Mon 26 June 2017

A channel for neuroscientists on Gitter

Posted by ankur in Research (366 words, approximately a 2 minute read)

As opposed to the free software community, where I've been around long enough to know what's where, I'm still relatively new to the neuroscience community. Over the two years that I've been doing my PhD, I've found a few neuroscience related mailing lists, but not any chat channels. Various teams tend to use Slack or another platform for internal communications, but nothing seems to be set up for the community in general - an open for all channel.

Mailing lists are extremely useful, but by design they are suited to particular types of tasks. They are very well suited for longer discussions, and general queries that are not time sensitive, for example. On the other hand, they do not work well for urgent queries, and of course, sometimes sending e-mails back and forth is quite an overhead for simpler tasks or collaborative development.

Most open source communities have both mailing lists and chat channels. I figured it'd be nice to have one for the neuroscience community too. There's the question of what platform was best suited, of course. We use Slack for our internal communication, but Slack only works well for small teams. It isn't designed for larger communities. The IRC is ideal for larger communities, but on the flip side, the IRC is not very user friendly.

The third option, and the popular alternative to IRC and Slack, is Gitter - it's been recently acquired by GitLab and will be completely open sourced soon. It's completely free to use unlike Slack where one needs to pay more as the number of group members increases, and is designed for large communities that number in the thousands. One can login using either Github or Twitter - so that's quite convenient too. There's even an IRC gateway for more technical users.

So here's the channel then - I hope it'll be useful, and if it doesn't, well no harm done :)

Update (12 July 2017):

To enable people to communicate over various platforms, I've also set the channel up with Riot. This enables people using Gitter, IRC, and Riot to communicate with each other in one place using whatever platform they prefer. So, we also have: