Earlier today I posted that I was deleting my Matrix account on 8/31. Naturally the thought that a user someone hasn't interacted with leaving a platform gives folks a sense of irreconcilable unease. Why would they do this? Am I missing out on something better? Is someone living their best life outside of the platforms that I'm currently enjoying? This gave me the idea of giving my recommendations for the best chat services in 2023, in part because apparently people give a shit what I think and because I'm a cheeky bastard with opinions.
In order to make this list the following criteria must be observed:
- There must be more than one implementation of the protocol. You'd be surprised at how many "open standards" fail this basic test. Goodbye, Signal. Fare-the-well, Matrix. Die an ignominious death, Telegram. If there's only one server implementation then it doesn't make the list.
- The protocol has withstood the test of time. Anything younger than 10 years need not apply.
- I have to have actually used it. I'm not going to recommend things that I've not personally used.
Also keep in mind that I'm recommending things for my own personal threat model. If you're being pursued by a nation-state actor intent on making your life miserable (or worse) then please disregard everything I'm recommending and do your own research. No, I don't have any recommendations to help you with this.
With that, let's begin:
- Email. Good ol' reliable email. One of the few protocols that still manages to get through one way or another. Most folks have an email account and if you don't there are plenty of ways to get one. Most everything out there is just email with extra steps. For bonus points you can also add DeltaChat on top of email and pretend that email is an instant messenger network. Which, judging from people in most offices, it is.
- SMS. For the young people it's like ICQ for mobile phones. Just use the special sequence of numbers and you can communicate with most people on the planet that aren't ignoring you.
- The phone. For the young people this is ICQ but with voice capability. You can also communicate with the elderly over this protocol using what's referred to as a "land line". It's the one system anyone from 3 to 333 can use.
- IRC. I mentioned that IRC will never die in my scribe about how I'm ditching Matrix so I won't repeat it here. Just know that all the cool kids still use IRC.
- XMPP. Too cool for Facebook and Google to keep supporting, this protocol has more things strapped to it than a paratrooper. If you want to learn more about XMPP just post something in your social media about chat programs. Someone will be with you shortly.
These should be sufficient to get you communicating with most of the people on the planet. In no time you can communicate with your friends and family using familiar protocols that allow you to convey your thoughts across the known world. And you can adapt them to be more secure if need be.
Now, someone will no doubt be saying "but, but, but..." while they sputter for the words to refute my irrefutable logic. They'll no doubt want to tell me about some peer-to-peer system that they use with their close circle of friends. I sympathize. I used Jami with my friends for a while. It's the perfect system if you prioritize safety and security over, y'know, actually communicating with people. I'm sure there are messages of mine being relayed like lonely ghost travelers hoping to find their eternal rest at their destination. Me? I'd prefer folks actually received my messages in my lifetime, however long that might be.
Feel free to share this list with your friends, family, and loved ones. Whether you agree with me or not you know in your hear you'll have to keep these services in order to communicate with the largest number of people out there. Why not give them a try. Who knows? You might actually like talking with people again.