Should we help people bridge Telegram groups with IRC channels?

participation

(Akshay) #1

Continuing the discussion from Trying out Slack?:

Problem 1

Telegram is a client so good that people inevitably end up using it for all conversations they want to have. Almost all the groups I’m in on Telegram are Mozilla groups. But the conversations inside these are all closed conversations. I’ll explain how:

  • Someone who is not a rep would find it weird to be joining a Telegram group called “Mozilla Reps”. (I thought about why. This is because Telegram groups allow only 200 people maximum. Unlike slack or IRC.)
  • When someone is not inside a group, there’s no way they can figure out what conversations are happening inside that group.
  • Thus, it becomes a closed conversation.

Solution?
Althought it is desirable for people to be using IRC, discourse, or better alternatives like slack (or even matrix), this just won’t happen (at least in the short term).

But there’re excellent bots which can be a member of both a Telegram group and an IRC channel and send message across from either. RemoRely on #remo (which’s linked to Mozilla Reps on Telegram) and TelegramProxy on #mozillians-chat are excellent examples. I’ve been running grambot for #advocacy-in (since June) and #india (starting today).

Problem 2
There are two challenges in bridging like this.

  1. Technical: People need a server and familiarity with some program to run a bot
  2. Cultural: Not everyone is convinced about the importance of having open conversations. Here are some of the concerns I’ve heard:
  • Don’t want silly chit-chats to be public.
  • Don’t want to spam IRC.
  • IRC channels are for devs.
  • Bots make Telegram groups spammy (Telegram, irritatingly, makes /commands very very difficult to not get sent to groups)

Solution
Technically, we just need 1 bot to run to bridge any number of Telegram channels with IRC channels. It would be very easy to find a server to run this. And it can be managed by some volunteers.

But, about the latter, there needs to be so much done.

  • Keep talking about the importance of open conversations
  • Resist the urge to classify all messages that aren’t very high quality as spam and stop getting annoyed by such messages.
  • Encourage communities to have open communication channels. (But most communities do have some open communication channel.) So, make sure that these channels are indeed used for communication.

Let’s make it a common practice to bridge closed Telegram groups to corresponding open IRC channels.


(Rubén Martín) #2

Isn’t this what is happening already with Mozilla Reps and Mozillians groups? @tanner where are the bots hosted?


(Leo McArdle) #3

I couldn’t agree more!

I think we’re guilty of not explaining where we (or at least I) think Matrix fits in to all this. While it is a message protocol in its own right, one of its primary purposes is to bridge different protocols together, which is exactly what you want.

If you want to help out with hosting Matrix, post in the thread or ask in #communityit. On coding the Telegram bridge side, I’m currently busy working on Discourse things, but I’ll move onto it soon enough - unless of course you (or anybody else) wants to make a start.


(Akshay) #4

Oh, I never thought about writing a Telegram integration for Matrix. Yes, with that, Matrix is the integrator of all channels.


#5

There are two assertions in the original post that I think need to be qualified:

  1. Althought it is desirable for people to be using IRC, discourse, or better alternatives like slack (or even matrix), this just won’t happen (at least in the short term).

What is the short term you’re looking at? I think we can agree on this for a certain frame of time as matrix isn’t ready. Though I believe that the reason people use telegram and not IRC is UX. They are capable of almost the exact same functionality, people just don’t make IRC clients that look like Telegram. Do you have other reasons to believe people wouldn’t use matrix or IRC if it feels very similar to Telegram?

  1. But there’re excellent bots which can be a member of both a Telegram group and an IRC channel and send message across from either.

Do people actually like this? This is not a rhetorical question. I have seen in the past more people complain about this as they can’t see who is in the room on the other end. Using a matrix bridge (which as you say is not short term) solves this in IRC at least, if you drop by #community-it you can see people with -m at the end of their names. I assume it would work the same way for Telegram.


In general though I agree with the policy that if someone is going to have a Telegram group, it should be bridged to the corresponding IRC channel somehow. I just see that as a workaround for the problem not a solution.


(Akshay) #6

Yes, I agree with both the things.

The short term I mentioned indeed refers to the short term in which Telegram is the hit thing among people. We could very well write a great new messaging thing (edit: or a matrix telegram integration) and it could take over. But, like all things, that’ll take a short time.

And people hate it. They find bots confusing. They find messages from the other side as spammy. And that’s why I stressed on the “culture” part. We should talk more about not getting annoyed by a different kind of message. That’s why I put this in participation category too.


(Brian King) #7

Personally I’d like to see more effort go into classifying what the different communication channels are and what they are used for (e.g. announcements, casual chat, …). Maintaining bots and the like are just more tools, that are prone to breakage and require maintenance.


(Nikos Roussos) #8

Bots are really terrible. The #remo channel on IRC is pretty much unusable since the telegram connection. I don’t like IRC either. It’s a beast of the past. But I’d love if we could make a strategic choice towards Open Source tools, eliminating barriers for people to particpate. IRC has a technical barrier. We may don’t think of this too much, but for people never used it before it’s hard even to connect. Telegram or Slack on the other hand have privacy barriers. We shouldn’t require people to give away their phone numbers or personal data to 3rd parties in order to be part of the communication channels of the Mozilla community.

Discourse is a great example of what we, as a community, can do and prove that we can deploy and maintain inclusive open source platforms. On the chat front we also have many options we could adopt and combine the best things of all possible solutions. Inclusiveness and nice UX.


(GeorgeRoter) #9

Making @davida and @simon1 aware of this conversation – great link to a broader infrastructure conversation that we need to frame.


#10

One could say the same thing of the internet as well, but this was solved with browsers and good UX. A technical problem with a technical solution!


(Andrei Petcu) #11

Sorry if I spam everybody here with a slightly related issue. I use Riot.im to bridge various Mozilla IRC channels and it works grate for some channels but #romania is not there. Any idea how I can get this channel to work with Riot? Where should I ask this question if this is not the best place?

I want to start translating Firefox and without easy access to #romania it is hard.


(Mozilla Rep, UK Community, MozFest Privacy & Security Wrangler) #12

@andrei I’m using Gnome Fractal app for Matrix and it does seem to find the Romania IRC channel. If you have trouble try forcing the search to #mozilla_#romania:matrix.org

Here’s a direct link to the channel: https://riot.im/app/#/room/#mozilla_#romania:matrix.org

Successful test via Fractal.

Search in Riot. Channel only showed on flipping to Moznet: