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Why there is no commenting for podcasts ...and why I want to change that

I love podcasts. I listen to about 2-3 hours a day - while I walk my dog, while I clean my house, while I do literally anything else. In short - I'm hooked.

But it wasn't love at first sight. Podcasts are somewhat harder to get into than other content on the internet. If you watch videos on Youtube, the algorithm will feed you an infinite stream of ever-better matching clips.

If you listen to books on Audible, the app will recommend what to consume next before the epilogue is even over. And don't even get me started on Tiktok...

Podcasts aren't like that. They are decentralized. Every podcast creator has to find a way to host their own episodes, produce their own RSS feed and register it with a wide array of players and platforms. Sure, there are tools that help with this. And there are companies like Google or Apple that provide some level of podcast discovery and recommendation - but the ecosystem at large is still much more fragmented than creator-consumer platforms like Youtube. And that's a good thing in many ways.

But there is one way in which it really misses out - and that's social communication. Every Tweet, every Youtube Video, every Facebook post comes with an associated comment feed where users discuss and share their views.

But there's no such thing for Podcasts - and that's a shame. Podcasts are often about controversial topics worth discussing: Politics, Investment, Religion, Ideas... or maybe you just want to speculate who the murderer in the current true crime episode is. But there is simply no place to do so.

Instead, Podcast discussion happens on Twitter in short-lived, 260 character blurbs that aren't tied to the episode they relate to. Alternatively, some larger podcasts have Slack Channels or host their own commenting software on their website - but these tend to be ephemeral or isolated.

That's why we built Podbabble - a discussion board specifically for Podcasts. It's free for users, open, persistent, and comes with features specifically for audio, such as playing the episode directly on the page, discussing specific sections of a show, rating, sorting, social sharing, and much more.

Podbabble makes it easy for Podcast hosts to add commenting to their show. All it takes is a RSS feed URL, and Podbabble will automatically create discussion pages for every episode. Podcast hosts also have the ability to moderate comments, engage in discussions and view metrics and analytics to learn more about their listeners. This drives engagement and makes the audience more likely to stick with a show.

What caused us a lot of struggle, though, is pricing. Traditionally, forums make money through advertisement. Twitter, Facebook, or Reddit all sell their users' data to advertisers to allow for targeted ads and consumer analytics. We didn't want to do that. We don't like being the product ourselves, and we value the privacy of our users. So we made Podbabble free for listeners and instead decided to charge Podcast hosts a monthly fee of 29.00$, regardless of the size of their audience, number of shows, or any other metric. With this, we can keep Podbabble ad-free and open.

If you host a podcast, you can try Podbabble for 30 days for free. If you'd like to see what a discussion page looks like, check out this demo page. And if you are a user looking to chat about your favorite show, use the search on our homepage.