TechStars Company Urtak Wants To Get Rid Of Comment Boards

urtak

Comment boards are a terrible place. Anonymous users tear apart authors and each other.

One woman on TechCrunch was called the c-word and cried for an hour in her shower. Last week, VC Charlie O’Donnell got attacked by readers and had to defend himself.

Urtak, one of the 12 summer TechStars NYC startups, thinks it has a solution.  

Instead of comments, Urtak wants users to leave and answer questions. Founder Marc Lizoain says he’s seen user engagement with comment boards increase 70% when publishers use Urtak.

Urtak asks readers relevant yes or no questions. Users can respond with one click, or opt to ask a new question.  As soon as one question is answered, another pops up, which keeps users clicking.

“Rather than having 10 or 20 comments on an article, we’re seeing hundreds of people answer questions,” says Lizoain.  “Questions help direct online discussions.”

The service is being tested out by a few publishers, including The Daily Beast and CBC.

As for its business model, Urtak plans to aggregate all of the responses into user profiles.  From there it can create a survey research panel. It may also run sponsored questions.

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