How to Run a Great Live Event on QiqoChat

How to Run a Great Live Event on QiqoChat

Sound Quality Tips:

  • Make sure you are calling in from a quiet location so that you do not distract participants with background noise.
  • If you have a weak Internet connection and want to share your video, then dial in by phone so that your audio will not be interrupted if there is some lag in your video.
  • Ask others to make sure that you’re not speaking too far or too close to your microphone.

Screensharing: If you want to share your screen, you must use the Firefox Internet browser (screensharing with Chrome is coming soon). You will have to download this Firefox Screensharing Plugin, and then drag it onto Firefox to install it.  Screensharing takes additional bandwidth, so you might need to dial in by phone instead of using your computer microphone if you intend to share your screen.

Example script for organizers to familiarize participants with QiqoChat when the event begins:

  • “We have many people on the call today.  Please mute your phone when you are note speaking, or if you are using your computer microphone, there is a mute button on the screen.”
  • “If you would like to speak, press the red “Raise Hand” button on the left side of the page.  Go ahead and try it now.  [Wait a few seconds as people try it.]  You will be able to put your hand down by clicking the red X next to your name.  If you are on the phone but not at your computer, speak up anytime and I’ll call on you in order.”
  • You can see the notes for the main table on the right side of this page.  Go ahead and write something so that you can see how it’s done. [Wait a few seconds as people try the notes.]
  • “I’ll explain how to jump to a breakout table when it’s time.”

Example script to read participants when it’s time to head to breakout tables:

  • “Please listen to all the instructions first; they only take a few seconds.”
  • “Everyone will simply click on the table number on the left side of the screen.  If you are using your computer microphone, you browser will prompt you to turn on your microphone again.  If you are dialing in by phone, you must also press the star key.  Then you will hear the instructions to enter the table number followed by the pound sign.”
  • “I’ll read these instructions again.  If you are not sure what to do, just stand by in the main table, and I’ll point you to where you need to go after everyone else gets on their way.” [Then read instructions above again.]

You can use the collaborative notes area to have people suggest topics for the breakout tables.  It’s best to have a small number of people at each breakout table (3-5) so that everyone gets a chance to speak.  If you have more than 5 people who want to discuss a topic, consider having multiple tables with the same topic.  To label the breakout tables, click “Admin Controls” and then “Label the Breakout Tables”.

Before having people head off into breakout tables, have all participants indicate which breakout table they want to join first.  You can accomplish this by listing all table topics in the collaborative notes, and having everyone add their name near that table in the notes.  This makes the breakout process much, much simpler.  If some people are not using the web interface (just dialing in by phone), you can assign them to a breakout table by writing their name in the notes and letting them know which table you have assigned them to.

When people use their phone to jump to a new breakout table, they sometimes forget to update their screen so that they can see the breakout table notes.  If that is the case, then they will still be looking at the Main Table’s collaborative notes.  After everyone has gone to breakout tables, you can post the following message note on the Main Table Collaborative Notes:

[Put a few blank lines above.]

“You are currently looking at the notes for the main table.  You probably want to see the notes for your breakout, so click your table on the left to update your screen.”

[Put a few blank lines below to make it stand out.]

Then remove those instructions when everyone has updated their screen.

Chat is Back, and in a Big Way

Chat is Back, and in a Big Way

The rise of Slack has made it clear that chat is back and it’s back in a big way.  It’s a fantastic chat app that companies use for internal communication.

At QiqoChat, we’re looking do the same thing for organizations that want to use chat-like collaboration tools when their members do not work together on a regular basis.  For example, this situation applies to online communities and trade associations.

Online communities have different needs than companies.  Specifically they are looking to help their members build relationships and share knowledge whereas companies are looking to create specific work products and documents.  Different needs require different tools, however the basics of helping people connect live and in an efficient way remain the same.

AssociationsNow ran an article about this recent rise in chat applications:

It’s been about two decades since the chat room was truly in vogue, but this year could prove a turning point for chat in the private community sector. Need proof? Check the success of Slack.

