The New Substack Chat Feature
And why I’m not using it
Recently Substack (which is where I host this blog/newsletter) decided to add in a chat feature in hopes that it would be a community building tool for the authors who reside here. Or, that’s what they claim. And perhaps if it is used correctly, it could certainly work that way. But so far, my experiences with other authors whom I subscribe to that are using it, hasn‘t been wholly positive.
At the moment of writing this only three accounts that I subscribe to have utilized it, and one of those is SubstacK themselves. Another of those has made one chat post in the time the tool has been out, which should be the way the tool is used. The last has made multiple chat posts per day on some days, and for sure a chat post everyday since this tool came out.
I learned very quickly that if you have the Substack reader app downloaded that you are automatically opted in to get the constant notifications of chats from people you subscribe to. Also, if you dare to reply to a chat thread, you will automatically get a notification every time someone else replies to the same chat thread. It’s insane and intrusive. What were they thinking?!
Opting out of these notifications isn’t easy, as they don‘t exactly give you instructions on where to go to find a way to do this. As of the day of writing this, you kind of just have to dig into your app settings, to finally come across the toggles that turn off notifications for chats. But alas it doesn’t say chats, it says threads. So you aren’t for sure if that is what you need to be turning off, but you do it and hope for the best. Thankfully, that does actually turn off chat notifications and not notifications to your publications. Whew!
Then there is the redundancy. So far, the chatty account I subscribe to has posted many, many things in chats, including chats asking people to make sure they read their latest post. But um (throwback to Robin… IYKYK), if we are subscribed to you and getting the chat, we are obviously already getting the email (newsletter) telling us about your post. Therefore, it is redundant and unnecessary to create a chat to tell us the same thing. If you are going to use the chat tool, try talking about things other than what is already covered in your publications. Seriously though.
And lastly, it feels kind of like Substack is trying to move towards more of a social media platform feel with this, and I for one am not here for that. This is a place for me to write and read, a place to share my knowledge and to gather that of others. I’d hate to see it become another wannabe platform that fails because it tried to move out of its lane. Substack, stay in your lane! I like it here just they way it is, and would hate to see this place destroyed because someone on your team got too ambitious and tried to capitalize on the demise of Twitter.
And yeah, that’s my opinion thus far. Have you experienced the new chat tool yet? If so, let me know in the comments below what you think about it. How would you recommend people use the tool wisely, while not running off their subscribers in the process?
Until next time, be loving, be kind, be better!
I mean, I can't use it yet because I have android, so I can't even decide if I like it. I might just make it a feature for paid subscribers. I can see it being more useful for my podcast than my newsletter because that is a blog and I want to keep it writing focused. I don't know. We'll see.
Of course, I'm the kind of glutton for punishment that loves Twitter, so...
I agree with what you had to say about the chats. I think they went a little too far with this one. I think Substack has enough to stand on its own without having to twist itself into a pseudo Twitter