Trial chat services: matrix and zulip

Robert Sparks <rjsparks@nostrum.com> Thu, 01 October 2020 14:25 UTC

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From: Robert Sparks <rjsparks@nostrum.com>
To: ietf-announce@ietf.org
Reply-To: "tools-discuss@ietf.org" <tools-discuss@ietf.org>
Subject: Trial chat services: matrix and zulip
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Date: Thu, 1 Oct 2020 09:25:20 -0500
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We are deploying trials of the matrix and zulip chat services to gain
operational experience and get community feedback about how well these
services meet the need for IETF related chat.

We have clear evidence from the IETF 107 post-meeting survey
(https://www.ietf.org/media/documents/ietf-107-survey-results.pdf) that many
IETF participants find jabber a significant problem.  This is partly due to
difficulties in finding a free jabber service and partly due to client 
issues.
There are two paths to try to resolve these problems, one is to improve the
IETF jabber service and the other is to switch to an alternative groupchat
solution.  The community has already taken a step on the latter path 
with the
introduction of an IETF Slack space, and we want to ensure that this path is
properly explored by widening the range of options to well established
free/open source tools.

The installs currently have almost no local configuration or customization.
Over the next few weeks, we will be exploring reconfiguring them to use
datatracker credentials for sign-in, and explore bridging between these
systems, Slack, and Jabber. One consequence of these explorations is 
that there
will  likely be times, outside of meetings, when accounts will be 
disrupted or
even removed and will have to be recreated. Initially, we suggest you use an
email address for the username on each service.

We considered running these trials using instances run by the Zulip or 
Matrix
communities. We went with instances operated by the secretariat to learn 
what
would be needed if the community felt self-hosting chat was important in the
long-term.

The services can be found at matrix-trial1.ietf.org and 
zulip-trial1.ietf.org.

Any matrix client can be used with the trial matrix server. There is also
a web client available at at matrix-trial1.ietf.org.

Similarly any zulip client can be used with the trial zulip server, which
has a built in web interface.

We would like feedback on how well each client meets chat needs during
meetings, both the full online IETF 109 meeting, iterims, adhocs, and 
hallway
conversations.

Around December, we will assess our experiences and the feedback received to
inform what chat services we provide in the future and how we will operate
them. In January, these trial instances will be taken down. We do not 
intend to
preserve or migrate any account configuration or chat history from the trial
instances as we move forward.

This does add to the potentially confusing large number of places 
conversation
might take place. We hope to address that with some level of bridging, 
at least
with Jabber, but have been cautioned by the respective development 
communities
that bridging between Zulip and Matrix is unsatisfying since the 
conversation
models in the two applications are so different.

The chat services are intended to be explorational and informal. However,
please treat them as contexts where contribution rules apply (See
https://www.ietf.org/about/note-well/).

We are not, at this time, planning to host jabber accounts. We may 
revisit that
as an option as we continue to gather more feedback.

Please send feedback on the services to tools-discuss@ietf.org