MellowTalk: New Site Seeks To Match “Talkers” and “Listeners” In A Safe and Anonymous Setting

0On occasion, I see a new website that I find intriguing on Reddit and this one caught my eye for a couple of reasons.  First, it is a high school student who has started a site to allow people to help other people to deal with issues that are bothering them.  Second, the creator is my oldest son, Benjamin.  Putting aside the obvious pride and bias, I thought that the premise of the site is intriguing.  MellowTalk allows people to communicate in strict anonymity and the participants select either “talker” or “listener” on the site.  It offers people a sounding board for discussing problems or issues in an anonymous and safe environment.  (Indeed, I know of a couple high ranking officials who could benefit for some anonymous and non-public venting).

Given the tensions facing both adults and teens, the site allows a type of self-help option that may be just enough for people to regain a sense of clarity or control:

MellowTalk is a chat platform built on the kindness of strangers. we take two people, give them silly anonymous names, and expect one to help the other work out their problems. at its core, MellowTalk is here to give people someone to talk to, whether you want to get advice, find second opinions, or just to vent. our goal is to help people by making interactions private and secure while supplying a quality platform for free. it is the hope of this website that we can help people in a non-invasive, yet deeply personal way.

 The site is different from a couple of other sites in how it works.  It creates an incentive based system to encourage people to fully adhere to their roles. On top of forced placement as listener and talker, the “thank” point system and leaderboard is designed to encourage helpful interactions.  The reward system of badges and gems is meant to offer an alternative to sites that simply punish bad listeners.  The site stresses that this is not clinical therapy. Rather, the site recognizes that people often just want to speak with other people in a friendly environment.
Usernames are all randomly generated, following the format primary adjective – secondary adjective – noun. There are over 3.45 million possible name combinations, ensuring all are unique.  To guarantee anonymity, the site is heavily encrypted and no chats are saved absent a substantial report of wrongdoing. In addition, usernames are regenerated at the beginning of every chat unless the user is an account holder.
There has already been a fair amount of traffic, particularly from younger participants.  On top of allowing people to discuss issues, the site includes a page of resources for those who need mental health assistance or emergency responses.
It will be interesting to watch this site, and similar sites, unfold.  The Internet is often blamed for so many dysfunctional habits and influences. However, the anonymity on the Internet also allows people to reach out to others to express feelings that they might not be willing to tell someone face-to-face.
The site is MellowTalk and the creator is Benjamin Turley, 18.

24 thoughts on “MellowTalk: New Site Seeks To Match “Talkers” and “Listeners” In A Safe and Anonymous Setting

  1. Although I think the concept is great, I wouldn’t want to just sit in front of a site all day watching the “0 talkers” counter. I think it would make sense if users could register a chat app account (e.g. Hangout or Whatsapp), to be notified even when offline, and able to help even on the go. Of course Mellow would need a chat bot account proxying the discussion, but that should not be too hard to implement I imagine. The hard part would be supporting popular chatting platforms…

  2. Congratulations, Benjamin Turley! Professor Turley must be very proud of his son.

    I love the kindness of the concept and the creativity in its execution. The carrot over the stick approach is equally appealing.

    I have one question, which the inventor may have already addressed. Is there any type of monitoring to ensure that no one suggests or encourages suicide? The same goes for any pedophiles who may be motivated to join a group where the majority are teenagers. I think both issues could be addressed successfully if they haven’t already.

    What a great idea. I hope that showing kindness and helping others really catches fire. A lot of us have bemoaned the erosion of volunteerism, responsibility, and connection to others in today’s Me World. No one seems to really connect with others let alone help them. It’s all about entertainment. This is the most clever idea I’ve heard of to not only improve today’s culture, but do it in the very platform that has been eroding it around its edges. Brilliant!

    • Hello, Ben here! Actually yes, I do have systems in place to notify me about potentially life threatening situations in addition to embedding a custom message in chat referring the person to the mellowtalk.com/resources page. There they will find suicide prevention and other mental health links if there is the possibility of danger. Of course, the idea behind the conversation service is that the other person would be able to help them to some extent and I hope that with time the incentives in place will essentially “train” better listeners into dealing with these things properly, in this case redirecting the talker to a professional.

      That said, we will absolutely supply the platform to allow potentially suicidal people and others suffering from these problems to voice their frustrations for free without monetization because giving people a place they can vent is the best we can do given our strict adherence to security and privacy. This is the front lines of how we protect our users and with a userbase averaging 17 – 26 coming from virtually every country of the world at this point, there is no better method to encourage proper interactions than to design the site in a way where it necessarily moderates itself.

