Text Chat Space for Labs - IRC or Slack or XXX


#1

This issue is about having a designated “text chat” space for Labs.

Note: I focus on Labs only for convenience and because tech folks are most interested in text chat. We could definitely imagine this space being used for many (though not all) Open Knowledge tech projects e.g. OpenSpending and for OK community generally.

Context

Our text channel used to be #okfn on freenode but it has gone rather silent. I’ve also personally noticed I’m used IRC less and less at the moment and we have weird bugs (e.g. getting shut out of channel).

Options

  • IRC - just keep using #okfn on freenode and flagpost it more
      • “open”, already there, standard protocol
      • logging is so-so (have to go somewhere else and not obvious), high barrier to entry for newcomers, even I find certain aspects of my client a PITA (e.g. i still can’t mute some notifications i don’t want)
  • OpenSource / self-hosted Slack e.g. http://www.mattermost.org/ or https://rocket.chat/
    • Have not really evaluated. Not clear on who would deploy and maintain. What is estimated cost?
  • Slack - already in use by several Open Knowledge groups internally include OKI.
      • Has a nice interface, very easy to use especially for newcomers, full history and logging etc
      • You cannot automatically have random users join - you not only have to sign up but you need to get an invite (though slackin fixes this - but you have to host that)
      • Not “open service”, locked in to them
      • Expensive need to start paying per use if we want chat history
  • Gitter - not yet used but pretty nice and integrates with github.
      • Has all major features (and pretty equivalent to slack)
      • Very nice integration with github (which for labs is nice)
      • Easy for users to sign-in (no need to have a special sign-up process like slack)
      • *Free unlike slack basically free if we only use public rooms
  • HipChat - same as Slack I think but made by Atlassian

Reflections

In a perfect world I’d prefer IRC but with an interface and experience like Slack. Is that available anywhere? Is there a gateway we could ourselves run that provides logging, interface etc etc?

However, assuming it does not exist, we could just use slack and it would be set up in about 10s and deliver everything we want - the only downside would be that its not an open service.

Overall, my slight inclination is to go for public slack - there are probably other more important things to spend energy on right now than hosting our own chat system.


Open Knowledge Network and Community Updates - first steps of 2016!
#2

It’s true that IRC has a high barrier to entry, although I do not see how
having to register to a private company and agree to give them all of our
private conversations would be a lower requirement. It would also by
default exclude any free/libre software enthusiast who simply refuse to use
such tools.

Most Slack features are just easy stuff to add to IRC with simple bots. At
RegardsCitoyens we use https://github.com/RouxRC/gazouilleur which allows
us to follow RSS (so basically anything from git notifications to specific
keyworded google news, etc), display tweets and send them collaboratively
from IRC, get logs from when we’re not connected, and so on…

The only good reason I could see for chosing Slack would be its shiny web
interface. In which case, well maybe OKF could dedicate its paid developers
to provide a nice shiny libre web interface for IRC :slight_smile:
KiwiIRC https://kiwiirc.com/ is already a
great improvement, and that would be a very useful project for many open
communities :slight_smile:

Benjamin Ooghe-Tabanou


#3

Moreover and better than anything I could say:

Benjamin Ooghe-Tabanou

On Tue, Dec 15, 2015 at 5:02 PM, Benjamin Ooghe-Tabanou b.ooghe@gmail.com
wrote:


#4

@RouxRC the issue is that IRC is an obstacle in my experience. Also have a read of e.g. http://rauchg.com/slackin/ which is by a leading open-source dev.

Open Knowledge’s approach has always been “pragmatic not fanatic” and that applies to tools too - e.g. we use Google Docs and we use Skype etc. If Slack would allow many more people to engage in a more effective and sustainable way then it may be worth doing. Yes, you have to register with a company – and be willing to share what are basically public conversations (I note our IRC channel is already logged publicly).

On your last point, the fact is I don’t think building a shiny web interface to IRC with the kind of features as Slack, or even deploying and maintaining such an app, is something that would be at the top of the list of priorities – even if Open Knowledge had “spare” resources to dedicate (which I don’t believe it does - as always there are far more good things to be worked on than there is resource to do it).


