Tue 3 Feb 2015 10:01PM

Public Metamaps Chat Room(s)

RB Robert Best Public Seen by 106

This discussion will hopefully resolve the question of whether we should have a Public Metamaps Chat Room(s), and then if necessary, how to implement this idea.


Devin H Tue 3 Feb 2015 10:12PM

Should we think about having a public metamaps chatroom on the site? It would require opening access to uninvited people though.

(This is just brainstorming)


Poll Created Tue 3 Feb 2015 10:16PM

We should create a public Metamaps chat room(s) Closed Sun 8 Feb 2015 8:05PM

by Robert Best Wed 26 Apr 2017 8:09AM

So it seems many agree that creating a public Metamaps chat room has potential and will be worthwhile to implement in some form... The next stage of this decision process will be to go over implementation options and figure out how we want to do this.

What I am proposing, before worrying about how to make it happen, is that we should create a public Metamaps chat room.

Initially it would consist of one global chat room that is not topic-specific (besides the fact that it is a Metamaps chat room, whatever that implies). Maybe we create other public rooms later on that are topic-specific.. But I'll leave that for later.

I personally am FOR this idea, so I will state my case for it here, but please use this discussion/proposal to weigh all the pros and cons.

For me, the biggest pro is community building and a means for sustained day-to-day engagement with our community. Even if we had map-specific chat fully implemented today, I would still want this public chat room to happen because it gives us a lens on our entire community (in theory), a metric to measure how our community grows....

It also allows for holopticism, meaning that everyone can see everyone else.

This decision may increase daily levels of community engagement, which will take some added effort... But this is an amazing "problem" to have... Also, because everyone is around... Simple questions can be answered by anyone (peer-learning happens)

Another fruitful thing I would hope to happen is that, while hanging out within the context of metamaps... Someone might propose a mapping excursion, or game, to the others in the room... and then off they go metamapping!

I think I have given a general sense of why I think this is a good idea.



Results Option % of points Voters
Agree 80.0% 4 CT DH RB RJ
Abstain 20.0% 1 BB
Disagree 0.0% 0  
Block 0.0% 0  
Undecided 0% 5 IS MC KL IS JR

5 of 10 people have voted (50%)


Raymon Johnstone
Wed 4 Feb 2015 1:55AM

I agree that having a nexus point for all public general interaction is an excellent idea, this is after all the very reason that I have a facebook page for my book despite my book being available on numerous platforms.


Benjamin Brownell
Wed 4 Feb 2015 5:03PM

I'm going to put my initial reaction down as negative / skeptical until I understand the question and intention better. Taking a literal interpretation of the proposal statement, my answer is "no" there's no "should" that we set this (what?) up.


Devin H
Thu 5 Feb 2015 12:57AM

This is a cool idea. I hope someone pursues it.


Robert Best
Thu 5 Feb 2015 12:18PM

I made this proposal because I think we should create a public MM chat room. My reasons are shared throughout the discussion.


Connor Turland
Fri 6 Feb 2015 11:17PM

I like the idea that people, like Jacki Saorsail for instance, who are just really into metamaps could just enter into a living room with us, and other people interested in mapping.


Benjamin Brownell
Fri 6 Feb 2015 11:38PM

Going to switch my stance to 'abstain' here for now, to make way for continued development of the idea as something that could benefit our community. I do have some reservations about the idea in the way that I have been able to understand it so far.


Robert Best Tue 3 Feb 2015 10:17PM

Please keep the brainstorming going! However I just created a specific proposal... which first asks "should we do it?" before figuring out "How to do it?"


Robert Best Tue 3 Feb 2015 10:37PM

One emerging concern is, because we are working on a chat feature inside of Metamaps itself... Does that nullify this whole proposal/discussion???

Here are some thoughts:
-Are we also creating a metamaps-wide chat room that everyone who's logged in is a part of (if they wish)? Because, as stated in the proposal, I still see value in a global non-map/topic-specific chat room.... So if we are simultaneously building/designing this... then that is great!

-Also, until a chat feature is fully rolled out... I would still like to implement something for the near-term using our existing options... Then once our own solution is available, then there would be a migration.

