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Step forward everyone who thinks that the way webchats currently work (where the sleb ignores most of the questions and is roundly barracked for so doing) is FINE.

(108 Posts)
AitchTwoOh Wed 24-Jun-09 22:33:06

... i'm not sure i do.

i can understand why some people have misgivings about the way that we have treated people on here, the jeering etc can't be that nice to be on the end of. otoh i feel that the schlebs are too able to skitter off the hook and treat us like dafties.

does the problem lie with MNHQ?

what are Justine etc saying to people?

are they advising them to look at MN first, or are they hopeful that they don't?

why on earth are we asked to waste our time coming up with questions that MNHQ then doesn't get them to answer?

are they even in the same room as MNHQ? cos if DG for example was just logging on from her home office (i imagine it a pale farrow and ball green, with floating shelves stuffed to the gills with byron - not tanya) then why all the 'oh she can give us a few minutes more' etc etc. why can't they just come back adn answer questions later?

and WHY do they think we're stupid?

<bangs on>

BecauseImWorthIt Wed 24-Jun-09 22:36:29

<strokes Aitch's forehead>

BecauseImWorthIt Wed 24-Jun-09 22:37:20

I was only there at the end of the DG webchat, but I was astonished by how little she seemed to contribute. And really didn't answer the questions.

TheFallenMadonna Wed 24-Jun-09 22:39:26


I never get to see webchats now I'm working.

Evening webchats MNHQ!

flowerybeanbag Wed 24-Jun-09 22:40:20

It's not fine, but I guess if they didn't feel they could just not answer tricky questions they'd probably be a lot less willing to do them in the first place.

I wasn't exactly in falling off my chair in shock when David Cameron ignored my question about his voting record on family friendly legislation. Just made it feel a bit pointless tbh. I suppose it was more disappointing that I almost didn't bother posting it because I was so sure he wouldn't answer.

DH's optimistic point was that surely he must be expecting to be asked that question on a parenting website, therefore would be all prepared with an answer. Well apparently not. hmm

(rant over)


AitchTwoOh Wed 24-Jun-09 22:41:15

well that's what i'd have thought, beanbag.

we need answers, mnhq.

BecauseImWorthIt Wed 24-Jun-09 22:41:30

TFM - I agree. I usually miss them because I'm working.

StarlightMcKenzie Wed 24-Jun-09 22:52:36

Message withdrawn

Swedes Wed 24-Jun-09 22:56:59

I agree they should be pressed to answer the questions posed. Perhaps we should follow-up our questions with an open Letter From Mumsnetters to the Times/Guardian/etc re-stating the question and linking to the webchat. This practice would focus their minds and stop them treating us like a cheap date. It would also generate new traffic for Mumsnet?

Btw I don't object to pressing questions and repeatedly pressing questions, I object to the cheap throwaway remarks that slip out sometimes (perhaps through frustration?) as they weaken our position.

AitchTwoOh Wed 24-Jun-09 22:59:37

weeeeell, you kinda can make them. as a journalist, the questions ducked are often more revealing than those answered.

wrt dg if you're MNHQ and you send her the questions we want answered (it was not unclear which those were) and we know that this is the practice then if she refuses to answer that is interesting in itself. but because we don't know if the sleb doing the whole thing in real time we can't really draw a conclusion. sometimes i feel that they've literally been sat at a computer by a PR and told just to 'be yourself, they'll love you'. which more often than not is far from the case.

StarlightMcKenzie Wed 24-Jun-09 23:09:58

Message withdrawn

policywonk Thu 25-Jun-09 00:21:07

I like Swedes's idea of a panel for each guest, consisting of some MNers who have expertise/interest in the area, and another bunch of MNers chosen at random/by ballot. We could have a pre-chat thread in which areas of interest are identified and we all come to some sort of vague consensus about which questions we want answered; then we have the actual chat thread, in which the panel put those questions, and basically refuse to post again until they're answered <evil>

The huge mismatch between numbers of question(er)s and the chattee's time/inclination currently lets the chattee off the hook - they can pick and choose what to answer. Let's not give 'em so much choice, I reckon.

monkeytrousers Thu 25-Jun-09 07:48:15

Re the web chats, if many people have serious issues they want to address with someone, why not get 'together' beforehand, form a lobby, define your focus, choose your questions and then choose a rep to ask them. Otherwise the person gets inundated by a baying mob.

Swedes Thu 25-Jun-09 09:37:39

There is an amazing breadth of knowledge on Mumsnet. Most of us have a specialist subject or two. But most of us know a very little bit about everything else as well. wink

Snorbs Thu 25-Jun-09 10:46:22

I'm not sure I've ever seen a live web-chat work well when there's one respondent and a large number of questioners. The ones I have seen work ok are either:

a) Where there's ideally one, but certainly no more than three questioners who have pre-arranged what they're going to ask. If there's more than one questioner, have a communication channel (eg, MSN) between them that's not visible to the respondent and is used for co-ordination of questioning. I've done this in the past and it can work well but, definitely, the fewer the questioners the easier it is.


b) Forget about it being live and, instead, do it as everyone voting for which questions should be asked. The top 10 questions are then emailed to the respondent who sends back a considered reply a week or two later. I've seen this work very well on slashdot, for example.

I know that there's a marketing draw for claiming "live web-chats!" as they sound so exciting and the potential is great. The practicalities of them are not easy to get right, though, and they can very easily be underwhelming.

policywonk Thu 25-Jun-09 11:05:39

That's interesting, snorbs. The Caroline Lucas chat on here a few weeks ago worked pretty well, but there weren't thousands of people firing questions at her, and she's a really fast typist.

