In what may come as tough news for some of you, we have made the decision to not port Chat onto the Unified Community Platform. While live engagement with community members is incredibly valuable (especially in times like these), it has become clear that the Chat feature we currently have is not satisfying the needs of our users beyond a very small group.
What led to this decision?
Chat has been in a tough spot for a long time. It is not easily moderated, is not mobile friendly, and generally has an antiquated user experience. Chat has been around since 2011, and for a variety of reasons was never maintained and never expanded beyond being part of the experimental Labs section of Wiki Features.
The overall use of Chat simply did not merit additional support or investment. On average, our platform sees a couple hundred total chat messages sent per day. As we look at how modern live chat experiences have evolved since 2011, we saw that the usage is tiny compared to how a single Discord server performs on a wiki with a strong community. We even investigated some self-reported instances of “active chat” communities and, in one such case, we found that the wiki in question peaked at 8 concurrent chatters during observation over a week, while the very same wiki’s Discord had a minimum of 228 concurrent online users during the observation period. While this was merely one wiki, it was representative of similar experiences shared by staff over the years and reinforced during the review of Chat’s future.
Since Chat is not mobile friendly, it cuts out a large portion of possible users for engagement. In 2019, 52.5% of worldwide internet usage came from mobile devices. That number climbs even higher among non-English primary internet users. For example, 67% of Spanish-primary internet users have mobile as their primary form factor for internet usage. Furthermore, accessing Special:Chat on mobile is a staggeringly bad experience. I really do not recommend trying it.
Where do the remaining chatters go?
We’re not going to reinvent the wheel. Other platforms out there, like Discord and Slack, are already in use by a number of Fandom communities. As many of you know, we use both of them ourselves. Dev Wiki also has a Discord right rail module for promoting your wiki’s server, which provides a lot of useful information for people looking for live chats about a wiki. These platforms are options you can consider.
We know this is tough
For the few remaining devotees of Special:Chat, today is a sad day. Quite simply, we can’t currently justify the investment that the feature would need to be viable in a world where more robust, dedicated alternatives exist and can serve community needs.
The data simply did not support a future for Special:Chat when even some of the self-professed Chat wikis are using Discord far more often than Chat. When you added in the evolution of the internet into a mobile-first space, not having a mobile-first user experience cemented the decision.
Chat will remain on the legacy platform until the platform goes dark, after all the Unified Community Platform migrations. Wikis migrating to the UCP will no longer have Chat.
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