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As of Nov 16, 2020 the Fluid Project has switched to Matrix for our collaborative discussion channel. Please see Matrix Channel for more information.


Abstract
IRC is way too old and insufficient, better alternatives for group communication like gitter are present and there is a need to switch to them.

IRC
IRC served as the major messaging platform world since 1988, but after 1990s with the advent of social messaging platforms like facebook it saw a huge decline. Nowadays IRC is majorly used by organisations for group communication, especially open source organisations for the reason that most of the IRC clients are open source and networks like freenode come with a possibility to create channels free of cost.

Gitter
Gitter is an young and hot instant messaging and chat room system for developers and users. Many big open source projects like FreeCodeCamp are using Gitter for the range of functionalities it provides  and for it provides them free.

Target Audience
Gitter being an superior alternative to IRC can be used for everything IRC is presently used for and more. Apart from this it will help the community members in this way -

  1. Developers 
    Gitter is made keeping in mind the needs of developers it has markdown support so now a developer need not first paste his code on a website and then link it to the IRC chat rather he can do it directly, gitter has integration for many technologies like codepen so while in chat room we can run and check code snippets. For developers in community it will be a huge difference.

  2. Designers
    It lets you share multimedia with normal drag and drop, and preview in the chat room itself, makes the communication between designer and developers more fluid. This saves a lot of time and clicks.

  3. Newcomers
    There is no need to learn anything like command to join, or setup your profile like IRC. All you need to do on gitter is login with your Github or twitter account and you are ready to go. Usually newbies are overwhelmed by the IRC and gitter will certainly be a great way for them to connect to community without any hassle.
     

Advantages of using Gitter
Gitter has following advantages -

  1. Message Logs
    Gitter maintains a history log for all messages, this will cut down the need to use botbot.me. History will be available to the user as soon as he opens gitter and notifications for where he was attributed.

  2. Easy Setup
    You can use your twitter or Github account to login in gitter. There is no need to create any new account.

  3. Gitter Apps
    There is no need to download any application to use gitter, user can head to gitter website and start with the work. Apart from this gitter has desktop and mobile applications for all platform.

  4. Notification
    Whenever there is a message notifications come up on the screen.

  5. Inline media files
    We can add multimedia files in the chat.

  6. Viewing and managing multiple rooms is easy

  7. Markdown support like Github

  8. Tagging of github issues

  9. Linking Github repos

  10. Browseable and searchable message archives, grouped by months

  11. And many more
    https://gitter.im/PaliwalSparsh/fluid-work
    This is a example of a chat room I created and have added code snippets, links and other things to demonstrate the usefullness of gitter.
     

Disadvantages of using Gitter
Gitter has following disadvantages - 

  1. It is not completely open source, but would be free for all of our requirements and won’t annoy with popups to use their paid services.

  2. It is more network resource heavy than IRC.(comparatively heavy)
     

Gitter as an IRC replacement
Gitter can easily serve as an replacement for IRC. Ease of starting and setting up for the contributors and all the functionality it provides, there will no going back to IRC. For the people in love with IRC and don't want to move to gitter. There is https://irc.gitter.im here you will find instructions to use gitter using IRC, this is created by people at gitter.
 

Conclusion
Communication is the most important thing in organisation and so is the medium used for it. IRC was great for its time but now is relatively inefficient and nowhere up to our requirements, there are better alternatives out there and we should try our best to move to them.


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  1. Sparsh Paliwal, more thoughts from Colin regarding accessibility concerns with clients of communication tools as well as Gitter being a single vendor solution: https://botbot.me/freenode/fluid-work/2016-05-05/?msg=65521990&page=1