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Hello, Digilent!

Your forums are valuable, and I like how they are set up.

That said, may I suggest that your current web "chat" feature isn't very useful?  The biggest problem is that it kicks people out after a short period of time.  If you go to the chat section, find no one there, and yet hope to chat with some one, you will need to wait for someone to join.  This can be a long (and boring) endeavor, so I often find myself looking at other web pages only to come back and find that I've been kicked out.  Sometimes, to add insult to injury, I come back to find that someone saw me in the chat room, came to join, but never heard any comments and so left.  So, if there was some way of notifying you that someone else had joined the room that would be helpful.

Would it be possible to create a "chat" channel that functioned more like your typical IRC channel?  Or, even better, have the "Chat" page lead you to a proper/more typical IRC web-page?

Just some thoughts!

Dan

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Let's try something ... suppose I create a chat channel, #digilent-fpga, on freenode for anyone who wants to chat live.  For those familiar with IRC, you should be able to use your favorite IRC program (mine is hexchat).  For others, you can use the web-chat page just to try it out and to see if anyone other than myself is there.  Further, unlike the Digilent chat channel at the top of the forums page, this one won't kick you off--so conversations can take place across very diverse time zones, as well as from one side of lunch time or the dentist appt to the other.

If anyone is interested in chatting, ##fpga, ##verilog, and #openarty are some other fascinating forums already existing on freenode.

Let's see if that works at all ...

Dan

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@[email protected]

I was able to get some changes to our chat that i hope will make it more usable. As of right now users will not be removed from chat until 2 hrs of inactivity and the chat thread will remain for 365 days. The one thing that i wasn't able to expand is the 5 person limit. Let me know if these changes will make the chat feature usable for you.

cheers,

Jon 

Edited by jpeyron

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As a side note, I think it would be good if we created some sort of chat channel, if only because IPS (the company that provides this forum software) will retire their chat feature on May 1 of 2017 (as per their update here). More googling showed that other people had promoted IRC chats on the IPS forums with the CEO of IPS present on that thread (link), but evidently that didn't come to anything.

As for the Digilent side of things, there isn't really anything we can do to prevent them from removing the current chat that exists. I'll look into the other options to see if they have some of the things that various higher ups at Digilent would want, but the biggest thing is that right now it is wished that the Digilent Forum is our primary means of support since it is a feasible way of helping customers while keeping a growing "database" of existing solutions that people can find on their own, since having extensive documentation on our Wiki on how to approach every problem isn't feasible (yay engineering!). That and I imagine Digilent would want their own branded version considering that we are a company and all, as opposed to a group of people, although as the Forum is a group of people we'll see how that can change things. 

I'll bring it up in a meeting later this week to get some initial thoughts on this.

Thanks,
JColvin

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@JColvin,

Thank you for your response.  It makes perfect sense, and I can understand the reasoning behind your current choices.

Please allow me to point out the motivation for an alternative view: Many of the people who write into the channel haven't made their problem very clear.  Sometimes it takes a back and forth of about three or four (sometimes twenty) posts before you get to the root of what they are struggling to deal with.  Often this back and forth can take weeks or even months, while the poor customer's project languishes.  If there were a capability where you could interact with such a person in real time, I think it would be quite valuable.

As examples, consider shasha's recent posts:

and

While I think received some good replies for his questions, it wasn't until he posted later,

that what we was trying to do was made plain.  In that case, neither response given to him answered his underlying problem.  Were a functional chat channel available, it might've helped him get to the response he needed sooner.

As for recording everything, many IRC channels are recorded and posted on the web.  One that I'm familiar with is the #openrisc channel on Freenode, whose logs may be found at http://juliusbaxter.net/openrisc-irc/.  Perhaps that could be s a solution to what you are looking for.

Dan

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Hi @[email protected],

Thank you for the feedback; this is a slightly different take than what the various higher ups were thinking the purpose of the chat channel would be (to get a faster turn around time for responses). While this is similar, it has a distinctively different flavor(?) than just getting a faster turnaround time, since I think that is an expectation associated with chat channels. 

The other concern that was brought up was the fact that we as Digilent would not be able to guarantee that we always have somebody available to talk to in the chat, even just during the weekdays, so there's hesitation of representing a channel that we couldn't give proper support to.

I wasn't aware of the recording portions; that'll be a nice thing to show that the thought process of working through a problem will still be available. I'll definitely bring up the idea of that the chat better supports faster communication for a project so customers aren't waiting multiple weeks, but I think at this point Digilent will still stick with the Forum since there are also a number of examples where communication goes quickly between Forum posts; to be sure it's not as fast as the chat, but if it takes both parties a half day or full day to respond to the other (due to having other daily life tasks or whatever might be the case), I suspect it won't be considered as a dire need.

That being said, I don't think there will be any complaint if a community chat channel was created (not that we could do anything to stop it anyway). I'll continue to look into this though and do some data collection here on the Forum to get some numbers since that'll be a valuable metric in the end.

Again, thank you for the feedback,
JColvin

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