Feedback Requested Replacing IRC?

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Moo

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I'm considering replacing IRC with a new chat system.

Reasons not to want to host IRC:

  1. IRC is a DDOS magnet. I believe our recent DDOS attack was caused by us hosting an IRC server. Securing IRC against DDOS on our server is impossible - the only way to do that would be to host it on another server which we pay an additional fee for, and even then it could be attacked.
  2. Our IRC server in particular is hopelessly out of date. Updating it to a more recent version would require starting over from scratch - none of the old code that links it to ADISC proper is reusable, and its in a language I don't personally know.
  3. IRC is an antiquated protocol in general. The biggest users of IRC right now are the "hackers" on EFNet which revolve around DDOS and illegal acts. The second biggest users are freenode and similar ultra-nerds who compile their own kernels. Most new people (ie: average web users) are not willing to try IRC.
  4. IRC has become a separate community from our website. Many, perhaps even most of the people who use our IRC don't use our website. That's bad. Our live chat should be live chat for our website, not a separate community.
  5. Most ISPs explicitly forbid you from hosting IRC servers because they generate so many problems. As I look to getting us new hosting in the next few months, this is significant.


Reasons to choose Teamspeak/Mumble in particular:

  1. It supports voice chat. Community voice chat allows new kinds of events (online voice chats, community gaming events). It also allows better connections with other members, as voice chat conveys more information that text chat. Apparently some other AB/DL communities already use voice chat - IRC/text-only chat is becoming increasingly niche at this point. Heck, some of us already use voice chat (Skype), and this is sorta like Skype but you don't have to give out your username to use it.
  2. TS, though, still supports text chat. You don't have to use voice to use it.
  3. Many folks (myself included) are familiar with TS from online gaming. I can't think of any communication platform which more of our members are already familiar with.


Some objections have been raised:

  • Deaf people can't partake in TS.
    • True, but I'm only aware of 1-2 deaf users, and I can't keep chat text-only for the sake of 1-2 people.
  • It will be chaotic when everyone talks at once.
    • Actually, I've been in Mumble/TS with hundreds of people, and it has worked fine. We've been testing it on ADISC for a few days now, too, and it has been OK.
  • TS requires you to pay for the TS app if you want to use it on mobile.
    • Yes, and we may switch to using Mumble instead for this reason. That said, people are already happy to pay $1-2 for Tapatalk on mobile, so I don't necessarily see it as a fatal flaw that the Tapatalk mobile app costs a dollar or two, especially when most people use it on their desktop PCs anyway.
  • IRC is popular.
    • Actually no, it isn't, not relative to the size of our membership. There are a few people who are die-hard IRC fans, and I understand (I grew up on IRC) - but the time has come to move on.

Overall, I think TS/Mumble have several clear advantages:
  • Less likely to get DDOSed again
  • Support voice chat, so can be used for more things, but still supports text too
  • More secure (doesn't attract hackers, doesn't require your ADISC password, etc)
I'd like to start transitioning us towards replacing IRC with TeamSpeak. IRC would remain up for a week or so while we get folks moved over. I realize not everyone will like it, but I think it will be a big improvement for us overall.

See here for info on how to connect to TS. Once you've tried it, please share your thoughts. :)
 

KimbaFoxNatsume

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I'm not very knowledgeable with this type of technical stuff, so forgive me for asking a couple questions.

I'm used to using the text chat here on the site. Would this new system still support private text chatting with one other person?

Would I be able to use it on a Chrome OS without paying for an app?
 

Scaramouche

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I like TS. I never really used IRC. I found TS hard to get to at first, but now I understand the format and like it. I hope more will use it!
 
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I've popped on and off the TS server the last couple days. It's fine, I might use it occasionally, more if we do something like organized chats or topic focused chats at particular times when I'm able to be online. I like a bit of structure rather than just sitting in a channel while a couple people talk about whatever.

I still prefer the written forum structure for most topics because writing allows for a bit more thought and depth in many topics, especially a place like this where people are talking about deeply held secrets and sexual interests.
 

lilkayden

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I'm not very knowledgeable with this type of technical stuff, so forgive me for asking a couple questions.

I'm used to using the text chat here on the site. Would this new system still support private text chatting with one other person?

Would I be able to use it on a Chrome OS without paying for an app?

