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A Hybrid Between Chat and Message Boards? 52

qirtaiba asks: "Synchronous discussion software (in simple terms, chat) allows discussions to take place instantly and interactively, but asynchronous software (discussion boards, a la Slashdot) have the advantage that they allow people from different timezones to participate equally. Does anyone know of a hybrid? The closest thing I have found is a proprietary 'Commons Console' offered as a service by Conflict Lab. This is not just an idle question. The Internet Governance Forum (or IGF — you can find more information here) is meeting for the first time in Athens from October 30th to the 2nd of November, this year. A lot of people who might like to participate aren't going to be able to make it to Athens, so the IGF has asked for ideas on how best to enable remote participation. Can Slashdot help?"
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A Hybrid Between Chat and Message Boards?

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  • Can Slashdot help?
    Unlikely. You must be thinking of the other slashdot...
  • by NeuralAbyss ( 12335 ) on Thursday October 05, 2006 @01:56AM (#16317387) Homepage
    I've been using Campfire [] as part of a group project. Initially I was against the idea.. but it's become useful, in that there's also logs of prior entries. About as close to a cross of chat and message board that's practical..
    • by zobier ( 585066 )
      I'm sure that Campfire is great and all, but I'm not transmitting/storing my internal corporate communications/information through/on a 3rd party system!
      • Nor I. I wouldn't trust it with anything even barely private. Which is precisely why I didn't care about discussing a uni project there :)
  • by i kan reed ( 749298 ) on Thursday October 05, 2006 @01:58AM (#16317399) Homepage Journal
    It's the rate of buildup. The primary advantage of chatting is that replies are fast enough that they can in turn be replied to quickly, therefor allowing a dialog to made quickly. It's ideal for the "well, what about this" kinds of conversations. Message boards have their primary advantage in thoroughness. When you answer, you try and create complete answers that are useful to everyone reading it and aren't as specific. You do bring up an interesting point though, and it makes me think that it'd be neat to see a wiki that had chat built in. A permenant documentation with quickness in discussion.
    • by icebike ( 68054 ) *
      makes me think that it'd be neat to see a wiki that had chat built in.

      Why is it when the only tool you have is a hammer you start looking at all problems as if they were nails....?

      A Wiki would be a miserable solution for this problem, just like its a miserable solution to just about every other problem.

      This problem (to the extent it is a problem) calls out for a common library with a moderated chat room client. Any one of 6 or 8 such programs already exist, skype, Teamspeak, etc. Somebody has to moderat

    • by jdray ( 645332 )

      When you answer, you try and create complete answers that are useful to everyone reading it...

      As someone said before, you must be thinking of the other Slashdot.

  • [] Tag boards have been around a while. Basically they are a chat window that refreshes every few seconds or so.
  • How about good old LysKOM []? But maybe it's unheard of outside of Sweden/Finland?
  • by dsandler ( 224364 ) <dsandler@dsandle ... Nrg minus author> on Thursday October 05, 2006 @02:26AM (#16317541) Homepage

    Many communities seem to get a lot of mileage out of publishing their chat history (e.g. public IRC logs).

    This doesn't really solve the problem of equal participation for peers separated by timezone (or, more to the point, separated by waking hours), but it does address the following killer feature of message boards: searching past discussions for help. Public message boards often serve as organically-growing FAQs; for every question asked and answered, hundreds may get answers without ever having to ask. The same is true of published chat transcripts.

    (It works in the corporate setting too: I've personally had good success, in terms of capturing ephemeral knowledge that would otherwise be lost, with behind-the-firewall publication of internal IRC logs.)

    • Pulishing IRC logs is useful, true, but what would be more useful would be threaded IRC or something to that effect. That would make searching and browsing much easier, without annoying crosstalk in the middle
  • If it weren't for Slashdot management's draconian rules against page-views per day and 2 minute posting intervals, Slashdot would be a perfect example of an interactive chatroom that also serves as a web board.
    • One thing that I think is really cool in Slashdot's proposed new commenting system is the micro-update commenting where the page periodically and frequently pings the server to pull down a small amount of update data. This eliminates the need to do a full page refresh just to get new comments. It cuts down on Slashdot's server strain as well as clientside button-pressing.

