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Discussion on: Do we have a chat channel?

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ben profile image
Ben Halpern

We have a private Slack for a few folks but have never made great use of it. I've never been much of a chat user so I'm not super familiar with the nuances of each option and I'm not super happy with Slack as an app for scaled communities.

I agree that chat could be great for a lot of things if done right. I'm probably hesitant to do anything because I feel like an ideal experience would be on-site instead of off-platform and if we did that, how would it interact with other things on the platform and how would it be searched, and how would it be presented and would it cause too much confusion on whether to start a chat or make a post like this... I go down this rabbit hole a lot.

But I'll start giving this a lot more thought and would be happy to hear any ideas. And happy to be told I'm overthinking a lot of this, especially in the short term.

Can you give me some of the pros and cons of Slack/Discord/IRC as you see them and what you would do Sean (or anyone else)?

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nektro profile image
Meghan (she/her) • Edited on

So some of the pros of using Discord would be that since it's a chat service (versus the post->comments on here) it is much more catered to the more casual conversations such as: music tips, the recent trend in resume review, spread programmer humor memes, as well as the channels to separate categories of talk like Slack. Some other Discord specific features that I know of is integrated VoIP and screen sharing. Having a chat may offer ways to connect to people on a more personal level when it can sometimes feel "unnecessary" to make a whole post about something.

On the other hand, Discord (or any other service) is not dev.to. You mentioned search, and while Discord's search is phenomenal, the conversations are not indexable or therefor linkable. All the same many of the examples above may be more suited for #discuss depending on the tone that OPs want to post.

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endan Author • Edited on

You forgot to mention Bots. Discord has also good bot support! :D For sure someone here knows how to code bots.

Anyway, regarding the tone, first of all, I would just like to ask simple questions like: *pastes some code* and then ask if I'm doing it the right way.

I know there's Stackoverflow but as you mentioned, chat is more casual and you don't need to worry about a reputation system or whatever. Plus, if you see people online, the more probable your question gets answered fast. Unlike when you post in Stack, your train of thought drifts off and you should wait a couple of hours only to see your question ignored/downvoted.

I don't want to bombard the dev.to homepage with #help "Am I doing this correctly?" "How do you refactor this into a more DRY solution?" "Is this the right way of doing Promises?", etc. If I do that, then dev.to dashboard will be full of threads by me. I don't want that to happen. I don't want people to confuse genuine asking-for-help with being a spammer. I've been trying to avoid those kinds of questions deliberately but I'm going nowhere regarding on having an answer to them...

I can also understand @mr's and @ben 's comments, about the userbase being split. Unfortunately, I don't have too much opinion about that. But if I'm the one being asked, I'll be active in both. Because I always keep one tab of dev.to open and will probably open another tab for chat if it happens. :D

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Jason C. McDonald • Edited on

I'm partial to IRC (as anyone who reads my articles here will know), and I think the biggest benefit to it is that it's inherently synchronous. We want permanent and official conversations to occur on dev.to(), so IRC's default non-permanence definitely contributes to the separation of purposes.

In other words, it wouldn't split the community at all: IRC is ill-suited for everything dev.to does, and dev.to is ill-suited for everything IRC does.

I think the main point of a chatroom should be for little conversations and general socialization under the same rules that govern dev.to(). IRC is simple, straightforward, and works on everything with little effort.

Meanwhile, putting together a chatbot to integrate IRC and dev.to() is pretty simple and straightforward. One could use Limnoria or any number of other basic bots and just expand it.

Finally, it's dead simple to get onto IRC. You don't need a special account to get on, and if you did want to reserve your nickname, an IRC account is about as easy as it gets: email address for recovery only, and some incidental little password. There are only several dozen clients out there, for literally everything from iPhones to Linux terminals.

In short, IRC is quite simply that: dead simple, ubiquitous, synchronous chat that isn't capable of taking on any part of dev.to's functionality. No bells, no whistles, just good old chat. Reserve a room in Freenode, throw in a few OPs and a basic chatbot, and you're good to go.

(For the record, I've used both Slack and Discord, and I agree that either risks splitting the community. Same goes for most other chat platforms.)