Chat, especially in room form, is having a bit of a renaissance as we enter 2015. Once the territory of AOL, Gmail, and the ultra-technical users who could tell you what Internet Relay Chat (IRC) does, we’re reaching a point where the intimacy of chat could become more important than ever.

With QiqoChat we provide chat to our users so that they can engage in “collaboration escalation” which means that they can connect quickly and easily with chat and then they can arrange a video chat right there on the spot or even schedule a live audio/video event for another time.

Of course, chat for chat’s sake is not what anyone is looking for.  Fortunately Slack and QiqoChat help organizations harness chat as part of their day-to-day operations to help their members be even more productive.

What do you think about this recent rise of chat?

A 21st Century Day

A 21st Century Day

Today was quite an ordinary day, and that is what’s amazing.

Just a few short years ago, we never could have connected with as many people in as many organizations so easily.  As you can guess, we spend our days working in the software industry, which is a highly integrated ecosystem.  Many services depend on many other services, and much of the code belongs to “the commons” and is open source.  This creates a collaborative ethos which is excellent for solving problems.

Our goal with QiqoChat is to help grow this collaborative ethos in other industries where people help solve each other’s problems, because they know that even though they aren’t in need of help today, they will be in need of help from others in the community on another day.

In the software world, people share ideas and code in an open and transparent way.  Sometimes money is exchanged and sometimes reputation is “exchanged” by people writing recommendations or rating each other’s expertise or support.

Of course, professionals in other industries collaborate across organizations, but it’s almost always when there is a formal relationship set up between the two organizations.  It’s rare that people will gather, meet each other for the first time and start to solve each other’s problems unless they are all working on the same project.

For some reason, this is quite common in software.  Also, the tools that are mainstream in other industries (forums, blogs, LinkedIn groups, and email discussion lists) feel stale compared to getting live help on-demand.  These collaborative experiences are powerful and they will spread to more fields.

Today, for example, when we were writing software, we collaborated with some great people in the US, UK, and Brazil.  Using tools like StackOverflow, HackHands, and GitHub we worked with some people we had never met before.

Because the code is open source,  when we need help, we can see the individual lines of code that people suggest we use are safe, and we can immediately see if the solution they propose because the computer will compile it very quickly.  Once there’s a solution, it’s documented for others to see when they face the same problem.

With QiqoChat, we’re building one of those platforms that can help bring this type of collaboration to other industries.  Helping people help each other is the best part about this job.


Advantages of QiqoChat over Listservs and Forums

Advantages of QiqoChat over Listservs and Forums

This post is about QiqoChat conversations which are similar to email discussion groups, listservs, Google Groups, etc.  One big advantage of Qiqo is that in addition to written conversations, many other collaborative tools for your online community such as live audio/video events, blogs, etc.
QiqoChat conversations offers some important advantages over standard email discussion lists (listservs) and regular forum software:
  • New: Just like a standard email discussion list, members can subscribe to all messages, or if they prefer to reduce the number of emails they receive, they can choose to subscribe to just the top-level topics in a daily/hourly summary and then opt-in to further replies for any of the specific topics that interest them.
  • A QiqoChat conversation also enables people to participate live on the Web, similar to chat.  New responses stream in realtime through the “Live Updates” section. You can click on a new update and jump right into that branch of the conversation.
  • Participants will enter shorter, more direct replies on QiqoChat.  This allows for a more readable conversation, and one where each branch of the conversation gets attention and that important points are not lost by being grouped with others.
  • Participants can reply directly by email.  Not all forum software has this capability.  Unlike with listservs, it’s easy to tell exactly which comment the new idea is responding to.
  • Participants can co-write a summary of the entire conversation.  This can be used by a skilled facilitator to provide light structure for the conversation and to help latecomers get oriented to where they should focus now.
  • You can embed these QiqoChat conversations into a live event.  This enables more efficient live events, because the conversation can get started prior to the event, and it enables the written conversations to get periodic surges of activity to breathe new life into them.
  • Participants can bookmark ideas and return to them later.
  • The facilitator can mark some ideas as “featured” so they show up in the featured section (in the search panel) and get more attention.
  • There is a word cloud and the ability to search by many advanced options (most replies, most bookmarks, featured ideas, my bookmarks, my replies, etc).
  • There is an easily searchable archive of conversations and responses in those conversations.  This is a tremendous improvement over standard archives of email listservs.
  • There are many advanced email subscription options, such as subscribing to posts that mention specific keywords or solely the responses that are down just one branch of the conversation.  This prevents email overload.
  • Participants can give a “thumbs up” the key ideas so that they rise to the top.  The facilitator can keep those totals hidden if he/she wants to ensure more objective voting if that’s useful on a topic.
  • Each circle has a main conversation to which everyone is subscribed to a daily email summary, and all members can choose to start a new conversation if they have several related questions or conversation starters and want a dedicated space to dive into all of them together.
Relationships Build Community

