Slowly becoming less of a fan of HipChat, it’s really no better than IRC with a proper client. –Matt Jarjoura
When I first looked at HipChat, I laughed. It looks, well, so 90s. Basically, it’s a revamp of IRC, where “revamp” means “we will charge you for it.”
The only reason you should pay money to them is one of the following:
- You don’t know how to set up an IRC server on some spare piece of office equipment and can’t be bothered to find anyone to help you.
- You need some obscure feature that’s not available on IRC or any of its addons.
Yep, that’s about it.
Essentially, HipChat and its ilk assume that you’ve never heard of IRC and are willing to pay to have private-ish conversations. They will never be as private as running your own IRC server.
If you don’t need that, you can get a dedicated channel on other servers, mark it private, invite people you want, and ban them if their status ever changes.
Why IRC Rocks
- The larger IRC networks are distributed, meaning everyone connects to a server closer to them. This does lead to netsplits, but it means that people can continue on even where one of the servers are down. In that sense, it’s designed like the Internet was intended: no single point of failure.
- IRC servers can be private. I’ve used them at several firms.
- You can do a seminar-style by making the channel moderated and requiring people to private message questions. Advantage of this format for the listeners is that they can private message each other, which many substitute chat types do not offer.
- You can make channels private.
- On most IRC networks, you can define a list of who’s an op (who has privilege to allow/disallow people on the channel), who can speak when the channel is moderated, and set those privileges so they persist without anyone on the channel. (And then there’s classic EFnet, which at least used to do none of these things.)
- IRC is extremely low bandwidth and fault tolerant. It assumes bad and slow connections. I have been in situations where no-image web pages wouldn’t load, email wouldn’t load, but IRC worked just fine. (Especially on ships using satellite internet.)
- Every operating system, even those without any graphical interfaces, still in use has at least one IRC client. Got an old Timex Sinclair?
- The biggest thing HipChat offers that IRC doesn’t typically out of the box is chat history, but there are even approaches for that using channel bots.
For Mac and iOS users, the best IRC software is Colloquy.