New beta: Topic Timer block

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7 - App Architect
7 - App Architect

Hi everyone! My name is Taylor, I’m a new product manager at Airtable working on the Airtable platform. Super excited by all the work the team’s doing, and to work with and learn from everyone here.

But first - a new block!

Say you’re in a meeting with lots of topics to cover - Topic Timer lets you pick a Base collaborator as a moderator and shows a countdown timer to everyone currently in the base, and then when the timer’s up lets all active contributors vote for whether or not to continue discussing the topic.


Click here to join the beta. Once you click that link, the “Topic Timer” block will be available in the list of blocks when you go to install a block.

We’d love your feedback – please reply with thoughts and suggestions in this thread!

P.S. The source code is available here, so you can remix it if you’re in the custom blocks beta.

17 Replies 17

If there was a thumbs down option, I would be clicking it right now.

No disrespect, but there are like 20 things that would probably rise to the “short list” of important challenges I would guess a product manager should be doing at Airtable. A timer block doesn’t even make the top 100 in my view.

Perhaps you are using this as a way to get your scripting feet under you and to know blocks a little better. That’s fine; it’s important for PMs to really know the product, but that’s an evening and weekends kind’a project, right?

Here is my short list of items that cause me to worry about Airtable and often hesitate when an important clients asks be about your product.

  1. Features that have been repeatedly asked for more than 5 years ago and remain unmet. All users faced with silence – when they articulate a simple, common, usual and customary requirement – need an advocate who will bug the crap out of the engineering team to add simple stuff like a Split() function. I’ve asked for three years; other users asked about it half way back into the previous decade. There are many feature requests in this category.

  2. Regular developer and end-user round-table discussions to understand where the feature gaps are. Ideally, you should be telling us how and when you hope to close those gaps.

  3. An actual technology roadmap available under NDA that will help us continue to support and recommend Airtable well into the future and to all our clients.

  4. Open-sourcing many of the blocks so that the developer community can extend and remedy shortcomings across the platform.

  5. An end user webinar about security and backup/recovery best practices with in-depth Q&A and with actual engineers in attendance.

I truly hope no one is spending a lot of time developing WebClipper 2.0. :winking_face:

Congratulations on your new role! Are you ready to rumble!

5 - Automation Enthusiast
5 - Automation Enthusiast

This new ‘feature’ does not make me super excited. What would get me super excited is if Airtable would fix some of the glaring security issues that users have been harping on about for 5 years.

I also support everything Bill.French said.

I am very sad at the turn this particular thread has taken.

I am sad that posts from valuable members of this community have been set to moderation. Their posts have useful information about the Airtable product. The original post explicitly asked for feedback by replying to the post. Why moderate that feedback because you don’t like what people have to say?

I am also sad that people are calling for a “thumbs down” option on this forum. I really like how supportive this community usually is and the ability to downvote a post would erode that sense of community. I would prefer a better method of upvoting and downvoting feature requests and product enhancements. (Whatever happened to the block madness contest from last spring that was going to pit different blocks against each other in a head-to-head popularity competition?)

I also do not find the topic timer block to be useful. I find that there are other better methods of conducting meetings and getting feedback from participants.

Airtable Employee
Airtable Employee

Hi folks! Just a reminder that constructive criticism is welcome, but criticizing people is against our community guidelines. Posts that violate these guidelines will be flagged and removed.

It’s possible that it’s an automatic flagging by the forum software. Several of us have had posts flagged for basic replies, with wording not nearly as charged as some of the posts above.

Back on the topic, I’m also surprised by this release considering the many things that users have requested for years, and considering some of the security issues that have been pointed out multiple times. I get excited about things like scripting and automations, and then I scratch my head at things like this. I understand that every new feature isn’t going to be a blockbuster, and I’m all for starting a new job with a quick win to help get some momentum, but of all the possible things to devote valuable development time towards, I’m genuinely shocked that this rose to the top of the list of things that could be developed quickly.

I tend to feel the same. However, I suspect some users will actually like this block and use it to some advantage in their businesses.

Separately, is the context - there’s a new product manager introducing a new quaint block, um… while a grease fire is flaring in the kitchen. :winking_face: The juxtaposition is undeniably worrisome.

You shouldn’t be sad about AI systems that get it wrong from time-to-time. This is not Airtable’s fault and we should not extrapolate these seemingly biased silencing triggers as the deliberate intention of the people at Airtable.

Ironically, I am kind’a neutral on this one (opposing thumbs sideways?). Communities are useful for gathering data. Approval is one data point; disapproval through narratives alone requires AI and we see how that’s workin’ out for us. :winking_face:

I do too. I really like how Airtable is a platform that democratizes software creation.

I doubt this block took development time away from other more pressing feature requests. Custom blocks makes the creation of blocks like this relatively quick and easy compared many of the outstanding feature requests.

Perhaps - we don’t really know. But… we can probably surmise that the exposure of something like this is far greater in scope than we might think at first glance. For example, support questions, new enhancement requests, bugs that may be encountered, and of course the opportunity cost of the time @Taylor_Savage who must spend a lot of time reading my messages alone instead of arranging a really helpful webinar about security best practices. :winking_face:

So, I disagree - I am almost certain that this block does [eventually] erode resources in a non-trivial way.

One thing I find lacking in this community forum is information about how to handle moderation issues. It has improved slightly over the past few months, but it still has a ways to go. For example, it isn’t possible for users to tell when a post has been flagged by AI versus by a human. It is also confusing when posts flip-flop in and out of moderation. Finally, it isn’t clear how much we are allowed to discuss moderation issues on the open forum.

At least we know that Jason is watching this thread.