Direct conversation channels

#1

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).

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#2

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.

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#3

Is there a reason you’ve excluded IRC?

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#4

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.

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#5

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.

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#6

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.

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#7

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?

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#8

Hi all, totally new here, I’m about to introduce myself, but has Discord been considered? I’ve seen it used for many similar communities, e.g. oxfordindies game development group,

Quick comparison with Slack here:

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#9

Hi Miles, welcome to the community!

We did try Discord ages ago. I liked it a lot.

Perks:

  • it’s free
  • it’s a hosted service, so we don’t need to self-host
  • IIRC it has rich chat features like formatted text, mentions, linking to messages
    • Can you edit messages after posting them? That’s a nice feature of Slack.
  • It has moderator features so we can actually delete messages when people ask us to delete their messages!
    • I’m looking at you Hangouts!
  • The security model is nice
    • It’s possible to have different permissions for different groups
    • It’s possible to lock-down certain channels
      • Note: This is not possible on the free-tier of Slack
  • It has built-in voice and video chat (IIRC)
  • It’s easy to invite people
  • Channels are easily discoverable
    • Note: This is not possible in Hangouts

To be honest, I’m not sure why we abandoned it for Hangouts.

The only downside I can think of is that (last time I checked) it was still presented as a gamer chat system rather than a general purpose chat. That’s not a big deal, though.

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#10

Hi Yves, thank you! Just noticed this was a much older conversation than I thought! Anyway, is there a current hangout that I could join or similar? PS yes Discord definitely allows you to edit messages

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#11

You should be able to join our “Social” hangouts channel here: https://hangouts.google.com/group/iN1oqYwJ7cHEKUd79

We also have an “Organisation” channel, but I can’t remember if that’s supposed to be limited to co-op members (another reason why Hangouts is a pain… Access Control has to be done manually).
If the channel is open to the public I’ll get you a link.

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#12

My input is either Slack or Discord.

I have used Slack in the past and found it to be pretty straight forward to use, and can be used across multiple platforms.It can also integrate with IFTTT to expand out some of the functionality (including getting around the 10k message issue).

Discord is also a good option, and probably would work better for us.

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#13

jumping in here as usual with my contrarian approach to suggest https://about.riot.im/
which does look to be shaping up pretty well nowadays. Federated, doesn’t require a separate login necessarily, many clients etc etc.

It also has reasonably well working bi-directional bridges with Slack, IRC, hangouts, and Discord

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#14

Riot is a really interesting option.

If I understand correctly, bridging to other chat services requires setting up a private server. I looked into setting up an instance and… well it looks like it’s probably a few hours worth of experimentation and debugging. I don’t have time for that at the moment.

If we used the public server, however, we would still get its other benefits such as decentralised encrypted messaging.

I wasn’t able to determine if migrating channels from the public server to a private server was possible.

All that to say, I’d like to try riot, but I don’t have time to do the research and setup at the moment. And, it looks like we can always set up riot later and bridge it to whichever system we end up picking.

Of course, I don’t need to be the one setting this up. Somebody else could do it :stuck_out_tongue:

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#15

As I understand it we could indeed use the public server and it’s all federated and nice and you could indeed migrate a channel to a private instance later.

I can take a hint, and will try to spin one up on my DO account tomorrow so we can mess around with it :wink:

Dan W

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#16

should anyone want to mess around with it, there’s a Riot/Synapse/Matrix etc instance now running at:
https:// riot DOT weatherill DOT org DOT uk.

You can connect any other matrix client (e.g. Quaternion which is a bit like IRC with unicode and emojis, or Riot Desktop which is, uh, identical to the web app but in a desktoip app) to :

matrix DOT weatherill DOT org DOT uk.

Registration is enabled, but no backups or anything so please don’t go crazy.
This is for testing purposes only atm.

Thanks,
Dan W

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