Reddit announced Thursday that it is testing Discord-like chat channels with select subreddits. With this move, the social network aims to give community members more options to communicate with each other, beyond the usual asynchronous commenting system.
The company said it’s starting this test with 25 voluntary subreddits — the company hasn’t shared a list of those subreddits. It specified that participating communities have fewer than 100,000 members.
Reddit said channels will be permanently on the community navigation bar so members can visit them regularly.
The company said it learned from previous chat products, such as the community chat room feature, which was discontinued in 2020. Specifically, it plans to give moderators more control. The new feature has a dedicated channel for moderators to chat about managing the subreddit. Plus, they can decide if they want to enable this feature for the community in the first place.
In addition, the platform provides moderators with tools such as the ability to choose who can join 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 in the future, including threading, pinned posts, user listings with push notifications, and message editing for the sender.
The social network is also accepting requests from subreddit moderators who want to try out the chat channel feature for their community.
When users pushed back the post announcing channels, a moderator said the company is launching this experiment to give community members more ways to talk to each other.
“We love our tree of posts, asynchronous text-based communities, and it’s important to us to make sure they have what they need to thrive. At the same time, we want to provide options for communities that like to interact in different ways, or have subgroups 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 can encourage communities to stay on the platform more.
The platform has been trialling different ways for live interactions, such as the now deprecated Clubhouse clone called Reddit Talk and Live Chat messages within a community.
Reddit isn’t 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 social network Telepath are trying to make group conversations less worthless 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.