Chat questions answered
Answers to reader and writer questions about Chat on Substack
Chat is a new space for writers to host conversations with their subscribers. We’ve designed it to be simple, fun, and seamlessly integrated with your Substack.
At Substack, we take the challenge of designing vibrant and healthy spaces for conversations seriously. Writers and podcasters can turn on Chat for their publications from within the iOS app. We are rolling this feature out gradually, with Android and web to follow.
How can writers add Chat to their publications?
Start a Chat in three simple steps.
Download the Substack iOS app and go to the “Chat” tab
Start your first chat thread, which will notify your subscribers
Email your readers an announcement post to tell them about your chat
You can also enable or disable chat via a toggle in your publication settings. Check out our getting started guide for best practices on starting your chat.
How do writers start a chat thread?
Go to the Chat tab in the bottom row of the Substack iOS app. If you have access to chat, you’ll see a new row for your publication. Tap in, then tap the “Start a new thread” button at the bottom.
Each chat thread can include text, links, or up to 6 images. You can tap the lock icon to select whether you want all subscribers or only paid subscribers to be able to view and reply.
How can readers join a writer’s chat?
Download the Substack iOS app, then go to the Chat tab in the bottom row. There, you’ll see available chats for Substacks that you subscribe to.
If you aren’t seeing the Chat tab pictured below, make sure your app is updated, then force quit and restart your app.
Who can see a publication’s chat?
Each chat is only visible to subscribers of that publication. For each chat thread, writers can choose whether they want all subscribers or only paid subscribers to be able to view and reply.
If you'd like only paid subscribers to access this thread, tap on the lock icon and tap "Paid subscribers".
Will new chat threads be sent as emails?
An email is automatically sent to all subscribers when you host your first Chat. After that, Chat threads are not sent as emails. Instead, readers in the iOS app will be notified about new threads if they have push notifications enabled.
Continue to talk about Chat in your posts so that readers in email and on web join the conversation in Chat. You can do this by including:
“Get the app button” in your posts
Embedding chats in your posts by pasting a chat link directly into your post
Can writers and readers access Chat from the web or Android?
Chat can currently only be viewed and composed in the Substack iOS app. We aim to make it available for Android and web soon.
How can writers paywall their chat?
Currently, it is not possible to paywall the entire chat space, only individual threads. Writers can paywall threads by tapping the lock icon when composing a new thread.
How does Chat differ from the discussion thread feature?
Chat is a dedicated space for casual interactions with your subscriber community. We hope it’ll allow you to share quick updates, photos, and discussion prompts on the go; and make reader engagement more vibrant through features like image replies and emoji reactions.
Because Chat is only available in the Substack app, notifications for new chat threads and replies will use push notification instead of email.
How can I adjust my notifications for Chat?
You can adjust your app notification settings by tapping the profile tab and the settings gear in the top right corner. You can also turn on or off notifications for a specific thread by long-pressing it.
How can writers moderate their chat?
Writers have a few options to moderate their chat:
Turn off (lock) replies for a chat thread via the three dot menu
Delete any reader reply by long-pressing it
Ban any user from replies and comments by long-pressing their reply
Turn off reader image replies for their chat by long-pressing their chat row or going to your publication settings
Additionally, readers can flag and hide explicit images by long-pressing a reply.
Will writers keep the email addresses for chat participants?
Only your subscribers can see your chat, and you will always own your subscribers’ email addresses and be able to export them at any time. When a new person subscribes from the Substack iOS app or the Substack website, you’ll get their email address.
Can readers start new threads in Chat?
Currently, chat threads can only be started by writers, i.e. anyone with the “Contributor,” “Admin,” or “Owner” role in your publication.
How can writers share a link to chat on social media or on Substack?
To share your chat, long-press your publication’s chat row in the app and click “Share” to copy a link or share directly to social media. You can also share individual chat threads by long-pressing each thread or using the three dot menu.
Chat links will appear as an embed in Substack posts when you simply paste the link into your post.
Can writers and readers share photos, video, and audio in Chat?
Today, writers and readers can send photos and dynamically react with the full emoji library. We anticipate adding more media options in the future.
We’ve added new articles to our support center about Chat. If you’re having trouble, head there.
If you have questions about how Chat works, you can ask those in the comments section of this post and we’ll do our best to answer.