I wouldn't want to lose the 'live' part, personally - it is/would be good to have a proper dialogue, rather than just a questionnaire.

Snorbs Thu 25-Jun-09 11:19:07

Policywonk, I missed the Caroline Lucas one - I'll have a peek. And I agree that being a really fast typist helps enormously grin

I do see what you mean about the "live"ness of it but while it is an attractive idea, the practicalities are hard and I think the way that MN Talk works makes it harder here than in some other places. I've been addicted to on message boards for many more years than I care to remember but even so, a fast-moving thread on MN can be very hard to keep up with. It's all too easy to read a message, spend a few minutes checking a fact or two and writing a reply, and then by the time you've posted the message you were responding to was a page or two back.

I think this is particularly the case here due to the way that MN Talk doesn't have any easy ability to do quoting of messages and/or message threading. Either of those would help enormously with retaining the context of a reply.

Bramshott Thu 25-Jun-09 11:23:21

I think things can easily get confused, particularly if you're not used to the format of MN, where people post questions much earlier, and then there's loads of chat etc.

I sort of wonder whether it would be at all feasible to say "advance questions until midnight the day before the chat", then for someone to summarise the advance questions (separating them out from the chat, into a separate message), and then both pass them onto the webchattee in advance, and post them back onto the thread shortly before the start of the chat. People who come on often are pretty good at answering the questions that are posted live (with some notable exceptions of course!), but not so good at reading and replying to the questions posted earlier.

Wittering Thu 25-Jun-09 11:24:04

I'm not sure what message threading is.

A tree structure so that one convo can break into several?

But I would really like to preserve the simplicity of MN pages -- just a simple pile of chronologically ordered contributions with nothing fancy.

Snorbs Thu 25-Jun-09 11:38:21

Wittering, yes - a tree structure. Usenet News is a old (pre-web) example of this. I'm not saying that MN definitely needs threading. My point is that without anything built-in to help with retaining context (eg threading or automated quoting), a fast-moving thread on MN can be harder to keep up with than one moving equally as fast on another site.

As the typical respondent for a MN live web-chat is someone who isn't an habitual MN user, I wonder if this lack of context is a complicating factor.

policywonk Thu 25-Jun-09 11:43:20

Yes, Snorbs, I agree that the fast-moving threads can make things difficult to follow. But could that be addressed with a panel of questioners and/or a limited number of questions?

Say, for eg, the Daisy Goodwin chat: if we'd nominated (for the sake of argument) Aitch, tiktok, hunker, lulumama, morningpaper and a. n. others (need not be MN royalty wink), all of whom had agreed beforehand on 5 or 10 areas of interest, the chat might have gone like this:

MN Collective: Hi Daisy, we'd like to know [question]
DG: here is my answer
MNC: Fair enough, thanks; the next thing we'd like to know is...
No, hang on, that doesn't quite address the issue - let us try to rephrase it...

[and so on]

The crucial point being, there aren't hundreds of interjections/in-jokes/extra questions coming in from all sides.

Of course it's all rather undemocractic and unspontaneous.

morningpaper Thu 25-Jun-09 11:50:11

I was hmm that I asked DG ONE question about a week before the chat, which she answered at 2.02pm i.e. two minutes after the chat ended

hmm and some more hmm

Snorbs Thu 25-Jun-09 13:14:16

policywonk, yes, I think you're right - if it's going to be live, then it will be an awful lot smoother if there is a very limited number of questioners acting in concert.

As I mentioned earlier, if you're going to do that then having a means whereby the questioners can co-ordinate away from the respondent's eyes can help enormously.

I was part of something similar a number of years ago, and we had one IM channel for the web-chat that anyone could watch, and a second, "secret" one where the questioners could decide when to press a point and when to move on to the next topic.

The main topics had been agreed in advance among the questioners based on suggestions from the audience. We gave the respondent a couple of days notice of the rough areas we were going to cover which was appropriate in that context (deeply geeky stuff which benefited from some fact-checking) but it isn't vital depending on the subject matter.

tiktok Thu 25-Jun-09 15:32:35

In another part of my life I had a regular gig on a website where it was a real chat room - I was the question answerer, and there was a moderator who could 'speak' to me on the screen without anyone else reading it, and I could do the same to her. If two site users got into a private convo, the mod put them into another room where they could chat privately (I am told the same thing happens with cyber sex blush - I have never used a chat room apart from that gig, BTW!)

Yes, I had to be a pretty damn quick typist, and I could ask people 'slow down' if the questions came thick and fast. Mod could also see how well I was coping and she could ask people to hold back.

Everyone's questions were answered.

AitchTwoOh Thu 25-Jun-09 15:45:13

yy to all this stuff, but i still want to know how people are coming on here (esp dg who of course has read mn and declared it nazi-ridden etc) and they haven't given the chat a moment's consideration prior to sitting down to type.

what are MNHQ saying to people? what do the PRs think they're getting for their money? because as a marketing tool i think MN is like bloody gold-dust if they get it right, so why don't they? just a general reluctance to believe that the internet is here to stay or something?

look how well Waitrose did by just fronting up, surely a passing glance at MN prior to logging in for a webchat would encourage the guest to raise their game?

pah, i do get irritated by this lack of respect. we're their CUSTOMERS. we watch dg's show, buy tony parson's books, look on in horror at piers morgan on tv, buy waitrose's tilapia etc etc... this is SUCH a good opportunity for any celeb/PR with half a brain. why don't they know that?

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