Extra Information

Accessing the Tools Using a Smartphone or Tablet


Direct Use via Browser

Mattermost work well on a normal phone browser if you don't want to download the app.


(1) Teams/Channels


Your current team is highlighted with a light blue bar. Any teams with new messages will have a light blue dot next to them.


Tap to switch Team, or Channel.

(2) Channel Information


See information about the channel and and its members here.
Please do not Rename Channels in Mattermost.

(3) Channel Header


Each channel should have some useful information explaining what is it and possibly some links. If you don't know what to do start here.


Tap to search for messages or people, including some ways to restrict the search as above.

(5) Menu


Here you can access a range of features:

  1. Recent Mentions - see where someone has posted a message with your handle (@username)
  2. Saved Posts - if you flag posts you can save them for later, like bookmarking.
  3. Account Settings - change your personal info, notifications etc.
  4. Invite People - please don't use this, as your Tech Champion/Group Admin to invite people via the Hub
  5. View Members - see who is in the team, or find someone to DM.
  6. Join Another Team - let's you search and join all Public Teams.
  7. Leave Team - think carefully before leaving as you may need a Tech Champion/GA to add you back in.

Use via App

NB - if you are accessing Mattermost for the very first time, you need to verify your email address and you can't do this using the app.

Please either use your computer or open your browser on your phone.

Now you will be able to use the app

  1. Download the Mattermost app from either Google Play (Android), or the App Store (iPhone/iPad).

  2. When you open the app for the first time you will be prompted by a screen that looks similar to this:

Enter https://organise.earth and tap Connect.

  1. You will then be prompted for your login details. Enter your username (or email address) and password and then tap Sign in.
  2. You should now be logged in!

More Information

Please see our Using Mattermost guide.

UK Forums

Direct Use via Browser

There is no dedicated app for the forums, but they will work perfectly well in a browser.


Along the top you have a row of icons to take you to Mattermost, UK Cloud, XRUK Website, Search, Menu and Mentions/info (your avatar or letter), respectively.

If you tap on Categories you can select 'Latest' or 'Unread' to see those posts in forums you are subscribed to.

More Information

Please see our Using the UK Forums guide.

UK Cloud

Direct Use via Browser


The three dots will bring up a range of links to other apps (Mattermost, Forms, Polls, etc.), the magnifying glass will let you search for files, the bell (with red dot) will show changes to your files/apps and the avatar (or letter on the top right) will let you edit your settings.

Accessing functions, and differences to the full browser version:

  1. Tapping the logo or the Home icon will take you back to this screen.

  2. To show recent activity tap on the three dots, then Activity - things you have done and things other people may have shared with you.

  3. There is no Gallery view on phone.

  4. Three dots, then Calendar to see your Caledar, which you can sync with your own devices and share with other users.

  5. Three dots, then Deck - 'Kanban' project management app.

  6. Three dots also have icon links to the the Hub, XRUK website, UK Forum and Mattermost.

  7. Magnifying glass - search.

  8. Bell (plus red dot) - notifications. (if you have notifications to read a red dot will appear.)

  9. Your avatar/letter - tap to change personal settings, upload a pitcure or logout.

  10. The "Breadcrumbs" area. The path to the current folder will appear here - tap a parent folder to jump back. If you can edit in the folder a (+) icon will appear to allow you to create or upload a new file or folder, otherwise the message shown in the screengrab above will be shown.

  11. There is not Recent files area on phone.

  12. The folder and file list. Tap on a folder name to open that folder. Tap on a filename to view or download.

  13. If a file is shared with you then you will see the avatar of the person who shared it with you on the right.

  14. Tap on the three dots next to the file for options including download, and add to favourites.

  15. Tap on the three dots next to the file, and select Details for additional information and options.

  16. The hamburger menu (top left) gives you extra views including items you have marked as "Favourites" - a useful quick way to find folders or files you often need.

Use via App

Download the Nextcloud App on your smart phone or tablet (Android or iOS) https://nextcloud.com/install/#tab-mobile or search for "Nextcloud" in your App store.

More Information

Please see our Using UK Cloud guide.

Library (UK Cloud)

What is it?

The Library is a shared read-only area for all Rebels on UK Cloud. You can view and download documents, images, and other files from the Library but you do not upload material direct to the Library.

