Nearly a year old, quirky, online debate forum The Reckoner! crossed the 300,000 total unique visitors mark this month. And that’s with founder Dan Koch seeing it as a side project since he joined Old City mobile development shop appRenaissance (he’s a lead on their new Artisan launch).
Launched in November 2011, The Reckoner! allows users to log in with either their Facebook or Google+ page to post questions with two possible answers, and in turn, other users vote on which option they prefer. It’s what Koch calls “The Thunderdome” for decision-making.
“People love to argue, and people love to feel that their opinions are validated by the world at large, that they’re of a group, that they have validation from the world around them,” said Koch, 26, who lives in Queen Village and grew up “in Philadelphia’s orbit,” including Warrington and Cape May County.
Visit the Reckoner! to pose or respond to a question here.
Not only has The Reckoner! helped Koch secure a job at appRenaissance, it’s helped him grow closer to his community.
“One of the greatest joys of The Reckoner! was how it brought me close to the people around me,” said Koch, a 2006 Penn alumnus who studied electrical engineering with minors in math and economics. (He also has a masters in technology management from Villanova). “Not just the people that I knew, but people that I didn’t know who I had the opportunity to meet by the virtue of having the community build and grow around the site.”
Despite being a side project, Koch has developed a reputation for his site in the crowded space of question-and-answer services, by focusing on the binary, creating a playful atmosphere and, likely, by the sheer will of his theatrical personality — yup, he pursued acting in college.
Watch Koch present at the April Philly Tech Meetup.
The Reckoner! has seen a wide variety of questions, ranging from “Everyday Fashion from the ’70s and ’80s. Which makes you laugh [or] cringe more?” to “Should Spiderman have a sidekick?”
One of Koch’s favorite questions came early in The Reckoner!’s history.
“There are nuclear weapons in the air the world is going to experience the apocalypse imminently, and the question was would you rather be in a city, you know, where a bomb is going to hit right over your head, it’s going to incinerate you immediately, or would you rather be out in the countryside, where you may be able to survive and see what’s in store for us after the apocalypse,” Koch said.
Watch the video below to see Koch explain more about his project.
“And it’s pretty interesting, it gets into some interesting philosophy about what the value of life is and whether survival above all else is a paramount quality. It was fun, it was a lot of fun seeing the discussion.”
Most of all, he said, he hoped the project is a fun and interesting tool for people to get involved with online.
“It’s a toy, it’s a fun toy,” said Koch. “It’s a toy meant to richen life a little bit.”
This report was done in partnership with Temple University’s Philadelphia Neighborhoods program, the capstone class for the Temple’s Department of Journalism. Additional reporting was provided by editor Christopher Wink.