A number of folks have asked about whether it is possible to search messages in chat.
We don’t have any immediate plans to add search, but we have already heard it requested several times. I think it’s something we will likely do at some point, but it’s not at the top of our list at this time.
Regardless, our recommendation is to strongly encourage capturing things in topics once it’s clear that they are worth tracking or returning to.
We understand that’s not always obvious up front, and that search could help in those scenarios, but in many cases, it can be beneficial to nudge users to do so and to model the same behavior.
Two existing features that can help here are 1) “Bookmark reminders” - to return to something to capture in a topic later, and 2) “Quote in Topic” - to capture a transcript of part of a chat discussion in a new or existing topic.
I’ve suspected such myself - I’m a little wary about it, if I’m honest. I like the two features you mention later in the post (which work well together), as they feel like they compliment the ephemeral of channel chat - whereas I fear search trains people to rely on channels as a more permanent medium than they are. I’m not arguing against search being added - mostly because I think it’ll happen eventually regardless - but I wonder if it would be worth exposing a toggle for chat search as a site setting?
As an aside - do chat comments stick around in the database after the time limit is reached? I’m curious if it’s possible to retrieve them somehow. (I don’t really have a preference; I’m just wondering.)
We’re getting a little bit ahead of ourselves (no suprise – such is the nature of this topic), but another approach to discourage reliance on chat as long term memory is to reduce the retention period (which defaults to 90 days).
As you mentioned, it only does this if you have a topic open already. If you’re in full screen chat, it creates a new topic by default. You also have the option to click “Copy” which adds the text to your clipboard. So you could do that and then click the + button in the sidebar near “Community” to create a new topic, and then paste it in there.
These are pretty fine grained details of the interaction design that are certainly not set in stone, but I’m not sure we want to add another button here. But if you do start using chat regularly and find that you’re bumping into this all the time, or have other ideas, please let us know.
Appreciate this is new territory and that some communities will often by jumping into chat in response to a topic, so current behaviour makes sense.
I’ll work with your suggestions and feed back, how I and others at discourse.openehr.org are getting on. Like many, I suspect, we are gently trying alternatives to Slack, as our non-profit does not fall under their subsidy rules.
I like the idea but as I experienced it many times it has never worked to “educate” people how to use a software system because NO ONE reads manuals, instructions and guidelines except power users.
And if the targeted audience is just a regular user they will use your system in that way they are used to.
As you are mimicing a chat messenger with this functionality everyone expects a search function like whatsapp, telegram, signal, slack has.
So my vision would be for the not so far future for that feature: it should replace the old message system (based on a somewhat unintuitive mail metaphor) completely.
Yes a subject in an email is nice but common no one uses it right and everyone uses it a little bit different so you always get a totally cluttered inbox which you have to sort regularly or search it with more effort afterwards.
With a proper chat you get an automatically sorted inbox per user and per group. Inside these chats it should be possible to search for information to move it out in to an organized, structured and standardized thread.
Next thing is: a private message in discourse just looks like a normal thread (or topic) so the casual user doesn’t really get the difference.
You’re right that you shouldn’t expect a new user to read a manual or a guide.
But the whole “educating” notion in Discourse is not about that. It’s about your core users showing how to behave and new users gradually learning that. The first time you suggest moving the conversation to a topic and explaining why. Next time they’ll do the same for other newcoming users.