Chat Catcher needs a white knight

I was dismayed by news in an email the other day from Shannon Whitley that he could no longer continue supporting Chat Catcher.

This is one of the most useful tools on the web that links disparate conversation on Twitter and connects it to your blog.

I discovered Chat Catcher in January; since then, it’s been an integral part of my blog that enables anyone to see what anyone else is saying on Twitter about anything written here.

In his email on May 5, Shannon talks about the increasing volume of data that needs to be processed by Chat Catcher and not having the resources to keep up with it any longer.

[…] Thank you to everyone who pitched in last week when I requested donations to keep Chat Catcher running.  Unfortunately, it just isn’t enough and the server costs are quickly mounting.  Within the next few days I will turn off Chat Catcher completely.  All donations will be returned.

If you are running the WordPress plugin or the PHP script, you will not need to take any action.  You will still have the comments that were posted to your blog.  If you happen to be displaying the RSS feed on your site, you will want to remove it.

Chat Catcher represents a huge investment of my time and money.  I am not taking this action lightly.  I am also sorry to disappoint the many people who were happily using the service.

The service is still running. But it would be such a pity if Shannon had to shut down Chat Catcher for the reasons he mentions.

Isn’t there a white knight out there who might be willing to get involved with someone who’s developed a practical tool that has huge potential in connecting content across the web?

Someone?


Neville Hobson

Social Strategist, Communicator, Writer, and Podcaster with a curiosity for tech and how people use it. Believer in an Internet for everyone. Early adopter (and leaver) and experimenter with social media. Occasional test pilot of shiny new objects. Avid tea drinker.

  1. Rob Safuto

    I can’t say that I sympathize with Mr. Whitley’s plight. There are too many web 2.0 services (especially ones that seek to capitalize on the popularity of Twitter) that fail to recognize that the best way to serve the market is to treat their web application like a business. All businesses require resources in order to survive and continue to offer a quality service to their users. In this case the needed resource is money. What’s a guy to do? He’s got to do some research and find out what (if anything) the service is worth to users. Then he’s got to name a price (probably a monthly fee) and make the value proposition. If people don’t pay then he should polish his pitch or work on adding more value to the service. If that approach fails then it’s probably best to close it down or sell the code rather than offer something that is below standard.

    It’s a harsh reality but one that all people who seek to offer services on the web need to come to terms with. In the end both the users and the developers are better off if such an approach is followed.

  2. neville

    You may be right, Rob, and so it’s a harsh lesson for anyone to learn. Yet isn’t this the picture with countless web app developers out there? Not everyone is able or has the wherewithal to follow a process as you outline.

    I hope Shannon is able to continue. I hope he finds an investor or other appropriate partner. If push comes to shove, then (selfishly) I hope he’s able to find a buyer for the code, etc, and that Chat Catcher is able to continue.

    Would I pay a fee to use it? My immediate answer is to say: it depends. The trick, then, is that bit you mention: find out what (if anything) the service is worth to users.

  3. Ike

    Thanks for that insight, Rob. With thinking like that, we’d all be sitting in the dark, waiting for Tommy Edison to finish fleshing out his electric distribution plan before investing in the development of an incandescent bulb.

    Shannon never trumped this to be any more than it was: an experiment to see if something could be done.

    He spread the info to a few friends to test out, and it turns out there is way more bandwidth to parse through for the few comments that trickle out. No big deal. Now he has a working prototype and an idea of what it would cost to scale it. No big deal.

    Don’t think of Shannon as hanging his hand out asking for a free ride — way more have ridden on his coattails than vice/versa. He is simply communicating back to the people who were helping him test it, letting them know what it would take to make it work further.

    I know the fly-by-night get-rich-quick internet culture… Shannon isn’t it.

  4. neville

    I very much agree with your profile, Ike. That’s how I see Shannon, too: experimenting, doing something that might be of value for everyone. Which he has done, not only with Chat Catcher but also with other experiments like Twit Connect (which I’m also using here).

    I see Rob’s points as well. Which don’t apply to Shannon, imo.

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