The topic: Google+. The pace: frantic!
Hosted at the Winnipeg News Cafe by Free Press social media reporter Lindsey Wiebe, the chat used CoverItLive, a nifty live participation tool journalists use to update realtime from events, take questions, curate tweets by hashtag and liveblog.
The stream moves turbo, questions fly, and it’s a lot of fun. After, I asked Lindsey how she thought her first totally-on-her-own live hosting for the Free Press went.
Me: Were you nervous!? I totally was, until we got rolling & got swept away by the speed & the fun!
Lindsey Wiebe: I totally was! (But) I was really happy with the overall level of engagement and participation. According to the CIL data we had 416 readers total & 156 reader comments.
There are a few things I might do differently in future, based on suggestions and feedback. Numbering the questions, for one, would have helped (thanks for that, Matthew Shepherd!), and I think soliciting for questions prior to the event would have allowed us to target the conversation a bit better, and narrow down the number of similar questions.
The chat tended to veer off in different directions, which was fine with me, but I’m not sure how easy it was to follow for readers who weren’t used to live chat formats.
Me: We went about an hour – did we talk about everything you hoped to (in the depth you hoped for)? If not, what would have made it work better?
LW: I had a few questions I didn’t get to, or that didn’t really get taken up by the panelists, and there were some areas where I think we could have gone into more depth. But the unasked questions didn’t really bother me – the chat was for the benefit of participants, and if their questions are addressed, I’m happy.
Me: I’m curious about how the comment moderation works. Did the moderator hold back a lot of reader comments to keep it making sense, or let everything through except unacceptable stuff?
LW: The goal of moderation was mainly to guide the conversation and make it easier for readers to follow along.
Since a lot of the comments were in the form of questions, we tried to stagger them a bit so there wasn’t a question deluge. But I realize this might have been confusing for people who posted questions and wondered about the lag time, and for our panelists (like yourself), who might not have been clear where they were meant to direct their energy when new questions popped up.
I’m still thinking on how we could fine tune this in future, and whether it was the best approach: would it have been better to allow a commenting free-for-all? To close comments entirely until a designated period? To set clearer comment rules?
I find that live chat conventions tend to favor the speediest typists and thinkers, and the pace and rhythms (plus keeping track of various question threads) can be a little daunting if you’re not accustomed to it. But it’s always going to be a challenge to keep the conversation moving quickly enough for more active participants, while making sure it stays coherent and well-paced for newcomers.
What do you guys (participants & lurkers) think? Was it fun and satisfying from an audience perspective? Any suggestions for improvements?
Update: some tweeted replies, in the interest of keeping all the feedback in 1 place for Lindsey