      When that becomes a reality I expect commenting to take off here like it hasn't before.
  • Simple is best (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Bones3D_mac ( 324952 ) on Thursday October 05, 2006 @03:56AM (#16317929)
    Instead of straining yourself to figure out how to merge a chatroom with a message board, I'd recommend simply streamlining whatever message board configuration you're using for the fastest post/refresh rate you can get. The faster a user can post and refresh, the more simultaneous user connections your message board will be able to handle at one time.

    The ideal way of doing this, is to make it so the user can post and get immediate results within a single mouse-click. Messages should be displayed in a linear fashion using a single page, rather than broken up into pages or nested by reply. A good example of such a setup is [] website. Users can respond as quickly, or as slowly, as they like.

    Just remember, any system that makes a user wait too long or makes it difficult for the user to find information will almost always fail in the end.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by MikeFM ( 12491 )
      I like email mailing lists best. It moves along fast but it works just fine for people to jump in anywhere in the conversation even after several days.
  • by muftak ( 636261 )
    With a screened IRC session people often reply to things said hours or days ago...
  • Chat == Forum (Score:3, Informative)

    by mwvdlee ( 775178 ) on Thursday October 05, 2006 @05:03AM (#16318167) Homepage
    Chat is basically a non-threaded forum, running in real-time (which is to say it has lag below a certain treshhold).

    The real difference is non-threaded forums (e.g. Bulletin Boards) vs. theaded forums such as NNTP or the slashdot comments.

    If slashdot were refreshed every tenth of a second, it would be a threaded chatbox.

    Now there _is_ a difference in how people communicate over chat vs. forums; chat typically contains a single sentence in each "post", whereas forum posts typically contain multiple sentences and even paragraphs. I'm willing to bet this behaviour stems purely from the (percieved) difference in lag; if you had a chatbox where messages would take longer to appear, people would probably start writing longer messages.
    • I would agree with this.

      Even back when IM was first becoming popular, there was a general fuzziness about how "long" messages should be, or what was normal. the first ICQ clients had larger input fields than most IM clients do, and you had to hit alt+s or click the send button to send it (return gave you a new line). As a result, most sent longer messages and that was "normal" because of how the software was designed.

      and, haha... when people would send one-line IMs to me on ICQ back then, I'd get really ann
    • by Gabrill ( 556503 )
      Then you have to decide if peoples random conversations are even worth keeping. The signal to noise ratio in IM's is pretty bad compaired to well thought out replies in a message board. Do you really want to archive people's ribbing each other and random discussions? People have a hard time staying on topic because they can get their specific answers very quickly with chat. Also, chat does not have Topics that threaded messages do, and that makes it even harder to stay on one subject useful to archiving
    • by sowth ( 748135 )

      A private NNTP server would probably be perfect for this guy. Then users could use their favorite client. (or just Outlook Express) They probably already have something installed. Much better than web-crap boards. (Admit it everyone, all web boards have a sucky interface. Even the new "XML improved" ones.) Only thing, I can't remember enough about the protocol to say how fast the server will update clients. It is instantly, isn't it???

  • by glowworm ( 880177 ) on Thursday October 05, 2006 @05:24AM (#16318255) Journal
    I am now using Blursoft's Metaforum []

    It works like phpBB or vBulletin but the active threads page, inside the thread itself and various other places are all built around Ajax so you get the realtime, non-refresh mode.

    If someone posts the thread is bumped and everyone knows. In fact if you use FFx and move the forum to a background tab the tab blinks when a new post is there so you can go on with other work and only look when something has happened.

    It's still beta but it's now quite usable. Plus... it has Ajax'ed Slashdot style moderation. Members can increase a post above the noise or sink it to oblivion. You set your floor with a fuzzy slider.