-My other concern with chat on the metamaps platform... is that it will require everyone to set up a metamaps account... Which is great of course! But I would like this "public chat room" i am describing to be as open as open can be, and interface even with the people who haven't even fully decided they want a metamaps account yet.... So, thinking ahead, whatever we might implement would hopefully allow anyone to join the chat, using whatever log-in option they like (FB, G+, Twitter, Github, Persona (i.e. Just an email))

-I know the next thought is Oh dear! Spam! Well, maybe a bit... but nothing a boot/ban wont fix... and then maybe this necessitates a not-so-public second room down the road, that has a changeable invite code (should it get compromised) for all those that seem to be able to behave :P


Robert Best Wed 4 Feb 2015 5:09AM

I just realized I wasn't really considering allowing anonymous guests..... By at least requiring an email to be provided to log in, if not by one of the other options, I think we would eliminate a lot of spam and also get a name so we know who were are talking to (in theory)


Benjamin Brownell Wed 4 Feb 2015 5:08PM

Testing out a dedicated open chat channel could be a worthwhile experiment, but I wouldn't want to push it out right away as the new "hub" for our community. I think it has advantages for some people in some circumstances, worth testing to see who finds value in it. Rob do you want to do some research or suggest a specific initial implementation that would serve your vision / intention in this direction? Could be just an IRC room, such as famous uses: http://famo.us/help


Robert Best Wed 4 Feb 2015 6:49PM

Hopefully I can clear things up a bit, since I can't edit the proposal until it is has finished.

I used 'should' to describe that space of optionality between 'Could" and 'Must' (I don't personally think we would have much of a debate over whether we 'could', or 'must', create a public metamaps chat room(s) )

For other's confused about (what?) a public chat room might be, it is generally the combination of these 3 concepts.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Online_chat (The online part was implied, sorry for that)

I tried to share the thinking/reasoning/intentions for my proposal... Is everything misunderstood? Should I start from scratch or are there specific bits that are most confusing?

The proposal, inside of this larger discussion, about Public Metamaps Chat Room(s), was meant to act as an initial survey. To see who thinks we should or shouldn't create such a chat room at all. (Hopefully 'should' is safe to use now) I gave some reasons for why I think we should, if you disagree with the proposal, please provide why you think we shouldn't.

Keep in mind though... The proposal is not yet about HOW we should do it (IRC, HipChat, Slack, MM itself, etc.), but instead, the question is "should we consider doing it at all?" The proposal is also not yet about: What is the best way to do it? how do we market it? How do we put it out there? How do we contextualize it? How do we request engagement?

To Ben's last discussion point... Before we even get to "testing" anything out, I made this proposal to see if we should do anything at all. I personally want to create such a chat room, the only reason I didn't just go and set something up, like an IRC or a Gitter, is because I wanted to see what others thought first. (Why this is my tendency is a whole other tangent to discuss)

Also, you said you see this as desiring to be our "new" community hub... I am unsure about what our CURRENT community hub is... and maybe that's a part of why I am making this proposal, because I don't feel we have a true hub yet.

As I said before, this proposal is about "Should we do it?" not, "How should we do it?"... Implementation can be figured out next... But yes, I have looked into the pro's and con's of different options. (Research)

Also Ben, could you please instead vote Abstain until you know what you are disagreeing with? Essentially your vote currently means that you think that we shouldn't create a public chat room for the greater Metamaps community/engagers, but you have not provided a reason for why you think we shouldn't (Whether its just a test, or something more serious)

Some final thoughts are that I am worried about inconsistencies in how we are using Loomio... The only reason I "agreed" to the latest Value Equation proposal on here was because I was setting my bar very low and leaving things in a "good enough for now" state, even while having plenty of issues with it... But with this proposal I am having to struggle with the definition, and personal connotations, of individual words/concepts like "should" and "chat room" just to get a simple initial proposal through... Are we only being agile and dynamically correcting flaws along the way for certain things? Why is this question about a potential MM chatroom more important that determining our distributions of funds?


Benjamin Brownell Wed 4 Feb 2015 7:19PM

Hey Rob, this convo goes to the heart of important considerations about how we can benefit from Loomio without getting bogged down in process, semantics, and process about semantics of process.

I feel it's important to be exceedingly clear in the formulation and statement of proposals here such that others can respond in straightforward binary fashion (with a slight gradient), without quibbling over word choice and intended meaning.

In this case, I really don't have a logical response to your proposal, and I would even say that it is not technically a proposal--what is the explicit action step to be taken if it goes forward? That makes a big difference as to how I respond. While I get a general, tentative gist of what you are suggesting we explore here, I disagree with the way that it is presented, especially that it is set up more as a conversation than a decision. Belongs in G+ dev at this stage, in my mind.

If I were to extrapolate to something that may make sense as a proposal along these lines, it would be for you to set out a specific app / space / strategy for spinning up a metamaps public chat as a trial, and asking for our consent to doing so with the metamaps name attached to it. Some additional details would serve of course.

I don't mean to be obstinate or needling, but this feels important to recognize and develop as good practice here to make good use of people's ability to engage with Loomio as a tool. It took me a while to figure out how to think about setting up proposal for the value equation...and it certainly wasn't perfect...we're learning. Let's keep that attitude and stay open, keep iterating. You can cancel this proposal and start fresh if you like.


