TechBytes with Flint Barrow, Chief Technology Officer, Qutee

Flint Barrow

Flint Barrow
Chief Technology Officer, Qutee

Qutee is branded as an intelligent discussion-platform bringing data democracy to digital communities. Though similar to Reddit, Qutee offers data analytics that can be trusted by marketers to drive their social media and influencer marketing campaigns. To better understand the core tenets of Qutee’s content management and how publishers could benefit from the marketing technologies, we spoke to the Chief Technology Officer, Flint Barrow.


Tell us about your role at Qutee and the team/technology you handle.

We have a small engineering team at Qutee which means I stay in the trenches. Beyond coming up with features and doing typical project management definitions and prioritization for my employees, I’m also coding every day. We practice an agile methodology that gets features out fast while maintaining maximum uptime and stability. We’re pushing changes to Qutee every few days and sometimes even a few times a day. We have full-time designers, developers and quality assurance experts all in-house, so I oversee all of them and their pipelines. We use cloud solutions to ensure Qutee is fully scalable, even when influencers with millions of viewers publish a video sending their audiences to one of our conversations. Our core technologies and APIs are in enterprise Java, but we’re expanding to newer Python solutions to bring the latest technologies to improve our analytics and algorithms.

What are the core tenets of Qutee’s content management and marketing technologies? What reporting and tracking tools do you use to win the publishers’ trust?

We strive to keep all of our technology simple. Publishers can learn to use our dashboard in minutes. Users find familiar features to join, post and organize their content. We offer the ability to organize things via structured hierarchical sections and loosely organized tags. Both give you a way to view collections of Qutees. Furthermore, our hub capabilities allow publishers and users to create a managed board of Qutees where they have full control of what’s listed and how it’s organized into subheadings. For understanding traffic and proving validity of data, our publishers are privy to Google Analytics tracking data. Even regular users can track activity on their Qutees through our Q Cred points system.

How does the growth of Polling and Intent Data Analytics impact social media marketing strategies?

Customized intent polling is underused on the web. We’re hoping to train the public and make it ubiquitous with our comment tags. When you’re soliciting responses from your audience, general classification of those opinions can often be very valuable. Instead of building half-baked sentiment analysis engines that struggle with accuracy, we simply ask the user to do that small extra step for us. This gives marketers the ability to structure their questions and discussions in a way where they’re gathering a new level of data. We default to positive, negative, neutral, media, news and other, but we’re finding that creators can use this feature in endless ways. We offer several preconfigured sets of options, a powerful capability. Marketers need to think through how to segment responses in a way that is useful to them, is insightful and helps respondents browse through others’ answers.

At Qutee, how do you verify the authenticity of data?

Primarily, we require an account with a verified email from a known provider. We blacklist and work with a number of services to prevent “fake” users. These measures weed out fake accounts, and we do constant moderation through our site looking for any other red flags. If we ever encounter a problem with our veracity, we may move to requiring users to have a valid and confirmed mobile phone number as well. We’ve got some honeypots that are dominated by bots within unused portions of our framework, but the data we use includes extensive logs and hasn’t been duped by bots. Additionally, use of nonce tokens and a good security token system prevents attackers from exploiting us. It’s important to us that we don’t end up like Twitter, i.e. dominated by bots. As we open our API to the public we’ll be focused on this issue.

How do you leverage AI/ML and data science at Qutee? What AI companies are you particularly interested in—

At our core, we’re a “natural language processing” company. Our engine is optimized to correctly and intelligently organize large conversations to make them tractable to humans. This includes such things as topic extraction, entity clusters and descriptor analysis. We’re pioneering new kinds of approaches to fixing online comments that can utilize new AI services. We’re big fans of Amazon Web Services at Qutee, and I recently attended a seminar on their machine learning services. There is potential for recommendations engines as we curate content. Additionally, while I can’t speak to specifics, we hope to do some novel R&D in this area on our data.

How do you prepare for the post-GDPR era?

We have been preparing for GDPR from the beginning. The principles it stands for and requires are something we’ve stood behind as some of our principles. GDPR has been conflated into a lot of specifics and legal requirements, but the reasonability clauses really bring it down to the simplicity of respecting your users; proactively and transparently dealing with privacy, and defaulting to privacy.

What message would you give to all technology leaders preparing for the oncoming GDPR disruption?

GDPR is a complex topic for the industry. With less than 70 days to go until GDPR comes into force, technology leaders should already have appropriate measures in place, and many will have taken the privacy by design approach – ensuring you have the proper documentation, legal notices and policies set to promote privacy from the get-go.

Thanks for chatting with us, Flint.
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