[Author's note: "Webex Events" is a product name. It is the version of the Cisco Webex web conferencing product that is designed for structured, presentation-oriented web events. This distinguishes it from Webex Meetings, which is designed to support peer-level collaborative web sessions. I mention that so you don't think I'm crazy when I use Webex Events as a singular rather than a plural. It leads to insane sentence constructions such as: "Webex Events is the thing you need in order to run a bunch of Webex events."]
With my terminology disclaimer out of the way, let's do a bit of brainstorming. See if you can help me think of a logical and sensible use case for the following design feature in Webex Events. So far, I have drawn a blank.
Webex Events allows typed chat messages, just like most other web conferencing products. As in most such products, participants can select who should see their chat messages. You can select an individual's name, so that they are the only person seeing your private communiqué. You can send a private chat message to the host. Or to the active presenter. Or to all panelists. So far so good.
A host or panelist can send a chat message to all participants. Great for general announcements and important updates. Also good.
Attendees (audience members without speaker/presenter privileges) can send a chat message to "All attendees." Everybody else in the audience can see what they type. Okay, that's a nice way to foster group discussions and community building.
But guess who can't see those chat messages? The host, presenter, and other panelists. They are not part of the "All attendees" group level. They have no idea what is going on in the audience. The attendees are chatting away with each other. Maybe asking for help. Maybe griping. Maybe making valuable suggestions. The presenters are completely out of the loop.
Oh well… at least the host can grab a report of chat messages typed in during the session to review later. Nope. Webex carefully respects security and privacy considerations. The host or panelist saving a chat log while in the session gets a text file containing only those chat messages they had authority to see in the event. So the "All attendees" chats are not included.
But that's fine… Webex also has an "In-Event Activity" report that an administrator can run after a webinar concludes. It contains data records for questions and chat messages that were typed in by each participant. Except (you know what's coming) it doesn't contain any chats that were sent to "All attendees."
So back to our thought experiment. What is the use case for granting audience members the ability to hold public discussions that are invisible to any of the presentation, hosting, or administrative team conducting the event? Other than as a means to foment rebellion against the evil overlords running the show, I am at a loss.
If you find yourself ready to type a comment suggesting that I just need to check the attendee privileges option that lets participants send chat messages to Everyone, uh uh… sorry. That option only exists in Webex Meetings, not in Webex Events.
I have confirmed this behavior with Webex technical support. I quote their response:
"The behavior is by design. The host cannot save messages delivered between attendees, but attendees can save that chat."
So there you have it. Your mission, should you decide to accept it, is to explain why this implementation is a good thing. And why there is no alternative configuration that allows attendees and panelists to engage in the same group discussion. And why the hosting company should not be able to see what was typed in public chat during their event.
It's okay. I have time. I'll wait.