Threaded conversations are better handled by email or newsgroups as opposed to chat in my opinion.
Edit: Removed extraneous word.
I think I saw it because irccloud was using it with their slack integration?
Let a user click the timestamp to the left of the messages (or a "#" or other symbol), which inserts something like this into the reply box:
> Replying to username:
Then your message you send ends up looking like:
> Reply to username: I agree!
Clicking on "Reply to username" or just the username could scroll back the chat and highlight the message you replied to.
Of course, the context here is a client that does indeed implement extra features, and you're right that a text format per message would be an interesting way to implement this: the client could simply hide those messages from the normal view and slot them into the thread system. People using other clients would just see some extraneous line noise like "Replying to <username>|<timestamp>: hello world".
I've been using it for a while now and it's been working great. Nice, simple, and quick to load.
I'm involved in a lot of open source but had used IRC only intermittently until I got The Lounge running.
I've really enjoyed it. I'm able to log in and see the same unreads and direct messages across my work PC, personal PC, and phone and iPad. The software has been reliable and relatively painless to update. The UI functions nicely on touch devices.
Before The Lounge I operated ZNC in EC2, but configuring device-specific clients to use it was a chore, and I didn't find myself using IRC very much. Now, I use IRC all the time.
Obviously if you're not comfortable maintaining a server then this isn't the option for you, but as a "power user" I've found the web UI perfectly tolerable. Instead of maintaining IRC clients on multiple devices and pointing them at ZNC, I maintain a single IRC client -- The Lounge.
Though paying money to receive messages while offline (or fiddling with ZNC) is one of the reasons IRC getting its lunch eaten by everything.
It's our default web-based client that we offer for public use over at EsperNet (which as an IRC network has been around since the 90s) - https://webchat.esper.net.
The fact it is modern, easy-to-use and has better security characteristics made it a bit of a no-brainer to switch from Iris.
It seems worth it for me to throw this on a DO droplet, give it a URL and totally forget about having missed something again. Right now I just use Textual with all the default configs installed and don't do anything fancy. For a casual IRC user who doesn't want to go into much more effort than that to preserve history or have seamless client experience/settings and am willing to pay 5 bucks a month to host in the cloud somewhere, I think I'm the target audience here.
The first PR is from Feb 2016, so that makes it a little under 3 years old. Is that old enough for an IRC client?
I really like how it looks! Feels much more modern than HexChat (what I currently use).
Additionally, the backend irc framework used was changed to one used by another popular web client, kiwiirc.
Are there any specific security concerns you have?
I've reviewed this from a security perspective and was pretty pleasantly surprised. It sets a sensible Content-Security-Policy, doesn't leak the Referer etc. JS is written properly to avoid introducing DOM-based cross-site scripting vulnerabilities.
I’m thinking something that can compete with Slack for usability that runs over standard IRC networks
However, there isn’t currently a way to sign up, but there have been opened PRs that wouldn’t be too difficult for someone to implement if they really wanted.
Anyone running this at a medium-sized company?
Then riot.im as client for the phones and web.
It's basically a personal IRC client and lacks most of the features you would expect from Slack (media upload, user management, editing/deleting messages, public channels...).
Take a look at Rocket Chat and Zulip instead.
Of course, IRC can do all of that (much better than Slack, from a technical point of view). But IRC + The Lounge is not a drop-in replacement for Slack.