6/1: Conversful Updates

First chats, more sites & new features

Going to start getting into a regular cadence here of posting updates bi-weekly. Here’s the first one.

First Chats

This has been a long time coming. For those that don’t know, I’ve been working on Conversful from April 2018 on-and-off, but mostly on since that November. We were live for ~4 months or so in 2019 on two sites (TechedUpTeacher & The Full Toss). While being live on those sites we had no conversations.

Fast forward to April 2020 and we launched V2 with a new team, new ideas and a greater focus. Our first launch had sufficient interest in our new topics functionality, but still no conversations as no one was aware when topics existed at any given time.

On May 19 we launched some much needed features to broadcast new topics & without fail we had our first conversation the next day, followed by a second one the day after. It was truly an amazing feeling.

The conversation was between a man in Tokyo named Steven and a physicist in California named Dave. Steven has been emailing me with ideas for Conversful and recited the story to me:

“When I used Conversful with Dave we got through in 10 minutes what normally might have been a back and forth over a few days in the comments. This efficiency gain was useful.”


More Sites

We are now on two sites (Back Reaction & Hollywood In Toto). I ask that if you’re reading this to not post topics on these sites, but to instead use this test site if you want to play around or show a friend.

My co-founder Nick Goerg has been doing a tremendous job finding different niches on the internet and building relationships with publishers in them. I would never be able to be as focused on building the product as I can be without his focus on the sales side. Tomorrow we’ll be installing on our third website History Is Now as well!

As usual, if anyone has any websites they think Conversful would be a good fit on or has any relationships with websites they’d like to introduce us to please let me know. Below you can see a neat little internal tool our developer Vince created for me that allows us to spin up new sites onto Conversful in a matter of minutes.

New Features

After the release of the broadcast topics feature, we wanted to continue to double down on making it easier to wait for a conversation & to be notified when conversations are starting.

The first thing we released was a way to minimize the app while you’re waiting for a conversation, so user’s can more easily consume content on the page until a conversation starts. This idea actually came from Steven too. Thanks Steven!

Separately, we released a few related features to introduce sound and browser tab notifications. These work when someone has a website with Conversful open, but they aren’t active in that tab. Say you have the blog open, but then are sending some emails for work. Conversful will now make a little chime when conversations are starting, or when someone has joined your conversation or if someone sends you a message. We’ve seen a handful of conversations start without messages & we think what’s happening is the person who submitted the topic is no longer in the tab anymore.

Lastly, we released our first version of moderation features into Conversful. While we haven’t had any bad behavior yet, this is something we certainly want to get ahead. Our first version is a simple message blocker that disables users from sending messages with bad words in them. It’s pretty rudimentary, but it’s a good start to something we’ll be improving over time. Because as anyone with a history in the commenting space will tell you… not everyone’s nice on the Internet (excuse my language below).

Thank you Ethan Smith and Vincent Greenfield who are the tremendous developer’s behind all of these new feature’s!

Wrap Up

Conversful’s goal is to create new conversations on the internet. We are incredibly excited to have created our first few and feel confident we will have an opportunity to create a boatload more. While a bit outdated now, there’s still a lot of truth to the memo I laid out on Conversful.com last year. Here’s a snippet from it:

Online commenting is almost as old as the internet itself, but it hasn't changed much since it was created. It's still sits at the bottom of the page and asks you to broadcast your thoughts publicly to the world. And if you do so there's still no guarantee that anyone ever reads them or better yet acknowledges and responses to them. While commenting's evolved to votes, replies and emoji support - none of this changes the core tenants of commenting that is broken.

At Conversful, we set out to reimagine commenting from the ground up. We dropped all of the preconceived notions of what commenting is and built something new. Something that's real-time, personal and private. Something that mimics how conversations unfold in the real world. Something that makes people feel comfortable talking and sharing their thoughts online, likely for the first time.