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#1 JayZJay

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Posted 05 February 2013 - 16:09

Hello.

I know of a non-profit ministry organization that is wanting to add a good chat solution to their website, ideally a solution that is flexible and powerful, but that is reasonably simple to implement into their website. Currently, the chat solution would need to very reliably handle at least 200-300 chat participants at one time, but it would need to be able to handle possibly even a couple thousand chat participants in the next year or two.

The chat solution needs to be more along the lines of IRC, where everyone is seeing the messages that are posted by default. It would be nice if one also has the option of sending private, direct messages to the moderators or other key people behind the scenes if there is a message that you do not want everyone to see. I am not sure of the importance of whether "guests" are allowed and/or a log-in of some type is required. The chat solution will be used for live, real-time conversations during live broadcasted events which are currently using Livestream for the broadcasts. Livestream has its own chat solution, but the non-profit ministry organization is looking for a better chat solution to integrate into their website for use during their live broadcasted events.

This could be a service offered by a company that could be integrated into their website or simply chat software installed onto their server to run on the website.

As far as cost, a free or low-cost solution would be nice, but it would be worth for them to pay a bit of money if there was a particularly good solution or two that was better than the free/low-cost options.

Thank you in advance for any suggestions or feedback.

-JayZJay



#2 +Xinok

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Posted 05 February 2013 - 16:24

Are you looking for chat rooms like IRC, or one-on-one chat like any instant messenger? What would the chat service be used for (i.e. what features are required)?

#3 Haggis

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Posted 05 February 2013 - 16:27

Why not just use one of the already running IRC networks such as freenode etc and put a java based webchat on the site that connects to that room?

#4 tim_s

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Posted 05 February 2013 - 16:28

I think they are looking for website integration. - I was going to suggest IRC but it is not user friendly.

#5 OP JayZJay

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Posted 05 February 2013 - 16:36

The original post has not been updated to provide a bit more detail. Thank you for your post, Xinok.

#6 tim_s

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Posted 05 February 2013 - 16:43

Light IRC is a flash based chat application that can be integrated into the website and would allow those with higher tech knowledge to break out into a desktop application. IRC is not the easiest chat system in the world but it can easily accomplish what you are trying to achieve - although I think 1000 - 2000 different people offering their opinions at the same time would just drown the experience altogether.

You might be able to find a more modern / superior system in terms of usability but it would be hard to find a more "battle" tested chat system.

#7 OP JayZJay

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Posted 05 February 2013 - 16:52

@tim_s, thanks for the feedback. Light IRC might be a good solution to consider. That said, being Flash based isn't ideal from the stand-point of Flash crashing, but I'll pass on the suggestion for further consideration. Again, thanks.

#8 tim_s

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Posted 05 February 2013 - 16:56

@tim_s, thanks for the feedback. Light IRC might be a good solution to consider. That said, being Flash based isn't ideal from the stand-point of Flash crashing, but I'll pass on the suggestion for further consideration. Again, thanks.


You have to remember that Flash is not doing anything other then sending text to the IRC server and displaying text received from the IRC server. Flash is more than able and I have not experienced any major Flash issues - that would be down to the user to insure their personal computer is functioning, which would be true of any client side programming language.

To understand possibilities that exist outside of the above solution we would need to know,

1: What level of Tech competence do you expect from your users / looking to support?

2: Does it have to be integrated into the website?

I imagine on some level you would rather a 3rd party support this and thus creating an official IRC channel and linking to a 3rd party provider maybe the solution.

#9 OP JayZJay

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Posted 05 February 2013 - 19:05

@tim_s, to answer your questions...

1) There is no way to know the tech level of people that would be joining the chat. There are literally people from the UK, Pakistan, Philippines, and countless other countries popping in and out all the time. Anybody from any location around the world could join in and benefit if they can understand spoken and/or written English. That said, in my experience, there are a few that are more technical like you and I, but the majority are not very technical or are very average, technically speaking. As a result, whatever chat solution is implemented needs to be reasonably simple for any visitor to the site.

2) Yes, I believe that there is definitely a desire to have the chat solution integrated into the website. That is the way it has been over the last couple of years and despite increasing growth and site improvements, I believe they want chat to continue to be integrated, probably for simplicity for the participants/visitors/users as much as anything (rather than have a separate window of some sort). When one visits the live stream/broadcast page on the site, there is the video "window" in/on the page and the integrated chat functionality right there on the page next to the video "window".


#10 tim_s

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Posted 05 February 2013 - 19:12

2) Yes, I believe that there is definitely a desire to have the chat solution integrated into the website. That is the way it has been over the last couple of years and despite increasing growth and site improvements, I believe they want chat to continue to be integrated, probably for simplicity for the participants/visitors/users as much as anything (rather than have a separate window of some sort).


Well you are left with 2 choices,

1: Hosting software to handle the chat I.e. ran on your web server and support is handled on your side. Limitations being the hardware / technical experience / quality of software and cost.

2: Which might be another argument for IRC: Integrate an IRC Client (example: Light IRC which is Flash based) but the "heavy" lifting is done on a 3rd party IRC server.

The benefits of IRC is that is it a standard and very popular and thus you can switch to different providers while maintaining the core service look and feel. Keeps the whole thing cheap and simple, of-course you may want to investigate more commercial software alternatives.