Comparison to Video Tools like Google Hangouts, Skype, and Zoom

Comparison to Video Tools like Google Hangouts, Skype, and Zoom

Google Hangouts, Skype, and Zoom are similar; each tool provides video chat, written chat, and screensharing for groups of two or more people.

We chose to use Zoom as the video provider for QiqoChat.  That means every time you open a video chat on Qiqo, you are using Zoom.

Qiqo Event Screenshot
Example of a QiqoChat event with 31 participants across four breakout rooms. The host added the custom blue background and the Google Doc being used for notes on the right side of the page.  There’s a lot going on!

Qiqo extends Zoom functionality by “wrapping” Zoom video chats with additional functionality:

  1. Breakout Rooms: After you sign in and click “Participate” in a Qiqo live event (example) you arrive at the main table.  You will see 10 breakout rooms on the left (see the screenshot below).  When a participant clicks on a table name, they will open up the page for that breakout room.  When they click the “Join Video” button, the Zoom video chat for that breakout room will open.
  2. Participant Profiles: When a user enters a breakout room, their profile photo is visible.  Each participant can see who is in which room and make a decision about which conversation they want to join.  With their profile, each participant can share some basic info about themselves, making it easy for them to connect 1-1 and build relationships.
  3. Collaborative Notes: Each breakout room has a notes page on the right hand side (see the screenshot below).  As the creator of the event, you can replace this notes page with a Google Doc or any other collaborative tool so that people can interact with it while they use Zoom video chat.
  4. Group Calendar: Anyone in your circle (or just the admin) can schedule a Zoom video chat which shows up on the group calendar.  This calendar provides continuity between events and is connected to a weekly newsletter which announces upcoming events every Monday morning, saving you time and making it more likely that people who attended previous events attend the next one (or even schedule their own!).
  5. Additional Tools: All your participants become members of your “circle” on Qiqo.  The group calendar is just one of the collaborative tools in your circle.  Here is a list of all tools on Qiqo.
  6. Per-Minute Pricing: We are big fans of Zoom, and we think their $15/month pro account is very reasonably priced.  If you want the functionality of Zoom, but do not use it enough to justify the $15/month subscription, then there is a pay-per-minute option to use Zoom on Qiqo.  Any Qiqo user can set this up at this link, whether or not they have created a circle.  The price is just 1¢/min per participant.  You will receive a customized link which you can use to invite participants to your meeting space.  Here’s mine!
Listening Circles on the Downtown Mall

Listening Circles on the Downtown Mall

As QiqoChat’s founder, I’m quite interested in helping people collaborate.  We sometimes forget that the foundation for collaboration is listening.

Living in Charlottesville with all the recent violence between the Alt-Right protesters and opposing counter-protesters, I thought it would be helpful to create space for people to sit down and patiently & respectfully listen to each other.

Last Friday I asked for some volunteers across a few email discussion groups and 15 wonderful volunteers and facilitators came together to make this personal project happen.

NBC29 covered it (screenshot below) but their video link is no longer active.

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Create an “Online Unconference” or “Open Space” Event

Create an “Online Unconference” or “Open Space” Event

Unconferences and Open Space events are exciting alternatives to standard conferences.  They are highly interactive, simple to set up, and they are happening around the world with increasing frequency.

Unconferences and Open Space events have important differences, but the main characteristic of each is that they let participants shape the agenda by deciding which topics will be discussed in which breakout sessions.  The primary role of the host/facilitator is to get the word out with an invitation and then to welcome everyone and explain the process.  Here’s more info about Open Space by Michael Herman, one of the very generous thought leaders in that community of practice.

There are several advantages to letting participants decide which topics should be discussed:

  • participants feel empowered
  • discussion topics are more timely
  • the event is easier to plan

QiqoChat makes it easy to organize online unconferences, because it has a built-in tool for live audio & video events with breakout rooms.  Each breakout room has collaborative notes, screensharing, and a way to embed other collaborative online apps.

To make an unconference even more collaborative, here are our suggestions:

1. Create a Qiqo circle (if you haven’t already) so that people can sign up, add information in their profile, and browse other people’s profiles so that they can get to know each other.

2. Although the day of the unconference is the most exciting part, you can built momentum by letting participation begin 2-3 weeks ahead of time.

  • Encourage people to start a new written conversation.  This is similar to a mini-listserv or email discussion list.  The difference is that the author can post a few separate questions or statements as “conversation starters.” This provides a little bit of structure and keeps the conversation organized, especially as the number of participants grows.
  • Encourage participants to write a new article on a topic that they will want to address in a live video session on the day of the event.  This is similar to a blog post, and other participants can reply in the comments.  Under “More Options” when they edit their article they also have the ability to add a collaborative notes section in the comments.  This is similar to having a wiki or Google Doc embedded in the article where multiple people can type on different lines of a document.  This is very helpful for sessions where the purpose is brainstorming.
  • Try using any of the other tools on Qiqo which may be appropriate for your participants.

3. To organize all the sessions during the unconference, create a live event on Qiqo in your circle, and have everyone join the main room (max of 200 participants).  There are 10 simultaneous breakout rooms by default, and you can have up to 50 breakout rooms.  Each breakout room can have up to 200 participants each.

From the main room, you can use the collaborative notes section to list the breakout rooms and time slots, and then let everyone add their topic in the appropriate time slot.  Visit this example to see how we recommend setting up the notes.  Everyone else can jump to the appropriate breakout room when the sessions begin.  Stay in the main room to greet newcomers and to answer any questions.  As the admin of your event, you’ll be able to label the breakout tables when you enter the event and click on “Admin Options.”

4. Keep the conversation going after the unconference ends.  A Qiqo circle is a perfect way for participants to stay connected through the peer-to-peer weekly newsletter, written conversations, articles, additional live events scheduled by the participants, and all the other tools on Qiqo.