If Moo is talking about teamspeak or mumble, yes they do support private text chatting.
As far as I know, there are not teamspeak/mumble clients for chrome os. There are ways to get it to work but it's not straight forward...
The TeamSpeak app for android is $1.99 and for IOS $4.99.

On a side note for Moo:
As much as I love teamspeak, mumble maybe a cheaper option. With mumble it's free and you can have basically an unlimited number of users. It's less flashy than TS but the app is also free for IOS and Android from what I can see.
 

KimbaFoxNatsume

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If Moo is talking about teamspeak or mumble, yes they do support private text chatting.
As far as I know, there are not teamspeak/mumble clients for chrome os. There are ways to get it to work but it's not straight forward...
The TeamSpeak app for android is $1.99 and for IOS $4.99.

On a side note for Moo:
As much as I love teamspeak, mumble maybe a cheaper option. With mumble it's free and you can have basically an unlimited number of users. It's less flashy than TS but the app is also free for IOS and Android from what I can see.

That would pose a problem for me because my laptop is a Chromebook, and I don't have a private smartphone or other compatible device. (Its limitations can be a bit annoying, but I didn't choose it, my parents did as a birthday gift.)
 

Mattew

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I love the TS. Missed it every since it was taken off the sever last year.
 

NikJ

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I'm a semi-regular on the IRC, and I understand many of the concerns - however, I've just looked into buying the TS client app for iOS, and it looks like many of the recent reviews in the app store say that the iOS app is buggy / waiting for an update and unable to connect to private servers.

I'd rather not pay £5GBP to test if that's right or not! So, is anyone using TS on iOS successfully at the moment?

Alternatively, if the free option (Mumble) doesn't reduce functionality too much, then that would probably get my vote.
 

MickeyM

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I'm a heavy IRC User. I run a small business from it. I don't believe that it's a source/cause of DDOS attacks. Neither is IRC full of hackers, I resent that accusation!
It's just some one who doesn't like adult babies. It's really that simple.
I've been shy-ed away from ADISC IRC for a few reasons, mainly it would be difficult to separate it out from my normal login names. Other reasons are I didn't see any one I knew on there lol.
I'm not a fan of voice chat. I would rather see something that integrates with the forum well, as an in browser chat system. If it has to be voice, please I would suggest mumble, and not teamspeak.
 

Moo

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I'm used to using the text chat here on the site. Would this new system still support private text chatting with one other person?
Yes. You can convo them from anywhere (it opens a text chat in a new tab).

If Moo is talking about teamspeak or mumble, yes they do support private text chatting.
As far as I know, there are not teamspeak/mumble clients for chrome os. There are ways to get it to work but it's not straight forward...
The TeamSpeak app for android is $1.99 and for IOS $4.99.

On a side note for Moo:
As much as I love teamspeak, mumble maybe a cheaper option. With mumble it's free and you can have basically an unlimited number of users. It's less flashy than TS but the app is also free for IOS and Android from what I can see.

Mumble is indeed cheaper, though I'm not sure if it is as good or as well-supported.
I may switch to TS now/soon, and then Mumble when I have time to do more dev work.
 
A

Anon109

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Advantages with voice chat over text chat
You can listen and talk.
You can get an immediate response
There is less time to think about what you want to say (this will affect roleplaying)

Disadvantages with voice chat over text chat
less users using it
More bandwith required
Deaf and hard of hearing will not be able to use it (me included)
varied volume of the microphone
only requires 1 person to destroy the usability of voice chat (aka streaming music or just put the microphone close to speaker (feedback)
Shy people will never open a voice chat.
Much harder to keep conversations with multiple peoples, impossible with multiple private chats


What I think should be done:
Use IRC server only for internal use, close all access through IRC clients and only allow traffic between webserver and IRC server. (easy with firewall and/or routing permissions))
Or simply use a newer and better text chat server like https://slack.com/
 

lilkayden

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Advantages with voice chat over text chat
You can listen and talk.
You can get an immediate response
There is less time to think about what you want to say (this will affect roleplaying)

Disadvantages with voice chat over text chat
less users using it
More bandwith required
Deaf and hard of hearing will not be able to use it (me included)
varied volume of the microphone
only requires 1 person to destroy the usability of voice chat (aka streaming music or just put the microphone close to speaker (feedback)
Shy people will never open a voice chat.
Much harder to keep conversations with multiple peoples, impossible with multiple private chats


