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    • That's a very good point. Currently there is no way to convert a panel to a public conversation, but it might be a very good idea. I'll have to talk this over with the team because they usually think of things I don't, like this may open the panelists up to trolling, a reason they only agreed to a panel and not public conversation in the first place.

    • After taking some time to try and see how the panels work here, I find myself usually skipping :/ I tried to analyse what turns me off and it's a combination of factors.

      First and the largest is the feeling of complete and utter non-interactivity of the format. It's not even that I actively want to stick my head into every conversation, far from it, but the a priori knowledge that it's a closed door somehow repels. If I wanted to consume a read-only interview, I could read a newspaper, and even there I could usually talk back, in [moderated] comments section if online or via email/snailmail if that was a paper thing.

      Secondarily, with a really large gap, I usually feel there's a lack of some kind of introduction to the panelists - both the interviewed and the interviewee, some kind of a side insert, you know - to help me understand some whys - why this topic, why these people, why the questions are formulated in this vein.

      Finally, a bit of cognitive dissonance - unless I'm wrong, a panel is, by definition, a group of people brought together to discuss, and the panels here, at least that I've been seeing, are more like interviews, with a single person answering questions by another single person.

    • Thank you, mbravo. These concerns have been racing in our heads too, but you describe them very clearly.

      Let me ask a hypothetical: if someone hosted Neil deGrasse Tyson and Elon Musk in an interview in a Cake panel and they invited audience questions, some of which they would answer, would that be interesting to you?

      My perception of the problem we need to solve is online it is hard to have that conversation between Tyson and Musk. They can have it in a podcast, on a panel at a convention, in an interview with Terry Gross on Fresh Air, or on TV with Anderson Cooper, but they can't have it on Twitter, Reddit, Facebook, etc. Am I wrong?

      One question is how does Cake work up to guests like that. Medium would not have been an interesting format for Jeff Bezos to publish his expose of The Enquirer when Medium began, but they became Jeff's choice in time.

      The second question is how do you enable audience questions? In the real world when they invite them on, say, Forum with Michael Krasny, who invites callers for the last 20 minutes of the show, those questions are vetted.

      The solution we're currently working on is to provide an option for the panel to take questions. Some panels in the real world do and some don't. Terry Gross and Colbert never do, for example.

      If they choose to, then the idea is to have the questions go to the panel starter so they can choose the questions to answer. When they do answer one, it's like being chosen to be on the air for a call-in, it's your moment.

      One reason for doing that is most prominent guests will not appear without being able to limit the scope of some of the questions asked of them. Arnold Schwarzenegger, for example, would not appear if he thought he would be publicly asked about his affair with his housekeeper.

      Make sense or are we on the wrong track?

    • Makes a lot of sense. Of course there are no universal answers here, and the whole, should I say, genre is evolving as we speak.

      For the hypothetical, Tyson and Musk panel I would definitely read with interest. But all other things being equal, the primary driver of my interest would the I already know who these guys are and consider them quite worthy of attention and that they have something interesting to say, in response to reader questions or not.

      Tangentially, reader questions do not have to be taken in real time - could be an intro/prep advance post inviting to submit questions or topics for consideration, for example. Same goes to selecting the panelists - perhaps give the readers a chance and/or place to suggest who they are interested to hear?

      As to the possibility of intelligent conversation, I would very much say it depends on the participants. Take the recently mentioned The WELL SotY - it was an excellent conversation all right, from a diverse if not entirely unacquainted with each other roster of authors. Naturally, imagining, organizing and directing such conversations is an art in itself, as much (if not more!) in text form as it is in a talk show. This is something any one of us can get better at.

      Finally, and debatably, perhaps there should be a post-panel discussion space? There's a danger it could devolve into nitpicking and sighs about someone's question or favourite topic not having been covered, but if we hope for the better, it could be a place where inspiration gives way to interesting discussion.

    • I also have mixed feelings about panels. I don't like the feeling of being on the outside looking in with no way to contribute, but I have found a few of the panels interesting enough to keep reading.

      I liked @apm's habit of posting a conversation to announce his panels ahead of the panel discussion. It gave me an idea of what to expect and it provided a way to provide input / ask questions.

      Most of the conversations labeled as panels seem to be one-on-one interviews. Some seem like they are pushing a product, pretty much an ad.

      The panels I have found most interesting surprise me because they were not about topics in which I have any connection at all. Thinking back, the panels that were interesting to me were @apm interview with @amacbean16 about homeschooling ( and your discussion on building Cake (