This page is for technical information relating to the proposed software solutions, including features and limitations. The discussion page can then be used to debate the relative merits of each and to narrow down the field.
See the original google doc by Bryn.
Wikipedia distinguishes between the following classes of discussion software:
Quoting loosely from Wikipedia: an internet forum (or message board) is an online discussion site where people can hold conversations in the form of posted messages. They differ from chat rooms in that messages are often longer than one line of text, and are at least temporarily archived.
My (Robbie) reading of the traffic thus far is that each of these classes is represented by a lead contender, respectively: Gitter, Discourse, and Slack. Let's focus on these products and only introduce new candidates as the need arises.
Key policy questions:
- what about some additional google groups instead?
- public or private? — no reason to be private?
- what is our attitude to paid hosting — if required for a good solution?
- would an institution be willing to host software for us — quite possibly?
- to what degree should we plan for growth — witness the rapid rise in projects in just five years?
Additional Google Groups
Specialist Google Groups (mailing lists) could provide a solution. The current list would then function as an "announce" list, largely free of discussion.
Gitter is an instant messaging and chat room system for developers and users of GitHub repositories.
Alternatives: IRC and the KiwiIRC client
The billing page shows that private rooms are limited to 25 users per private room (that must be the total number of users registered to a single chat room?). Payment entails $5 per person per month which is non-trivial and certainly a barrier to entry. I suppose we would use public rooms exclusively in any case? So disabled services are not an issue.
- simply register to start
- GitHub logins are directly usable
- IRC bridge (beta) for easy access from your favorite chat client
- gitter.im/openmod isn't available so it would have to be gitter.im/openmod-initiative
Discourse is a internet forum and mailing list management software application.
- self-hosting looks like the only option
- could easily migrate email list from Google Groups to this service
- accepts Markdown and HTML (together) for rich-formatting
- has a revision history
- supports so-called "wiki posts" — one can mark a post as collaboratively editable by trusted members
- community-based moderation and administration (to share the admin load)
- default discussion license is Creative Commons
- browsers before Internet Explorer 10 (released September 2012) not supported (unlikely to be a problem)
- works well on mobile devices
- rather than a large hierarchy of forums and sub-forums, uses categories instead (like Stack Overflow)
- just like other forum systems, Discourse offers a user profile page (another one!)
- the website at discourse.org is very much set up to push you towards hosting with them — as of 2014, plans start at $200 per month, apparently
- supports anonymous posting — do we want to enable that? (on first take, I think not)
- Markdown can be translated to Wiki markup using Pandoc for transfer to a wiki
Slack is a cloud-based team collaboration tool.
Alternatives: Ryver, Mattermost, Rocket.chat.
- the free version keeps only the most recent 10 000 chat messages
- cannot be self hosted
- closed house: messages cannot be referred to from outside and are not indexed by search engines
Alternatives: Wikipedia page on distributed social networking
Hubzilla is a platform for creating interconnected websites featuring a decentralized identity, communications, and permissions framework built using common webserver technology.
- Decentralized network of hubs: the grid Hubs are the servers that communicate with one another to propagate information across the network, or "grid". There is no central hub or single point of failure. Hubs are very scalable and suitable for communities of any size, from a small family on a shared host to a large group of people on a dedicated server. Channels and Connections
- Channels: A channel is the fundamental (id)entity on the grid. A channel can represent many different things: a person, a blog, or a forum to name a few. Channels can make connections with other channels to share information with highly detailed permissions. Channels are addressed using a familiar firstname.lastname@example.org format.
- Nomadic Identity and Cloning: Nomadic identity means true ownership of online identity. With Hubzilla, you don't have an "account" on a server, you own an identity that you can take with you across the grid. You can clone a channel across multiple hubs for resilience against network failures or censorship, or you can completely move a channel from one hub to another, taking your data and connections with you.