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The Evolution of Kahuti

August 16, 2017
Sterling Jackson

The last few months have been a rollercoaster of change here at Kahuti and we really want to say thank you to everyone for sticking with us. We are pleased with Kahuti as it exists now and the ride should be much smoother from here on.

Early adopters of Kahuti have experienced a tremendous number of changes since its inception as we've been in search of the right formula to create magic. The recurring theme has always come back to making actionable, relevant local information easier to find and share.

At the same time, many people have expressed the desire to connect and socialize with people in their communities and to share things with their community that are of interest to them beyond safety alerts and local issues.

This presented a quandary to us because the two didn't co-exist very well in the same news feed and it made the whole experience overwhelming or confusing to new members. Our initial idea was to eliminate the social parts of Kahuti and focus entirely on local information.

However, this would be quite jarring for many people who found Kahuti to be a social lifeline of sorts and this idea didn't fully capture the essence of what we had set about to create. We wanted to connect people in meaningful ways, not just show them safety alerts!

Hundreds of people were joining but the majority of them weren't coming back because what they were seeing wasn't what they were looking for. As you'd imagine, this was tremendously discouraging and frustrating for our team.

After many long conversations and a few sleepless nights we decided that some big decisions and changes were necessary or Kahuti would never have a real chance of reaching its potential and that seemed like a huge letdown for our team and our early adopters.

We decided that we needed to create a simple initial experience that focused on local information and provided people the choice to opt in to see additional content.

Our first attempt was somewhat ham-fisted. We decided that anything that wasn't accounted for in the default local channels should be moved into member-owned Groups. Results were mixed, with some people being very confused and frustrated.

Since then, Groups have received many updates and will continue to play an important role in Kahuti's ecosystem where members can establish sub-communities, create their own rules and break out of the location/distance constraint. We anticipate that admins who behave in an abusive manner will soon find themselves with an empty group.

We soon realized that while Groups were useful they didn't entirely solve our problem and that groups should enrich your experience but should not dictate it. We realized that our goal was not to suppress non-local topics but to ensure they were placed in an appropriate category and that new members would see local information unless they chose to see more.

This led to the creation of custom local channels which worked in similar fashion to the default local channels. Now the emphasis of Kahuti was still local, because these channels were still bound by your location and distance but it added a huge amount of flexibility because it allowed you to choose additional channels like Gardening to include in your news feed.

This was an adaptation of Interests, which worked in a similar manner except that you now only see content from interests that you have added instead of seeing all content added across all interests and several improvements have been made to discovering and adding interests.

So, what's next?

We believe this is the right direction for Kahuti and that our approach is unique and compelling. We think that it gives people using Kahuti the flexibility to use it in a lot of different ways, depending on what they want to accomplish.

In the following months we will focus on refining how things work, making Kahuti more intuitive and user-friendly and to help with interesting and relevant content, our editorial team is experimenting with finding and posting tidbits in the default local channels and popular custom channels as conversation starters.

Finally, we are preparing to begin promoting Kahuti to increase numbers across all of our communities. We are looking forward to seeing new faces and making new friends!

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