Setting up a new working group on the new services

What are the new services

  • Mattermost - chat room service, similar to slack
  • UK Forums -  forum service, for long term discussion you want to find again
  • UK Cloud - doc and file storage with inbuilt, secure replacement for Google Docs (& Sheets)
  • XR UK Communications Hub - Single point of entry to the new services, helps with creating logins, showing you other groups in XR, etc.

Our new services each specialise in one area of interaction - chat, forums or file and document storage, and have the different working groups within them.

The new services allow you to share information between teams (although you can still keep stuff as private as you want).

All the new services are hosted on renewable energy powered servers, in Switzerland (which has excellent data protection laws). Your information will no longer automatically be visible to most governments in the Western world on request! [Note this is not an invitation to store really sensitive data there - XR is such a loose organisation, it is probable that we have members of the security services posing as active members, with access to our services.]

Mattermost / UK Chat

This service is for chatting, and is very similar to Slack, for those who have used it. It can also replace WhatsApp and Telegram for group chat. There is an app you can install on a phone, but you do not require a phone to use it (like you do with WhatsApp and Telegram), so it is more inclusive.

Chat is transient - stuff very quickly disappears off the top of the screen, to be replaced by new chat, so it is not ideal for information you need to find again in the long term.

UK Chat is divided into Teams. There is a UK Team (which you will automatically join, if you follow these instructions). Every nation and region in the UK has their own Team, and your local group will usually be in your regional Team - this helps the local groups in the region keep in contact with one another.

There is also a "xrGlobal" team, where XR people from all over the world hang out. You can join the xrGlobal team if you like - it is in the list of public teams you can join. There is, of course, a public UK channel on the xrGlobal team, where people can get in contact with UK people. If you join xrGlobal, we recommend you join the UK channel.

Some very large groups (e.g. UK Communities, which has lots of subgroups) have their own Team.

Each team has many Channels - each channel discusses one area of interest. Channels can be public, or private. Every team has a Town Square and an Off Topic public channel, which everyone joins by default. Town square is like a Landing page, where you go to ask the whole of the team a question, propose a new topic of discussion, etc. Off Topic is for non XR business stuff.

Every working group should have a Reception public channel, that anyone can join if they want to contact your group.

National working groups often choose to have a General Discussion public channel, that people can use to have general, UK wide chats about the subject, allowing cross fertilisation of ideas.

Most working groups will want a private channel for their internal chat.

UK Forums

UK Forums provides forums (also known as subcategories). The forums are grouped into Categories, which are general subject areas. Each forum contains topics and replies. You use it for long term discussion you want to keep. Because everything is organised by category, forum (subcategory) and topic, stuff is easier to find.

There will be hundreds of forums available (every working group, regional group and local group will have some), which would lead to a very cluttered user interface. But UK Forums has useful things called Security Groups. These are named groups of people, and each forum (subcategory) gives permission for one or more security groups to see, reply to, or post to the forum.

Most forums are only visible to a group, so do not appear on the screens of people not in the group.

Each working group will have 2 security groups belonging to them:

  • A public security group. This appears in the list of security groups anyone can join by clicking a button. It will also be listed by subject

  • A private security group. This does not appear on the list (a bit like a private channel in UK Chat). People can only be joined by the security group owner(s).

Each working group should have a Reception forum, where people cancontact them. It will be visible to the working group's public group.So the process to contact a working group is to find their public groupin the list, and join it. Then you can see the reception forum, and post your query.

A working group will usually have a forum for their own internal discussion, which would normally be visible only to their private group (thus making it a private forum).

A large working group with subgroups would have more forums for the subgroups, usually private.

A local or regional group will probably have separate forums for each of their working groups, again usually private.

UK Cloud storage

Each working group that needs document storage gets a group folder. This is accessible by all members of the group. You can create subfolders of this, to any depth, just like on your computer. You can store documents, files, images, etc. in any of your folders. You can share individual documents and files, or whole folders with other working groups, or with the special group "everyone". When sharing, you can share read only, or allow editing. You can even create a public link anyone can see.

For security reasons, nobody gets a personal file storage area on UK Cloud. So people need to go into your group folder before the "+" button to create or upload appears.

UK Cloud includes the "Only Office" document editor. This is like Google Docs (for documents) and Google Sheets (for spreadsheets), except that the documents are stored, encrypted, on our own server in Switzerland, and Western governments cannot see them on demand, as they can with Google. This makes them much better places to store confidential data.