5. To learn how to charge a fee and earn money for your events, check out this post!

Paying Qiqo and Getting Paid by Qiqo

Paying Qiqo and Getting Paid by Qiqo

Sign up as an affiliate member, and get paid for helping to spread the word about Qiqo.

For any Qiqo circles you administer, you can choose whether your circle is free for participants or not.  Here are your options:

Option 1: You pay for your members (1 cent/min per participant for the live events and other tools are free), or
Option 2: You can set a quarter membership fee for your circle. If you set the price to anything greater than $15/quarter then we send you the rest.  Signing up as an affiliate is a prerequisite.

Whether you choose option #1 or #2 above, you can charge a fee for any event you host on Qiqo.  We subtract the cost of the event (1 cent/min per participant) and we send you the balance when it reaches $100.  Signing up as an affiliate is a prerequisite.

How It Starts

How It Starts

Here’s a charming yet provocative poem that I saw recently:

It always starts like this.
It always starts with someone like you.

And you’ve got your idea.
And you’re wondering what to do next.

This is the way it happens.


It speaks for itself, yet it speaks to each of us differently.  Working on Qiqo inspires us, because we’re in the business of helping people connect.  We sincerely hope that you are also able to do the work that you are passionate about.  If not, then today’s the best day to start!

Email Notifications on Qiqo

Email Notifications on Qiqo

Email is a powerful way to stay updated on QiqoChat and many other collaboration websites.  However we all know that email notifications can also be overwhelming if the feature is not implemented well.  In this blog post we’ll discuss what’s possible with email notifications on QiqoChat so you can make it work for you.

You’ll see many options below, but in practice it’s not overwhelming.  In an active circle a member can expect to receive a few emails per week by default: the weekly email newsletter and a daily summary of new topics posted in the main conversation.

Weekly Email Newsletter: By default, all members of your circle will receive the weekly newsletter which lets each member share one link per week with everyone else.  This newsletter also contains a list of the upcoming live video events in your circle for the next three weeks.  It is easy to opt-out of that newsletter with one click or from the newsletter page in your circle (see the menu at the top of your circle’s page if your circle’s newsletter is turned on).

The weekly newsletter is a simple yet powerful complement to the live video sessions.  We recommend focusing on these two features whenever you start a new circle.

Immediate/Hourly/Daily Email Notifications: At the top of your circle, you will see a link to “Notifications”.  Click on that to set your preferences to subscribe to email notifications when new items (events, conversations, articles, files, etc) are added to your circle by other members.  You can choose whether you want an immediate, hourly, or daily email notification.  You can change your settings at any time or even turn off an email notification with one click when you receive it.

Personal Email Updates: In your dashboard, you can change your settings for the default notifications such as when someone comments on your comment or answers your question.

Member-to-Member Email Communication:  Members who have confirmed their email address can send a direct message to other members by clicking on that other member’s profile and looking for the “Email” button.  That second member will be able to reply directly by email to that first member.  We want to put you in touch and get out of your way so you can choose how you’d like to collaborate with each other.

Email Communication from Group Administrators: Each circle can have up to 6 co-hosts/administrators.  These admins can send a message to all circle members by clicking “Files & More” in the main menu and looking for “Email All Members”.

Written Conversations: At the top of your circle, you will see “Conversations” in the menu (if your circle administrator has turned this feature on).  A written “conversation” on Qiqo is similar to a discussion forum or email discussion list.  Anyone can start a new conversation, and a conversation usually has 3-7 “conversation starters”.  These are statements or questions to help get the conversation going.  The conversation starters also provide structure by letting people explore different branches (subtopics) of the conversation in parallel.

Each circle also has one primary conversation which is marked as the “Main Conversation for this Circle”.  By default everyone receives a daily email summary of new top-level items/topics posted to this conversation.  If someone wants to subscribe to a topic, they can do that from the email they receive so that they will continue to stay updated as new responses on that topic branch of the conversation roll in.  Otherwise, the member will not see another topic on that branch again; we do this to help keep everyone’s email volume down.

If “Live Café” is turned on for your circle, you’ll see it at the top left of the main menu for your circle.  This is the place where members can go to have live phone/video conversations that are unscheduled.  You can think about it as a café where anyone can drop in at anytime.  You will also see the main written conversation for your circle (mentioned in the previous paragraph) in the Live Café.

Summary: There many tools on Qiqo, and some will be more helpful for your circle than others.  We recommend starting with a few (live video events and the newsletter, for example) and then adding more as time goes on.  Email helps each of these tools be used to their fullest potential.  Have feedback or suggestions?  Please get in touch or write a comment below!

Live Events on Qiqo

Live Events on Qiqo

Our goal is to make it easy enough for people to join a live event on Qiqo without having to read any special instructions.

Sometimes people want instructions and sometimes instructions just make a task more complicated.  If your members need instructions, here are some simple ones below.  Remember to replace “[insert your event link here]” below with the link to your event.  It will look something like this:

Before the Meeting
Step 0: Download Zoom here.  You will automatically be prompted to enter a meeting ID.  There is no need to enter a meeting ID, because Qiqo will connect you directly (see below).  Close Zoom.

Instructions to Join the Meeting/Event:
1: Go to [insert your event link here]
2. Sign in and then click “Participate”.
3. Click “Join Video” to connect by phone or computer microphone.

That’s all! Participants will arrive at the main table.

Later, if participants want to go to a breakout table,
1. Click “Breakout Tables” on the left to see them all.
2. Click on one breakout table to see its page.
3. Click “Join Video” to be disconnected from the main table and join the audio/video for that breakout.

Repeat steps 1-3 to go back to the main table.