  3. I’m in except for a passing annoyance at the “safe space” references that now take on a diabolical subtext given the crazies on campus misuse of the concept. That said, I’m willing to be a listener as hard as that may be for some to believe. Where do I sign up?

  4. Now any chance to evaluate the success or failure of the this new venture is lost due to dad’s endorsement.

    Maybe you can purchase a PRO UPGRADED VERSION. You know, be a listener and a talker at the same time.

  5. The Internet is the first thing that humanity has built that humanity doesn’t understand, the largest experiment in anarchy that we have ever had.

    Eric Schmidt

    • O’reilly has been saying that for years!😂 Computer chips gonna be planted in our brains!😎👨🇺🇸

  6. – Hello, I’m a listener.
    – Umm, no you’re not you just made a statement.
    – Well, I’m hear to tell you that I’m listening.
    – There you go again, you are stating things and listeners listen.
    – Ok, I will start listening know, Am I doing good?
    – Listeners don’t ask questions…

    You can see the Monty Python skit from there…

  7. “MellowTalk allows people to communicate in strict anonymity…”

    “There has already been a fair amount of traffic, particularly from younger participants.”

    Anyone else see the issue with these two statements?

  8. If Ben hasn’t read it, he might enjoy *The Shockwave Rider* by John Brunner (1976)

    > Precipice turns out to be a Utopian community of a few thousand people. The nearest comparison would be an agrarian, cottage industry community designed by William Morris. Precipice is also the home of “Hearing Aid”, an anonymous telephone confession service accessible to anyone in the country. Hearing Aid is also known as the “Ten Nines”, after the phone number used to call it: 999-999-9999. People call the service, a human operator answers, and they simply talk while the operator listens. Some rant, others seek sympathy, still others commit suicide while on the phone. Hearing Aid’s promise is that nobody else, not even the government, will hear the call. The only response Hearing Aid gives to a caller is “Only I heard that, I hope it helped.”

    More about The Shockwave Rider via the Wiki (and available at Amazon and through Overdrive)

    > The Shockwave Rider is a science fiction novel by John Brunner, originally published in 1975. It is notable for its hero’s use of computer hacking skills to escape pursuit in a dystopian future, and for the coining of the word “worm” to describe a program that propagates itself through a computer network.[1][2] It also introduces the concept of a Delphi pool,[3] perhaps derived from the RAND Corporation’s Delphi method – a futures market on world events which bears close resemblance to DARPA’s controversial and cancelled Policy Analysis Market.

    > The title derives from the futurist work Future Shock by Alvin Toffler. The hero is a survivor in a hypothetical world of quickly changing identities, fashions and lifestyles, where individuals are still controlled and oppressed by a powerful and secretive state apparatus. His highly developed computer skills enable him to use any public telephone to punch in a new identity, thus reinventing himself, within hours. As a fugitive, he must do this from time to time to escape capture. The title is also a metaphor for survival in an uncertain world.[citation needed]

    > Based on the ideas in the book Future Shock by Alvin Toffler,[citation needed] the novel shows a dystopian early 21st century America dominated by computer networks, and is considered by some critics to be an early ancestor of the “cyberpunk” genre.[4] The hero, Nick Haflinger, is a runaway from Tarnover, a government program intended to find, educate and indoctrinate highly gifted children to further the interests of the state in a future where quantitative analysis backed by the tacit threat of coercion has replaced overt military and economic power as the deciding factor in international competition. In parallel with this, the government has become a de facto oligarchy whose beneficiaries are members of organised crime.

    I don’t want to give any spoilers, so I won’t say anything more, except that Ten Nines has a very interesting role.

  9. Interesting, and congratulations of sorts, I suppose. I prefer personal, face to face discussions myself, where you can communicate with body language, inflections, etc. While young adults seem to prefer this anonymous, on-line kind of communication, I think much is lost communicating in this manner, including the loss of important socialization skills. It’s like each member of a family eating dinner in a different room of the same house while chatting on line or via email.

    Also, it sounds like a perfect place for Russian spies to hang out. Maybe your son will attract some GRU spies. (Tongue now removed from cheek).

    • Well said.

      And in the end…what have they really accomplished?
      Zilch, Zippo, Nada!

      Frantically waving my “jazz hands” in a “non-triggering” manner from my “hate free” zone (or is it space not zone), “non-free/free speech” grids
      [See published hours for inclusion or exclusion].

      Got to 🏃 run. Time to sign up. I’m going to see if I can pick a 🐢 turtle.

      {BAZINGA}

    • Great way for regular, nice people to relate and share! I’m 63. 2 kids in college. A lot to learn and a lot of wisdom to share with the great millennials who will run our GREAT country!🇺🇸

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