Ishan Shapiro Wed 4 Feb 2015 8:14PM

so why not consider that we have an IRC channel that is open? which we do, at freenode: #metamaps (irc.freenode.net)?

i'd almost just build it into the metamaps platform, enable anonymous (but authenticated in some way) access. For instance, on the explore maps page, there could be a 'lobby' of sorts. then you could jump into a map chatroom. Otherwise I'm inclined just to ask people to join slack. that's what i see a lot of open source projects and communities doing these days.

do you have an example Rob of a community that does this in the way that you're envisioning?


Robert Best Wed 4 Feb 2015 8:49PM

I don't see why you are finding it hard to form a logical response to my proposal... I can say to myself "Yes. I agree... We should create a public MM chatroom, because __, _, _". If I thought it were a bad idea, or just not really worthwhile, I could say: "No. I disagree, we shouldn't create a public MM chatroom because _,_, __". Basically, the question is... After envision us creating a public MM chatroom, based on your current conception of what this means, do you think we should put the effort into actually making it happen, or not?

I think one common disconnect between us Ben is that I am frequently trying to engage others to create something WITH me (even if its just coming to an agreement on something), where you are frequently asking me to go off alone and come back with something more substantial to share.

I thought it best to put this proposal out there in stages so that minimal time/effort is wasted should this initial proposal not pass. For example, even though I have already done some research, why should I put more work into fleshing out more details if there is disagreement about whether we should create a public chatroom at all? Maybe some of us need to see the whole picture before agreeing that it is worthwhile, but maybe not... Finding that out is one reason for this proposal...

Here are the stages I was thinking of, for subsequent proposals, should this one go through... (I would be providing these subsequent proposals, others could too of course)

-Should we create a public Metamaps chat room?
If yes, determine the best solution/implementation through proposals

-If we can decide on an implementation, determine the best way to share/contextualize/invite others to this proposed new space.

-If we can agree on what we want to create, and how to share it.... Determine who is taking responsibility for doing what, and then do it! (It may also be that some implementation happens, for testing, before the proposal regarding how to invite others occurs)

For comparison, on some level we all must be in agreement that "we should create Metamaps" (or however else you want to word it so that it doesn't grind your gears), and that's why we are doing just that.... We aren't waiting for one of us to propose the grand unified theory of why Metamaps is a good idea, and how exactly to go about making it happen.

Ben, I would still like for you to explain why you think we shouldn't create a MM chatroom open to our general community/engagers.


Robert Best Wed 4 Feb 2015 9:04PM

Thanks for the input Ishan. The freenode thing you shared, which is also the basis of what Ben shared about Famous using, seems pretty good as a simple option for implementation since there is the option for anonymity (which is a nice feature)... and yet a recaptcha for authentication.

Given that many are jumping to how we could implement this idea, I have a general sense that most of us think this would be a good thing to offer.... and are in agreement with the first stage of the proposal, even though I worded it in such a way so as to limit some from wanting to respond with a binary yes/no or agree/disagree.....

I do not know of, or participate in, other communities that have an "always on/always available" public chat space to hang out in (in the way I am envisioning). I am sure there are plenty though.... Actually something like "Clan Chat" within a video game is something that seems very similar to this to me... Actually, we technically already have something very close to what I am envisioning in our HipChat.... its just not open or shared with everyone.... And having a button on our explore maps page, and in our other online spaces that links a person into our chat would be a great way to enable others to join.


Benjamin Brownell Wed 4 Feb 2015 10:08PM

The key for me is where does it put us to say "we should have a public chat room"? Is that now someone's job, or privilege; is it a license for someone to go and create whatever they think serves the purpose and then start making invitations to the user community? Is it then a priority agenda item that we need to address collectively and devote some design thinking and research to? Does it lead to a debate about whether X chat app is better than Y or existing forums / communities? So, for me the logical obstacle is that there are a bunch of interwoven considerations and implications which block me from responding coherently other than "non-affirmative". Perhaps abstain is the better marker for my stance, I'll reconsider here.

My assessment of the situation is that Rob you are asking:

a) do people feel that a dedicated public chat room could be advantageous at this time (i.e. it's worth exploring as an option)

b) does anyone else want to work with me (rob) on research, design, testing, implementation of such a solution if deemed desirable

c) what is the decision making process for determining how we implement, host, manage public community spaces and channels

I would like to take those one by one. The first step might benefit from an outline of what you are picturing as a solution, including the types of engagement, oversight, integration etc. envisioned.


Benjamin Brownell Wed 4 Feb 2015 10:12PM

The part of me that disagrees is coming from a place of concern around becoming too spread out between channels and spaces, such that an experiment with a public chat space winds up detracting from engagement elsewhere and yet is not ultimately sustainable as a communication venue...so the end result is a degree of disengagement and or confusion. That's a pessimistic view, but it's a concern that I have in response, not knowing more about what is being proposed.