Relationships Build Community

It sounds simple, and it is: to build a strong community, your members must be able to build strong relationships.

This means that they need a variety of fun and productive ways to connect with each other.  Over time, these connections and interactions will add up to strong relationships.

I experienced this lesson firsthand this week, and here’s how it happened.  For the past 7 years, I have been a member of an online community of dialogue facilitators.  This community has gathered around an email discussion list for the past twenty years so it has quite a bit of history.

The email discussion list is quite active.  When I shared this blog post about a fun dialogue experiment that I held this week, it resonated with a handful of the members very, very strongly.  Two of the community members even said that they would replicate the experiment in different parts of the country.  Other members of the community were supportive, but there was a noticeable difference between these two types of reactions.

When I took a step back and noticed who had responded so enthusiastically, I realized it was the same group of people that I meet with on a weekly basis for a live Skype video chat.  Although the video chat is open to everyone, there are about ten regulars.  Over time, we’ve gotten to know each other very well.

It is no coincidence that the relationships I’ve built during these video chats made it possible for my blog post to resonate with these folks.  For members of that community with whom I’ve never met during one of those video chats, my blog post was just words.  For people whom I’ve met through the video chats, they could connect with more of the emotion I shared in the blog post (curiosity and apprehension) and it had a bigger impact on them.

How this relates to QiqoChat

This is why we’ve made realtime audio and video events the centerpiece of QiqoChat.  We believe that when people can connect live online, they can build relationships in a much deeper way than they can by simply replying to each other’s emails or comments in a forum.

We look forward to seeing all the ways our clients create space for their members to connect in meaningful ways, and we look forward to sharing many of those insights here on this blog.

Strengths and Weaknesses of Listservs (Email Discussion Lists)

Strengths and Weaknesses of Listservs (Email Discussion Lists)

Listservs (email discussion lists) are the primary method for how online communities share knowledge.  I reached out to about 2000 members across three email discussion lists for their opinions about the pros and cons of listservs from their perspective.
Here’s a quick blog post which shows how written conversations on QiqoChat compare to email listservs and standard forums.

Survey Results:

(The bullet points below are paraphrased from the 27 people who responded to the survey.)

What are the main benefits of a listserv?

