I experienced my first live chat session today. I sometimes click the live chat button for kicks, as I have a great affection for the aesthetics of this site and how easy it is to use and simply like watching it expand and collapse. But when I did, I noticed that someone else had done the same thing (even though we both had seen that no one was currently chatting) and we were both listed as being part of the chat session. So we chatted a bit. It was very easy and a lot better than taking turns posting comments. However, we never would have chatted if we both didn't just happen to click the live chat button on an empty chat session.
That has been the only time I have ever seen someone enter one on of Newsvine's live chat rooms. And it got me thinking. If we keep seeing these empty chat rooms and have no idea who's actually actively using newsvine and even looking at the given article, how would a chat (besides the fluke I experienced today) ever happen?
Unless one brave soul enters a chat room and then waits for someone to notice its not empty, no one is ever going to chat. Yes, we could make a comment saying "meet me in the chat room ASAP!", but that is just clumsy and would just clutter up our comment lists.
One idea that came to mind is have some sort of bar across the bottom of each page that shows what users (or just how many) are currently viewing the page. This way, if I was reading an article I was really interested in (and had a few comments proving others were interested as well) and I could see that coolman901, altoParc, and fishHead007 were all currently viewing the page, I could jump into the empty chat room knowing that those guys/girls would notice that a chat was in session and possibly jump in.
Do you guys have any ideas of how we could make Newsvine's excellent live chat function worth using?