Testing Out the Chat Widget

We’ve been working with the people who created the Nowtalk chat widget for blogs and we’re testing it out here on Dispatches (yeah, we did this once before and had to pull it immediately to fix a problem). So if chatting with other readers is something you think you’d like to do, try it out and help us test it and troubleshoot any problems. It will let you post a couple things as a guest, then you have to log in with Facebook, Twitter or a couple other IDs. You’ll see it in the lower right corner, just click on it and go.

35 comments on this post.
  1. Cuttlefish:

    Not only did it ask me to sign in on some other thingy (facebook or twitter or something else), but it actually signed me out of twitter which I had already been signed in on (if that parses, grammatically).

    I’m far too paranoid to sign in on anything that wants me to connect to anything else, let alone *everything* else.

  2. Audley Z. Darkheart (liar and scoundrel):

    Crap won’t even load for me.

  3. dingojack:

    Where? I can’t see it.
    ‘Share with’, yes. ‘Chat’, no.
    Dingo

  4. Physicalist:

    Dingojack: If it’s working, it shows up as a tiny window in the bottom right of the screen. Number and “chat live.” Click on it and you can try to log in or be a guest — and if you log in with your Google account, it will display your “real name” instead of your psuedonym, because Google thinks they can get more money if they force us all to use our “real” names.

  5. Physicalist:

    Well, it seemed to be working before, but after I submitted my last blog comment, it reloaded the page, and now I’m left with a “Welcome to NowTalk” and no comments coming up.

  6. Physicalist:

    Nope. Not working no more for me. G’night.

  7. uzza:

    says I havta disable my popup blocker. ??!?

  8. dingojack:

    Just to be clear.
    There’s nothing on the bottom right of my screen (i’ve scrolled from banner to footer, and nada).
    Under all the categorgies on the left hand side (“Advertise on FtB”, “About the author” & etc.) there is a category called “NowTalk Chat” (the bottom left of my screen) but under it is just an ad, nothing more.
    Could it be that a slow computer link, my dull brain, or being outside the US (see HULU*) is inhibiting the feed somehow?
    Dingo
    ——–
    * or rather, not see HULU

  9. rorschach:

    So if chatting with other readers is something you think you’d like to do

    Ewww. No, thanks.

  10. nigelTheBold, also Avo:

    I’d love to chat with others.

    But not if it won’t let just work with my nigelTheBold account. I don’t just give out my FB, and anyway: my FtB persona is all about nigelTheBold.

  11. tfkreference:

    Can you fix the mobile template while you’re at it? It works for the FTB homepage (though only shows recent posts without links to any blogs), but doesn’t work on most, if not all of the blogs.

  12. mobius:

    Well, I was able to post as a guest. I am guessing there is no way to use the WordPress log-in for the chat as well. That would just be too easy.

    I agree with nigel. If possible, I would prefer not to log in from my Facebook account. For one, I hardly ever use it. For two, it is far less anonymous than using my WordPress log-in.

  13. sezme:

    More damn clutter on my screen. Why would you want to enable chat? Comments here can be seen by all. So can replies. Not so with chat. It inhibits rather than enhancing dialog.

    Dump it.

  14. Olav:

    Sezme, #13:

    More damn clutter on my screen. Why would you want to enable chat? Comments here can be seen by all. So can replies. Not so with chat. It inhibits rather than enhancing dialog.

    Dump it.

    Exactly.

    It seems to me that FtB should concentrate more on developing itself as a platform of ideas (you know, freethought) and less on adding “social” features. If you want this to be a gossip site, there are already others who do it much better (like Twitter, Facebook, Google and such other demons from hell).

  15. carlie:

    I’d be really annoyed to think that half of the conversation was happening somewhere else other than the comments, yet possibly affecting it. Nope.

  16. carlie:

    Plus, its location in the lower right corner is awkward, because it’s right next to the scrolldown and is easy to hit on accident.

