Collaboration tool snowstorm
June 2, 2018 2:40 PM   Subscribe

What it says on the tin, I need a collaboration tool and have little idea where or how to begin looking for one, as I've never needed one before. Lots of snowflake detail inside.

My uni course does a graduation gallery show for second and third years, run by the third years. I'm going to be in the third year next year, and after seeing how much of a shambles this year's organisation was, and knowing my class is half the size of the third-year class that ran the show this year, I'm trying to get a headstart on figuring some things out so as to not be entirely screwed. And I figure the best way to start is finding a collaboration tool that we can use next year that isn't Facebook, so I can get very familiar with it and persuasively make my case when we're setting up.

Here's my list of snowflakes:
  • Free. We are broke-ass students.
  • Super simple. I am happy and willing to do most of the grunt work of setting it up myself, provided that for the end user it's completely transparent - they sign up, log in, and it's immediately clear where things are and how to do things.
  • Online, doesn't require installing somewhere, just set up an account and go.
  • Private. Either via the ability for the group admin to vet signups, or via "can only find the group via a specific link or by being invited by email", I don't much care.
  • Allows the setting of real names as one's handle, but doesn't enforce real names, and won't randomly lock your account if the service decides you're not a real person.
  • Allows the setting of a list of deadlines that people can always refer to, with links to where people can submit any needed material (we have uni-provided Google Drive accounts if that helps any).
  • More "forum" than "chatroom" style (if that explanation makes sense?). If there is also a chatroom that would be great but I'd like the ability to make a post, and then have comments to that post, instead of a less-structured chat format.
  • Allows for tagging of people. So if I wanna be like "hey, Jane, John and Mary, if you don't send in the file for the poster by the 35th of Never it's not going to get printed", I can tag them, and have them be notified.
I don't care how formal it is, given we're students - I'm honestly considering Discord, if only because I'm familiar with it, but it's not quite perfect, hence this post. I am just intensely disinclined to get stuck with Facebook again. Help?
posted by sailoreagle to Computers & Internet (8 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
I don't know if it does absolutely everything you want, but Freedcamp does most of it.
posted by cnc at 3:10 PM on June 2, 2018

I've had good experiences with Podio in the past, but I haven't tried them out since they got by Citrix. I don't know how many people you're looking for but it's free for up to 5.

There's also Slack, of course. It's more "chat" style than what you're describing, but it's likely you could find an integration that calendars the way you'd like.
posted by jewfro at 3:16 PM on June 2, 2018

Trello is great for this sort of thing.
posted by rebekah at 5:28 PM on June 2, 2018 [1 favorite]

as is Asana
posted by at at 6:13 PM on June 2, 2018

Was Facebook somehow intrinsically the cause of the fuck ups, like they banned an integral organizer or something? If not, then I'm really not sure this is the best way to start. And even if it was - you'd probably be better off building relationships with others who will be helping organize so they are likely to go into the discussions thinking "well x is reliable, if they say to use Bloop Calendar then let's do that", instead of preparing an exhaustive case for Bloop.
posted by the agents of KAOS at 1:54 AM on June 3, 2018

Facebook was partly the cause of the fuckups, yeah. Also, the others that will be helping organise this are my classmates, like I said, so the relationships are already built. I prefer being in the "here's a tool that I know will do everything that a FB group could do for us, but better, and with more helpful functionality besides, and we won't run the risk of three people losing access like it happened last year" position, rather than the "I swear there's a tool we could use that's better than FB, I just need to find it, give me a week" position.

Thanks for the suggestions!
posted by sailoreagle at 4:04 AM on June 3, 2018

Band, I believe -- I'm not sure about the tagging. Trello is probably better for you but Band has more social features.
posted by The corpse in the library at 9:53 AM on June 3, 2018

Tools are as much about the social agreement to use it than it is about the technology. Go with the tool that everyone will use and agree on a process for, not the tool that is the best.

Other ‘technologies’ that are underrated but crucial:
- Phone calls
- In person work sessions (not just meetings)
- sticky notes on walls
- mocking up things in person with masking tape
- a rotating role for a person that is in charge of reminding people of their tasks days before it is due
posted by suedehead at 1:54 PM on June 3, 2018

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