Please do be aware when storing personal data about people (including names and email addresses), that you must have their individual permission first, that you must keep their data secure, not revealing it to anyone else without the person's permission, that they should know who is storing their data, and that you must delete the data on request. More information on storing personal data is available in the XR GDPR policy document.

Only Office can also be used for collaborative editing (where more than 1 person edits the same document or spreadsheet at the same time), just like Google Docs.

The Cloud contains a read-only storage area called the Library, for documents published to the whole of XR. Any group with documents they want to make available to everyone can be given a folder linked to the Library, to which they can add documents which then automatically appear in the corresponding Library folder.

UK Cloud also includes a calendar system (you can have multiple calendars, and share any with individuals, groups, or everyone). Plus a Kanban style project management system called Deck.

XR UK Communications Hub

This is our in house written authorisation and migration server. It deals with inviting people to start using the new services, setting up their logins on the new services in one place (instead of having to do it on 3 separate servers), setting up new working, regional or local groups on the new services, and showing users how all the groups fit together.

It provides a front end menu where you can access the new services all from one place.

The Hub does not log you in to the other services - each one has a separate login. If you had an account on a service already, then you should use your existing login and password. If not, the Hub will have created an account with the same email and password as your hub login. You can also use your email address to log in. The UK services (Forums and Cloud) give you a "Login with the Hub" button, which you can click to use your Hub credentials to get into the service.

If you are a Group Admin of an organisation, the Hub also allows you to create subgroups - for instance, if your organisation is South West Regional Group, and you decide you need a separate subgroup for your Actions working group, with its own private channels on UK Chat, and security groups and forums on UK Forums, you can create your Actions working group in the Hub using a similar form to the one you filled in to create your region, and pass it to the admins to create the necessary items in the new services.

You can also create, delete and rename Forums and Channels from the Hub - it decentralises all your admin, rather than routing everything through a few overworked system administrators.

The Hub also contains a diagram of how all the groups fit together, the roles, role holders and mandates in each cgroup. Again, the administration of this is decentralised - any group admin can make changes themselves, instead of having to find a regional or national GlassFrog admin.

Ask for an invite to the XR UK Communications Hub

The preferred method of joining your group to the Hub is to contact your parent group (e.g. your region, if you are a local group), and ask their Tech Champion to help you get set up.

If that isn't possible, appoint your own tech champion, and get them to email to ask for an invite to the hub. Please include details of what your working group is called, what it does, and where it fits in the XR organisation. If people want to link to an existing Mattermost account, it is vitally important that they use the same email for auth as for Mattermost. Otherwise they will end up with 2 Mattermost accounts, one for each email.

You should also ask your parent group to send a confirmation email to verifying that you are who you say you are. Your parent group is:

Local Group Your region
National Working Group The national working group your group is nested under in GlassFrog
Regional Working Group The region
Local Working Group Local Group

This assumes your parent group is already on the new services. If not, please ask a relevant person in the parent group, who is on GlassFrog, to send the email from their "official" email address.

The tech champion should also have signed the XR Data Protection Agreement.

The tech champion will receive an invite by email (check your junk mail, in case it ends up there). Following the invite will enable them to create a personal logon on the hub, link it to their existing Mattermost account (if they have one), and then fill in a form detailing your group's requirements. When you are happy with your form, tick the "Tick Here When Complete" box, and an admin will check the form next time they are on the system.

Once the admin has checked the form, and clarified your requirements, your group will be set up on the new services, and you will receive an email notifying you of this. Wait for the email before proceeding. The next time the tech champion logs in to the hub, accounts will be created on our servers (or existing accounts linked to) for them.

The tech champion can then look around, edit the descriptions of all your channels and forums, and generally make them look tidy and welcoming.

Please do make sure you do update all the forum descriptions with a proper description of what your group does, what the particular forum is for, and any etiquette you expect people to follow.

You may also want to create some folders in your UK Cloud group folder, to pre-organise - a public folder for sharing with others, for example.

The tech champion should then invite the other members of your group to the hub (using Admin/Create Invites). As each invite is followed, that person's accounts are set up. If people want to link to an existing Mattermost account, it is vitally important that the invite is sent to the same email as they used for Mattermost. Otherwise they will end up with 2 Mattermost accounts, one for each email.