Now I've got Chat 💬 what do I do with Personal Messages?

I joined this forum just because as a Discourse forum user. I would hate to see PMs go in favour of Chat.

I have not seen the chat feature in action but my first search about it tells me that would be a bad idea when one of the things you cannot do is search them.

I often share stuff, code, files in PMs and often need to search back for them since they were unique to those PMs with individuals and not in the main forums.

Also seems to be a lack of notifications where chat is concerned?.

Is the a definitive list/compare of PM v Chat feature ?


And tags, topics and better order in so many ways. From my point of view private chats are totally waste of resources :grin:


Yikes, @mattdm’s suggestion would be a nightmare scenario for my Discourse forum. I have about 1.7M PMs, and many users very frequently refer back to their old PMs, they highly value that data and very much view it as permanent. Additionally, PMs are often used for detailed and carefully composed responses about important issues, and that paradigm is not aligned with the quick and frivolous nature of chats. I haven’t even enabled chats on my forum and I don’t plan to do so. It would quite simply be the end of my forum if Discourse tried to replace PMs with ephemeral chats. Please don’t go that route.


I agree the chat is for social networks not for the forums and if one enables it then it put more loads on mods. We also have not enabled chat on the forum and not intending to do so. I personally don’t like it to put Chat and PMs on the same boat, there was a way to make PMs as chat just like there was a plugin for it (Quick Messages Plugin) a chat window for the PMs for the quick reply but creating chat and putting PM’s aside is an awful thing done in the discourse.


Additionally, PMs can already work like a personal chat thanks to Discourse’s fantastic AJAX loading of new posts and the user typing indicator. Realtime PM conversations with short/quick responses work just fine for users that want that conversation style, and later when the conversation slows down there will still be a permanent searchable history of the conversation that can be continued again at any later time and/or include longer more detailed replies too.


We have PMs enabled from Trust Level 2 and chat for everyone.


Discussing a quick thing by private chat (sometimes just asking a question) sometimes leads to a new PM discussion when something needs to be discussed more in-depth.

Using this transient way of communication like this also helps to have a less cluttered inbox with “low-value” PM content.

A list can be written (if someone wants to do this :stuck_out_tongue: ), but the chat is still heavily worked on, including new features.


So we have low value chats instead and polluted sidebar with countless amount of private chats :wink:

This is loose-loose situation. But I have to admit that it seems like ordinary users have lower barricade to start chat instead of PM. In my circles anyway.


From what I saw on multiple Discourse forums, it heavily differs from one forum to another.


I think this is the point, I’m not against the chat feature in Discourse and I’m sure it’s useful for some communities. But the PM functionality absolutely should not be considered for deprecation, as it is a critically important and irreplaceable part of many large communities.


I don’t think it’s on the table to be deprecated. We use it heavily for our support inbox, so it’s pretty vital for us. :slight_smile:


Well, I and propably no one else either didn’t think so. Comments were counter measure and reactions because of this opinion:

Shortly: topic went sideways and raised a storm in drinking glass (well, that sounds much better in finnish :rofl: )

But I don’t change my mind about this :wink:


We have no plans to deprecate PMs ever. Everyone has the option of either or both.


Even when PMs are made staff only (the most restrictive setting), a few system messages and PMs from staff (i.e. via flags etc) squeak through.

Of note, these are heavily suppressed in the UI, and only feature as message notifications for non-staff users. They are no longer discoverable in the UI once read (but /my/messages still exists).

This non-discoverability is a bit of a problem - how do I get to the chatbot tutorial? What did that moderator say to me last week?

I’d like it to be possible for all of those PMs to be chats instead, and to have Chat given a little bit more functionality that PMs have such as these:

Add a user to existing personal chat
Chat buttons in user context - 3 suggested enhancements

THEN it would be a true choice of

  1. just PMs or
  2. both PMs and Chat
  3. just Chat

I’ve spent the day reading on the differences between Chat and Messages, here and everywhere else that has now adopted it, as it made no sense to me at all.

Now it does… but the difference won’t to many users and that’s now the issue.

I’m going to try out a different terminology to try and make it clear what it is and why its different, so i’m going to call mine ‘Live’. Thought i’d share in case that helps anyone else, or anyone has a better idea.


We have personal messages and personal chats but people gets confused. So we only enabled PMs on TL2.


I have been thinking about the role of both private messages / direct messages (which could really just be called mail for better distinction) coexisting with chat on Discourse, and I feel the former should never be deprecated (good to know it won’t!). Discourse has a fantastic feature where its private message system can serve as a medium for email exchange to work with others outside of their organization, and email is here to stay.

Considering how the private inbox feature on Reddit has been quietly shelved away in favor of chat (I believe the messages icon used to be in the navigation as well, but now there’s just a chat icon), I wonder if there is a prime example on another platform of the two systems coexisting well. (Tumblr has a similar-ish system with an inbox for questions as well as a chat feature but is not the strongest example.)

Personally I do not see the value of synchronous chatrooms on a traditional discussion forum as I feel the ephemeral can rob valuable and authentic discussion and/or limits the tone of the actual board to a more formal one, but I recognize needs may be different depending on the type of community such as a more productive one for the workplace.


An idea maybe worth of exploring in your thinking: I feel there could be a strong emphasis on the synchronous/asynchronous aspect of both systems with an integrated easy “switching function” from one to the other.

The forum could detect if the other user is online or not and push towards the appropriate one. For example: “xyz is currently online, do you want to initiate a chat instead?” when starting a private message, or the opposite: “xyz doesn’t seem to be available right now, do you want to initiate a private message instead?”.

If the last posts in a chat session go unanswered for more than x minutes and/or the user is disconnected since more than x minutes, move automatically the chat to a private message. Maybe with some kind of “Continuing the discussion from:” like when creating a linked topic and ideally with some quote/context.

In an ongoing private message, show a notice on the side when the interlocutor is online with “xyz is online now, do you want to continue this conversation in a chat session?” and do the opposite.

This sounds nice to me as a coexisting mechanism and implies immediately the differences and benefits of both. Direct (chat) will also tend to be quicker and shorter messages, but that idea should come naturally to mind.


Couldn’t agree more!

I’ve used PMs numerous times already for back and forth deep discussion. Discussion I’ll be referencing back to for years. The same cannot be said for chat, which we don’t use.

Chat is more focused on short and quick talk than focused deep and more one on one discussions. Two completely different things. Removing PMs would be a disaster and lead me to another solution.


A lot of messages to digest here. :sweat_smile:

I just wanted to say: I use PMs extensively.

  • Notes to self
  • A PM for each person in our family forums so they can update their address and stuff for us
  • Tracking housing applications (or anything that has tons of personal info)
  • Client messaging/group inbox

I see lot of suggestions on how the two merge may merge together, but to me it is already in a sweet spot: it can be turned on if needed; I turn them off on all my public sites, for instance, whereas I use chat. (Public in this case just means “not private”, we’re talking potentially dozens of simultaneous users :smiley:.)

Anyhow, I continue to enjoy using PMs for a variety of activities. :+1: