After a substantial amount of time and cash investment, SlopeTalk is live and ready for you to use and enjoy! I have written very thorough documentation, which will take you just a few minutes to read in its entirety, right here. Everyone is entitled to access the page, which is here. I look forward to seeing how Slopers make use of this page, although I want to be clear I am deliberately introducing this on the quietest week of the year so we can have a “soft” opening of this new product………..so don’t be surprised that it’s thinly-populated at first.
Just a few quick thoughts and remarks about this new offering:
- This is meant as a new way to communicate with other people on the site, with more of a real-time feel, and broken into a variety of channels so you can linger in the content zone you like the most;
- It’s going to take a little while for people to wander over to Talk (and even longer to stick around), but over time, the quantity of people will almost certainly increase, and Talk will start to adopt a personality all its own;
- There are a few bells and whistles coming, but this initial version of Talk is, to my way of thinking, everything I had hoped it would be;
- I encourage you paying members to make good use of the Private Chat and Private Channel features, which are exclusively your domain.
Below is my “concept piece” I wrote months ago; I think we’ve pretty much nailed the target.
If there’s one thing I’ve heard consistently over the years, it is that the community on Slope is its greatest asset. The glue that binds that community together is the comments system, which has been a custom-made product from Slope virtually since the site’s inception in 2005.
In all that time, the model has been the same as any other blog (although I am loath to use that term, as we outgrew the designation of “blog” years ago). That is, create a post, and have comments following it.
After thinking at length about the various shortcomings of this model, and the benefits of a new approach, I decided we needed a totally new paradigm, which is to have a conglomeration of channels of conversation with unlimited access points.
Henceforth, there is NO rigid link between a given post and a given set of comments. Such a linkage is no longer relevant, and the community’s conversation will be something you can leap into at any time from anywhere without being prompted to do so by a blog post.
Here are the most important things to know about the philosophy behind SlopeTalk:
- The conversation is perpetual: People are on the site every day of the year and every hour of the day. There is no start or end to the conversation. You just jump in and start talking, sort of like a never-ending cocktail party without the drinks. You can scroll back in time to see what you’ve missed recently, but the idea is that people should be able to jump in and out of any given channel and simply join in.
- Every topic has its place: By far the most vexing aspect of the Slope community over the years has been that controversial “off topic” conversations were pervasive, and a portion (sometimes a majority) of people simply didn’t want to be a part of it. This caused friction, drove people away, and in general created conflict, because everyone was all crammed into the same room. With SlopeTalk, there are specific channels dedicated to popular categories of conversation (like Politics) where it is appropriate to discuss such topics, and in which any person choosing to go into that channel should reasonably expect what the conversation will be like.
- Integration with Slope is key: SlopeTalk is not just a “plug-in” module acquired off the shelf from a third party. It is a from-the-ground-up bespoke component of the Slope of Hope site as a whole, and as such, its integration will other portions of the site will be deepening all the time.
- SlopeTalk will serve as the center of the site: As the integration improves, it will feel more and more natural to use SlopeTalk as a kind of “home room” for your experience on the site. Moving in and out of the conversation to other pages on the site should feel smooth.
- Premium users have privileges: Slope’s entire business model is predicated on subscriptions from premium members, and as such, serving their needs and providing extra features is always the top priority here. SlopeTalk already has special features just for paying members, such as the ability to host a private channel and invite only specific individuals into your room, and the breadth of premium features will certainly increase over time.
The comments system was a tremendous success on the site, yielding millions of comments over the years, but SlopeTalk is an entirely new approach to our community. We look forward to your active participation.