Enable the chat channels

I would like to make a suggestion to enable the chat channels on our official forum.

There are several benefits that forum chats can provide us:

  • Centralisation of discussions: Currently, OpenStreetMap community discussions take place on different platforms and chat rooms. Enabling chats on the official forum will allow us to move these discussions to one place, making them easier to find and interact with.

  • Activation of participants: Chats are a convenient and quick way to discuss issues. They can be a tool to engage more members in active discussions on the forum, increasing community activity and engagement.

  • Preserving valuable discussions: The ability to quote chat messages in forum threads allows you to preserve valuable discussions and ideas that can be useful to all members of the community, not just those who participated in the live chat.

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I disagree with that. Its ‘just’ another channel and will spread people even more.

A better solution would be to use matrix (as its done already quite a lot) and bridge various channel. With bridges its possible to get matrix, irc, telegram and discord in one channel and allow everyone to communicate with each other.

The thing is - with enabling the discourse chat the other options don’t just get abandoned.

It would have been better if discourse integrated matrix as chat-protocol, but thats something else…

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This would be nice, but such a task would require additional efforts on the technical side.

My idea is that not every local community can afford matrix, mattermost and other similar solutions. These are the costs of hosting and administrator at least. Many small communities have to use free commercial analogues such as Telegram, Slack, and others. Not everyone likes to share their personal data with these services.

I believe that if there are already so many chat services available, another chat will not be surprising :slight_smile:. On the contrary, it will be a good option for small local communities that are still growing.

Another question is how well this chat is made. After all, it has just appeared on Disqourse 3.0.

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My understanding is that there is a matrix-discourse-chat in the works upstream that would allow to connect to existing rooms on matrix, telegram or even IRC.

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xkcd 927 standards

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I hope it is only a joke.

The question raised is really important. When local communities are limited to their own chats, it does not contribute to their involvement in the life of the global project community.

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Best of all, there’s no minimum post length on chat messages! :tada:

I disagree for two primary reasons:

  1. OSM communities already have preferences for existing chat channels. Adding another one would fragment communities more.

  2. The community forum and Discourse are most useful for async, longer-form communication where chat systems are more useful for contemporaneous, short-form communication and informal chats. These two types of communication deserve separate tools where one isn’t limited by the other.

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I don’t understand the scepticism at all.

I’m one of those people who came from the golden era of forums, and I appreciate thoughtful discussions and this way of communication. But many of the new contributors of OpenStreetMap are young people who are much more comfortable with the chat format. As I see it, these two categories of participants are now slightly separated by different platforms and services.

Why not give everyone an additional opportunity to have local community chats right here? This way, there will be both thoughtful slow discussions and fast communication that newcomers need in one place.

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I think the Discourse chat feature is intended for contemporaneous, short-form communication. The screenshots look a lot like Zoom’s chat feature but with Slack-style threads in the sidebar. But I’ve never used it before. Like @darkonus, I wonder how mature it is. Maybe someone could set up a test instance to try it out?

Now I’m wondering how we’ve lived without MediaWiki’s IRC chat extension for so long. :stuck_out_tongue:

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There are only so many people in the OSM community willing to put in the effort to keep congregation spaces healthy, positive, and welcoming to new users, and if we splinter into too many venues with too many different formats, then we have a higher chance of making someone’s first experience with an OSM community really negative. That’s why I worry about splintered comm platforms, anyway.

If we want to encourage people to move to Discourse Chat, then we should come up with a plan to move folks from some existing platform(s) to the new one. The work behind this for Forum → Discourse worked fairly well, but it was a lot of effort by a lot of people.

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I understand your concern, but I see the chat channels as an incentive for new members to get hooked here on the forum, so that they can then participate in more serious discussions and better understand how OpenStreetMap works.

I don’t think we should actively encourage participants to move to these chats. It will be natural — a person with an OpenStreetMap account will get both the forum and the chats at once. Those who want to use it will use it, those who don’t want to use it won’t.

I see the benefit of having platforms for people to chat on Reddit, Discord, Telegram, Slack, IRC, and such. Those are places people already use, and coming to the places they use to make communities is good for outreach.

However turning on a chat feature on the forums doesn’t really help in any way like that. The only people here on the discourse are people who are already extremely invested into OSM stuff already. I don’t think it’s really necessary, and furthermore every new avenue opened is another place moderators and power users have to splinter their attention in order to engage with the full community.

I already see a ton of the big power users in pretty much every corner of the OSM community, and I’m surprised at how they handle it (I can barely keep my attention on the OSM US slack and the OSM World Discord.)

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That’s a good insight. For some local communities, even maintaining a beachhead presence in this forum’s forum categories is enough of a challenge. But other local communities live and breathe the forums.

When I look at this table of all-time longest topics, some stretching tens of thousands of posts long, I have to wonder if some local communities have effectively been using the forum as a chat server. No wonder they’d chafe at guardrails like the minimum post length, topic similarity warning, and repeat link warning that only make sense for slow-paced, long-form discussion. If that’s the case, then tweaking the forum to behave like a chat server would be less disruptive to these communities than expecting them to use the forum like a forum. Just a hypothesis.

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If there are communities that already use the forums like a chat room, I say it wouldn’t hurt for them to have an option to actually use a chat room on this site, but I think OP’s vision of trying to encourage other communities that aren’t already using it to use it might be a bit too lofty of a goal.

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Discord is reasonably active for Oceania, where a lot of the regular users appear to be fairly “young” i.e. early 20’s (to me that makes them young! :grinning:)

A few times I’ve made mention on there of subjects being discussed here, & suggested that people may like to join in, but the usual response is “You can stick the forum”! :frowning:

So I think you may have issues getting “everybody” to join on here as one big happy family! :roll_eyes:

There are some FOSS purists in the OSM community and an interesting thing the OSM World Discord did was bridge the Discord server to Matrix so people could participate there without a Discord account. No offense to the OSM world Discord mods if they see this, but they don’t do a very good job of promoting it. :stuck_out_tongue:

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There are English-speaking global communities and several very active foreign-language communities. They have many members and many discussions. I understand that it’s hard for moderators to keep track of everything and many people don’t see the point of an additional chat room here for already quite active communities.

But please pay attention to the communities of other countries here. They are not as active and there are fewer discussions. In some communities, there are long periods of silence in the branches of this forum. Some communities have no representation on this forum at all. When I proposed this idea, I was thinking about such communities.

Here’s a discussion thread on the main Discourse forum: Matrix protocol for chat - #21 by dan - feature - Discourse Meta

Me personally, I ‘bridge’ all OSM communication channels I’m interested in (IRC and Discord) in my Element installation.

Nevertheless, it’s important to recognize that not every community possesses the necessary resources to establish their own chat instances or similar communication platforms. Moreover, the emergence of independent community chat rooms stems from the absence of such a feature on the OSM platform. This circumstance has resulted in the fragmentation of communities based on geographical and linguistic factors.

The prospect of fostering interest in neighboring community events notably rises when such interactions are just a single click away. Even accidental clicks have the potential to mend the rifts that were inadvertently created by the proliferation of chat platforms on alternate mediums.

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