The Library contains folders for all XR UK groups who want them. There are also some common folders that cut across Working, Local, Regional groups.


How to find files in the Library

You will find the Library on your homepage on UK Cloud:

In UKForums under the Getting Started category is an open Library Information area.

In each folder in the Library there should be an 'About this folder.md' text document containing details of what it contains.

Files will also be tagged and indexed and you can search for a file by tag.

Who looks after the Library?

There is a small Librarians group tasked with cataloguing and indexing the Library - this task will take some considerable time and effort as a vast quantity of disorganised material has been imported from the old Basecamp Library and Google Docs. If you would like to help with this, please join the Library Reception Forum in UK Forums and ask in there.

How to set up a group folder in the Library

If your group has relatively static files that you want to share read-only with the entire movement then you need a folder in the Library on UK Cloud.

Everything in the Library is visible read-only to all Rebels with access to UK Cloud.

Groups can have a folder in the Library area which they can manage themselves - create any subfolders and files you want to share in there. The group library folder can either have full read-write access for all members of the group that owns it, or you might prefer to appoint a librarian(s) from the group to manage it on the group’s behalf.

To get a Library folder for your group simply request one by posting in the Library Reception on UK Forum - specify who will be managing it for the group (even if all members of your group have write access to it, it is a good idea to have one or two people who are mandated to curate it) and whether all members of the group will be able to create, update and delete files in there.

How to set up a Working Group folder in the Library

If your WG is likely to produce documents to publish to the whole of XRUK or to curate resources for the whole of XRUK then you can request a Library area. At present this is done by contacting the Librarians directly through their Reception Forum on UK Forums or through their Reception Channel on Mattermost.

If your group does wish to have Library space in addition to their own private space, then they need to be aware that they will be completely responsible for what is published there. It would be a good idea to identify one or two individuals who will act as librarians for the group and manage the group’s folder. If the group is producing a lot of material, then it would be sensible for at least one person to join the Librarian’s Working Group.

When you request a Library area for your group, the Librarians will create a new folder in the Library and share it back as an editable (read-write-create-delete) area.

If you wish to have the group’s Library folder curated by one or two named individuals, then let the Librarians know and the folder will be share as editable only with them. Other members of the group will be able to find it in the normal way through the Library shared folder.

If the group does not have willing help to curate their area, then the editable share will be made with the whole group and all members of the group will be able to copy or move files to the folder and edit what is there – including creating sub-folders etc.

For a small Working Group where all members are active and know what they are doing this probably makes sense; For a larger diverse group, such as a Local or Regional Group, then it makes more sense to have a few individuals able to manage their Library area. If the area is open to all your members then it becomes very easy for people to make mistakes and create or delete material in error.

How do I add files to the Library?

Here is what the All Files home page looks like for a user who is a member of a local group (North Cornwall) which doesn't have its own Library shared area (it uses the Cornwall district one, covering all Cornwall Local Groups) and also of a Working Group (Operations Circle) which does have its own shared library folder: zyjimage5.png
This user can help manage the group's public library files (either she is a Librarian for the group, or all the group members can manage their public library files)

Many Groups will not actually need their own Library folder but can more usefully have their material published by a parent organisation. This would particularly apply to Local Working Groups who, if they are generating material of interest right across XRUK would be better served by having it posted in the National Working Group area.

This may also apply to Local Groups, who may be better using the Regional or District area in the Library rather than creating their own silo buried deep in an obscure corner of the Library.

Remember that the Library is intended for material of use to all XRUK members.

For files that are only of Local or Working Group interest then there is no need to use the Library - all members of the group will be able to use the group's private file area, and it is easy to share files (or even folders) with a few individuals outside the group by creating named share links to your private area.

What can I put in the Library?

You must NOT post anything in the Library which contains personal information (unless you have the express permission in electronic format from every individual identified for each specific publication). This includes names, email addresses, postcodes, phone numbers.

You must not use the Library to share non-XR documents (but you can share external links).

You must not use the Library to share potentially compromising details of action plans.

Be very careful when posting in your group's Library folder - only post material which your group has ownership of and responsibility for. Do NOT duplicate material that is elsewhere in the Library. If you wish to include files from another group in your Library area then save the URL of the target file in your Library folder - use the "Create Link" option on the [+] menu.