What I think should be done:
Use IRC server only for internal use, close all access through IRC clients and only allow traffic between webserver and IRC server. (easy with firewall and/or routing permissions))
Or simply use a newer and better text chat server like https://slack.com/

There is a text only chat room on the teamspeak server for those people that just want to text chat :)
 

Cottontail

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This all seems like a good idea--first and foremost, because it lowers barriers and brings the chat and forum communities closer together. Despite being a 'computer nerd' and an internet junkie since the early days, I never had much of a use for IRC, and when I briefly attempted the ADISC IRC a few years back, the system just didn't click for me. It seemed like a pain to use. I suspect there are others who, like me, have only the occasional urge to drop in on chat, and would be more inclined to do so if the system was more intuitive and better integrated.
 
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NikJ

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I suspect there are others who, like me, have only the occasional urge to drop in on chat, and would be more inclined to do so if the system was more intuitive and better integrated.
I agree - but is there perhaps a solution which is browser-based and wouldn't require additional downloads / installs work better, particularly to encourage more casual engagement?
 

Traemo

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I have to disagree with a few points raised here.
  • I don't think the average IRC user is either a hacker or an "ultra-nerd" - yes both groups exist in IRC, possibly at slightly higher amounts than elsewhere, but I think the average IRC user is looking to talk to others with similar interests or reach out for assistance from a group with greater knowledge/experience
  • I don't see the IRC community as a separate group from the forums. From what I've seen, people who are active in IRC aren't any less active on the forums and the two serve different but related functions. The forums are a bit slower, less timely but ultimately more in-depth when addressing issues. IRC, when it's not being used to just hang out and be sociable, responds much more quickly to concerns. It's sort of like the difference between getting information from professional journals or by going to down the local watering hole.
  • Comparing anything against our registered membership base is a bad comparison. I would guess that the vast majority of registered users have less than 10 posts and haven't posted anything in over 6 months.
  • IRC isn't counter-intuitive, nor is installing and configuring a client difficult or beyond most computer users. Connecting to an IRC is no more difficult than connecting to a WiFi network; using IRC is no more difficult than posting to the forums.
A point that no one has raised that I think needs at least some consideration - we appear to have a greater than usual number of individuals with dysphoria-type issues. I'm concerned that if we transition to voice-chat only, many of those members would elect to stay out of chat entirely rather than exacerbate there own unease.

For myself, I dislike voice chat because it tends to consume much more bandwidth, I have to watch the chat window the entire time to know who's actually speaking, and it can be difficult to actually raise a topic of concern.

I think adding a voice chat sub-community is a good plan for those who are in to such things. I don't think completely removing IRC as an option for interaction is a good plan.
 

Fascinating

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I think a chat with a mobile app would be better than IRC. Do you know how many mobile apps i've installed for IRC and followed the directions at ADISC to add their IRC and none worked? Don't tell me IRC is compatible with average users. I sell electronics for a living. I have been successfully using computers upwards of 20 years. Forums are too much of a pain without a mobile app and so are chats.
 

SnowBlitz

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I'm in favor of Teamspeak. I've used it for years to voice chat with Guild Members in MMORPG's, it's easy to use. Very easy to get set up using it.

To be honest I never liked the IRC. It's clunky, hard to use, and frankly was extremely difficult to follow at times. Most times I wasn't even able to connect to it. In the scarce few times I managed to connect, there was almost no one chatting. It was dead. Even during the middle of the day.
 

Moo

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To address some of Anon109's list (since it was so well formatted):
Disadvantages with voice chat over text chat
varied volume of the microphone
You can adjust volumes for each person individually. You can turn down the loud people and turn up the quiet ones.

only requires 1 person to destroy the usability of voice chat (aka streaming music or just put the microphone close to speaker (feedback)
Simply right click that person and mute them.
If someone keeps being a problem, I can revoke their access to TS.

Much harder to keep conversations with multiple peoples, impossible with multiple private chats
I haven't had issues doing it thus far. I use voice in one chat and text in others.

What I think should be done:
Use IRC server only for internal use, close all access through IRC clients and only allow traffic between webserver and IRC server. (easy with firewall and/or routing permissions))
Not feasible due to technical complexity, folks' hatred of web chat clients, and the fact it would bind us to a web interface.

Or simply use a newer and better text chat server like https://slack.com/
Slack is great, but AFAIK it doesn't support voice, doesn't let us control authentication, and requires external signup/registration, which means there will always be a bigger barrier to using it.
 
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