Yesterday I did a chat on EMS Program Management at Printed Circuit University. We had four people asking questions. But, afterwards I learned that we actually had 377 unique visitors during the hour-long chat. I found that data interesting . While the chat was free, viewers had to register to get access. In short, asking a question didn’t reveal more about the user than the act of registering to view the chat had already done.
I thought this might be a good topic to drive a little discussion in my blog because it seems to me that the advantages of chat aren’t being exploited. The disadvantage of chat is obvious. Typing questions and waiting for answers is about as exciting as watching grass grow. But asking questions and checking back later to see the answer, is actually quite productive. PCU has created an environment where subject matter experts are available at specific times to answer questions on set topics. The chat logs from the conversations are available 24/7 after the chat. Basically, each chat is opportunity to tap free knowledge on subjects that interest you. However, the overall value of the chat is dependent on quantity/quality of the questions, as well as the quality of the answers. I can understand why someone would choose not to visit a topic that was not of interest. But, it is harder for me to understand why someone would visit a topic that interested him/her but not ask questions (particularly given that questions can be asked anonymously in that forum).
So, my discussion driving question of the day is: are you exploiting the benefits of chat sessions by asking questions? And, if not, why aren’t you asking questions? These answers don’t just need to apply to my chat session–I’m interested in learning more about what people like and don’t like about this type of forum. Inquiring minds want to know.