🌊 My Hope For Wavelength

29 March 2023

The idea of the new app Wavelength has me intrigued for one main reason: bringing forum’s into the modern, app-based world. Essentially doing what Slack/Discord did for chat. Discourse is a great option today for forums, but Wavelength appears to be taking the next step.

After playing around with it a bit, I decided to read the Gruber piece that everyone linked to and was surprised there was no mention of forums whatsoever given that’s essentially the pattern Wavelength is following in that in-between state of 1:1 messaging and Slack that Gruber mentions. Unlike Gruber, I couldn’t care less about the AI and privacy stuff, and don’t agree with him that notifications are as tuned in or simple as he claims. With that being said, I still see a lot of potential in this modernization of forums idea.

When it comes to notifications, the default when joining any group should be Muted Unless I Reply”. There are a few reasons for this. First, there is the potential inundation when joining a larger group when getting started and not fully grokking how things work or the right approach to take for notifications. If someone wants to be notified for every message in a group, they should have to make that decision. On the other end, for smaller groups, a user might start off by just muting specific threads and leaving the ones they are actually interested in participating or following–the problem being anytime a new thread gets added, they can get hit with a number of notifications that feel both cumbersome and annoying since it’s not something they necessarily signed up for” when they decided what threads to mute.

Lastly, and not exactly specific to notifications, but whenever there are specific threads one has absolutely no interest in, the Read/Unread markers can be quite annoying. There should be a way to wipe your hand clean of a thread so that you aren’t constantly getting a little blue dot (on the group or thread), without losing the ability to go back to it if you choose to at a later date. Maybe the solution is keeping the marker, but grouping threads separately within the existing day groupings (“Today” → Today Muted” → Yesterday” → Yesterday Muted” - don’t think they should actually have those names, but some visual identifier that they are separate from your actively followed threads would be useful). All of that being said, while I used Muted” as an example, just because someone mutes a thread doesn’t mean they don’t want to actively follow it, so this proposed solution falls short as well (although in Discord, a muted channel is greyed out with no indication of new messages). This is why I think some sort of separate mechanism to unfollow” a thread would be useful so rather than grouping together muted” threads that a user could potentially still be actively following, you group together the unfollowed” threads at the bottom of the specific day.

Going back a bit to why I’m still interested in Wavelength over something like Discord revolves around the forum comparison. Rather than a channel in Discord to talk about Basketball” or Movies” you can have a new thread for every game you want to talk about or every new movie that hits theaters. That’s great (and also why new threads shouldn’t notify users). While I’m not in any groups that have a ton of threads yet, I can imagine the frustration of what it could potentially look like. Something like archiving probably isn’t necessary since inactive threads will inevitably fall away to the bottom, but search and/or categorization with filtering could go a long way. Essentially bringing the things that work from forums and Discourse into Wavelength.

With all that rambling out of the way, I started a little group to talk about things like tv, comics, basketball, etc. as a potential replacement for my dying Discord server. Feel free to pop in, switch to Muted Unless I Reply” and then say hi or fire up a thread.

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