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This article was published on March 21, 2018

So you’ve been invited to host TNW Answers… now what?

So you’ve been invited to host TNW Answers… now what?
Georgina Ustik
Story by

Georgina Ustik

Former TNW editor and creative

Georgina created Big Spam, and wants to see more inclusion in tech. Georgina created Big Spam, and wants to see more inclusion in tech.

Not many of you know about it — at least, not enough of you — but we have a platform called TNW Answers.

Right now you’re probably thinking, “Wow! What is TNW Answers? How can I be a part of this life-changing experience?” It does sound exciting, doesn’t it?

I’m dying here… what IS IT?

Every week, we invite a guest to host a TNW Answers session and take questions from our beloved readers. But we don’t just invite ANY host… we invite people doing cool and disruptive things with technology or on the internet.

Sometimes they’re big-name tech innovators, like past sessions hosted by PirateBay co-founder Peter Sunde or Ethereum creator Vitalik Buterin.

Sometimes they’re people working behind the scenes to keep some of the biggest tech companies in the world running, such as past sessions hosted by Facebook’s VP of Product Design Julie Zhuo, Duolingo’s CEO Luis von Ahn, or Pornhub’s development team.

Sometimes they’re people changing the world with their cool ideas, such as WomenWhoTech’s founder Allyson Kapin, tech ethicist Nir Eyal, or WeFarm’s CEO and founder Kenny Ewan, who built the largest global farmer-to-farmer digital network in the world.

Our hosts come from all different industries and backgrounds. The only thing they have in common is that they’re pushing technology in new and interesting directions, are open to critical conversations on where tech is now, and have an active hand in its future.

Sometimes we’ll invite hosts to take part in broader discussions and debates — such as panels on the future of journalism, porn, the blockchain, or whatever else we think would make an interesting conversation, and which readers can participate in.

Long story short, TNW Answers is our live Q&A platform, where hosts engage in a written discussion with our readers for one hour — think Reddit AMA or Tumblr AnswerTime, only better. Kidding, not better yet — but it will be, with your help.

So, you got an invitation to host… lucky you!

You have been CHOSEN. You have pulled the sword from the stone. The crown is yours. You must be thinking… what now?

Our amazing Editorial Community Manager (me) will organize a time to go over the nitty gritty details together, by phone call or Skype. We’ll pick a day and time that works for your schedule — during the week and preferably when most of our readers are awake.

Here are a few things we’ll need from you right away:

  • A confirmed date & time. The entire session lasts just one hour, but we’ll need to check in with you 15 minutes beforehand to make sure everything is working as it should. Please keep this in mind when choosing your time.
  • A high-resolution photo of yourself. Color or black and white work.
  • Your Twitter handle. Don’t have one? You’ll need to make one. Our Answers platform uses Twitter on the backend to allow people to ask and answer questions, so we’ll need this to set up your page.
  • Your bio. We’ll need a short bio from you for your Answers page, as well as any other info we can use to write about you and get people excited about your session. Win an award? Have a cool interview? Any weird hobbies? Let us know!
  • A way to communicate with you during the session. Facebook and Skype messenger work great. WhatsApp and Gchat are also fine. Whatever works best for you, as long as we can stay in contact throughout your session so we can check in with you and answer any questions you may have.

This part is very important…

During our call, we’ll also talk about a plan to publicize your session. We’ll be writing a post announcing your session to our readers and will make a beautiful TNW Answers image for you, like this:

But we’ll also need your help in finding the best online communities to share your session with.

TNW readers are an active group, but we’ll want your session to be as engaging as possible. Do you have fan forums? Are there Facebook pages or groups related to your industry? Does your mom have a book club?


At TNW, we have a daily newsletter called TNW’s Big Spam. It’s a daily snarky tech newsletter that is curated by our Editorial team.

We’ve recently started doing newsletter takeovers, where hosts curate our newsletter on one of the days leading up to their session. It’s a great way to get people hyped about your TNW Answers session — and it’s easy and fun to do.

All we would need is a set of 5-10 links from you to cool stuff you’ve found on the web. It can be stories, tweets, GIFs, images, videos, etc. It can be related to what you do — or not. Send us the links and a short text on why you liked each. The funnier the better.

Here’s an example of when CryptoKitties took over TNW’s Big Spam.

The newsletter takeover is optional, but promotion is still very important. In the days leading up to your session, we’ll work together to get the announcement out to the right groups so your TNW Answers session will be as fun as possible.

The big day has arrived…

We’ve set up your page, written a post about you, and tweeted our hearts out. You’ve told everyone you know, and are counting down the days, hours, and seconds until you start…

15 minutes before your session, we’ll need to check in with each other to make sure everything is running fine technically, and you’re ready to go. At this point, you’ll need to be logged into Twitter, go to your page, and see if you’re able to hit “reply” under the questions already asked.

Our Editorial Community Manager will be online with you during the entire session moderating in case you run into any tech problems, aren’t sure how to answer something, or if any inappropriate questions pop up — hasn’t happened yet, but just in case!

Ready… set…go!

Click “Join the conversation” in the red box at the top of your page and you’re off!

You can answer questions in any order you’d like, as long or as short as you want. You can share the questions or answers on Facebook or Twitter, too.

Typically there will already be a number of questions already asked prior to the session’s start, but more will come in during your hour. Sometimes people will even respond to your answer, and others will respond to other people’s answers — how fun!

For an example of one of our most engaging TNW Answers sessions yet, check out this one with CryptoKitties:

It’s ok if you don’t get to answer all the questions, but if you do feel like sticking around for more than your hour, let us know. We can increase the session time, and are happy you want to stick around.

10 minutes prior to the end, the Editorial Community Manager will post a last call for questions, and then finally a wrap-up message saying the session has finished.

Hopefully, you enjoyed it — everyone else has so far!

Have any questions? Unclear how it works? Want to be a host? Comment below or shoot me an email: [email protected] We look forward to seeing your answers!

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