Devin H Thu 5 Feb 2015 12:56AM

1) I'm interested in investigating a chat room feature further. I'll agree with the proposal once I finish this comment. I may have 0 time to contribute to helping, but I agree with the proposal.

2) There are four classes of people with respect to metamaps:

i) The public
ii) "Followers": G+ Community followers, Twitter followers, blog subscribers, etc
iii) Metamaps Development community (a combination of the G+ group and github contributors)
iv) Loomio-type core contributors: Connor, Ishan, Devin, Marija, Rob, Ben, others?

For groups (iii) and (iv), there is a plethora of online chat things. I limit myself to email and G+. I respond to Loomio/Hipchat/Hackpad/Asana when I get emails about them, but only reluctantly :D. Others may be more engaged with these other platforms.

For group (ii), there's G+, Twitter, and the blog. Perhaps we should be syncing those well, but whatever. That seems pretty standard and not too onerous.

For group (i), there's... the Metamaps homepage. Connor has suggested updating this page to streamline things for them. That's great. I'll note too that this group really easily can slide into group (ii) currently, and also see our public persona via Twitter/G+/blogs. Accessing a community through these things is not super engaging but it's a nice way to learn more.

One of our goals is to move people from group (i) to group (ii), and others from group (ii) to group (iii) so they start contributing if interested. I say that creating and properly embedding a metamaps chatroom is a great way to make this happen.


If we embed an IRC (or honestly any other kind of) chatroom in our website, does that just feel empty and put people off? Will someone need to staff this chatroom? Maybe guiding people to G+ and Twitter is better. Maybe a Facebook group would catch a wider audience.


Robert Best Thu 5 Feb 2015 12:16PM

I am only asking/proposing a) at this time Ben... and I have been doing b) already, but am not really seeking any sort of assistance yet. Was waiting to see the result of this proposal.

What follows are some thoughts on next steps, towards implementation... Maybe this saves you some time if you don't feel the need to keep reading now.

I am currently leaning towards using Gitter for our Public chat room. It will require people that want to chat to set up a Github account, if they don't have one already... But this act alone moves someone one step closer to being a full-blown MM collaborator (if they are a coder I guess), it may also have them check out our codebase, or even just see our github, when they might not have otherwise.... Plus, choosing slack or Hipchat would require someone to create a new account on a new platform too... just without the added benefits just described above.

There is the option of IRC too of course, and it seems we already have this set up... and IRC is really great because it affords anonymity and is a really easy way to allow anyone to come chat without them having to set up any sort of account.... Thats the argument for IRC... However, IRC is really lacking in most other facets. There isn't a chat history, and therefore is also lacking in search capability... so someone just dropping in would have no context at all without asking for it... Another drawback is that we can't paste in nice snippets of code or screenshots, which is a really neat feature... Also, if someone really wants to be anonymous, they can always just create a bogus Github account, to come chat as CraZyCaTlAdy246 (Not that anonymity is really what we are going for anyways, since this is a community building venture).... Also, getting to know our community through Github, seems superior to slack or Hipchat too, because Github already has a rich social network and enables us to get a social graph data of our current and future connections... I am currently just writing ideas just as they come to me.... Hopefully the warning I gave above means nobody is frustrated by my poor English right now :P

Another PRO for Gitter, is that it is a very natural way for our community to come and hang... It doesn't even feel like we are adding yet another platform into our repertoire.... Gitter just feels like an extension of Github, which is a deep deep element of our Community Stack, that likely isn't going anywhere soon.... The natural integration of Gitter is also probably why we already have 13 members in the base room without even making a big public invite (i realize some of these are due to our hack day, but not all of them)

To Ishan's other concern about switching between project spaces... this wont necessarily help him with having everything all in slack... But Gitter is great for switching between chat on different Github Repos...

Finally, Gitter offers 1 free private chat within a github 'organization', which we now have. So we could utilize this too, if desired. They also allow unlimited public channels, if we want to totally shift all our rooms over from Hipchat.... (More discussion about "Open source communication with Gitter" is given here on their blog: http://blog.gitter.im/open-source-communication-with-gitter/ )

Anyways, I'm sure there is lots to scrutinize about what I just said... But Hey! We have lots of quality and free chat options! Which is great.


Marija Coneva Sun 8 Feb 2015 7:58PM

I like the idea of an open and inviting space where conversation can happen...and then again isn't that supposed to be metamaps.cc itself? The comment that Devin made at the very beginning of this discussion sounds closest to my idea of a public chat room - as long as it is on the site itself and not a place that takes you away from the mapping experience, then it makes sense to me :)


Marija Coneva Sun 8 Feb 2015 8:20PM

just a note - I voted Yes and maybe for a sec too late, which is why my position does not appear in the summary!


