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Reddit steps back in time with live chat rooms

A handful of subreddits can try it in beta.
Jon Fingas, @jonfingas
July 18, 2018
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Reuters/Robert Galbraith

It's not just work and gaming apps revitalizing real-time chat like it's 1998 all over again -- Reddit wants in on the action as well. After months of work, the site has launched live chatrooms in beta for a handful of subreddits. The feature lets moderators create channels for discussing topics that are as broad or specific as they like. As a user, you'll see an interface that will seem familiar if you've used a modern chat app like Discord or Slack -- you'll see chat channels organized under their individual subreddits, sticker-like graphics and notifications when there are new messages (user-specific mentions are on the way).

Channels won't have varying rules like the subreddits themselves, but they will have keyword filters, rate limiting, bans and locks to prevent people from abusing the system. And similar to the extensions you can get for some chat apps, there will be a programming kit to enable subreddit-specific features.

Reddit is straightforward in explaining the addition of chat to Wired: it's all about fostering community collaboration. The company saw how people came together when creating the communal r/Place mosaic, and wanted to give people a place to discuss things in real time within Reddit rather than driving them to Slack or other tools. This gives users a reason to stay on Reddit for the entire process, offering both a more consistent experience and helping the site's bottom line. While it's not about to supplant Reddit's usual threaded conversations, it could be a helpful supplement when regular posts are too slow.

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