I'm really grateful to the readers here for feedback on Chatty, and to the Chatty team for inviting us to the beta test.
Lots of good feedback. The biggest complaint users here had was that the Chatty box would pop up every time you navigated to another page. The second biggest was the lack of login options - Facebook connect was the only way.
That said, I really admire how the team at Chatty has gotten it up and running and how they're already contacting people who run sites and blogs. It's imperfect - they're in beta testing after all - but that attitude of get something workable out the door and into people's hands is great. Big admiration there.
Despite some user interface and login hassles, I think people would have really enjoyed Chatty if we'd gotten some good conversations going. That didn't happen - partially this could be a "luck of the draw" thing, where if two site users at the same time had gotten into an interesting conversation, other people would have jumped in.
Of course, you know I don't believe in luck! I installed Chatty without really a comprehensive plan for it. I said, "ah, screw it, let's just try it out" - and then not much happened. With a cohesive plan on my end, I think conversations could have really gotten going.
To seed the chat at first with interesting topic, I can think of a few approaches people could take:
1. Invite 2-3 friends or longtime readers into chat at the same time and get a conversation going.
2. Have some kind of contest or giveaway for people who join chat and make some good remarks.
3. Set a specific Chatty time where you'll be answering questions in real time, and follow through with it.
4. Otherwise invite people to give specific questions or feedback, and tie it in with the current posts.
I'm impressed with the overall implementation of Chatty. It's rough in some ways and missing a couple features it'll need eventually, but the general product works surprisingly well for a beta. The two biggest complaints - user interface and login - I think people would have managed around those if interesting conversations had gotten going.
The fact that interesting conversations didn't happen is largely on the guy who runs the site - me. I installed Chatty on a whim because it seemed like it might be interesting and their team seems like good guys, but I didn't have a cohesive plan for seeding it with the initial interesting conversations.
I think Chatty could really succeed - it'll need some polish and incremental improvements and new features, but their team is already building that. Then, most importantly, I think it's key for site owners to kick the chat off in some way to get momentum going.
Thanks again to the Chatty team, and thanks to everyone on the site who tried it and/or gave feedback.