  • Relationship building & authentic, remote community
  • Reputation building
  • A jumping-off point for working groups and other collaborative projects
  • Expertise on-demand
  • Knowledge archiving
  • Building a shared history / consciousness
  • Representing the pulse of the community
  • Sending announcements of events/jobs/news
  • It is a way to have deliberate discussions that go in-depth
  • Happens at the 24/7 convenience of the writer
  • Information Push: The very fact that the list comes to us via email—rather than our having to go somewhere online to access it—dramatically lowers the barriers to participation.
  • Members are committed to a cause
  • Active moderator filters out emails which merely say “I agree / Me too”.
  • In-depth discussions.
  • I learn a lot and my awareness expands.
  • It’s asynchronous. It’s pretty easy to join a conversation even a day late.
  • For me the listserv format works well when you are a group of people asynchronously sharing ideas, friendships, and information.
  • It works because of its secret ingredient: the moderator.
  • Private and secure (I don’t trust most of the other groups, like Yahoo Groups, etc.) Privacy allows us to be open and frank and help others.
  • Comfortable with the format and rhythm of the listserve. Old habit.
  • Impermanence of data, like life.
  • Not quite as helpful for lengthy conversations
  • One, we are all definitively opted IN. We choose to be a part of it. And we respect the fact that every post goes to nearly 500 people and we don’t post too much gratuitous or annoying stuff.
  • Email is the lowest common denominator. Everyone knows how to use it and nobody has to DO anything to get the communication so it’s ridiculously easy.
  • I think the fact that we meet in person really helps with accountability. Nobody’s posting anonymously, which enables us all to enjoy mutual respect, which, in my opinion, IS the secret ingredient!
  • An official or unofficial monitor has to keep it open, encourage unknown voices, and keep it going without domineering types.  Otherwise you get the well-known flame wars, or the less well-know “-isms.” Multi-person email discussions are riddled with bias – er, may the rudest dominate the floor!
  • ListServ is an async communications tactic that connects us all without regard to time or place.  I might send a message to the ListServ at midnight, but get to read it in the morning at 6A over coffee – we have a conversation, but when we have tie on our day.  If I’m in Denver, you can connect and participate in Dayton – geography no long is an issue in having a conversation.
  • One reason I like a Listserv is it is very VRM-y.  I do not have to go look for posts as with a forum, they come to me.  In the old BBS model, you dialed into a service and downloaded all the posts as a batch.  Having threaded discussions in topic groupings provided some organization so you could home in on the most important stuff, then relinquish the modem port for the next person.  When we have fast, always-on Internet this doesn’t make sense anymore, at least to me.  Now we have the emails show up in our in-box and then run rule sets over them.  Instead of one topic group, we can tag them with many tags and search within multiple topics.  We can highlight or mute any specific person.  We can search across different lists.  All of this and we still have basic BBS functionality by searching the web archive and replying there.
  • A listserv also has better temporal context.  With a forum, people often find an old thread while searching and then revive it.  Often the problem is long solved but keeps revivifying like a Level 10 Zombie Warrior.  People on a Listserv typically respond to the current conversation threads.
  • It’s underlying information architecture is publish-subscribe (PubSub).

What are the primary weaknesses of a listserv?

  • Conversations take time to develop
  • Many more threads of conversation get opened up than can be effectively addressed;
  • There is a self-imposed censoring where people have something valuable to add, but the don’t feel it’s not valuable enough to cause an email to be automatically sent out to 1100 subscribers
  • Remembering the good stuff is there and finding it again.
  • You can have a discussion but not make a decision or organize a collaborative action if you don’t have some kind of voting or ratification in place; the listserv has to be augmented periodically with other tools for surveys etc.
  • Coming out of school just last year, I have to say young people don’t email much and don’t answer emails from organizations very much; it works as a newsletter but not a conversation. It’s too slow moving. Many of the tools young people like have implied limits of debate, like twitter or IM. You don’t flood the channel and so there’s more back and forth.
  • There’s no sorting or tagging or analytics to give a broad picture of the group. Periodically, I consider doing some kind of dump of my email (none of which is ever deleted, just archived) and running some analysis on the content, because I think it would be interesting to get a big picture, but the listserv doesn’t really feel like public information. It’s a shared email service and there are real identities here, and I can’t share my findings. It’s a pity, because I think the conversation would be pretty much the same on a more public forum, and the conversations are an important resource.
  • I don’t like listserv format for coordinating a project.  (Was that email chain a discussion?  What about that other email chain that has related ideas?  Which ARE we doing?)
  • I don’t like listserv format for remote ‘work day’ communication.  I like HipChat, Skype, Google Hangout, IRC, or one of the many other chat like systems for ‘work day’ communication.
  • Listserve works great for our group, not so much for workplace collaborative set of tools. For one of our remote organizations, we use these tools: Highrise, Box, Yammer, GotoMeeting, joinMe, FreeConferenceCall, Email exchange & everyone is forced to use remote tools even if in same building.
  • For many it’s the inability to share / overshare right now.  For many of us though, that might actually be a benefit.

What do you wish the listserv could do that it doesn’t already do?

  • I’d kill for two features – topic digests (descriptive, concise subject lines summarizing currently active threads)
  • The ability for me to turn off particular topics.
  • I wish we had the AI (Artificial Intelligence) capacity to continuously update a searchable database type index of the content.
  • There’s no real theater to a listserv. I do enjoy the participants, but it’s pretty academic in general and there would be more lurkers if the information was more humanly presented. UI/UX research demonstrates how much people look at images on a page, especially images of real people’s faces (users can identify stock images and tend to ignore them).
  • On average people reading a web page of biographic blurbs will spend four times as much time looking at the image of a person as reading their bio. That came out of eye tracking research. Non verbal communication is more important for social cues than verbal, and we miss out on that via listserv. We have the convention to see each other, sure, but I personally miss the human part – in person the integrity of this community really shines, and isn’t so academic.
  • Saved messages on topics with tagging like a blog.
  • I’m not crazy about the way our archives look and work <;
  • Nada; lots of other platforms for all that.  Pictures, audio, video – all available supporting platforms if we need it.
  • Better tagging.
  • Active reading. For example, while reading a rich-formatted post you can tag it and the tag is communicated back to the server.  You can subscribe to tags on the list or from individual participants – meaning that you receive tags they’ve made public.  If you and I are reading the same email and I tag it #privacy then you see that tag in your copy, and vice versa.
  • The list server has a published set of official tags.  These can be used to search and organize at the client or in the web interface.
  • I’d make sure a list server didn’t destroy the integrity of signed emails.
  • The list server would keep a running log of links and attachments sent in the last 30 days or so.  Then you can search for “that link Doc posted last week”  or “who linked to that EFF story?”
  • Ability to mute threads.
  • Stats – a heat map of topics, tags, posters, threads, etc.
  • Blog registry – a sort of meta-feed of the meta-feed.  Anyone who joins the list can register one or more RSS feeds of their long-form posts.  Then in addition to the emails, we all get notified of blog posts from participants in the group.
  • With throttling and mute ability, of course.
  • Duplicate suppression.  Typically on this list, anyone who replies sends a copy to the poster and to the list.  As the poster being replied to, you get two copies.  This policy is list-wide and has to do with the way the list handles reply-to addressing.  I’d have client-side preferences that can override the list.  That way if I reply to the list, my preferences cause it to remove my email address from the From line prior to forwarding it on, regardless of what the list admin did.
  • Mail hold.  With Listserv I can set nomail while on vacation (so people don’t get spammed with out of office replies) but then I miss all the traffic.  Why can’t I have the Listserv remember when I suspended service, then when I resume send me the backlog?  (Or the most recent x emails from the backlog.)
  • I’d have a real-time API for the list.  Then I’d set up Tasker on my Android phone to suppress list activity during Do Not
  • Disturb times, automatically suspend service while I’m on vacation, etc.
  • Verified and unverified users.  Someone joining the list can provide a miicard, account or similar to attain a higher reputation.  Then subscribers can choose whether to subscribe to all posts or just those of registered users.  Or the list admin can make verification a policy. This would virtually eliminate spam.  Note that verification does not mean you can’t use a pseudonym.

What demographic does this technology serve well or not well?

  • I’ll take a wild, uninformed stab at this and say that it’s best for people 35 and up. The theory being that people younger than 35 have greatly diminished their reliance on email in favor of other communication vehicles (esp. texting, also Facetime and other mobile technologies).
  • The age factor is really what listserv is about. In my experience email as a channel is hitting users over 40 or those involved in enterprise. It’s also not focused to make a decision but nicely shows writing skills for the participants – that’s important for this group because the group is very articulate and accustomed to writing.
  • Especially self-employed with limited company support.
  • All ages
  • Most professions. (I’m in a yoga teachers listserve and this tech listserve.)
  • This format serves just about all of us.  Email is the #1 tactic for connecting and sharing in B2B settings and it’s the #2 tactic for B2C.  There are those who have stopped using email but they’re (still) a fringe element.  It’s just so darn convenient.
  • Facebook groups are also very good for all demographics I’ve seen (any working age or retired professional who is interested enough to opt-in to a book group).
  • Coming from Stanford and now in Silicon Valley – i’ve seen under 30 year olds are responsive to email on 1 2 DAY intervals vs other streams (messengers, Facebook, tweets, etc) where they will check and respond to a stream at least 2x daily – if not 5x+ and often-times every 1-2 HOURS.

Just for fun: What would listservs look like if they were invented in 2014?

  • GroupServer
  • Twitter
  • I’m afraid they’d be way too complex and proprietary. I’d rather just improve on the original
  • It’d look a lot like G+ or LinkedIn Groups


  • Regarding this Listserv, you might poll people to see if they like a heavily-moderated version or not.  The pro is control. The con is control.  IMHO, a lightly-moderated approach is best, or a non-moderated version with deep, responsive, substantive involvement by the sponsor.
  • Regarding trade-offs: Critical to consider what the goals of the software and process are. Letting a thousand voices blossom is hard if you also want to have a high quality, concise stream of conversation.
  • Yammer/IM program has been so valuable for a remote organization we started 4 years ago.
Last week’s improvements based on your feedback!

Last week’s improvements based on your feedback!

The purpose of this blog post is to demonstrate that we are listening to your suggestions and that we are able to incorporate them into QiqoChat very quickly.  Please keep ’em coming!

Last week during Facilitate ’15, we received some great feedback on QiqoChat from members of the facilitation community.  The 30 participants were an interdisciplinary collection of professionals who focus on collaboration in various circumstances, from designing conferences and dialogues to helping organizations transform their internal collaborative processes.

This was the first public test of our “unconference call” tool where a large group of people on a conference call is able to break out into interactive, small-group discussions.  We believe this type of tool can make webinars much more engaging.

Feedback from the event was strong and positive.  People were surprised at how well a group can organize itself when given light structure.  These facilitators also had great insight about how to improve the tool to create a more fluid experience.

We are so very thankful for their enthusiasm, energy, and suggestions.  Our goal is to remain in this strong feedback loop where we continue to improve QiqoChat based the insights you share with us.

Here are the improvements we’ve made in just the last week in response to your feedback:

  1. Streamline the process for jumping into an event and move some features and options back so that a new user is not overwhelmed with all features at once.
  2. Displaying a simple 1-2-3 process someone can take if they cannot figure out how to turn on their audio or video.
  3. Enable the moderator to assign a discussion topic for each breakout table in an event.
  4. Simplify the process for participants to create new events.  This is essential for opening sessions of online conferences where participants choose the topics for the rest of the conference.
  5. Enable the moderator to broadcast messages to everyone across all breakout tables so that participants know when to reconvene in the main room.
  6. Prevent audio feedback if someone accidentally joins both a video and audio chatroom at the same time.
  7. Unify the separate concepts of audio and video breakout sessions; make it easier to jump between audio and video breakout rooms; make it clearer that video chatrooms can have 10 participants and that audio breakouts can have unlimited participants .
  8. Simplify the tech support section so people can enter and exit the conference calls easier.
  9. Be able to mute participants who leave their microphone on accidentally.
  10. Set all links on any event page to open up in a new window so that people do not lose their audio connection accidentally.
  11. Let participants upload and share attachments.
  12. Quickly show a combined list of all participants’ profiles so you can see who is present.  This also helps people introduce themselves in alphabetical order.
  13. Add suggested ground rules and remind people to state their name when they speak during large calls.

