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Hackernoon logoEvolution of a Side Project — Panion by@Kevinj90825

Evolution of a Side Project — Panion

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@Kevinj90825Kevin Johnson

This is how a recent side project of mine, Panion, came to be. Panion helps you tap into social media if you watch sports or a TV show after its aired. I was able to generate ~ 4,500 upvotes, 248 comments and ~ 20,000 users with 4 reddit posts.Thanks to the various subreddits that have helped me test this out!

About three or four months ago I began re-watching Game of Thrones. The entire series. From the beginning. One of the things I usually enjoy about live Game of Thrones episodes is that I keep Reddit and twitter up to see what people are saying (while avoiding spoilers!). For the unfamiliar, reddit live threads are particular comment threads that people comment on while watching a live event like tv shows, sports, award shows, or anything else! The problem I saw is that you can’t do that if you’re watching something after it aired. Social media is so focused on now that there isn’t any consideration for people who want to see what people were saying.

Reddit still has the comments, but they aren’t displayed in a way that makes “live viewing” possible. You can sort by top, best, new, controversial but there isn’t something of a “real time” option. That was where version one of Panion entered the stage…

I use Mindly as my note taking application for the past couple years, and love it!

I have a whole list of ideas, but kept coming back to this particular one and envisioning how it would work. Especially as I continued through the Game of Thrones re-watch, I kept thinking of how much I wanted this. There are many shows (Talking Bad, Talking Dead, and a lot of other Chris Hardwick shows) entirely based on people wanting commentary on the shows they just watched.

I decided this idea would be pretty easy to test from a technical standpoint. I wrote a scraper to go to the Game of Thrones subreddit, find all of the “live episode threads” and save them, their comments, along with the time they were posted. Then, using Python + Django + reactjs, I put together an application that would replay these comments relative to the time users made them in the live comments thread. This should allow me to view the comments as if I was refreshing the reddit thread in real time, even though I was watching years later.

This version was entirely focused on Game of Thrones.

I posted the application on the Game of Thrones subreddit, in this thread, and got some good feedback. I wanted to test if anybody else was interested in using this and took the thread as validation. After reading some of the comments like…

“Dude thank you this is awesome! As a fellow developer this is super useful. I wonder if it can be repurposed for another subreddit. I like to watch multiple NFL games on sunday (DVR) and love following the live thread.”

and

“This is a really cool concept, and I would be very interested in using such a tool outside of GOT (wrestling and sports would be great).”

I decided to expand this to other subreddits as well, specifically sports. I realized that I could probably make the “player” work for any reddit comments thread. There wasn’t too much additional work to create the current version of Panion (Thanks to Jayme Hoffman for coming up with the name!). In this version, I wanted to see if people outside of Game of Thrones would find this interesting.

Home Screen lets you play any reddit URL
The Player is where the most important page of the app… press play at the same time you start your show

I first posted this on /r/CFB (College Football) with 1,200 upvotes and 76 comments, on /r/NFL with 3,000 upvotes and 149 comments, and /r/soccer with 223 upvotes and 14 comments. Some people even liked it so much that they posted it to other subreddits on their own! This ended up in about 20,000 users over the couple days, but it has died down dramatically. No worries, though, I had proven what I wanted to in this test.

Now, as you can likely tell from these screenshots… I am not a designer. Having validated that people were interested in this though, I decided to hire a designer. I began interviewing and late this week I hired a designer to totally redesign the website and think through the user experience with me. I’m excited to see where this goes! Just have to keep testing the unknowns… my next unknown is if people will come back to the website and it can begin to generate a consistent user base. I’ve also added features allowing people to add comments on the website. I’ll certainly be posting here once the redesign is finished!

You can keep an eye on any improvements at www.panion.tv . Any suggestions? Thoughts? Improvements?? Let me know!

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