Group chats have come to Reddit via the new Start Chatting feature, which began rolling out to communities Wednesday.
Reddit said Start Chatting is a response to the 80% spike in chat usage on its platform since the coronavirus pandemic began ramping up in late January, adding that there was increased demand from Redditors for more real-time interaction with their counterparts.
Vice president of product and community Alex Le said in a blog post, “This is the most connective feature that Reddit has added in light of Covid-19, and we’ll continue to introduce products that bring together and inform users in a beneficial way, so that we can all get through this together.”
The goal of Start Chatting is to connect like-minded users who are seeking deeper engagement on subjects relevant to the community they are browsing.
If the feature has been activated in a community, users can click the Start Chatting button at the top right of the community page, and they will be directed to a randomly generated, community-themed chat room.
Start Chatting is accessible via desktop and mobile, and it will only be rolled out to communities with subject matter that is considered “safe for work.”
Reddit said that it found in testing the feature that conversation-oriented and gaming communities were the most engaged, highlighting r/teenagers.
The platform also highlighted other measures it has put in place to help its users cope with the coronavirus pandemic, including: a dedicated Ask Me Anything series to connect them with authoritative experts and medical professionals; homepage banners directing them to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and r/coronavirus; extending Reddit Public Access Network to business hours Monday through Friday; and rolling out a new custom feed, Stay Home, featuring entertaining and uplifting content to help users connect and decompress.