Featured Official Chat Room

Eltu

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To replace our old IRC channel, there is now an official Tree of Souls chat room hosted through Matrix. Matrix keeps the open approach of IRC but is far more modern and easy to use. The ToS chat room can be accessed by clicking Chat in the website header or by going directly to this link:

matrix.to/#/#treeofsouls:matrix.org

Joining is easy - on the page that appears, just click the top "Continue" button, and you're good to go! You can chat in the browser or in an app, and the overall experience is similar to services like Discord, Teams and Slack. If you prefer using the app it can be downloaded before even joining the chat room: element.io/personal - but you can also just chat in the browser with no download needed.

Why not Discord?

I wrote an article on this topic here!
ivarhill.com/the-problem-with-discord

Here's the short version:

Although Discord is by far the most common service today for group chat, and is also the platform of choice for Learn Na'vi among others, it comes with its own set of disadvantages. It does do some things well - namely it's free, it's functionally excellent, and it's popular (and therefore easy to join). Its disadvantages are a bit less obvious but nonetheless important:
  • Discord's privacy and data use practices are, to put it mildly, horrendous. As the saying goes, if you're not paying for the product you are the product, and given that Discord is a free for-profit service one should be very cautious about how this applies in practice. Here is one among many writeups on the topic. This also becomes an argument of inclusion - there's many good reasons someone may not agree to the Discord terms of service, and I cannot in good conscience exclude them from an official chat channel because of this.
  • Given that Discord is proprietary, everyone using it is essentially at Discord's mercy in terms of how (and if) the service works. If they change their practices or even cease to be entirely, there's nothing that can be done on the user end.
  • Along similar notes, since Discord is a closed service, it has issues with accessibility and usability if for some reason you cannot use the Discord client well. It also doesn't play well with older computers or phones.
  • Finally, on a more ideological note, the fact that Discord has a near-monopoly in their field should be a reason alone to treat them with some degree of caution. The web needs diversity, and the monolithic nature of Discord is not doing this any services.
By contrast to the above, Matrix is an open-source protocol. It's free, but not for-profit. It can be used with many different clients (including the recommended Element), and it can be hosted by anyone. Given that the entire reason Tree of Souls exists as an independent forum is the importance of these individual, decentralized internet communities, it is a far better fit both practically and ideologically. Hopefully you all can see some reason in this point of view, regardless of whether you agree outright :)

I do expect this channel to stay fairly quiet for a while, but as more people find their way around here as Avatar 2 gets closer, hopefully we'll re-establish a little bit of what we had ten years back :)

On a related note, the on-site shoutbox will also remain for the time being, although it is the main use of server resources currently so it's subject to some long-term evaluation. Nonetheless, for now it sticks around as a way to do quick on-site chatting!
 
Summary
Check out the replacement to the old Tree of Souls IRC channel!
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