  17. Olav:

    Here is another reason why this is such a bad idea: a single visit to this website already stuffs your browser with 78 (no typo!) third party cookies (if you don’t use any form of ad/script/cookie blocking). The number of things that get loaded from other domains when one visits the site really needs to come down, not go up. If it weren’t Freethoughtblogs one could think it was a malicious site trying to rob its visitors.

    Wear protection, people. Even on friendly websites.

  18. mobius:

    @sezme

    More damn clutter on my screen. Why would you want to enable chat? Comments here can be seen by all. So can replies. Not so with chat. It inhibits rather than enhancing dialog.

    Dump it.

    I agree. I think it pretty much duplicates the comments section. A conversation can be carried on by way of the comments, though it is slightly awkward.

  19. Greg:

    I get script errors. And there is no way to turn the damned thing off. If you must keep it, allow a right click option to turn it off for the entire session

  20. Olav:

    Mobius #18:

    A conversation can be carried on by way of the comments, though it is slightly awkward.

    That is partly caused by the format chosen for comments on this weblog. Other blogs use threaded/nested comment sections, which I find more natural. It makes it clear to whom you are replying in a conversation. But a lot of people seem to hate it for some reason, probably because they never experienced newsgroups or mailing lists.

    An alternative is to insert a link to the comment you are replying to, as I did on the first line of this comment. But you have to manually construct the <a href=”#comment-235179″></a> line, which is a small effort that you can’t ask everyone to make (a basic understanding of HTML is needed). Ed could help out by installing the “@ Reply” plugin for WordPress:

    http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/reply-to/

    which does something similar enough, and that will look familiar to people who use Twitter. Perhaps there are others plugins that could help as well.

  21. Olav:

    Greg #19:

    I get script errors. And there is no way to turn the damned thing off. If you must keep it, allow a right click option to turn it off for the entire session

    Install NoScript in Firefox, learn to use it, make “nowtalk.com” an untrusted site.

    I agree it should not be necessary to go to such lengths.

  22. tacitus:

    Ugh –now, every time I load a page, my browser freezes for several seconds as the chat widget loads the number of people online (or initializes, or something). This is a real pain, and for something I’m not likely to use very often, if at all. Please do something about that. I’m using the latest version of FF.

    I would suggest that a forum is a better and more necessary addition to FTB. The main problem when interacting with blogs like FTB is that the posts go stale within hours (esp. on an active blog like this one). I’ve often come to a post I want to comment on something only to find that the comment thread has been dead for hours already. Forum threads tend to live much longer, and can be brought back after a considerable amount of time should the situation warrant it.

  23. tacitus:

    I should add that the whole browser freezes (get “Firefox is not responding”) even if I switch to another tab before the FTB page load is complete. This is annoying.

  24. Olav:

    Tacitus #22:

    I would suggest that a forum is a better and more necessary addition to FTB.

    As a visitor and reader I would not mind a forum myself, but I suspect it would be slightly more laborious to administer/moderate than the current weblogs.

    Still if there is going to be a forum, I want an NNTP interface as well ;-)

  25. Loqi:

    The chat widget also seems to block interaction with the left column. Once the chat popup appears, I lose the ability to interact with any links, text, etc. on the left side.

  26. whheydt:

    Your script has a problem. Every time I hit the main page of Dispatches, after a bit I get:

    A script on this page may be busy, or it may have stopped responding. You can stop the script now, or you can continue to see if the script will complete.

    Script: https://www.nowtalk.com/widget/jquery/jquery.min.js:14

  27. monimonika:

    I was also getting lots of “A script on this page may be busy…” messages on Firefox. I had to quickly close all the freethoughtblogs tabs in order to stop the constant messages (every 2 seconds!).

    Ghostery (ffx add-on) seemed to be struggling with the nowtalk.com stuff since some of the busy script messages began mentioning Ghostery scripts as well as the nowtalk.com scripts.

    In the end I added ” *www.nowtalk.com* ” to my AdBlock Plus filter list. Hooray! The annoyance is gone!