In general, for material that you want people to be able to view online without needing to edit, and that is not frequently changing (updates less than weekly) then it is preferred to save in PDF format. This allows easy online viewing on all devices without any special software and with a low overhead on the server.

Keep the master file in your group private file area and save a PDF copy to place in the Library.

For material that is rapidly changing, or that is a resource for others to download and use, then you may choose to save in office (docx, xlsx, pptx) or image (jpg, png) formats. In these cases it is recommended that you still keep a master version in your group private area and simply save a copy to the Library as and when it is updated.

If you wish to use other formats you can - but please be aware of accessibility issues. If you have files in a specialist format it may be more appropriate to keep them in your private file area and share links to the files from there with those who need or request access.

What about Google Docs files?

In the short term we are unable to offer online collaborative editing of office documents.

There is a text based collaborative editor work 'Markdown' text files which allows simple formatting and works well for minutes and similar working documents within your group.

If you have working docs still in Google Docs that you wish to publish, then save them as PDF files and post them in your Library area.

Some Google Docs have been converted to markdown documents to allow you to continue working on them without Google looking over your shoulder. If you wish to publish these in the Library it is recommended to save them as PDF.

If you have working documents that you need to keep in Google Docs until editing facilities become available within UK cloud then you can post a URL link to them in the Library.

*help needed* XR Privacy Policy and Terms of Service



This will simply link to relevant info provided by GDPR types.

I really have no idea what to do about these documents



Privacy and Security



Think this belong in GDPR/Privacy bit, but also needs updating

How private is your data on the XR communication services?

Data on our new services is held in an encrypted partition on a server in Switzerland (which has excellent data protection laws). Should we receive the statutory 24 hours notice of a data access request, we only have to shut down the server to make the disk about as much use to the authorities as a brick.

Having said that, data on a public channel in Mattermost, a public forum on UK Forums, or a shared folder on UK Cloud should be considered public -- if anyone in XR can access it, then you should assume there is a mole in the organisation, who can pass it on to the authorities.

All data on any server is accessible to the system administrator of the server. This is why we do not recommend using third party servers for anything in the least bit sensitive. The system administrators of all the XR servers (a handful in total) are all long standing XR members who are trusted by the movement.


The system administrators of the Mattermost server (none of whom are in the UK) ask that you do not share specific details of illegal activity on Mattermost. It is conceivable that the authorities would be able to obtain an injunction to access the server in Switzerland, which would mean it would be closed down, and that would be very inconvenient for the global movement.

Data in a private channel in Mattermost can only be accessed by members of the channel. Only other members of the channel can join new people, so that is the highest level of privacy available to you.

You may notice that private channels created by the XR UK Hub have xrukadmin as a member. This is the login of the Hub on Mattermost, and allows the Hub to add and remove members, rename the channel, etc. This function is there to save you work, so that people can be automatically added to your channels when you invite them, and so you can remove people, and rename or delete channels from the Hub easily, without having to repeat your actions in the 3 different services.

The UK system administrators have access to this login, so they could, in theory, see everything you say in the channel. If you have something too private to reveal to the UK system administrators, then create a new private channel in Mattermost, rather than via the Hub. Of course, you will then be totally responsible for administering that channel, adding new people in, removing people you do not want in it, renaming it (in Mattermost), etc.

Please do not remove xrukadmin from a team or channel that has been created by the Hub without letting the system administrators know right away that you have done so -- if the Hub thinks it can access a team or channel, but it can't, that will cause error messages for your users.

UK Forums

Data in private forums on UK Forums can only be accessed by Forum group members (and the UK Forums administrators). You can check who is in the forum group by accessing the Forum Groups option on the main menu, and finding the relevant group. You can remove people from the group by removing them from your organisation on the Hub (preferred), or in UK Forums (but the Hub may add them back again if you don't remove them there too).

UK Cloud

Data in private group folders in UK Cloud can be accessed by group members (and the UK Cloud administrators), and by anyone you share it with. Again, you can remove people from your organisation (and therefore access to your group) on the Hub.

Appendix 1: Why are there private working groups

This is quoted from a post by the global security expert.[with minor formatting edits]

Something that comes up often is "Why are there private working groups? Why can't we all work in the open?" My own experiences in several large online communities, is that having private areas facilitates thriving, safer communities. A 'regime of openness', on the other hand, tends to seed decay, even paranoia and distrust. While that may seem counter-intuitive, there are a great many reasons why this is so:

Privacy is not Secrecy

First of all, we need to challenge the misbelief that Privacy and Secrecy are one and the same. They are not. To quote a beautiful work of literature, A Cypherpunk's Manifesto (EN), 1993

"Privacy is the power to selectively reveal oneself to the world."

There are things we would tell a sibling we would not a parent; that we would tell a friend that we would not tell a relative or boss. Privacy is the glue of a happy and healthy society, it is how we establish and manage our socio-emotional and physical boundaries.

If I walk up to a couple in the park and demand a summary of what they just talked about, to be included in their conversation, and they refuse, we wouldn't say they are being 'secretive'. Rather, they are asserting their basic human right to privacy.

So it follows that we should certainly not distrust those that seek and affirm privacy, rather those that rally against it, those that demand openness. Further, it should be no surprise that those suspicious of allowances for privacy are often from privileged socio-economic backgrounds.

It must be up to individuals when they choose to be open. This is only something that a de facto of privacy, alongside a basic right to anonymity, can provide.

Whole community poisoning

Private working groups also protect against a very real threat to online communities: Whole community poisoning. Should a troll or infiltrator, or organised group of such, come to Mattermost (or here on Discourse) and be able to openly join every one of the dozens of teams on this server, every one of the channels and working groups, they can quickly ruin the social and cultural domains this server affords. Having private working groups and/or areas affords us Circles of Trust:

Circles of trust

Allowing members of private channels to manage those same domains encourages a sense of ownership, of trust. In essence, it embodies a decentralisation of trust, in that it is not centrally managed by a vetting process (like a Police file) but rather by transient (a table at a bar) or permanent (a village) communities themselves, through their own experiences (and ever branching degrees of separation).

Like all animals, we meet people, get to know them, and let them closer.

Appendix 2: We need to talk about Google Docs

From the global security expert again (slightly edited to refer to UK comms services).

Green and Black Cross, seasoned professionals in the support of activists in need in the UK, have made a public statement that they will no longer support XR UK. In their statement, one difficult to read, they specifically cite the use of Google (alongside WhatsApp and Facebook messenger) as a risk to rebels, opening them up for deep exposure to Police.

We believe that the way XR stores personal data is inadequately secure (for example, in Google documents and forms). This means that personal data belonging to LOs is likely to be accessed by police.

We believe that the communication channels XR uses for legal observers are inadequately secure (for example, WhatsApp and Facebook messenger groups, public Facebook events and email lists with no bcc). This also means that communication through these channels is likely to be accessed by police.

Their statement raises an old issue here on Organise.Earth [Ed: The server hosting the global Mattermost], one that is a primary motivation for the server existing in the first place: we endanger each other, and ourselves, when we work with surveillance capitalists. So let us stop doing it.

Google is a completely unsafe partner for civil disobedience, activism in general. We can't have a 'regenerative culture' and partner with that corporation. Green and Black Cross are veterans in this space, and we ought to heed their concerns. I share their concerns having assisted at-risk individuals and groups for years with their infrastructure, to keep them off-police-record and safe in their work.

Lists of NCs in a Google Doc - any list of contacts - threatens those in less privileged operational environments, where police request information from Google, which they openly provide, to incarcerate that/those individual(s). It would be great to see us take this to heart and understand that it is uncaring and mutually harmful to continue to use Google products, not to mention WhatsApp (a meta-data harvest), as Green and Black Cross make so clear.

While an XR NL or XR SE (for instance) may find it unusual/paranoid/specious to have such concern, it is a projection of privilege to assume the same jurisdictional/legal environment exists for all, where brave rebels working in difficult conditions are first surveilled (by statecraft, federal police) and then they are jailed, beaten and/or shot. Many of our rebels work in such environments. In the spirit of regeneration and mutual support, it is time for our ethics to be reflected in our communication infrastructure.


Use Nextcloud to store and view documents on UK Cloud.
The only reason not to is if you absolutely must have online editing or real-time collaborative editing -- ask yourself is there a different way of working?

The tech team is working hard to make available a Google Docs like interface to enable people to edit documents collaboratively. A view only version is already available, and we are working on porting an editing version to our server.

While functional, do not expect this to be as slick as Google Docs, which has all the massive resources of Google behind it, and has probably cost millions to develop! Remember that the cost of using google is that everything becomes easily available to both commercial and state interests.

In the meantime, only use google docs for things for which you absolutely must have real-time collaborative editing. [So long as your computer is secure]{.underline} you can use the Nextcloud desktop sync app to edit a local copy of documents you are working on and have them automatically updated into UKCloud.

When someone posts a link to a Google Doc, gently remind them that use of Google is provably unsafe, that we need to make the effort to copy its contents out to a document in our community owned cloud. It is not just the content of the document that matters. Even with harmless content the ability to build up a profile of usage and users to infer activity by combining that with other data is a major privacy issue and potential security flaw.

Use Mattermost, Signal or Wire instead of WhatsApp. Owned by Facebook, WhatsApp produces a vast treasure-trove of meta-data and has a notoriously suspect record for data-privacy.

Get off Gmail and other commercial email services. Let us help each other get off GMail. No more sending around sensitive documents in GMail accounts. Use the privacy respecting ProtonMail or Tutanota instead.

Stop using Facebook and other commercial social media for anything strategic or sensitive. This should be done using Signal or Wire, or on UK Forums or Mattermost .

UK Hub - https://auth.extinctionrebellion.org.uk

UK Forum - https://base.extinctionrebellion.org.uk

UK Cloud - https://cloud.extinctionrebellion.org.uk

Mattermost - https://organise.earth

A Note on Usernames, Passwords, and Profiles



Think this belong in GDPR/Privacy bit, but also needs updating

This document discusses what to include in your profile within the XRUK online services, what makes a good username, and how to choose a password.

In all three of the XRUK services -- UKCloud, UKForum, and Mattermost Chat -- users have a profile that stores their personal information. You can edit some items in your profile, and some of them will be visible to other members. The three key pieces of information in your profile are your username, password and e-mail address.

If you join the new services by responding to an invitation from the UKHub you will automatically start with the same username and password on all three services. Your account on each of them will be tied to the same email address that received the invitation.

Initial Setup

On UKForum and UKCloud you cannot change your username once your account is created so it is important that you choose a good one. If you already have an account on XR Global Mattermost and you want to use a different username or password, then you must change it on your Mattermost Account Settings before accepting an invitation from the hub. The email address already on Mattermost must match the one in your invitation, so if necessary change that on Mattermost before starting as well.

If you want to use a different email address to the one at which you were sent the invitation, then request a new invitation with the correct address from your Tech.Champion.

When you accept an invitation to first join the new services an account will be created for you on each of the three with the same username, password and email.


XR is an open, above ground, organisation so you should always be prepared to own your own activity and put your real full name in your user profile where others can see it, and use your firstname and initials as a username.

Usernames must be unique in each system, so although you are encouraged to use a username that is recognisably related to your real name rather than something that conceals your identity, this may not always be possible.

As an aside, the global Mattermost which we share, covers some countries where there may be substantial personal risks to being identifiable -- so you may well meet some fellow rebels there who are hiding their identities for reasons of personal safety.

There is a minimum length requirement of 6 characters for usernames. They must consist of lowercase alphabetic characters and digits only. Beyond that the longer you make it the more typing you, and others contacting you, will have to do, and the more of a mess it will look on screen.


When it comes to choosing a password, choose something which you can remember -- e.g. the initial letters of a phrase or line from a song that will stick with you, with some letters transposed to digit (o->0, I -> 1, to->2 etc) and a couple of uppercase and punctuation characters. The minimum length for a password is 8 chars and it should include both upper and lower case letters plus at least one digit and one symbol.

Do check that it is easy to type on all the keyboards you use -- mobile phones can make it a pain having to switch case, or switch between letters and digits, so you might want to have those grouped together in the password.

Don't rely on your device (or the cloud) remembering it for you -- there will come a day when you will need to actually type it because something has gone wrong.

Finally try to pick a password that you don't use elsewhere -- even if only by appending -xr to one of your standard passwords -- that will ensure that if your bank login gets stolen your XRUK ones are still ok and vice versa.


On all the services, you can set up a profile including your Full Name and a small picture called an 'avatar' which helps to visually identify you to other users.

Always add your full real name to your profile, and maybe a bit of information about which part of the country you are in -- city or county at least.

By default, your avatar will consist of your initial or initials on a coloured disc. Even if there are lots users with the initials JS they will get different coloured discs to make them unique.

These work ok, but you can easily find a suitable picture (of yourself or something else) to represent you, and upload that in your profile. It will be resized and cropped to a circular shape. When choosing a picture go for something simple and well defined -- avatars are shown quite small on some pages and your beautiful picture may become a plain brown blob when reduced.

Using the same avatar picture across all services provides a very quick and easy visualidentification for other users to recognise you as the same person.

Although your profile includes your email address this is not shown to other users (apart from system admins). If you want to make your email and phone number available to fellow rebels, then include them in the text of your profile.


More information on the specific things you can adjust in your profile settings (and where to find them) are in subsequent documents.

They key takeaways are:

General Culture and Expectations



Maybe we should put a link to this at the bottom of the Comms Hub book?

Or maybe it should be in the GDPR Privacy/Terms bit?

Bottom sections on MM poss useful somewhere (though may now be out of date), think Forum and Cloud bits are not helpful

Please can we use the word Forum rather than Discourse?

Please can the genders be removed and 'they' used instead - as A) We don't know if people want to be gendered and B) if they are actually male or female or trans, e.g. ....global system administrator to get it back from backup (and 'he' is busy!).

The XRUK communication services are intended to foster an open and welcoming environment where the Culture reflects XR's ten Principals and Values (https://extinctionrebellion.uk/the-truth/about-us/).

We ask all contributors and site maintenance volunteers to have care for the community, offering a harassment-free space for all to participate, embracing our unique differences. We cultivate this respect for each other, both within project spaces and in the wider public arena when we represent the XR community.

Contributory Behaviours

Behaviours that we think will contribute to an inclusive environment include:

Negative Behaviours

Behaviours that are likely to be divisive and may contribute to an 'exclusive' environment include:

XR is willing to exercise a responsibility to remove contributions that we determine as not aligned to this culture, or to ban temporarily or permanently any contributor for any other behaviour deemed, in consultation, to be inappropriate, threatening, offensive, or harmful

Etiquette when posting messages

When posting (anywhere) online please remember:

Be Aware of the Audience

Posting a message in the Town Square in Mattermost or in top level Category forums in Discourse will notify a large chunk of the entire XR network, so please:

If you are tempted to write a really long (more than 500 words) post, or you are writing to a specific individual (or small group), or if a thread has become a long discussion, then please consider whether the subcategory or channel you are in is the best place to keep the discussion going. Please consider sending a personal message, moving the discussion into the right subcategory on Discourse, scheduling a conference call, having a phone call, or meeting face-to-face.

However, if you really think your post is relevant to the discussion for everyone watching it, then please post it!

Make use of 'Reactions' on Mattermost and 'Retorts' on on UK Forum (click the smiley face below the post) to select an icon expressing your comment on a post without cluttering up the thread with 'me too' posts. If you want to make it more likely that a particular person reads your post, @mention them.

Conflicts and Enforcement

It is all-too-easy for misunderstandings to happen online -- if things don't feel good then consider the matter offline. If you need support or ideas about what to do if you are struggling, there's some info about Conflict Resilience here:
(XR Conflict Resilience System).

Having accounts on the new services isn't a right/ It holds responsibilities and it can be revoked (but hopefully it'll never come to that).

If you are concerned about behaviour, language and actions you can reach out to the small Conflict Resilience team with a short e-mail to conflict@rebellion.earthwho will support and advise as they can and explore how to contribute and support our community


Please do not

UK Forum

Please use the Forum for important stuff people might need to refer to later. Chat and 'me too' posts just clutter up the discussion.

See the User Guide 'Chat or Discussion' for an explanation of the difference

UK Cloud

Please only store XR files in the cloud. You must NOT store personal files in the XR Cloud and you do not have a private personal area available.

If you see something you think shouldn't be there, please bring it to the attention of your team (perhaps by posting in your team's Mattermost channel), so they can decide whether to remove it.

Be aware of GPDR obligations and do not post any documents that contain personal information (eg email addresses or phone numbers) unless you have authorisation from the individuals concerned.

If the file in question is illegal, or might bring XR into disrepute, please report it to the system administrators as well by emailing xrukadmin@protonmail.com.

Our Vision of a Connected XR

How are you communicating with people in your working group?

There is a problem

There is a solution!

Since August 2019 we have been installing, developing and honing a new set of communication tools for XR. They have been in use globally by most XR groups elsewhere in the world since 2018.