Ishan Shapiro Mon 9 Feb 2015 8:21AM

I missed voting here but I agree as well, a 'lobby' of a sort for Metamaps users would be very useful, even more so if these are also within maps..

I'm also with Marija and Devin that I don't know if it should necessarily be in another place than Metamaps.cc.


Poll Created Mon 9 Feb 2015 8:43PM

I propose that we use Gitter for our public MM chat room, and position it as our new community hub. In addition, I propose that we create and distribute an invitation to this new community hub immediately (As soon as reasonably possible). Closed Wed 11 Feb 2015 7:06PM

by Robert Best Wed 26 Apr 2017 8:09AM

We seem to be in agreement that Gitter is sufficient to enable us to test/prototype offering a public chatroom as a real-time community hub for Metamaps . (Only 3 votes were cast, but feel free to continue to add comments regardless of the current proposal stage)

Ok, I have thought about this quite a bit. I won't be able to share all of this thinking here in this proposal though, so I have dumped some of my thoughts out here https://metamaps.hackpad.com/Public-MM-Chatroom-A-new-community-hub-ubIhYwD4Gtw
I would ask that you quickly skim through that, sorry its kinda messy, before posting a reply here. I will try and summarize some key points FOR my proposal, but I won't be able to detail everything.

The closing time for this specific proposal is set for fairly soon. I am hoping I can get the same sort of active interaction on this as I have over the last few days. I am not really available from Feb. 12th-24th (Vacation), and so I hope to set this in motion fairly quickly if possible. (Or at least get it to the point of not needing me to push it for it to continue to progress)

If you haven't used gitter yet, you can easily give it a try! There is already a direct link to our current Gitter chat room right in the Metamaps repo readme:

I expect everyone to have their personal disagreements and concerns regarding this proposal. Please voice all of them! We will try and discuss each concern to the point of being "resolved". This proposal will iterate until we reach some sort of optimized state. (Keep in mind though, there may be no perfect proposal that everyone can totally agree with, and this should not keep us from implementing the best proposal that we arrive at)

Here is me trying to think from the perspective of others:

Q: Who can join this space/chatroom?
A: Anyone that knows of the chatroom's existence, has a desire to join, and is willing to set up a github account in order to do so (Or they already have one which is fairly likely)

Q: How do we let people know about it?
A: This feels in a way like the next step for after this proposal... But the answer is also a little obvious. "Hey guys, come join our new community hub" ---> blog, twitter, G+, maybe email list, put link in the G+ community, add a link on our homepage and somewhere prominent for logged in users (Until we have the MM chat feature implemented with its own UI element)

Q: Speaking of the MM chat feature! Why don't we just incorporate this idea into that?
A: That would be ideal! Actually, I think of this proposal as the initial phase and testing ground that will inform the design of our eventual chat feature... However, having a MM community space for humans to interact with other humans (vs. documents) in real-time seems to be of great value NOW! I see this as a low risk, high reward thing to push out and have immediately.

Q: Ok, so if we do this... Send out an invite, how do we contextualize it?
A: Well, firstly... even though we may think of it as a temporary space, I don't think we contextualize it that way. I think we refer to it as a new community hub for MM. A place to meet the others, have conversation, see and be seen in real-time, request collaboration, provide help/support, learn from each other, all of this good stuff. We can migrate onto MM for chat later, when that is ready.

Q: Sounds good, but why Gitter?
A: HipChat, Slack, Gitter, Hall, etc.... They are actually all very very similar, so really there is no clear obvious choice... But here are some UNIQUE things about Gitter that set it apart for me:
-You don't need to send out invites to people, like on slack or Hipchat, for them to join... anyone can set up a github account, and just click the link and join on their own. This is exactly the type of openness I am looking for. (I know Ishan wants us to use slack, and I am totally ok with that. I think this open community space can be its own space, and if we want to switch to slack as a team, then that can still happen too)
-Gitter allows people to connect by IRC too if they so wish.
-We have an intention to make github more integrated into our team workflow... i.e. to move away from asana a bit... Gitter is the most integrated into github and therefore should serve us well.
-Gitter offers unlimited message history for public rooms (e.g. Our hipchat has a 10,000 message limit)

Q:How are we going to make this proposal happen so fast?
A: Actually, the chat space already exists... People are already joining it... We just need to create a more deliberate invitation. The only thing that I would say is a little strange is the current name of the room..."Metamaps_gen002", this doesn't feel like the "Name" of our community hub... so we can also think about creating a dedicated gitter channel with a better name. (I know for sure that this can be done, but we need to determine if this is actually our best choice)

Q: Why force people to make a github account? Why not have them set up a MM account?
A: In my eyes, asking someone to set up a slack/HipChat account is actually a bigger request than with Gitter since more of our community will likely already have a github account vs slack/hipchat accounts (Also, MM uses github!... so finding our community on github, and getting more people onto our github repo means we are directly growing our Dev community in subtle and not so subtle ways)... To the MM question, I am all for this! Except chat on MM isn't possible yet. But once it is, then of course this would be the better way to invite others.


Results Option % of points Voters
Agree 100.0% 3 CT DH RB
Abstain 0.0% 0  
Disagree 0.0% 0  
Block 0.0% 0  
Undecided 0% 7 BB IS MC KL IS JR RJ

3 of 10 people have voted (30%)


Devin H
Tue 10 Feb 2015 3:31AM

I'd prefer streamlining our spaces, especially for the public. I don't think Gitter has a value add over a simpler chat solution - either a) IRC or b) embedded in Metamaps. A github account is an unnecessary barrier if you don't already have one.


Robert Best
Tue 10 Feb 2015 10:00PM

I have outlined my support for this proposal in the discussion and in the proposal itself.


Devin H
Tue 10 Feb 2015 10:08PM

I want to see more research.

I put disagree instead of block because I would go along with this.


Devin H
Wed 11 Feb 2015 6:58PM

Based on Rob's excellent research this seems like our best option.


Connor Turland
Wed 11 Feb 2015 6:58PM

I think gitter (minus the fact that you can only sign-in with github and not other auths) satisfies what excites me about a public chat room for metamaps, as an interim solution


Devin H Tue 10 Feb 2015 3:34AM

I agree Gitter is cool, but as I said in my brief response, for the public I'd want barriers to entry to be much smaller. So for me, I have those two default solutions:

1) IRC, probably on freenode, which is kind of clunky but is very widespread and people figure it out all the time
2) a well-implemented embedded chat room that used some clever technology we find on the internet to filter out spammers. It would be hard to beat IRC

I think it's telling that FAmous uses IRC as their chat room - it's a solid technology and it's easy to slide into.

I believe the vast majority of our users someday won't be github users, they'll be old people and elementary school students and salespeople. And so I think we should make it easier for them to get in. I don't see features of gitter that make it better than IRC, and it's hard to beat the (relative) ease of logging in to IRC.


Devin H Tue 10 Feb 2015 3:39AM

I came back to add: I am totally fine being overruled on this - don't take my "disagree" as a "block" or anything.


Robert Best Tue 10 Feb 2015 2:34PM

I see what you are saying about that last little barrier, of needing a Github account... But IRC has its own accessibility-type issues and isn't exactly the most user friendly option for the "public"... also by choosing IRC we would be giving up on a lot of nice features that all these newer chat apps offer. (There is a reason why we have been using HipChat and not just IRC ourselves)Things like chat history are key, especially for promoting a sense of community and ongoing conversation. IRC doesn't have a chat history... So each time a person drops in, they effectively drop into an quiet room. (I could list a tonne of other nice features that IRC doesn't have, e.g. a mobile app the "public" might actually use, but I think you get the point that IRC is very basic... and using it in a more advanced way either puts burden on us or our users)

I am assuming we can tack on a whole bunch of stuff to IRC to make it do almost anything... But the point of this proposal was to have a nice chat space to start using now, without really any upfront work, to give us the time and freedom to design/build a really great Metamaps chat feature all the while learning about how our community is using chat in reality/practice. When this is viewed as a really nice temporary thing, I think the proposal makes more sense.

Also, having people create a Github account, or very likely just use the one they already have, has its PROs too. It moves someone a little further along that path to being a contributor to MM, maybe even a developer. It also allows us to begin growing a network, and networking (v), on Github... Which is a really great untapped social network all on its own. Especially when you are talking about open source developers (the perfect match for us).

If we chose IRC we could very likely wind up with people just quickly jumping on to see whats up, see that there isn't really anyone around... there is no chat history... so then they just leave and there is no friction to doing this either and never coming back. I think if someone is very tangentially interested in MM, then they have plenty of touchpoints to interface with already.... So if someone is interested enough to join the Gitter, maybe even set up a gitHub account to do so, thats a great signal to us. We then likely have a face/name and means of contact, which IRC doesn't provide through its temporary pseudonyms.

I hope this doesn't feel like I am being overly critical or narrow minded @devinh , please "rebuttal" if you still feel there is something I am not considering. Please propose totally different changes to the proposal too. Lets figure this out! Also, if at any time your opinion changes, please update your vote to reflect that.Thanks for the input!


Robert Best Tue 10 Feb 2015 2:39PM

This blog post from Gitter actually answers a lot about "why Gitter?", and it seems like if we really wanted, we could pipe people from IRC into gitter too.

