direct Replies Are the Helpful Tool You Don’t Know You Need

Direct replies are here, and they’re more beneficial than you realize

Imagine you’re at a party with your friends. At some point in the night, a small circle forms as a group begins discussing something like the latest binge-worthy show. Everyone enjoys the discussion, but there are those… conversational hazards. That is, those small, unavoidable faux pas that annoy everyone, but are never spoken of aloud.

You know them. There’s the awkwardness where two people start talking at once and then spend the next few minutes in a politeness showdown as each insists to the other, “You go. No, no, go ahead.” This is sometimes done twice or -- please, no -- three times in a row. Or there are the times when someone says something funny and you missed it, and it’s the sort of thing that isn’t funny when it’s explained. Then there’s the thing where you have something to contribute, but you were talked over or cut off and it’s not worth the effort to get everyone’s attention and repeat yourself.

These things happen in groups, so we’ve learned to laugh them off and move on. There are similarly frustrating things that happen in a group chat online, even if it’s moderated. For example, a moderator might be answering a question when another moderator publishes a new comment. This can make the conversation hard to follow.

Enter the direct reply -- that little curved arrow which allows a moderator to post their reply directly underneath the question or comment they’re answering.


With this feature in the toolkit, conversations become easier to follow. As the eyes naturally scan down a webpage, the indented reply can be identified easily and quickly, especially if multiple moderators respond to a single comment. Direct replies also help the chats run more smoothly for multiple moderators because everyone is alerted when a moderator is typing a reply to a message.

Then again, sometimes it’s nice to be able to go back, to say the thing that popped into your head five minutes after the discussion has moved on to a different topic. Maybe it’d be nice to expand upon something you said earlier, to offer a more nuanced answer. No problem -- a direct reply can be posted after a message has been published. If a direct reply is added after a message has been published, all readers are alerted, making it less likely to get passed by as the conversation goes on.

And we haven't even gotten to the best part yet. Our favorite aspect of our new direct reply feature is that it came from our clients! We had a few different clients  suggesting this as an improvement. We listened, and we’re glad we did. We’ve got plenty of other initiatives we’re working on, but we’re always excited to hear from our users. Who knows -- our next upgrade could include a feature you came up with!

Monday, March 25, 2019

5 Benefits of Our Private Messaging Feature

Get the most you can out of JotCast’s latest upgrade.

In case you’re not aware, it’s official: JotCast now has private messaging! Please note, this is different from a direct reply -- another new improvement! -- which allows you to publish a response directly under a specific comment. Instead, the private messaging feature allows a moderator to send a message to a reader that pops up at the bottom of the intended reader’s screen. The reader can respond and continue the personal conversation, but only a moderator can start or end one.

But why?

Obviously, a group chat works best if there’s… well, a group. It’s fun to see the wide range of opinions and the interesting exchanges between everyone. Even so, there are times when the ability to privately communicate would be helpful. Occasionally, it might be a necessity. Consider private messages if any of these issues come up in a chat.
  1. A reader sends in a message with sensitive information.
    There are readers that sometimes will pose moderators a hypothetical or a general question, and there are also readers who will ask a more personal query. If you get a message from a reader that inquires about a more personal matter, it doesn’t need to be publicly published to be answered. Instead, you can choose to respond to that reader by sending them a private message. This means that it’s easier to discuss more sensitive topics on JotCast.

  2.  A reader is having technical issues while trying to participate in a chat.While technology usually tends to make life easier, it’s not without its own frustrations. With the private messaging feature, if a reader’s comment mentions experiencing any difficulties with joining a third party presentation, or participating in the conversation, a moderator can suggest possible troubleshooting measures for them without derailing the focus of the chat.

  3. A moderator needs to discuss something with the other moderators that doesn’t pertain to readersWhile we’re all for transparency, there can still be times where moderators want to keep the discussion just among themselves. Do their readers really need to read messages about how these chat statistics are looking in comparison to last week? More importantly, even if they could, would they want to? A private message would mean that the business end of a chat -- issues important to the hosting company -- could go on as needed during the chat, and readers will be none the wiser. Instead, they’re focused on getting the details on the topic they care about -- and that’s what we’re here for in the first place!

  4. A moderator needs to remind a reader about the rules or guidelines of a chat.
    Sometimes, people become emboldened behind a screen, and suddenly feel comfortable expressing themselves in a way that they wouldn’t ever dream of doing face-to-face. While moderators can block users who make inappropriate comments repeatedly, it might not be necessary for a reader who typed something during an intense debate that crossed a line. A first-time offender, so to speak, can be let off with a warning. Better still, a moderator can give that warning without embarrassing the reader by calling them out in front of everyone.

  5. A moderator wants to interact more directly with a particular reader.It’s possible to… ahem… click with someone you meet online. If there’s a reader in a chat that makes comments that are particularly clever or insightful, why not send a private message so you can delve into the topic or bounce an idea off them? Readers often enjoy feeling like they’re getting to know the moderators they follow consistently. Since moderators are the only ones who can initiate and / or end a private conversation, there’s no need to worry about unwanted interruptions or about starting a sidebar you regret.
What other ways have you been using private messages?  Let us know in the comments!