Replying with an audio recording instead of text

We have a user who has started posting their replies via an audio recording instead of writing out their reply. They’re doing this out of convenience, not an accessibility issue. Our moderators and admins have started discussing it, and I’m wondering if anyone here has dealt with this, and how they’ve handled it.

Do you (or would you) allow audio-only replies? What are some considerations for allowing or disallowing audio replies?


But to everyone else’s inconvenience. If you want to reply to their ‘post’ its not in front of you in writing, you can’t easily quote the text etc. Personally, I wouldn’t be too keen on this.


I would not be in favour of that here. The content wouldn’t appear in search either for future travellers so would essentially be a throwaway contribution.

Can they not use some kind of dictation app instead?


Agree - these were some of my biggest concerns. I hadn’t thought of the search aspect, that’s crucial, thanks for bringing that up!

I’m certain they could use a dictation app. We came up with a short list of apps we could suggest to them, my guess is that we will reach out privately first to course correct and see if that does the trick.

To be honest, I’m not likely to listen to a 5 minute long audio reply deep into a topic and my gut says many people aren’t either. I don’t have the attention span for audio as is, I’d have to take notes in order to reply!


Yeah, it would be a hard no from me. The thought of moderating that kind of content as well. They could be saying anything, and I’d have to listen to it all to find out. If they’re 5 minutes in length I wouldn’t be surprised if they slipped an ad break in. I’m not sure of the exact difference between reading speed and listening speed but I think it’s going to be significant.


You could try and suggesting him to use Speech-to-Text (dictation)?

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I wonder how hard it would be to make a plugin/theme component that would auto transcribe the audio so that it would also be in written form, because I actually would love it if people could reply by audio as long as it also provided the text.

Would that solve your challenge?


Is this a cultural difference? voice responses are very common in some countries


I wouldn’t worry too much.
Only people who want to listen to audios will be able to discuss with them.

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I think about it yesterday I wish to offer this format at my installation but I didn’t know how yet.

Practically every device can record and after that it is just uploading a file. But this works:

But audio and video can eat up your storage space quite fast.



Meta’s Threads does this. You can post a voice recording and it transcribes it so you can also read the post. This seems like it would be be best of both worlds for those with visual accessibility issues, and sometimes it is nice to hear what people sound like and the actual inflection of the words verbally.

The converse is most people can already use speech-to-text. My phone has a microphone button as part of the on-screen keyboard and it will dictate what I tell it into text. The only thing is it doesn’t involve keeping the audio recording. I could post this via speech to text right now if I wanted.

I’d casually PM with the user to see if they might use speech-to-text, explaining that text bandwidth is much more efficient than file uploads. It’s possible they’re doing that “memo to me” dictation in the car. If what they’re typing is too long to type, it sounds like they should actually be starting a podcast and linking people to it.

Maybe some forums might warrant a specific category for “audio discussion” if it’s a big thing? Many Discord chats I’ve been a part of have audio chat channels, but it’s rare for people to be in them unless it’s a planned meetup or event.

We have this similar conundrum with Discourse chat sometimes. Users are like WE WANT CHAT and we make a channel, then they’re like WHERE IS EVERYBODY? and the chat winds up functioning basically as weird stream of consciousness forum topic people visit occasionally. (We do appreciate chat and we have our hardcore friend-groups who use it more like a group SMS on their phone.) The OP’s user sounds like they’re doing this, only it’d be like communicating via voicemail which does not sound fun.

As previously suggested, this might self-correct as most users probably feel the same way and if your voice-responder doesn’t get responses, they’ll naturally stop doing it.


The most people can’t use, globally. Just a small reminder.


Interesting topic

I use gboard on Android with the meta app as speech to text. I do that because I was born right-handed and it doesn’t now work so typing is very slow.

Typed text is a format with a changing position in the world. I think it’s prevalence will go down. AI is already capable of language translation and speech to text and text to speech so the questions of search and advertising breaks etc is only short term and will become moot.

Speed differences are that people generally think at 600 to 800 words a minute and speak at 200 or less. Replaying audio at 1.7 is about optimal for listening only because people’s diction makes detection of the words hard and I suspect AI processing will remove that barrier fairly soon.
Automatic summarisation together with interest filters and other forms of matching interests to contributions (similar to the way in which cookies currently serve advertisers) are all just the transitionery challenges.

Speech and text are just formats for the input and the output. So support will soon emerge for use of text/speech as an option for output readers as well as speech text an option for input - I’m sure it’s not far away.

Not every forum is moderated like this one so the question of listening to every post even if you don’t have AI support is not universal. Having not used Apple I’m unaware of the speech to text but gboard on Android is free and anybody who has the technology to access a discourse based forum is not far from having universal access to speech to text with natural language translation built in

This topic is one of the many ways in which new paradigms are opened up in the evolution of digitally enabled community.

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