They provide chat, more permanent forum discussions, and secure file storage. They run on renewable energy powered servers, in Switzerland (which has the best data protection laws in the world -- no more leaks to the authorities whenever they express an interest).

They are tied together by our in-house developed communications Hub. As well as providing a handy front end menu to the services, it also shows you the whole structure of all the XR groups on the new services -- every working group, region, district or local group, how they fit together, how to contact or join in discussions on any of the tools with each one, and everything you need to finally be connected with the rest of the organisation, in the UK and throughout the world, if you like.

The Hub also decentralises everything - every group on the Hub can administer their own spaces on Mattermost, Forums and Cloud - no need to rely on the bottleneck of having to ask a central admin to do everything (although the regional and national admins are there to help if you get stuck).

Don't Panic!

Oh no, you may be thinking, a new tool with hundreds or thousands of discussions going on. My head will explode!

Don't worry. We have spent a lot of effort in hiding everything you don't want to see. You join the new services as part of an XR Group (a Working Group, Local Group, or whatever). You then see only the conversations that involve that group. If you are in more than one group (e.g. many people are in both a local and regional group), you see the conversations for all of your groups.

Once in, you can connect to any other XR Group because there is a list (on the Hub) of all of them, showing how they connect together, with clickable links to join in their public "Reception" chat channels or forums.

Once you have joined a chat channel or forum, it is added to the list you can see within the website or app, and you can take part in the discussions. You can leave again at any time, and they will disappear again.

Mobile or Static

If you use your mobile to organise your life and carry it with you expecting to be permanently in touch when you want to be then that is fine - there are excellent dedicated mobile apps for both Apple and Android devices that will make your XR life available anytime you want it without mixing it in with your family and social life.

If, on the other hand, you regard screen addiction and always-on connectivity as symptoms of what is going wrong with our society, and you prefer to use a proper keyboard and full size screen while sitting at a table or in an armchair, then that is fine too. The websites for chat and discussion forums are easy to navigate and help you keep track of the things that concern you while shielding you from unwanted distractions.

Or you can mix and match and use both mobile apps and bigger screen websites as and when you like.

Further reading

Chat or Discussion

Chat and discussion are two very different things. This document attempts to explain their individual uses.

Think of chat (Mattermost) as being a bit like conversations around a table in a cafe or pub or at a large dinner. There are multiple things going on at the same time, it may get noisy, threads get interrupted and side-tracked. There is a lot of good social communication going on, but the focus is more on exchange of ideas than working on a particular topic. It’s a big room, and you can move around multiple tables listening to what is going on and chipping in.

Think of discussion (Discourse) as more like a meeting or conference with break-out sessions going on in parallel. Each category is a session, and each session might include several agenda items (topics). The sessions are focused on a particular area and are working on solving problems and developing ideas in that area.

Some people need one, some the other, some both. Chat is more ephemeral; discussion is where work gets done. Trying to have a single system handle both inevitably involves compromises and results in confusion. In chat, it is often difficult to find previous ideas, and you therefore don’t want useful information which you might need again to be lost in there. In discussion, you are focussed on a specific topic and may want to avoid immediate distractions – difficult in chat rooms.

Chat benefits from quick responses, so a good mobile app can be important, but we must be careful not to exclude those without smartphones. One failing of the widely-used WhatsApp chat application is that it does require you to have a smartphone to use it. Even Signal, which can be used on a laptop without a tethered phone, requires access to a smartphone to initially set it up for secure messaging.

Discussion requires more active listening, considering what is said and providing a thoughtful response. Here mobile ‘presence’ is less important, and the layout needs to make it easy to find contributions and provide more detailed replies. A larger screen than a phone and a proper keyboard are often useful.

Most Rebels involved in organising local or working groups will need discussion and should be on Discourse or an equivalent.

Less active people may not need online discussion at all, or they may occasionally respond to a call to participate in an important decision for the group, dipping into a discussion forum to do so.

For a local group, chat is probably what most people will use for day to day keeping- in-touch with each other. One big advantage of Mattermost is that it does not require a smartphone to use it. Furthermore, by employing a platform that is run by XR and used across all international groups it is both robust and secure, and enables the local, regional, national, and international chat channels that a user chooses to follow to all appear in one place

Working and organising groups will probably be using both chat and discussion. