I remember not too long ago, there was a feautured chat section. Whatever happened to that?
Yeah… But there’s nothing there, plus it was on the menu bar but it isn’t anymore.
Yes, it was wiped after awhile, we have to keep adding… Oh, didn’t know it was in the menu…
When we originally launched, the chatroom had maybe ten or twenty settings, most were related to fighting spam and moderating, such as:
- Who must complete a CAPTCHA before they can chat?
- How long can Mods ban for?
- Who can send URLs?
- Who can kick?
We anticipated a lot of spam on the platform, because it was built with public chat listings in mind. The original concept of Minnit was like a public square where owners and mods set up their own chats. You find one that fits your interest, you chat, you have fun. You can spend extra to buy new emoji, rank shapes, and more.
Had we continued this business model, yes, public chat listings would not only be a good idea, but would be a requirement for the service to be of any use.
However, part of what separates a good business from a bad business is the business’s ability to pivot. Lots of great companies start out one thing and pivot to another as time goes on, even rebranding/renaming itself. So, even though my dream would have been to keep this initial thought going, and have a great chat site with public listings, reality had other intentions.
One of the things we added prior to launch was the ability to embed the chatroom onto your own website. Simple stuff — you add the chat, users connect, they can talk. They can sign up to Minnit if they wanted, or they could talk as a guest. Simple enough.
However, this proved to be far more popular than we anticipated. Most owners didn’t care at all about being on our public listings and catering to a generic “Minnit User”. They wanted to add a chatroom to their website, which we offered, and then they wanted more features — custom CSS, single sign on support, white-labeling, the ability to manage their own user’s accounts, more customization, more users, stuff like that. Some of those we quickly got to work on, and then launched our subscription plans in 2018 to deliver these perks. But owners still wanted the ability to have single sign on, as well as manage accounts directly (not use Minnit accounts), which wasn’t possible to add in after the fact.
This is why we launched Organizations in 2021. The owners who were paying us, and allowing us to work on Minnit full-time, needed this level of control, and this was us answering. More and more, owners cared less about “Minnit the Social Networking Site” and more about “Minnit the Software as a Service.” And so that is where our focus shifted. Organizations are now the de-facto only chat product we offer — the idea of Minnit being a social networking site is dead. We’ll still support non-organization chats for as long as people are using them, but new accounts aren’t even given an option when creating a chat, it’s organizations only. This became our new focus.
Still, in 2022, a few chat owners I talk with expressed interest in the lists returning. Some remembered the old list (Discover), others were too new, but I figured I’d give it one last shot. This time around, I’d fully control who got added (no algorithm), promote it heavily in the navigational bar, and closely monitor the results.
What we (Minnit & chat owners) found in this 2022 experiment was:
- The amount of spam went up.
- The amount of users who were aimlessly clicking around and getting lost went up — i.e. a random user enters your chat and says “Sorry, I just came here after signing up, now how do I get back to the main chat?” and you find out they came from a crypto chat and think you and your users are all from there
- And, most importantly, the amount of users who went from Minnit to the owner’s site was effectively zero. The owners of the chats were getting nothing from this. Imagine you have a chatroom for your radio, and you and your users are talking about things relevant to that, and then someone comes in asking if anyone wants to play a video game. Or if your chatroom is geared towards your online music courses, and someone joins who has no interest in music, and they just ask random questions from your students about where they live and how old they are.
Believe me, a public chat listing was our vision from day one. It’s not like we didn’t take the idea seriously — the entire platform was built around it, way back in 2017. But, if it doesn’t benefit our customers — and especially if it’s a detriment to our customers — then it’s not worth maintaining.
If we had a large amount of customers who said “All I want to do is pay you a monthly fee for people to enter my chat, I have no website” then sure, I’d bring it back. But if anyone is currently paying us, chances are, you’re using the chat to complement your site/radio stream/course/news/plugin/app/youtube channel/etc/etc/etc. And the users who use public listings do not care about integrating into your community, they care about not being bored.
Until that disconnect can be solved, listings cannot return.
That makes sense indeed… Thank you, Jesse