Chatimity has revived chat rooms as a popular people discovery platform. Recently it has hit one million users mark and launched a new user interface for its popular Android app.
Remember those early days of Internet, when chat rooms, in particular Yahoo Chat Rooms, used to be most vibrant places on Internet. You could join in lively conversations on any topic of interested at any time and interact with new people and quite often become friends with someone on the other side of globe.
Old chat rooms went down in popularity due to bots, miscreants and old technology, while new social sites like Facebook and Twitter emerged. These sites, however, either restrict themselves to existing friend network or use asymmetric conversations models, which fall short when you are looking to meet with new people. Facebook recognizes this and has been working on Chat Rooms feature, which was in news recently.
Chatimity, founded by two ex-Googlers, recognized this need early on and launched Chat Rooms with some crucial modifications. Key change being a unique Nice Points system, that tracked user behavior and rewarded well-behaving users and detected and purged off bad behaving ones using advanced algorithms based on content and social signals.
The app has grown in popularity and crossed 1 million users recently and Chatimity now is the best place to chat with new people and make new friends.
At this milestone, company has given the product a facelift with a new user interface (UI) that is fresh, clean and easy to use. It also brings to the forefront people discovery features like asynchronous posting on topics of interest, searching by interests and locations and friend suggestions based on user’s profile. The new UI has been rolled out first for Android.
A spokesperson for Chatimity explained, “Chatimity has become the best place on Internet to make new friends. It caters to users from 155 countries and has excellent user retention metrics. 90% of our users are repeat, 250k of them monthly active and spending 60 million minutes a month on the app. Our USP “Nice Points” system has really helped us in keeping interactions on the app well behaved. The new UI upgrade is geared towards helping users easily discover new people around their interests and location and make new friends.”
About Chatimity: Chatimity is a chat application available on Android, iOS and web application. This application allows people to interact with new people and make new friends. Chatimity rewards users with “Nice Points” for good behavior, which helps them make more friends easily.Every user is rated on past behavior in one of the “Nice Colors” making it easy for other users to choose people to interact with. This unique automated moderation system for encouraging good and staving off bad behavior is responsible for one of the nicest communities on the Internet.For more information, please visit website at http://www.chatimity.com and blog at http://blog.chatimity.com or email email@example.com
It was the monsoon month of June when I started my internship with Chatimity. Being a final year student in Information Science, my passion has always been in writing code. I began interning and started familiarizing with different parts of Chatimity. It was great to be a part of a product that had a lot of human connections linked to it and by this I mean the close friendships, communities and even true love that have been formed among people with the help of this app.
Over the weeks, I realized there was a barrier that Chatimity Team had been thinking of resolving for quite some time, the English language, that would not appeal to non-English speakers to use the app effectively. The app being a global one had users from hundreds of different countries and many of whose native language isn’t English but some of them had knowledge of both English and the local language.
Now the challenge was to get the app to be friendlier to use for the non-English speaking users, so that they can use and navigate easily through the app. Since our team knew only few languages, we had to turn to somebody, who knew these languages and who could be easily approachable. So, we turned to none other than our users themselves.
I took up the task of getting the translations done. I built a tool, named Missandei - in tradition of Chatimity’s ‘Game of Thrones’ inspired names. The tool would detect user’s language proficiency by location and keyboard settings and would ask them if they were willing to help Chatimity in translation to a particular language. Once a user logs in, he can give his inputs on translations. These inputs can be voted up ( ) or down ( ) by other users. Scoring code makes sense of these signals and associated metadata, runs sanity checks, filters out spam and puts high quality results up for approval. On approval, translations go live.
On our first day of running the tool, we got over 5 translations for each of 500 phrases and by the end of the second day of running the tool we had completely translated for two languages - Persian and Arabic. Over the next few weeks, we had the app translated in tens of other languages.
We had earlier thought of rewarding users by giving Nice Points but we were pleasantly surprised by the extent of participation users showed even without incentives. The pure motive of helping Chatimity improve in user’s local language also led to higher quality translations.
The opportunity I received here at Chatimity to work and moreover create a tool that would prove to be of high importance to the app is a great honor. I have come to the end of an amazing internship and I wish Chatimity’s team all success in its future endeavors.
The logo is a symbol of the various characters that are present in the world of Chatimity. The colours on the outer sphere indicate the social status associated with the nice points held by different individuals in the app.
The inner turquoise colour is the good personality that everyone has within them despite the number of points they hold in the app. It also indicates an easy to communicate and friendliness factor which is the true value that Chatimity provides its users.
The speech bubble is placed in between the turquoise and the various colours so as to show that a conversation can break barriers between various characters and true inner being of a person to arrive at the goodness and friendliness in each individual.
All in all the logo is a symbol of what we believe, what truly the human personality is and what takes place within the world of Chatimity.
In the early days of the app, users were spread all around the world and even if users were chatting to people from the same country, they would usually be from states miles away from each other. Since I am one of the developers of Chatimity, many users from different countries chat with me mainly asking to resolve some problem they are facing on the app or to give feedback and suggestions. On one such ordinary day, a user by the name “Arvind” pinged me. At first seeing a user with my namesake was a pleasant surprise (“Aravind” being my name). As we began conversing and started to exchange information about ourselves, I realized that the coincidence between us was not just by name but extended to the place too. He was not only from my city, Bangalore but stayed very close to my place in the same area. It was overwhelmingsince I live in the outskirts of Bangalore, which is a bit secluded.
