Town Hall vs. Dinner Party

How Conversful is different than commenting

In attempting to build new relationships with publishers, we often hear a similar objection to our outreach.

We already have commenting and my readers are content with it. I don’t see any need for Conversful.

In this post, I want to explain the difference between commenting & Conversful and make the case for why publishers needs both.

Town Hall

Town hall meeting - Wikipedia

Comment sections are the equivalent of digital town halls. Town halls are gathering places for large groups of people within a community. Cities hold town halls, schools hold town halls, companies hold town halls & publishers hold town halls everyday in their comment sections.

Most people attending a town hall don’t speak, but passively listen. The same holds true in comment sections where the majority of people browse comments, but don’t actually comment.

Participating in commenting, just like speaking at a town hall, is a public act. Your comment isn’t directed at anyone in particular, but to the entire community. While you might not be looking into the audience’s eyes like you would when speaking at a town hall, the publicness and permanence of commenting can still be intimidating. I’ve even met commenters who format their thoughts in Microsoft Word before publishing it as a comment. Not too different a process than planning to speak at a town hall.

Both town halls and commenting are places designed effectively to let people speak up and feel heard among a large group. They are not places designed for casual discussion. This is why town halls are not the only way we interact with each other in the physical world, we have other places too.

Dinner Party

How to host an outdoor dinner party: A step-by-step guide - Business Insider

Chats on Conversful are the equivalent of digital dinner parties. Besides eating, the primary purpose of a dinner party is casual discussion.

Most everyone at a dinner party will speak - some more than other’s. People speak because they feel comfortable. It’s a private setting where you know who you are speaking to and you know people are listening. Most of the time they are with their family or friends, but even at a dinner table with people you’ve just met you’ll find yourself opening up in casual discussion.

People speak at dinner parties because it’s fun. The group dynamic suits both introverted and extroverted people. Some naturally lead the discussion, while other’s are happy to follow along & chime in when they have something to say.

Chats on Conversful are designed for casual discussion in a lot of the same ways that dinner parties are. First and foremost, chats are entirely live. To participate you have to join at a specified time. This creates an environment for rich, back-and-forth discussion that’s not possible in comments. Second, they happen in small groups. If too many people show up, multiple rooms (or dinner tables) will naturally form. This allows a chance for anyone who wants to say something to do so. Lastly, the chats are topic-based to give purpose and structure to the conversation. They tie directly into the articles or themes the publisher is already writing about and their audience already thinking about.

The Case For Both

Imagine a world where you could only share your ideas in town halls. Where speaking meant speaking publicly, to a large group of people. Where there was no dinner table table to build up those ideas and have intimate, back-and-forth discussions. In this world a lot would be lost. Things would go unsaid.

This is the world readers are met with today. They are given one place and one place only: comment sections. One place to make public statements and have casual discussions. The problem with this is that as we know, comment sections are not designed for casual discussions. We often hear from commenter’s…

It can be quite frustrating when I have to wait a long time to hear back. Or worse, when I spend time writing something and don’t hear back at all.

Conversful is a compliment to comment sections, not a replacement or an alternative. It is purpose built for casual discussion, mimicked after the intimate environments in the physical world where they so often happen.

Together, commenting + Conversful is the best engagement experience publishers can offer their readers. With Conversful, publishers can unlock an untapped engagement opportunity without compromising what’s working for them already in their comment sections. It’s purely additive; something commenter’s will use in addition to their comments or non-commenter’s will use instead of saying nothing.