Reddit is testing a real-time chat function which could soon replace its old-fashioned PM system — meaning Reddit will soon have a chat function that looks similar to any social media site out there. That’s not necessarily a bad thing.
According to Mashable, the chat is still in beta. While the site’s developers are currently focused on one-on-one chat, they may expand to group chat in the future. Reddit hopes to have the feature out to everyone early next year.
In practice, it looks like Facebook’s in-browser Messenger windows — tiny boxes aligned with the bottom right corner of the screen, one for each conversation you have going.
According to site administrators, the inception of chat came about when the massive April Fool’s mural r/place turned into a collaborative effort on behalf of so many users:
When different users and communities came together to collaborate – they had to leave Reddit. We want to build tools for our users to more easily communicate and build the communities they want.
Moderators of various subreddits have long turned to outside services such as Discord or Slack to help foster the communities outside of specific posts, and with good reason — it’s much easier to foster community if members can speak freely in a way Reddit’s post structure doesn’t allow for.
Redditors on the r/beta thread have expressed reservations about the chat, insofar as spam is concerned. They point out that there would need to be an invitation system in place, assuming a subreddit can have its own chat in future. Without such a system, anyone could come into a subreddit chat and leave spam or inappropriate comments so much the actual talking is drowned out. Let’s face it — this is Reddit, so we can assume that will happen.
But, assuming it doesn’t turn into a free-for-all, it could be a great way to grow and nurture communities within Reddit itself.