He was critical of the pace at which we were adding and changing features in the app and was nostalgic about the earlier version, a common trait of old users of Chatimity. We had a good conversation about these changes and he asked quite a few questions in relation to the app. We chatted for about 20-25 minutes and at the end we decided that we should meet up sometime given that we stay so close by. Unfortunately we never came to that.
Time went by and we got busy in our app and he in his life.
Recently we received a mail from him starting with “Thank y’all for creating CHATIMITY- the app which changed my life! ”. This was a completely different opinion he had about the app as compared to the chat we had the first time. The mail further toldme the story of how he met a ‘special someone’ on the app and that they had met up in person several times and have been dating now for the past 10 months.
We believe Chatimity provides the greatest value to our users when it enables them to “make new friends”. When users start liking our app, it is usually because of the friends they have on the app and not just the app per se. This was another similar instance, which made us and the user happy. It also gives us a sense of direction that we are not here just to provide a platform for people to meet but for people to create relationships. We are overjoyed when people thank us for being a part of such beautiful beginnings. We wish Arvind and his friend best for their future and hope to meet them both in person soon.
In the earlier years, entering into a chat room would sometimes look like a battle field. In the midst of giving an opinion or trying to genuinely have a conversation with someone, you may be offended with negative come backs, people become offensive for no good reason and there would erupt a war of words. To top it all when you thought someone had genuinely shown some interest and taken the effort to be the first to say hi and begin a conversation, you realize that it was a BOT trying to get you to view their ‘cam’ or market some dating website. A control on all this and there could be a good chat room. That’s exactly what we at Chatimity thought too and we introduced the ‘Nice Points’ system.
In order to have a discussion on politics, your favourite band or anything else in which people have different opinions, Chatimity believes there is no need to be disrespectful or abusive in order to voice out what your take on it would be. The Nice Points system gives you points depending on the quality of conversation you hold within the public rooms and the private rooms.
The names of each person in Chatimity are highlighted in different colours. These colours indicate their social standing in the app. The points and the status that corresponds with them are as follows:
To earn Nice Points, its simple, be nice to people. When others add you as a friend, do not block you, do not flag your messages and you are generally well-behaved in public rooms, the points gradually increase. Using offensive phrases or spamming in public rooms will reduce your points whereas, private conversation have more relaxed rules although the overuse of offensive language or spamming may get penalized.
The question that most users think of “Is Chatimity reading my every conversation to give or reduce points?” and the answer is ‘YES’ but its all done by Chatimity’s automated system and there is no real person involved.
Chatimity believes everyone on planet earth are born as good people so we give our New Users 500 points to get started and a grey colour to their name which indicates to other users that the person has just joined, so there is no judging based on your points.
So now that you know how Chatimity runs, what are you waiting for, go out there be nice and make more friends.
One of the new Googler orientation exercises educated us on how “Britney Spears” was misspelt in more than 200 different ways by Google searchers.
We had this in mind while searching for an easy-to-spell and easy-to-pronounce name for our new app. Chatimity started out as a chat with people nearby app and the name was derived from combining Chat and Proximity. Though a bit long, we thought at least it will be easy to say. Also “chat” being a familiar word and -imity a familiar suffix, it will be easy to spell too.
We could not have been more wrong.
Google Analytics itself shows 50 prominent spelling variants. The name is popularly abbreviated as Chati. Common misspelling is Chatmity. Others names range from Chatymity, Chatamity, Chatimaty to even Calamity and Khatti Mitthi (“bitter sweet” in Hindi) :)
Recently when we got this video query from one of our top users, we thought it is time to clarify the pronunciation.
So, the pronunciation is as you will get from combining Chat and Proximity words. Audio is here . For the phonetically inclined, the pronunciation is /tʃætɪməti/
Chatimity started in May of 2011, around the time of SXSW that year featuring several social network 2.0 startups including Yobongo and Color. Most of them focussed on letting users discover new people based on location or interests. Most of them using real identity. Most failed.
While building people discovery platform using real identity is easier due to availability of Facebook social graph, users find it unnatural to interact with new people in such setting and hold back from interacting freely.
In real life, when we meet someone new in a park or a club, it always starts out with knowing very little about the person. The only information that is quick to grab would be the person’s physical appearance and that he/she is from around the same city. Once a conversation begins with the person, he/she will reveal information only as much as he/she feels comfortable doing at that point. At any point of time, if it gets uncomfortable, the person holds back and ends the conversation.
To make such interactions happen online, pseudonymous environment is a necessity. Chat rooms of yore let people interact in this anonymous way and were popular but got troubled with many resulting problems. Because making a pseudonymous social network work in a good way is a problem hard to solve.
Chatimity set out to resolve this by building a place where good behavior was rewarded and bad behavior penalized. This would enable users to meet new people and make new friends in a pseudonymous setting, yet in a nice way. Much like how our real society has socio-economic and law & order rules to keep our behavior in check, we invented a “Nice Points” system to keep the community well governed.
Nice Points system is an automated system that monitors hundreds of signals from user interactions on Chatimity and keeps Nice Point score for each person. In Chatimity world, Nice Points reflects how nice a person has been on the app and the color of each name is indicative of the Nice Points the person has. Thus, others can easily figure out how the person has been behaving on the app and choose to interact or not interact with the person.
This system is the key reason for Chatimity’s popularity and how lots of communities have formed. Good people realized that the system rewarded them and provided them with measures to influence the feel of the community.
Chatimity now handles 1.5 million inbound and 10 million outbound messages a day. Active community on the app is 300k+ strong.
However, our most satisfying moments are when users write to us of how they made several friends in real life off the app or met someone special.
We will continue to make finding new friends easier. Easier than Sheldon’s Friendship Algorithm :)