  28. Ed Brayton:

    Okay folks, message heard loud and clear. It will be gone shortly and the idea is being scrapped. I thought it might be something some of our readers would enjoy, but not enough that it would be worth pissing other folks off.

  29. guyinny:

    Hey FTB Readers,

    I’m the founder of NowTalk, the company that created the chatting widget you tested. I’d like to personally apologize for any of the issues you encountered with our software. Your feedback in this thread has been extremely helpful and we’re already working on fixing everything you mentioned.

    I was participating in the chat last night and there was a 19 year old boy who was struggling to come out to his religious family as atheist. A user named “Veritas” and several guests reached out and comforted him- this is something that could not have happened in a standard message board or blog commenting environment.

    If you have any questions about our software, suggestions, or know of any websites that would be interested in giving it a try, feel free to reach out to me personally at [email protected]. Ed- apologies if the chat rubbed anyone the wrong way.

    Thanks again for giving it a try,
    -Abie Axen

  30. Olav:

    Guyinny #29:

    I was participating in the chat last night and there was a 19 year old boy who was struggling to come out to his religious family as atheist. A user named “Veritas” and several guests reached out and comforted him- this is something that could not have happened in a standard message board or blog commenting environment.

    I would be the last to say that there is no need or room for chat applications on the Internet. It’s not for me but of course others may feel differently. And the 19 year old you mention already has thousands of channels and hundreds of networks/servers to choose from. There are established and robust free IRC networks (freenode, ircnet, undernet etc.) that have web interfaces that Freethoughtblogs can easily link to. So if Ed wants to offer chat to his readership, he could include a big fat link on top of every page saying “Wanna chat? Click here to go to #FTB on $network”. That way, it would cost absolutely nothing and it would not push malfunctioning JavaScript to unsuspecting users.

    It is really not complicated, just a matter of knowing these options exist. So I’m sorry for your efforts (and I don’t doubt that you mean well) but really I don’t see any added value for your chat widget.

  31. sezme:

    Ed @ 28
    Thanks for being open to new tools even if this one didn’t work out. More thanks for asking for feedback and listening to your readers.

    IMO, if you want to improve something, work on commenting. For example, delete. And edit. And threading.

  32. Ed Brayton:

    Each blogger can do threading if they want. I tried it once for about 2 hours and got a barrage of complaints about it. So I took a poll and it was about 4-1 against threading. Some bloggers do it, some don’t. I don’t because my readers strongly disliked it.

  33. Olav:

    Ed #32:

    So I took a poll and it was about 4-1 against threading.

    That’s the problem with people: they don’t know what’s good for them…

    Will you please at least consider installing/activating the “@ Reply” plugin I mentioned in #20? Or if you don’t like that specific plugin, any other of your preference that does the same thing? Thank you.

  34. carlie:

    But a lot of people seem to hate it for some reason,

    The reason is that when you are trying to follow multiple conversations, in a straight comment format it’s quite easy to go back to where you left off and continue on from there.With nesting, you have to go back up to the beginning, start scrolling down, and look for anything added in the middle that you don’t remember having been there before. It’s awful. Nesting only works when you want to pay attention to a very small subset of the discussion.

    this is something that could not have happened in a standard message board or blog commenting environment.

    It can- maybe not quite the same way, but I’ve participated in several threads where there was continual updating and real-time commenting helping people through a crisis rough time. That does require a thread to be present where such derails can happen and are looked for, but it can happen.

  35. guyinny:

    Of course, there are many ways to seek help on the internet during a crisis. What I meant was that it could not have happened so effortlessly- our widget makes it convenient to interact in realtime over content without having to leave the page it’s on. Someone that has an issue could simply go to a website about that issue and talk to other users that want to talk about it as well. Also, we offer varying levels of anonymity- you can signin anonymously with NowTalk or with your social media accounts, whatever makes you feel comfortable.

    Thanks for your feedback once again.

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