Community Question: What chat service to use?

Posted by avatarOmar last updated October 10, 2007 at 12:08 pm

There's a lot of ways for people to interact with the site, but I was thinking that the one thing we're missing is a way for people to just come in and quickly ask some questions, hopefully in real time. Get to know each other in a more "informal" way, or talk about the site, or anything really. Also for people new to the site (PW got on Digg on sunday so that brought a lot of people) it'd be a place for them to wrap their head around things and get some direction on what works/doesn't work.

So I guess my first question is, is anybody interested in this kind of thing? I think I'll be setting it up regardless since it's pretty easy. Even if I'm the only one in the room for most of the time, at least it'll be THERE if people want to use it. But it'd be nice to gauge some initial interest.

Second: What service should we use?

Here are the options I've run into, I'd love to hear other ones that people know about/experience with or what they'd prefer.

  1. IRC - this is my preferred choice. Lots of sites (Wikipedia) use IRC, and it seems to work well. It's also extremely flexible in that you can download software if you want, or use a web-based interface. The problem with IRC is that it's extremely archaic and can be overwhelming to non-techies. I mean, lots of people haven't even heard of IRC despite being 20 years old.
  2. Skype - not too familiar with this service, even though it's insanely popular. I think you can setup public groups, but I'm not sure. Similar issues as with MSN though in that you have to download the software
  3. MSN - high overhead in that people have to download software, setup a new account, and public rooms don't really exist. Nice features like offline messaging
  4. Gabbly - horrible. Just putting it here for completion's sake. We've tried Gabbly twice, and just BAD. I'm thinking of staying away from purely web-based chat services, they all have some kind of issue with them.