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This article was published on June 7, 2011

Tribalfish may just change the way you have discussions online

Tribalfish may just change the way you have discussions online
Brad McCarty
Story by

Brad McCarty

A music and tech junkie who calls Nashville home, Brad is the Director TNW Academy. You can follow him on Twitter @BradMcCarty. A music and tech junkie who calls Nashville home, Brad is the Director TNW Academy. You can follow him on Twitter @BradMcCarty.

Tribalfish wants to solve the difficulty involved in conversations on the Internet. Twitter has helped us to solve part of the problem by allowing us to reach a wide variety of people, but it’s still a one-to-many conversation. Internet forums have been the better answer for longer, deeper conversation but they require you to go to a different destination for nearly every topic.

The idea behind Tribalfish is to have a decentralized platform for topic-driven discussion. So instead of having to bounce to different sites or keep track of numerous Twitter replies, you’ll have a landing page with topics in which you have interest, as well as the ability to add more to your heart’s content.

As you can see in the screenshot, it’s set up somewhat like an email client. The window on the far left helps you to organize different groups (which you can set up yourself), people you’re following and interests. The middle column shows you the topics in which you’re presently active and then the right pane is a threaded conversation on the subject that you’ve chosen from the middle.

In short, Tribalfish is a what would happen if Twitter and Quora or Namesake had a romp in the sheets. While it’s not Q&A based, it could certainly be used for that. Likewise, it’s not limited to simply being a basket of topics as you can really use anything on the right side however you’d like. It’s similar to what we saw in Teztify, but it’s not as inherently social which should make it more widely useful.

Rich content can be added to a discussion via the HTML editor, which looks a lot like WordPress or any other WYSIWYG editor you’ve seen. Once you’ve started a topic, you can choose to share it on Twitter or Facebook (or any other site via a link to it) in order to bring more people into the discussion.

What’s limiting to Tribalfish right now is that new users will need to sign up to the service, but the team assures me that they’re looking at single-click sign-on via Twitter and Facebook authorizations. In the longer-term, Tribalfish would like to replace traditional forums and there’s even talk of the ability to embed discussion into websites to further facilitate that.

Beyond the parts discussed already, Tribalfish has some pretty big goals. Where Yammer took Twitter to the enterprise, Tribalfish would like to do that with forum discussions. That easy regulation of groups and the ability to set privacy for each topic will help with this goal. There are also some advantages that we’ve not seen in other discussion options before.

First and foremost of the new features is the ability to see an estimation of your audience as you’re typing your topic starter. The system will analyze your text in order to find people who have an interest in your topic and, because the system is accessible via the Internet, there is the ability to have SEO-driven traffic on all public posts.

There’s another interesting use-case for Tribalfish, as well. Right now, many of us use Google Docs or email in order to do collaborative work. Tribalfish is a perfect replacement for both of these already and provides work in an easier-to-read format that’s accessible via a free account.

The long-term goals of Tribalfish are lofty, but so was Twitter. As it stands, Tribalfish is in a private beta but it’s one of the most highly-refined ones that we’ve seen. There are a couple of design issues (such as the need to scroll horizontally if your browser isn’t set to a wide enough format) but the system’s technical functions work exactly as they should.

Want to check it out for yourself? We’ve managed to snag 100 invites for TNW readers. Just head to the site and sign up with the code f8JnzEXOua . Once you’ve started your discussion, come back and leave us a comment with the link. Let’s chat. But move fast. The code is only good for the first 100 users.

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