Reddit Tests New Community Chat Element to Encourage User Participation

Reddit’s testing out another user engagement option, with Chat Channels being added to selected subreddits, which will enable community members to strike up real-time, topical chats.

 Reddit Chat Channels

Which may sound familiar.

Reddit actually launched virtually the exact same thing back in 2018, with Chat Rooms which also enabled users to engage in real-time, back-and-forth discussions with other members.

 Reddit Chat

Reddit’s Chat Rooms were shut down in 2020 due to lack of use.

So what’s the difference, and why will this variation fare any better?

Reddit says that it’s using the learnings from its past chat experiences to improve this new option.

That means building with mods in mind (tooling, management, etc.) from the ground up. Mods even get a dedicated mod-only channel to talk mod-things among fellow mods.”

Reddit also says that these new Chat Channels will be dedicated spaces, rather than one-off posts.

“This is your place for general discussion, a place to share random quips and reactions that you otherwise wouldn’t have in a post.”

Though really, it does sound pretty much the same. And when you also consider that Reddit tried out audio chats as well, as another means to encourage greater participation, before retiring them last month, it seems like Reddit’s really just trying to shoehorn another engagement option into the app, despite past usage stats suggesting that its audience probably doesn’t really want it.

But Reddit has to test something. According to research, more than 98% of Reddit users never post or comment, and just come to the app to browse the latest trending posts. That’s a key concern, and as Reddit works to make its platform more inviting for ad partners, it would be ideal if it could also underline the broader value and reliance on the app, from more and more users.

So it’s trying chat once again, which might work, might not. But it’s likely worth an experiment.  

Reddit says that it’ll first launch the feature with 25 volunteer communities, before slowly expanding to more subreddits over time.

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