Two years ago, I started a project management tool for citizens. Now is the time to look back at the project and see where we are now.
Agorakit is web-based, open source organization tool for citizens collectives and similar projects. By creating collaborative groups, people can discuss topics, organize events, store files and keep everyone updated as needed. Agorakit is a forum, calendar, file manager, mapping tool and email notifier.
It is open source (GPL) and in active development. Development happens on Github.
When I look at the features currently supported, I’m quite proud that I kept working on it for such a long time without being disturbed by other projects. I know exactly why it happened : because the project is in use by hundreds of users daily, so I need to make it work, and I need to find ressources to keep it sustainable. I didn’t work in a vacuum for two years expecting the release of the perfect tool everyone (read : no one) would use. It’s the constant “va-et-vient” between devs and users that makes it a viable proposal (some call it agile developement or eternal beta or you-name-it).
The problems I did try to solve are still very prevalent today among activists and citizen’s collectives:
- Mailing lists sucks : people tend to unsubscribe because they get too many emails or because flamewars starts every week
- When a new participant want to read the story of a project, with mailing lists, pointing them to the archives is a sure way to discourage them very quickly
- Some people love facebook, some hate it. Facebook being closed, if you use facebook groups you loose some people and you have no way to recover. Nuff said.
- There is no really good solution that tackles the simple problem of having a forum, a calendar, a file repository and a member list at the same place and for each group. I know it’s crazy but it’s the sad truth.
- You can of course use a mix of slack, goodle calendar, dropbox, mailchimp and some google map. But then :
- you quickly have to pay (in the case of slack you have to pay to keep history…)
- you loose privacy since data is hosted and sold by various providers
- you loose consolidation with your data scattered everywhere
- you loose control on who sees what / who participates in which group
- it makes it very hard for non-geek to follow you
- you definitely loose the oportunity to “send an email to every member” because with facebook groups, you simply don’t have this information (and you never will)
- if your group is politically engaged, you might as well be shut down by some gafa employee somewhere in the world
So yes, all in all, I’m very happy I started this journey. I really hope you will want to join the project. Any help is appreciated.
For the record, here are the current features of Agorakit :
- Create an unlimited amount of groups
- The group can be open (anyone can join) or private (invite only)
- The group can have one or more admins
- Each group has a discussion area, a calendar, a file repository, a member list & map.
- Only members can use the discussion area, calendar and files
- Content is public in public groups, and private in private groups (simple security model everyone understands)
- Create discussion topics
- Reply to topics with comments
- Mention others in comments using @name (they get notified)
- Mention files using f: (autocomplete opens)
- Mention other discussions using d: (autocomplete opens)
- Create events
- List upcoming events as a list or as a dynamic calendar
- Show geolocalized events on a map
- Global and per group calendar
- iCal feed for each calendar
- Embed elsewhere using iframes
- Upload & tag several files at once
- Quick search among files by author, filename and tags
- Preview images / download
- re-tag files
- Mention files in comments
- Access a list of members (global / per group)
- Contact others without leaking your/their email (privacy)
- Check what others are up to (activity feed)
- Fill your profile with portrait, bio, address (if you want)
Notifications / emails
- For each group, choose how often you want to be notified (every hour for the hardcore, everyday to keep your mailbox cool, every week or every month)
- Auto login to your account from “Reply” links inside the notification emails you receive (great time saving)
- Get instant notifications when someone mentions you (for urgent matters)
- Get stats on everything
- Mass invite members using their email
- Mass add existing members to groups
- Settings control panel (in progress)
- Standard Laravel structured application. If you know Laravel, you can work with Agorakit easily
- Simple structure, no single page app complexities
- Bootstrap based UI
- Simple DB schema
- Simple file storage scheme (per group, per file id)
- Host it where you want
- Your data is yours
- No leakage of emails
- Geolocalization of users (on a voluntary basis) is randomized by ~100 meters
- Open source you can study and trust