Indicator that new chat channels are available

Originally sent in The Chat Feedback topic
jimkleiber

Another small piece of feedback regarding the channels pencil icon on the focused sidebar theme: I think it would be helpful to have some icon to show if there are channels available that the user doesn't know about

for example, right now, if I see the pencil, I don't know if there are other chat channels I can join without clicking on the pencil, so maybe something like a little red circle or something to show that there are more channels available to me to which I don't currently belong

this could help let users know when new chat channels are created

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I would actually fundamentally question why chat is treated as “visible only if you actively go looking” in the first place. Categories and Topics are not treated this way and I kind of feel like neither should chat be! Chat should be, as I’ve just said elsewhere, “a first-class citizen” in Discourse. That means it should, IMO, be visible by default in top-level views (e.g. category list, etc.).

Now certainly this has to be considered in the context of whether “chat on topic” actually ends up existing in the initial implementation or not. Last I heard they were considering dropping it as a launch feature, which I think may be a good idea as the UI/UX considerations are challenging, and chat is by its nature most often less laser-focused in topic. A category is a good balance of focused-enough, but not too focused to define a chat.

If chat on topic does get included, then obviously making all chat channels visible (but not joined) by default makes less sense, but at the least I think category-level chats should still be just… visible… all the dang time. Maybe you can actively hide them, or switch between “my channels” and “all channels” view (with “all channels view” on by default) with the pencil or something.

Think about how Discord works in this context for what is likely to be the most familiar metaphor for many coming into Discourse chat. Obviously Slack is another one, but it is default-private, whereas as Discord, and many Discourse instances, are more of a “default public”. So again that informs my preference here. Curious if others agree though (and sorry if I’ve semi-hijacked your topic Jim!).

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Haha, I feel no offense at all, actually quite grateful for your comment and agree about wanting the channels to be more visible, especially if the focus will be on category-linked channels and not topic-linked channels.

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Stepping back, I think it’s worth considering this in the context of “channel discovery” as a whole.

There are many things we can do to aid in making channels more discoverable. At the top of my list currently would be the ability to quickly mention another channel (“oh yeah, we were just discussing this in #community the other day”).

There are plenty of other things that could be done though… (Show related channels… have inbound links to posts when they are linked to from a channel… have discobot direct message you occasionally with channels you might want to join… post “channel created” messages to a “general” channel… have a tab for channels in topic lists…) You get the idea. Lots of possibilities.

Not sure exactly where we’ll start here, but if it’s helpful context for brainstorming, I’ll confirm that we are planning to remove the “per topic” channel feature, though you can have more than one channel in a category.

4 Likes

Lots of great ideas! I’m glad to hear you have those in mind and are exploring this stuff. Of course the major existing options Slack and Discord also have some possible models for this (Discord more than Slack IMO, since I think it fits the general community interaction and discoverability model of Discourse more closely).

That is indeed helpful! Sounds like the right move for now.

3 Likes