Social news site Reddit is getting ready to add chats to its Subreddit communities: The service quietly began testing community chat rooms on its website in recent weeks, and apparently expanded the test to a number of new users this week.
The test was officially announced on the site three weeks ago. A spokesperson told Variety this week that community chats are being tested with a small subset of Subreddits:
“We are constantly testing new products and features that improve the Reddit experience and bring community and belonging to everyone in the world,” the spokesperson said via email. “We’ve been working on an exciting feature that extends the capabilities of our chat product — which we launched late last year — to groups of users and communities. We’re testing the new chat product with a small number of communities and will roll the feature out to more users after we collect feedback, make updates and continue to improve the experience.”
Reddit is currently only testing community chat rooms on its website, with plans to bring it to its mobile apps down the line. Users who have been granted access to the new feature can find Reddit’s new chat rooms as an overlay integrated into the web version of the site. There is also a pop-up feature to access chat rooms in a separate window. The chat functionality itself is at this point fairly bare-bones, and a bit reminiscent of IRC chats.
Users can browse a list of all the participants of a room, and add Reddit-specific emoji to their chat messages. There is also a report function to flag users for spam, harassment or illegal content.
Reddit’s chat emoji.
Reddit introduced person-to-person and group chat a few months ago. The reason for expanding into messaging and group chats is pretty obvious to anyone who has spent a bit of time on Reddit: A growing number of Subreddits now run their own chat rooms on Discord, a chat service popular with video gamers.
The company acknowledged as much when it first announced community chat rooms, writing: “There are also a bunch of subreddits that are more organically social in nature, and right now they need to leave Reddit to create the experience they want.” Ultimately, Reddit wants to keep those interactions on its own site, rather than having its users flee to third-party platforms.