    There is a working forum at [] if you want to look.
    • by tf23 ( 27474 )
      I thought it interesting that they have a slider similar to Slashcode's. Cosmetically, I like metaforum's slider better. However, Slashcode's functionality, once you "get it", is far better. Plus the fact that Slashcode's slider follows you down the screen, so you don't have to page-up to find it and change it's settings, I like Slashdot's better.

      One thing I did notice about the metaforum, that I'm not sure I like - listing those who've moderated a comment immediately underneath the comment. I can see the g
      • I think those are valid points...I *will* say that I was using metaForum for around a year in this basic format (with the mod-level slider) before slashcode saw the slider (well, slashdot...unsure if slashcode had it earlier), just so no one thinks it was ripped off :)
  • IRC is just a message board you update frequently. With RSS and AJAX, there is no longer any difference on that level. Take five minutes and get rails to make one for you.
  • I don't enough (OK, anything) about the meeting and what the goals are, but here's an idea. Why not do both?

    Run a message board during the conference, as well as before and after. Encourage people in the conference (planners, attendees) to post.

    Then, have specific "chat times" where someone from the conference is available to chat with others. The purpose of this is to get many interested people involved at once. Nothing is more dull than a chat with four people when you expected forty or four hundred. Afte
  • The ja.zz system over at Shacknews [] is nice and seems exactly what you're looking for -- a system that supports multiple fast-moving topics.

    There's also a more extensible clone of it used over at Stoofoo [] (may be NWS).
  • While usenet is basically a much better bbs-system then all the crappy web-based forums, with the speed posts traverse the path from poster, via server to reader -- it pretty much does everything you want.

    Only problem is you'd have to implement a web-interface that translated bb-code to html to get anyone to use the thing these days.

    I personally like mailing-lists with archives too -- but I suppose you'd want to opt-in on recieveing the archive for the past x days when you sign up as a new user.

    I realize yo
  • Try Altme ( It has chat, calendaring, file posting, access control, users/groups etc. You create user communities called worlds which you can add users to.
  • It seems to me that the main difference between chat and board posting is the amount of thought that goes into a message. Both sometimes have single line " LOL" comments and longer well thought out monologs, but chat tends towards shorter punch lines and sites like Slashdot tend to monologs.

    I think the most basic thing you would need is a chat interface with 2 "Send" buttons. One would just transmit a "throw away" line to everyone who is viewing live, and the other would be a "for posterity" button that w
  • Citadel might be overkill for what your are wanting. []
  • I'm not sure if I understand why you'd need a hybrid of the two. it seems that threaded discussions in the form of a message-board system should work relatively well if some ground rules were set up initially (like... private messages go in a new forum thread, or a system of PM-emails on the forum site was a part of the system)

    Keep in mind that generally now, IMs are thought of as more 'disposable', and people write one or two sentence posts (as mentioned above) quite often. in informal discussions, the maj
  • A community [] I am involved with uses a forum and an IRC channel. The hook in between is a bot created by the main administrator. Whenever there is a post on the forum, the bot announces it on the IRC channel, with a very convenient link. Not sure if it's what original poster had in mind but I think it's a neat system.
  • Although it was a BBS, users would respond to threaded topics so frequently that you would have real time conversations with people on several topics at a time. I would find myself hanging around the site for an hour or two having discusions in multiple topics. I would read one, make responses, then read the next. By the time I got back to the first one, there were usually multiple replies. Within even just a few minutes I could have had several exchanges with the same person. The drawback to this was
  • i wrote a web based "chat room". it used php/mysql. you login to it (no registration at this time), and you see the last so many lines posted. It uses 2 iframes (one for the html form post window, one for the refreshing chat).

    You get to see what the previous people said (esp if they were having a conversation) or you can just make notes to everyone about whatever.

    it's actually a really small program .. not too hard to do.

"If it's not loud, it doesn't work!" -- Blank Reg, from "Max Headroom"