What is the difference between Notes, Chat, and Threads?


Notes are short-form posts published to your Substack profile and shared with subscribers in the Home feed.

With notes, writers might:

  • Write short-form posts (like microblogging)

  • Restack posts they enjoyed and think others might like

  • Promote a recent post by sharing a quote

  • Tag a writer they admire to start a conversation

  • Reply to the notes they find most interesting


Who can start a note?

Any writer or reader on Substack can start a new note– a publication isn't required.

In the Substack app or on the web, visit the Home tab and click the “+” button

Who can see a note?

Notes are public and available for anyone in the Substack network to view. They can appear in the Notes feed of people who subscribe to your publication or follow you on Substack. Notes also appear on your profile.

Can I paywall a note?

It isn't possible to paywall an entire note where only paying subscribers can read what you've posted. However, when composing a note, you can select who can reply to your note: everyone or only paid subscribers.

Learn more about Notes here.


Chats is a space for writers to host conversations with their subscribers. These are private messages sent only to subscribers, which are meant to encourage discussion or conversation.

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.


Who can start a chat thread?

The default is that only publication contributors can start chat threads. Writers have the option in settings to let subscribers (founding members, paid subscribers, free subscribers) participate by starting top-level chats. This empowers subscribers to help steward the community around your publication.

Who can see my chat?

Only subscribers can access your publication's chat. When you start a new thread, you can also send it as an email and subscribers can view the chat on the web or on the Substack app.

Can I paywall a chat?

When you start a new chat thread, you can select the option to have only paid subscribers be able to view and reply. Free subscribers will see a "Subscribers only" lock screen on paid threads.

Read more about Chat here.


On top of Notes and Chat, you can create discussion threads to help tap into the energy of your readerships and foster active communities. Thread posts appear in your publication and archives.



We recommend for threads:

  1. The post that starts the thread should be short (tweet length is good).

  2. Choose the “Send via email and the Substack app” option, so everyone on your subscriber list is alerted to a new discussion.

  3. Participate in the thread for some time (even if it’s just 30 minutes).

Who can start a thread?

Threads are like posts– owners and admins of a Substack publication can create a new thread and publish it to the publication.

Who can see a thread?

Thread posts can be public if you select the audience to "Everyone" and anyone with a Substack profile will be able to comment. If you select the audience as "Paid subscribers only", then only subscribers on a monthly, annual, or founding member plan can see the thread and comment. If you set the audience to "Founding members only", only founding members will be able to participate. Free readers or subscribers will see a paywall when visiting the thread.

Thread audience.png

Note: Unlike Chat and Notes, readers cannot add images to a comment on a thread.

Learn more here on how to start a discussion thread.

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