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Reddit remove chat feature over backlash from moderators

Reddit has removed a new chat feature in the wake of complaints from the site’s moderators.

The feature called “start chatting” that allowed users to create small random chat rooms on the platform within the site’s various subreddits was removed just a day after its release.

The social media platform said the feature was designed to give more options to connect with each other during isolation brought on by the coronavirus pandemic. However, moderators who oversee the site’s subreddits said it made the process of monitoring content and behaviour more opaque.

“Reddit’s users, moderators and communities are at the core of every product decision we make, and our intention in rolling out ‘Start Chatting’ was to give Redditors a new avenue to connect with each other during these difficult times,” said Reddit in a statement.

“Given the issues and concerns expressed by our users and moderators throughout the last 24 hours, we’ve made the decision to disable Start Chatting so we can reassess our rollout plan and evolve the product to meet the needs of our community.”

“We are committed to transparent and direct communication with our users, and will use this opportunity to seek community input, collect additional feedback, and build an experience that adds value and supports our communities,” Reddit said in a statement.

Issues with “start chatting” mostly concerned transparency into user behavior, according to statements posted by moderators from some of Reddit’s most popular subreddits.

“At this time, r/science would prefer to have this feature disabled in our subreddit because it undermines our goal of having serious, strongly-moderated discussions,” one moderator wrote in a comment on Reddit.

Other moderators of r/personalfinance and r/debt also said the chat rooms could lead to a greater likelihood of scams and abuse on their subreddits.

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