An excerpt:
"Built on top of GitHub, Gitter allows public and private chat rooms for organisations and repositories. Already we’ve got a number of businesses and open source communities running their chat rooms on Gitter. It features infinite chat history, integrated issue mentions, markdown in chat, syntax highlighting for code snippets and activity feeds from GitHub, Trello, Jenkins, Travis, Huboard and more.

Gittter is available as a web app and a Mac App, but obviously there are numerous people, ourselves included, who use IRC daily. So we built an IRC bridge into Gitter. Now you can use Adium, ircII, Colloquy or whatever weapon you choose and easily connect to Gitter."


Robert Best Tue 10 Feb 2015 3:24PM

Another great thing about Gitter, over IRC, is that you can get email notifications and do @mentions... This is just another way to keep the community engaged and the conversations ongoing.


Jon Richter Tue 10 Feb 2015 3:31PM

As this discussion is getting lenghty, and I always prefer the self-dogfooding instead of using commercial offers (Gitter i.e. doesn't show the log if you don't pay), and as OKLab Berlin is having the same discussion (but around Slack), have a look at



  • Let's chat
  • Convos (!!!) and
  • Shout.js

are mentionned. So either XMPP or IRC, there are very nice and useful web frontends. Cheerio.


Robert Best Tue 10 Feb 2015 4:20PM

Thanks @jonrichter ! What gitter log are you referring to that needs paid for?

I agree that a MM-integrated solution would be best, and it is in the works! But I think a temporary solution like Gitter, that is fully-featured so as to best serve our desired purpose and to provide the experience we hope to eventually offer, will teach us the most about how we can support and grow our broader community through something like real-time chat.

The choice of Gitter is more about having something really nice to offer right away... Even if we do decide to go with an XMPP/IRC option in the fairly short-term, we will still learn from the comparison of: "How was community engagement on Gitter prior to switching to IRC" vs. "How is community engagement now that we have switched to IRC"
(Gitter and IRC here could be replaced by other Commercial/FLOSS options)


Devin H Tue 10 Feb 2015 9:59PM

These are really good points Rob, that I hadn't considered.

I think what I'm feeling then is that I'm not qualified to make this decision without seeing more research of a) human-written reviews of different options and b) feature lists of different options + why each feature is important

Can you do a comparison like that for us? Otherwise I'm convinced by your arguments for Gitter, but don't know what other options I'm missing out on if I were to commit to gitter


Robert Best Tue 10 Feb 2015 10:37PM

@devinh In terms of features, the gap between IRC and Slack/Gitter/HipChat is pretty large.... However the gap between Slack vs. Gitter vs. HipChat is pretty small.. They all have very similar offerings... They all have chat history as well as a search feature for it. They all have mobile apps. They all have a free version (which is what we are looking at in this case because the hope is a lot of people will come join this chat, so we can't really afford a per-user type fee). They all can have bots added, say for example if we wanted a chat bot to greet people :P

I will outline the 4 main reasons Gitter stands out for me below (these are things that are unique to Gitter)... But really, this decisions is splitting hairs in some sense... Especially since I am proposing this as being a temporary thing until the MM-Chat feature can take over for this Public Chat room / Lobby / Hub. (i.e. We need a good enough decision here so as to be agile, there may be no "best" decision, nor do we really need that)

  1. Gitter gives unlimited chat history for all public chat rooms (HipChat and Slack limit you to 10,000 messages)
  2. With Gitter, anyone can find our chatroom online and just join all on their own. (With slack/HipChat they need to be invited)
  3. Because a Gitter account is tied to your GitHub account... Many people won't have to create a "new" account to get into Gitter. (They can use their existing Github account, so cognitively... no new account created) This also gives us a way to find our community on Github, and do networking on there... Which is great I think! Making connections on a mostly untapped network. (Vs. HipChat/Slack where this isn't an added bonus)
  4. Gitter offers a bridge into IRC, so for those really keen on the idea of IRC... We can still do something here.

Devin H Wed 11 Feb 2015 6:57PM

OK I'm convinced actually this sounds really good.

Having our public chat and our internal chat be the same would be cool. If we could somehow massage slack to make it work with public accounts I would change my vote so we could standardize on slack.

But given the advantages of Gitter for public discovery I agree it's the best choice.

I really wish we could find something you didn't need to log in at all. Even Google hangouts would be a possibility here, but I agree Gitter is better.


Benjamin Brownell Wed 11 Feb 2015 9:21PM

I have very limited time this week to consider the question or contribute, but my initial sense (without actually looking closely into the tools in question) is that Gitter could likely serve as an open connection point for the more tech savvy, geeky / hacky aspect of 'our community' but is not likely to be a particularly noteworthy or attractive space for the 'average mapper' yet (if there is such a thing) nor is it ideal to push them towards especially if better solutions are in the pipeline. So, in general I'm happy if something works out as a better option than hipchat to connect and coordinate with people who have a technical interest in the project or who want to actively engage around specific topics, but I'm not interested in putting this forward as "the new metamaps public gathering space / community hub" kind of thing...as I think it may not serve well for that and I don't want to disappoint or divert people with an interest in more casual, social, mapping-oriented engagement (for which I think G+ is probably worth cultivating further).


