In this age dominated by creepy trolls and inanimate bots, meaningful Internet discussion is a distant memory. Websites like YouTube are trying to halt the flow of trolls by asking its users to post items using their real names. Other websites are preventing anonymous attacks by validating commenters through Facebook or other social media sites.
Enter Branch. This new venture by Obvious Corp. headed by Twitter co-founders Biz Stone and Evan Williams aims to go beyond the current state of internet dialogue — or lack thereof. Instead of having the Internet get dominated by “monologues,” Branch seeks users who can create dialogue in a controlled, professional manner.
Josh Miller wrote in Branch’s blog post: “We value the diverse perspectives the internet gives us access to, but we also know that too many voices can make things noisy. So on Branch, you can pick who you talk to—but, like blog posts, branches are public, so you don’t miss out on the openness of the web.”
Branch works like a bulletin board of sorts, where one person generates a topic and selects his group of friends to join the conversation. People outside that conversation can usually subscribe to updates to see the discussion develop over time.
While many of the Branch posts so far skew towards a tech and pop culture-obsessed crowd, this website seems to have creators of all walks of life in mind. Whenever a YouTube artist or a company needs input from fans about an upcoming project, they can post the conversation and choose their commenters at the same time. It’s a breeze for creators who want meaningful discussion without that internet noise. However, Branch’s format means that they could shut themselves out of more valued opinions and could find themselves in an unfortunate bubble. While letting anyone read a post but only allowing some to comment may be one solution against trolling and meaningless monologues, it may bite them back in the future.
Because Branch isn’t for everyone just yet, to get on board you’ll have to sign up using your Twitter account and wait for their invitation. Happy Branching!