Community Question: What chat service to use?


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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.
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I vote for IRC since it gives channel owners more control compared to other IM services. Also welcomes more users simultaneously. It is possible to setup Java IRC interaction from a web page too.
This post was edited by Jan on 10/10/2007 12:28 PM
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I agree with Jan. IRC decentralizes the chat and people can choose their own client whether it be web-based, Java, or standalone software.

Not too mention the fact that Wikipedia uses it.

 

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IRC as long as I can use a web based interface. Otherwise I'd have to go with MSN since I already have it installed.
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You can definitely use web based interface with IRC. That's one of the good things about it. In fact there are a bunch of web interfaces to choose from :) The only problem are those web interfaces are lacking in some functionality, but for quick chats they're perfectly fine.

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I think we should use the IRC channel to nominate our daily featured and pinned items. Open it up to the community.
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MSN and Gabbly = Bad
They're either Microsoft attacking your computer, or just horrible.

Skype = No dialup there.

IRC = Confusing, but better than the rest. There is a Firefox IRC client that I like and use. (Search ChatZilla). I like the voting idea.


Could we somehow use AIM or ICQ? There is a client (Trillian) that can do both plus MSN.
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ICQ is old school. Are there public chatrooms in ICQ? And I don't know much about AIM, so same questions apply.

Trillian actually does IRC as well, but I think you need the premium version. I've been using Miranda for MSN and IRC together. At home I just use a java applet on a website (we can embed the applet on a page here on ProductWiki).

Right now it's looking like we'll go with IRC. Jan has actually set up A LOT of stuff already, and nobody has really said anything that bad against it... I want to hear more about ICQ/AIM. The big hurdles with those are that they require you to install software. Even if it is just Trillian or Miranda. But it might be worth it.

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Alright, so the chat channel has been up and running over the weekend, but it's now a matter of HOW to use it. People pop in and out, but since it's so early, there isn't always much going on. :(

I think we should have somewhat of a loose schedule where people generally come on. I know Omar, Amanie, and I will be online during the workday between 9am - 7pm ET (and sporadically at night). In the PW office, we generally plan our day each morning somewhere around 10.30 am, so that would be a good time to drop in and provide your two cents worth.

Suggestions on how to use the channel:

  • 1. content:
    • chat about new products to add to the site
    • collaborate to help each other with product reports
    • discuss product news
    • decide what to pin/promote to the front page
  • 2. administration:
    • resolve spam issues quickly
    • talk about any software bugs
    • request new features
  • 3. help:
    • provide real time help about how to use the site
Any other ideas/thoughts?
This post was edited by Erik on 10/15/2007 10:37 AM

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