For a year, Reddit has been testing community-based chat rooms with a select number of users. Over time, the beta spread to various groups on the platform, and today the largest forum hub of the Internet made its efforts public with a blog post that explained what he wanted to achieve with the feature.
"When we first started, we knew that most people did not personally know other redditors because the core of the Reddit experience is pseudonym sharing and discussion," wrote ityoclys, a Reddit product designer who last year had chat room feedback taken by users. "So we wanted to make sure there was a place for people in the betas to test the chat, give feedback and have a bit of fun. Perhaps most importantly, we wanted to meet people who use the chat and from learn them. "
I joined a number of chat rooms and found that most of them were not so active – some had no chatter at all. In the more popular rooms, people had shot the shit, shared their lives and dreams, and joked. In Fortnite chat, players talked about effective winning strategies, confessed their lack of skills and disseminated memes ("just build lol"). Over in the weed chat room, the guests talked about their favorite strains and equipment and expressed their excitement about smoking. One user even linked short facial cam videos where he seemed to be high. In the "Casual Conversation" room, users shared their ideas for books.
It all felt very healthy, like the long-lost AOL days, when people logged into random chat rooms to connect with strangers. The flip side is that vintage chat rooms also had their problems. At Reddit, this is currently manifesting itself through the usual problems associated with online anonymity: people who are idiots who use the N-word or spam the room with things like The Bee Movie script. None of this will sound shocking to anyone who spent a second on the Internet, but it remains to be seen how closely communities will moderate their chat rooms or what moderation tools will be provided.
Reddit chat rooms seem to be a great way to experiment with vulnerabilities and openness because people mostly do not know who you are – and probably are not interested. At the Cat Chatroom, I asked people what kind of songs they sang to their pets and revealed that my calico happens to have a mealtime tune. Nobody answered. That is how it goes.
"The nature of real-time direct chat seems to be particularly disarming," idios continues in Reddit's summary of the chat experiment. "Even when people trample or troll in frustration, I find that when you talk to them and show them you're a normal person like them, they almost always rest."
Chat will continue to roll out new communities daily, and Reddit promises to continue to provide feedback on the feature to improve it. Everyone who uses the chat has a contact called u / reddit_chat_feedback, a virtual chat "user" who serves as a feedback hotline.