Direct conversation channels


Hey Everyone,

We’re slowly growing which means we should consider involving everyone in the informal conversations that we’re having.

The options are as follows:

  • A fresh group on Hangouts

    • Pros:
      • We are already using it
      • Can do voice/video chat
    • Cons:
      • New people have to create a Google account
      • Doesn’t support Bots
  • Move to Telegram

    • Pros:
      • Supports Bots
      • Supports Usernames (rather than exposing telephone numbers)
      • Can do voice/video chat
    • Cons:
      • Members have to register a phone number with a 3rd party
  • Move to Whatsapp

    • Pros:
      • Most people already using it
      • Supports voice/video chat
    • Cons:
      • Exposes people’s numbers to participants
      • Doesn’t have bots
      • They are starting to do advertising via messages
  • Set up a Mattermost server

    • Pros:
      • Self-hosted
      • User accounts not tied to phone numbers
      • Allows for SAML/ActiveDirectory accounts
      • Has App
      • Supports bots
    • Cons:
      • Self-hosted
  • Slack

    • Pros:
      • Easy to set-up
      • Multiple channels/private conversations
      • Supports Bots
    • Cons:
      • Requires we restrict to certain domains or invite people manually
      • Has 10,000 messages limit, then it hides it behind paywall

I propose we either go with Telegram which would be the easiest, Slack, or Mattermost which requires us to figure out storage. We had a test instance of Mattermost once before but I feel like we won’t have time to do it properly and suggest we tie that in with rolling out SAML login (i.e. infrastructure 2.0).


My own preference would be to use Hangouts. It’s simple to use and quite versatile - e.g. video conferencing works well. You give 3 ‘cons’ for Hangouts, but if you check this out, it’s actually only 2 - you need to have a Google account, surely not such a problem when so many people are already using Google for their email.
As regards ‘no bots’, as a person who has limited technical knowledge, I don’t know what this means in practice - what can’t we do without bots??
My general feeling is that the fewer channels we use the better. I’m already using far too many, and checking each one every day is really time-consuming.


Is there a reason you’ve excluded IRC?


Regarding bots: they’re useful for announcing when we open up or to set up automated reminders.

IRC has always been difficult from my point of view. You have to either be on all the time, or set up a server that you record the conversation so it ends up with a large number of people’s archiving bots with no one chatting. I personally wouldn’t want to manage that.


Fair enough. I can agree with that.

In that case I’d prefer a system similar to Stack Exchange chat, so I think Mattermost is the most closely aligned.


I also like the Stack Exchange chat, but I dislike Mattermost :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye:

My vote is for Slack. Since this would be primarily for informal conversations, having our data capped at 10,000 messages is not a big deal. And, I’m pretty sure we can write a bot to log all public conversations.

Slack is breeze to set up and requires next to no maintenance.


I feel like we’d hit the 10k cap in less than a year. The slack interface (as you’d expect) is much more conducive to chat than hangouts. Having a few chatty people would eat through it.

Although, to be fair, do we need to remember what was said?