Reddit announced Thursday that it is testing Discord-like chat channels with select subreddits. With this move, the social network is trying to give more avenues for community members to interact with each other apart from the usual asynchronous commenting system.
The company said it is starting this test with 25 volunteer subreddits — the company didn’t share a list of those subreddits. It specified that participating communities have less than 100,000 members.
Reddit said that channels will be persistent on the community navigation bar so members can revisit them frequently.
The company mentioned that it has learned from previous chat products like the community chat rooms feature, which was discontinued in 2020. In particular, it plans to give more control to moderators. The new feature will have a dedicated channel for moderators to chat about managing the subreddit. Plus, they will be able to decide if they want to enable this feature for the community in the first place.
Additionally, the platform is giving moderators tools like the ability to choose who can participate in the chat, manage the chat queue, and moderate reported messages in a conversation.
In the r/modnews subreddit, the social network announced that it plans to introduce features for channels including threading, pinned messages, user mentions with push notifications, and messaging editing for the sender in the future.
The social network is also accepting applications from moderators of subreddits that want to try out the chat channels feature for their community.
When users pushed back on the post announcing channels, a moderator said that the company is launching this experiment to provide more ways for community members to converse with each other.
“We love our ‘tree of posts,’ asynchronous text-based communities, and making sure they have what they need to thrive is important to us. At the same time, we want to provide options for communities that like to interact in different ways, or that have sub-groups that like to interact in different ways,” they posted.
A number of communities on Reddit rely on external real-time chat servers like Telegram, Discord, or IRC to facilitate conversations between members. The introduction of channels might incentivize communities to stay on the platform more.
The platform has tried out different ways for live interactions like its now-depreciated Clubhouse clone called Reddit Talk and Live Chat posts within a community.
Reddit is not the only company launching ways for communities to host conversations. Last year, WhatsApp launched its discussion group feature for organizing different groups around a school or a club. Meanwhile, developers of the Telepath social network are trying to make group conversations suck less with a unique thread-based approach in their new app called Wavelength — the app works for both small groups of friends and large semi-public chat rooms.