After beta-testing its community chat feature with a small group of users, Reddit is now expanding the chat rooms to more subreddits.
For months now, the popular forum website Reddit has been working on a community chat feature that will enable Redditors to better communicate with each other. The chat feature, which is still currently in the beta stage, was developed by the company’s new product manager Jason Lee after noticing that the forum has no way to support the fast-paced conversations between Reddit communities.
“Most people still don’t know about Reddit Chat, so, for context, over the past year we’ve been beta testing a few new chat features with a small group of you,” u/ityoclys, wrote in a blog post.
“When we started, we knew that most people didn’t personally know other redditors, since the core of the Reddit experience is pseudonymous sharing and discussion, so we wanted to make sure there was a place for people in the betas to test chat, give feedback, and have a bit of fun.”
To date, members of subreddits use chat relay services to talk and get know each other. These communications are being done outside of Reddit, usually on Discord or Slack.
However, Reddit can’t offer the same kind of chatting experience since Redditors’ identities are hidden in the platform. People come to the platform to mingle with strangers who share the same interests as theirs.
This led the design team to adopt the Internet Relay Chat or AOL chat room model of the 90s.
“If you haven’t used AOL in a while, the idea of chatting with people who feel uninhibited and disguised behind bizarre usernames might give you pause. This may seem especially true when you consider using chat as a feedback channel on a platform like Reddit, which is widely known for its passionate and vocal communities. I was initially afraid that most people would bring out the pitchforks and… unkind words. I was pleasantly surprised to find that most people are actually quite nice,” u/ityoclys further explained.
The chatrooms are opt-in for subreddits which means that not all communities have one yet. The chat room design follows Reddit’s minimalist theme and is more focused on the words being shared by the Redditors than the design or features behind it.
Users can join multiple chat rooms and can swap between them with just a click. By default, each user is given a Snoo avatar, which at the moment can’t be changed, for anonymity. Most chat rooms are still inactive but the list of rooms already includes nearly everything from Game of Thrones to cats.
The Reddit chat will continuously be rolled out to new communities on a daily basis by the company over the next few months. They also encourage users to help improve the chat feature by sending their feedback to u/reddit_chat_feedback.