[ros-users] [Discourse.ros.org] [General] An instantaneous chat platform for the ROS community

ruffsl via Discourse.ros.org ros.discourse at gmail.com
Thu Feb 28 00:53:26 UTC 2019

After one of the more popular matrix client's available, riot.im , announced there first 1.0 release, I went ahead and connected OSRF directly to reserve and hold down a namespace on the largest free matrix hosting server. See Riot's 1.0 announcement here:


We conducted a dry run, creating a matrix community for rosorg to host multiple rooms (like channels) under a cohesive community (like an organization). More info on matrix communities here:



We tested @user mentions, direct messing, archive visibility, VoIP, and integration with the Riot's web and desktop clients. It all seemed to work quite well; p2p latency was small, and video/audio resolution/frame rate where smooth), including screen sharing and group in-call management. Overall, I was quite pleased. 
:star: :star: :star: :star: :star: 

Others still had some reservations in that the administration and user moderation setting where not as feature compete as those in Discord's product, e.g. hearchal delegations of sub-admin privileges. I can't compare given I've not yet used the either admin panels, yet I'm not so sure this would be much of a road block given the level of developer activity and user adoption rates, these features could be integrated:


Last we met, it seemed OSRF was still inclined towards falling back on the old ICR channel on freenode. Given the level of community engagement and user adoption is had over the years, I don't think IRC would be likely to change its spots soon. Some of the pros/cons for IRC off the top of my head:

* pros:
  * Open Standard & Protocol
    * Unlike Discord, users can choose from a number of available and possible open source clients to join a network. Discord seem to include some ToS that terminates user accounts of those caught using non-native discord clients software.
    * https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=17462138
  * Low barrier to entry
    * Users don't have to sign up for a potential subscription model free/paid plan options to follow the community, while user authentication is still possible for trusted participation.
* cons:
  * Few user friendly features
    * IRC was designed for a previous era, where current web tech/crypto was still relatively in its infancy.  Sure there are lots TUI integrations and clients, but they make little use of modern designs and UX.
  * Limited visibility 
    * Users must be perpetually logged into a channel to receive @pings or ealy catch up on previous discussions. Chasing IRC logs from botbot.me (currently down) is a subpar workaround for usability, and inhibits spontaneously jumping into ongoing discussions just after joining.    

To me, matrix seems to solve a lot of those cons while retaining many of the pros, and reminds me much of in the way old email lists have evolved into active discussion forums; in much the same way we've grown from mailman to discourse: 
http://lists.ros.org/mailman/listinfo/ros-users --> https://discourse.ros.org

It seem like we could just as well evolve from IRC to Matrix, while also not breaking backward compatibility (for those who are still active there), like we did with integrating the discourse topics to mirror back to mailman threads. If desired, we could just as well bridge matrix with IRC (or Discord and whatever else if warranted) via matrix's bridging integrations:


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