Using a topic as a chatroom


I have been thinking about the difference between forums and chat rooms and this article was helpful for explaining how they differ.

I might not be able to install the chat room plugin just yet due to budget constraints, which got me thinking why not just use a topic in a private category as a chat room where no particular topic is adhered to, moderating is less (tl 3 only in chat room), and content is not archived or preserved. I imagine deleting and restarting topic everynow and then if necessary.

Has anyone taken this approach and how has that worked out?
Is a chat room topic too taxing on the forum host in terms of retaining records of that chat room thread by default. Does it mess with search results? Anything else I am not thinking of?


If the chat topic is used a lot, it will sit at the top of the recent threads. Not necessarily a problem, just an observation.

But, if it’s in a private category, I guess that would only be visible to those with access, not everyone on the forum.

1 Like

I’ve done something similar in the past with a topic for daily checking in and out of staff. That worked fine and there are no obvious issues that I can think of.


The main issue you will run into is megatopics, which chat topics always become.

There is a limit of 10k replies for a reason, and you want to minimize the number of megatopics you have as they are very expensive in server (and client) time.

That being said, if you have one of these topics at a time and delete the old ones, you’re probaby fine. This gets into “slow lane” versus “fast lane” discussions and it is something I want to eventually design for.


Has anyone ever experimented with a plugin that deletes everything between the OP and every reply after the last 500/1000?

We also have the :new: auto-delete replies over time option (which is suuper hard to find in “topic timers” at the moment).


On the last forum I worked (a support forum for people affected by dementia) on we had a weekly chat thread that got some traction, had some regulars who would use it to talk about the weather and what was going on for them.

Main thing I had trouble with was coming up with different conversation starters each week to mix stuff up. Our “off topic” area was for logged in users only so we didn’t have to worry about search results and we just moved the thread to our “deleted threads” area when we stuck the new one up.

Main thing I’d say is get a bunch of your regulars to buy into it and keep it a welcoming space for new people.


We have a “Random Thoughts” topic where anything and everything can be talked about (with a month range of 3 months and the title will indicate the year and month range). Once it gets over a certain post number we create a new topic with the same name, just changing the quarterly month range (and year when necessary). Sometime it gets used a lot, others times not so much.