Conversations (45)

Now, btw, I think it will come down to personal preference, the same way it does with currently available conversations. I personally love the Adam Carolla podcast -- and his conversations tends to go all over the place. PTI on the other hand is very regimented and scheduled. Hopefully, some people will get into some of our long flowing non-topic based conversations, and others will tend towards micro-conversations.
I think this is an interesting question, and one that we may not have the answer to yet. (Or more likely, there won't be just one right answer.)

If we think about our casts the way we would a show or a podcast, then it makes sense to cover a range of topics all in 1 Conversation, we wouldn't expect to read/listen to each segment separately.

Similarly, if we want to replicate conversation in real-life, a conversation has a tendency to wander, and branching off each tangent to a separate conversation could water down the entire flow. It adds context to be able to view the conversation in its entirety.

On the other hand, if a conversation goes on too long it could get unwieldy. It could also be a turn-off to a new reader who has to jump into a conversation 100+ Replies deep.
(Hey, maybe that means that at a certain point like 50 Replies we just put 50+ on the header.)

There are definitely Casts I would follow over the course of a day, a week, plus, and wouldn't necessarily expect to see several, individual, separate conversations. But there will be other Casts I follow with an expectation that conversations will have natural conclusions and points for starting new ones with a new title, etc.
It has occurred to me that my children will know very few, if any, Holocaust survivors, which is strange because interacting with survivors was a major part of my upbringing. I would be curious if either of you have any new and meaningful thoughts on how ReplyAll could facilitate a different kind of conversation about the Holocaust that would grab the public's attention.

Who would the participants be? Must they be famous? What is the format? And how could we make sure to do it in a way that is not exploitive?
Not sure I have any ideas at the moment way beyond standard ReplyAll use.

It could be someone having a conversation about it with their grandparent, similar to the way you've been discussing the Depression with your grandmother. Sometimes it's easier to have these difficult conversations online instead of face-to-face.
It could be a more panel-like dialogue with historians or survivors. Though not sure how engaging that would be.

It could be educational as a classroom project and may involve role-playing a conversation, with students taking on different characters.

I don't really see it being exploitative much though.

I saw this piece on Hacker News today (the first linke quotes the second link), and I immediately thought about ReplyAll. The author focuses more on what makes email useful as framework to build applications (which we've discussed in the past), but I think many of his points lead back to why email is such a great model for producing great conversations.

Again, I'm taking him completely out of context, but what I've always loved about email is that it is:
(1) asynchronous -- we don't expect immediate responses
(2) part of our daily habits -- people have been perfecting their email writing craft for nearly 20 years now (but haven't really had the opportunity to email publicly)
(3) so easy your mom can do it -- people had to learn how to Tweet, but everyone already knows how to "email."
(4) it gets users back to your site, even if they forgot about you...

We have a lot of features planned to work with emails e.g.
- receiving newsletter updated (features convos, what's new, etc.)
- receiving notifications from casts you are following or you are a member of
- replying to a convo by sending an email message to a unique email address - generated for this convo
- etc.

So, I agree that email is a very powerful tool for improving user experience and site usability but it's power can work also in the opposite direction because some users may refer to these services as "spam". So we should implement all these known practices and conventions to eliminate that impression...


One statement I don't agree with, is that emails should come first before any other feature... Besides the technical challenges on dealing with emails in large scales, starting from emails instead of from your web interfaces means that you lose all of your uniqueness you bring in your user interfaces.

Emails can't produce the same amount of interactivity with your clients and this interactivity is essential to understand the quality of your product.
A bunch of updates went live today, and we want to catch everyone up on what's new.

-- Anyone can create a new cast and start broadcasting their own conversations on ReplyAll.

Until now users had to request a cast, but now it's as easy as starting a conversation and inviting others by e-mail.

If the user is already registered with the site they'll get an online notification of the invitation and can accept or decline right there.
Since we believe conversations between friends is better than conversations between strangers, using e-mail addresses to create Casts acts as an appropriate buffer. Similar to other sites, liked LinkedIn.

-- You can invite users to join your Cast from the "Edit Cast" page

Did you create a Cast and accidentally leave someone off?
Did you just think about a friend who should be in this Cast?

Simply invite them from the Edit Cast page, you no longer have to contact us to do it for you.

-- Easy to start a new Conversation.

The new fancy button on the homepage let's you get started.
Simply use the drop down to pick which Cast you'd like to start talking to.

-- Notifications!

Still making improvements to the notifications system, be sure to check out the latest changes in your Edit Profile page.

Also, full-blown e-mail notifications are still to come, but laying the groundwork for it. Maybe you'd like to know when your favorite Casts are starting New Conversations. Or if your Reply was added to your favorite Cast and you wanna know about it on the go.

Hope y'all enjoy the latest features. Looking forward to adding more in the coming weeks.

Always looking to incorporate feedback, so please don't hesitate to let us know what you're liking or not about the latest round of updates!
Ari, to your point about LinkedIn, this is something we've always been so emphatic about -- the best conversations (the ones you want to read) are not necessarily the ones you can join. I watch PTI on TV, even though I don't get to join.

Practically speaking, that meant not allowing people on ReplyAll to "meet" other people on ReplyAll. It wouldn't be hard for us to allow users to invite any user on ReplyAll to a conversation, but it really might affect the type of the conversations we got.
Went to a great event this morning hosted by Social Media Breakfast Houston, and the guest speaker was Erika Napoletano (
She had many great messages, but the one that spoke to me the most, and is actually leading me to take direct action, is to just be yourself.

I'm always very hesitant to simply broadcast with this Cast, since it essentially acts as ReplyAll's blog, and I'm overly concerned with the perception we risk giving off. How will we sound? What if we say something stupid? Will we risk offending anyone with something we might say?

But my main takeaway from this morning is that we just have to be ourselves. We can't worry so much about our packaging, just be genuine & natural and people will either take it or leave it.
And I think this actually fits really well with the environment ReplyAll creates. As I write this I know in the back of my head it may be viewed by anyone, but I'm not too concerned about that. As long as I'm just writing to you guys, the RA Team, I don't need to measure and delegate my words. I can just start the conversation, share my thoughts, and see where it goes from here.

There were a bunch of other great foods for thought from Erika today, I'll try and add them in here along the way.
Right, and I think there's a lot of hesitance to have our own conversation about our conversation-based site because, well, we don't want to sound like narcissistic douchebags. No one expects us to have all the answers (we don't) or be social media experts (see my point on douchebags). I'm very comfortable with just having a cool idea -- or one that we think is cool -- and giving people a window into what we're thinking about.