Longer term, I’m starting to see potential to move in the direction that Kris was hinting at:
In the short term, I think we’re living with some visible tension between these concepts that’s hard to resolve in a completely satisfactory way. But I can get behind a rename of “Personal Chats” to “Chats” or something else if we come up with a favorite.
We should consider where we try to use these terms so we can work towards consistency, for example:
I continue to prefer Direct Messages. It’s consistent with other common platforms like Slack and Discord. Also, I noticed that in Customize Text, the code calls it direct messages! “Send me a DM” is also super clear terminology.
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.
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.