Anonymously follow people's private conversations

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Hello Hunters! Thanks @_jacksmith for hunting us! We've developed a system that allows you to follow people's private conversations among their trusted friends, without knowing who they are. Before getting to how, here's why. I previously cofounded ITtoolbox, an early knowledge sharing community. We had millions of users and were named one of 20 companies to disrupt the information industry for our work in online communities before being acquired for $59 million. My vision had always been to connect the knowledge of an entire population. But I was disappointed to learn the model we helped advance, which prevails today, tends to get about 1% of users sharing their knowledge, while 99% don't. So I started asking those who don’t share their insights online, “why?” After talking with many, I learned most of us prefer going to select friends for advice, rather than strangers. These conversations are trusted and private (no reputation risk, no trolls and zealots). And when our friends ask us for insights, we’re happy to help. This pointed to 3 problems I wanted to fix. 1. These private conversations aren't optimized for shared interests. 2. They aren't available for others to learn from. 3. The best responses could've come from people we don't know. How do we fix this? At it's core, Rushline is a new kind of messaging platform for friends, with just enough structure for high-value collaboration around shared interests. Then we do something really cool, something we’ve received multiple patents on. We remove personally identifiable information from these conversations and make them available to the public, matching relevant people to them who can help. There's an awesome implication of this. You can now be a fly on the wall, following private conversations among trusted friends as they talk freely about #topics you’re interested in. And you can join in when you have something helpful to add. I’ll be here all day to answer questions and look forward to your feedback. To see how it works, sign up to follow conversations on any #topic you're interested in, from startup advice to product news or something personal. Available on web and iOS. Dan P.S. More info at our intro blog post
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Rushing right into using it. Nice product.
nice idea!
@paul_shuteyev thanks! If you register, there are several marketing related topics you might benefit from following, they appear in step 2 of registration.
Talkshow recently shut down in this field, as did Talkk Whats going to make rushline succeed?
EDIT - @bentossell, TL;DR to make up for my book below. Two things: 1. Different purposes and core functionality. We believe private/public conversations are to Rushline what Page Rank was to Google, or disappearing photos were to Snapchat. 2. Our experience in the knowledge sharing space, which will be useful in bringing a new behavior online. --------------------------------- @bentossell We've watched Talkshow and Talkk from afar, as we've spent the last 2.5 years working on and testing our platform. I believe Rushline has fundamental differences in both purpose and value relative to either, and these differences are what make Rushline valuable to users. Regarding purpose, Rushline is deliberately dedicated to knowledge sharing through shared interest conversations among friends, and is based on deep understanding in knowledge sharing systems. Over the 12 years I ran ITtoolbox and since, one of the things I learned is most people prefer to seek and share insights among trusted friends rather than strangers. The primary reasons are because conversations among friends are trusted, safe, and private. People don't want the reputation risk inherent with openly sharing views online. Central to how Rushline works is a patented method for allowing people to have conversations among their friends, while making those conversations anonymous available to the public. This creates the level of safety and privacy necessary to make Rushline work. While people prefer to have these conversations among their friends for the reasons above, they also universally recognize the best insights might have come from people they don't know, which is the reason why having them in public is of value to them. We have many other features unique to Rushline that focus on safely bringing high quality insights into these private conversations to unlock this value. These features alone won't make Rushline succeed. Ultimately, I see the biggest challenge in front of us for the next 18-24 months will be onboarding people to a new behavior, taking conversations they already have inefficiently offline or through a mixture of various tools, and having them efficiently on Rushline with substantial added value for doing so. This will be a gradual process not unlike what we experienced when I first started working on ITtoolbox in 1997. Back then people couldn't understand why anyone would ever post or answer questions among strangers online. We methodically found ways to reveal this value to users, and through Rushline's beta testing, we've seen signs pointing us in the direction of how we'll go about doing this same thing with this platform.
My experience suggests that mass audiences don't understand online privacy, much less dual-mode experiences. Who is your target audience, and in user testing, what kind of comprehension did people have for the product? If they understood it, did they feel comfortable/confident enough to want to use it?
@chrismessina regarding target audience, ultimately I believe it's a mass communication tool. Early on, we're targeting a small number of demographic/use case pairings, startup and product management topics being one. User comprehension was one of the biggest challenges of our beta. We found Rushline challenges deeply held expectations of privacy and how conversations work. We did finally get through, keying off the ability to follow other people's private conversations. Here's a video mashup of the user comprehension during final message testing (audio required). Not production grade, my apologies, just something I put together for the team. Regarding comfort level, there was a split of enthusiasm and apprehension. Apprehension was generally overcome through a successful experience.
@bydanm great answer — and thanks for the video. That's awesome transparency — totally on brand! :)
@chrismessina you're welcome. Thanks for the great question, you zeroed right in on it!