Reddit is taking a page out of Discord’s playbook by testing out chat channels with select subreddits. The goal is to give community members more opportunities to interact with each other beyond the traditional asynchronous commenting system. The platform is beginning the test with 25 volunteer subreddits, though it hasn’t provided a list of those subreddits. It specified that participating communities will have fewer than 100,000 members.
Channels will be persistent on the community navigation bar, allowing members to return to them frequently. Reddit is giving moderators more control, with a dedicated channel for them to chat about managing the subreddit, as well as the ability to enable the feature for the community or not. Moderators can also choose who participates in the chat, manage the chat queue, and moderate reported messages.
Reddit has learned from its previous chat products, including the discontinued community chat rooms feature from 2020. The platform will introduce features for channels, such as threading, pinned messages, user mentions with push notifications, and message editing for the sender in the future. Reddit is also accepting applications from moderators of subreddits who want to try out the chat channels feature for their community.
The social network wants to provide more options for communities that like to interact in different ways or that have sub-groups that like to interact in different ways. Many communities on Reddit use external real-time chat servers like Telegram, Discord, or IRC to facilitate conversations between members. The introduction of channels could encourage these communities to stay on the platform.
The platform has tried different ways for live interactions in the past, including its now-deprecated Clubhouse clone called Reddit Talk and Live Chat posts within a community. Reddit is not alone in launching ways for communities to host conversations. WhatsApp introduced its discussion group feature last year, while developers of the Telepath social network are trying to make group conversations more user-friendly with a unique thread-based approach in their new app called Wavelength, which works for both small groups of friends and large semi-public chat rooms.