Reddit has pulled its newly announced “Start Chatting” features amid an uproar on the part of moderators.
Start Chatting was designed to help make it easier for people to connect with other individuals to talk about common interests. According to the official launch post, Reddit “wanted to give you a heads up about a new feature that we are launching this week called ‘Start Chatting.’ This past month, as people around the world have been at home under various shelter-in-place restrictions, redditors have been using chat at phenomenal new levels. Whether it’s about topics related to COVID-19, local news, or just their favorite games and hobbies, people all around the world are looking for others to talk to. Since Reddit is in a unique position to help in this situation, we’ve created a new tool that makes it easier to find other people who want to talk about the same things you do.”
While the goal may have been admirable, it was not well received by the community. At the time of writing, the announcement had received some 1,400 comments, many of them negative and many of them highlighting some of the very difficult issues the new feature would create. For example, one of the moderators for r/abuse pointed out that people only felt safe discussing their past abuse in that community because moderators were able to aggressively protect them from trolls, perverts and abusive individuals—protection that would not be available if members could engage in moderator-free chat.
It seems the complaints have been heard, as Reddit has fully rolled back the feature. According to the update post, Reddit says they “will not roll the feature out within your community again without having a way for you to opt out, and will provide you with ample notice and regular updates going forward.”
Start Chatting has real potential to be a game-changer for Reddit, but it’s obvious some considerations were overlooked in the initial implementation. Here’s to hoping they get it right the second time around.