Robert Best Thu 12 Feb 2015 12:54AM

Gitter is no more geeky than slack/hipchat/IRC, and I don't think it is any more geeky than general chat will be on MM once we eventually have that.

Its a chat room (a really old internet thingy, that many people will recognize and be comfortable with) this means it is likely more open, and attractive, to the "average" user than G+... which is relatively new.

This won't be replacing anything as our "new" ______, because we don't currently offer a real-time always-on communication space for the broader community.

@benjaminbrownell , how do you envision this not working out or disappointing? and therefore is not a good move to make.... I can't picture it, thats why I said this is low risk/high reward in my eyes.

If anything... I think pushing for G+ to serve this more casual type of role is a little more risky... since often times conversations die off on there, or more commonly are never discovered after the newest posts bury the older ones... G+ feels more like a hands-off, post-something-that-I-found interesting-then-leave type of space to me (for the average user)

As I see it, this new real-time space is more about "where the humans can be found" and G+ is a little more about "Where the documents/resources/blog posts can be found"

I think it should be obvious I am still pushing for us to actually create this space and put it out there with the honest intention for our community to actually use it... to come meet up more regularly (Though with less of a deep commitment than say a hangout video chat brings with it... i.e. come and go as you please)

It is a test/prototype, but one I want to give a wholehearted chance. I am not really interested in this idea if its going to be constrained to a small-scale user-group right from the start.

Next proposal coming soon.


Poll Created Thu 12 Feb 2015 1:15AM

I propose that we share an update with our community introducing our new public chat room on Gitter, and also give an open invitation for everyone to come join. Closed Wed 18 Feb 2015 12:05AM

by Robert Best Wed 26 Apr 2017 8:09AM

No positions taken aside from my own. I will consider making another proposal after Feb. 24th.

In more detail, I propose all of the following:
- We use the Gitter room that already exists as the MM community hub (chat room)
- We compose a blog post about this initiative of ours (to act as both an update and an invite to come check it out)
- We share this blog post on G+, Twitter, our email list, etc...
- We link to the chat room in all the relevant spaces, referring to it as the "Metamaps Community Hub (Public chatroom)"... or something similar

All the relevant spaces being:
-On the MM.cc G+ community sidebar
-On the about page of our MM G+ page
-Somewhere on the MM.cc homepage for logged out users
-On the explore maps navigation bar and/or in the settings dropdown
-On the MM Github repo (this is already there)
-On the Uservoice feedback/support page
-Somewhere on our twitter page
-on our blog page
-in our support email signatures
-A new blog post introducing the initiative

Some thoughts about how to describe this space, and contextualize the invite (much more throughout this loomio discussion too)
-We have created a public chatroom on gitter with the intention of it acting as a real-time community hub for metamappers. Our community is growing, and we think this would be a great way for everyone to be able to meet each other and chat. The chat can be used any way you like really... Just to hang out, chat, and stay connected... to request collaborators for a mapping excursion, to give/get Metamaps support, or share tips/techniques....
-Eventually we will add this experience directly into metamaps... but for now to join this chat room you need to create a Github account if you don't already have one.


Unfortunately, I don't personally have the time over the next two weeks to contribute to making all of this happen. (I am leaving tomorrow, Feb. 12th @ 2pm, on a trip and likely won't have internet access during this time) Maybe someone else might have the time to make a blog post and push this out? This loomio discussion should provide plenty of content/ideas for creating a post. If this doesn't happen though, because nobody has the time or desire, I totally understand... I will pick this back up when I get back. (Feb. 24th)

So that the chat room can be something that is immediately available (actually, it technically already is available), I think its totally OK if this update and invite rolls out in bits and pieces. Maybe we add the link to a couple places as we work on a blog post, we conversationally invite a few people before the blog post comes out, once out though we send it out on G+... then a day or so later on Twitter or with an email to our mailing list.... Anyhow, the point being, I don't think we need to wait and wait until absolutely everything is ready before sharing this... it is only maybe the items waiting on the blog post that might need to happen serially (vs in parallel).

Anyways! Thanks for all the input! I have enjoyed this process and learned quite a bit!


Results Option % of points Voters
Agree 100.0% 1 RB
Abstain 0.0% 0  
Disagree 0.0% 0  
Block 0.0% 0  
Undecided 0% 9 BB IS CT DH MC KL IS JR RJ

1 of 10 people have voted (10%)


Robert Best
Thu 12 Feb 2015 1:16AM

I agree of course, and my reasons have been shared very verbosely.