And while we were at it we made a few other improvements in the past week too:

  1. Integrate YouTube videos into events.
  2. Add profile photos to the transcript view of each written conversation.

Here are some features and improvements you suggested and that still working on:

  • Have an uber-view where a participant can see all the places where their colleagues are chatting across the entire circle at that time.

The pace of change is rapid, due to the high volume of useful feedback we are receiving.  If you have additional suggestions, please contact us or drop us a note in the comments below.

Try an Unconference Call

Try an Unconference Call

We’ve all sat through some dry conference calls where we’d rather be doing something else.  Today, we’re rolling out a tool for “unconference calls” which you might find to be an attractive solution to this problem.

What is an unconference call?

Unconference calls are interactive and highly participatory.  They start the same way as a conference call but they have two main differences which make them much more enjoyable:

  1. When the host is ready, the group can subdivide into audio and/or video breakout tables for a more efficient discussion and then reconvene as a whole group with a single click at the right time.  This way, people only need to participate in the discussion that’s most relevant to them.
  2. There is a collaborative whitespace where the whole group can brainstorm, share links, and document the conversation.  Each breakout table also has its own collaborative whitespace to accompany their breakout session.
image of breakout tables on QiqoChat
An example of breakout tables on QiqoChat during an “unconference call”.

Tactics and Strategies

There are a variety of collaborative techniques you can employ when running one of these unconference calls.

  1. You could have all tables talking about the same topic or all tables could be talking about different topics.
  2. You can choose the topics, or you can let the participants choose the topics of the breakout tables.
  3. You could let participants hop between these virtual breakout tables.
  4. You could have one person remaining at each table for continuity and have everyone else switch tables every 5 minutes to ensure a cross pollination of ideas.
  5. You can link to other tools such as interactive surveys for use during the call.

We look forward to seeing people use unconference calls in creative ways to design more interactive meetings.

Collaborative Surveys

Collaborative Surveys

A collaborative survey on QiqoChat is a great fit for certain situations.

What is it?

A collaborative survey is half survey and half discussion.  Participants can see each other’s responses and build on each other’s ideas.

When would I use one?

Collaborative surveys are great ways to get an online conversation going.  Participants respond to a set of questions and can then respond to each other.  You would use a collaborative survey when you do want participants to brainstorm together.

What are the advantages?

With standard surveys, you have to sort all the responses and synthesize any differing opinions.  With collaborative surveys, participants will push the best ideas to the top and they will be able to explore any diverging opinion in a productive way, creating further insights for you.

How do I create one?

It’s simple.  Create a new QiqoChat conversation and add your survey questions as the conversation starters.  Then share the link and give participants about a week to respond to each other.

What if you could only share one link per week?

What if you could only share one link per week?

These days we’re all flooded with information.  If you were to read everything that everyone in your online community shared in a week, you wouldn’t get anything done.

However, your peers are sharing useful information, so what’s a good way to strike a balance between missing out and reading too much?

We think that one answer is smarter design.  We’ve recently built a simple peer-to-peer newsletter into each group’s page on QiqoChat, and we placed an interesting constraint on everyone’s participation: yup, you guessed it– people can share up to one link per week.

We expect this will filter out a great deal of noise while allowing the important news to get through.  You can try out this newsletter feature on the demo site (scroll down when you get there).  It’s quick and easy to add, edit, and delete your announcements, and these announcements are cleanly bundled into one weekly newsletter to everyone in the group.

What other techniques have you found for helping online communities cut through the news and stay updated with the most important news?  Here are a few that we’ve run across:

  • Blog: Publishing a list of top posts for the month
  • Online Groups: A welcome post that is pinned to the top of the list and points people in the right direction
  • Email Discussion Lists: Creating a periodic blog post which summarizes and links to the most energetic discussions