#5

Rocket Chat is pretty good, and can very easily be installed through a www.sandstorm.io hosted instance or self-hosted instances of Sandstorm. If OKFN decided to host its own sandstorm, it would benefit from tons of other open source software easily installed through that.


#6

@pdehaye good point and I didn’t know that!

In general - based on past experience at Open Knowledge - I’m pretty cautious on taking on more hosting / deployment of stuff without a very clear sense of where commitment of resources will come from to maintain it.

PS: we never use the OKFN acronym anymore :wink: - always go for “Open Knowledge” or “OK” if you really want to acronyn


#7

Maybe helpful:
https://blog.okturtles.com/2015/11/five-open-source-slack-alternatives/

However, personally I love Slack. I would say it comes it to its own when you do a LOT with it for an organization with many different units/topics/sub-teams and that would for sure decrease the amount of exchange here on discuss.okfn.org.


#8

So, my thoughts on this are:

IRC I think we’d all like it if IRC was … something it is not. Only the technically inclined use IRC, and even then, I know many programmers who simply see no value in it at all, when there are other communication channels with less friction. I like IRC, but it is not convenient.

Self-hosting {Slack Clone} It is quite honestly not a great use of time or resources for OKI doing this. I’m also of the personal opinion that doing so does not somehow ensure that data is safer or protected.

3rd party hosting {Slack Clone} Why? sandstorm.io looks cool to me as I’m a developer, but I can’t see why buying into sandstorm.io is inherently better than just using Slack.

I don’t have any particular preference for Slack. I have a preference for OKI executing better in the area of community engagement.

From all the options I see in front of us here, Slack has the mindshare, and user experience to help build more inclusive communities. Of course, the real work will be when we just take such a decision and then use it as a tool for us to do better community engagement.


#9

Slack is my preference. It works well and is understandable for a broad variety of people in a way that IRC really isn’t.


#10

What about Gitter? It could be another option.


#11

About Slack lock-in, you should also consider that beyond 10k messages, you cannot search the chat history. This can be a real annoyance in terms of accountability.
And, if you want to search history, Slack becomes very expansive for a large group, 6$/user.

I would suggest using an open alternative to Slack.


#12

I just came across Babble, a Discourse plugin for chat. It’s not ideal, but it’s been in development since around May.


#13

Something like http://www.mattermost.org/ I can imagine… We are going to test it for our open Summer of code 2016 project and see whether it is good enough to replace slack :slight_smile:


#14

Babble seems ideal: no need for a tool, open, included in Discourse…


#15

Interesting, let us know how it turns out


#16

I am not sure if you are still pursuing for any text chat, but I truly recommend Gitter. It is not entirely GitHub dependent and the freemium plan is very flexible. The main downside is that you cannot have more than 25 users. For my case, that is more than sufficient for now.


#17

@gsilvapt i am +1 on this in fact when you compare pricing to slack.

I say we do this :smile:

As an experiment I’ve just gone and booted the space: https://gitter.im/okfn

@danfowler @samgta - babble seems interesting and something to keep an eye on but functionality seems a little far from what we need atm.


#18

There’s a chat for OKFN-OE. It’s /okfn-oe, feel free to join :slight_smile:

Best regards/Com os melhores cumprimentos,
Gustavo Silva.

Sent from my Nexus 5.


#19

@gsilvapt i wonder if it would be better to create this as a channel “open-economics” within the “okfn” organization as per: https://gitter.zendesk.com/hc/en-us/articles/200178951-Gitter-rooms

What do you think? If you need relevant permissions either I think we can sort that :smile:

I have also, as an experiment, gone and created an open room: https://gitter.im/okfn/chat


#20

Well, the problem is that I created Gitter from our GitHub account and that is also as okfn-oe. We can have both, I guess. Changing it now would have several implications… As you guys prefer :slight_smile:


Economics Working Group Github and Gitter Space