Although both intended for conversational, shorter-term information, instant messages and discussion messages have considerable differences.
- Instant messages appear on the talk page for a group - and in every browser that has that page open - as soon as the user enters a message and presses return. Unlike discussion messages there is no workflow.
- Instant messages are just an unbroken line of text with no special formatting. (You can still use *bold* and /italics/ by styling them like this and reference knowledge entries using wiki links.)
- Instant messages only appear on the website. Discussion messages are also sent out by email to those members of the group who want email.
- You can share files, but each will effectively be its own message. With discussion messages a message can have several attached files.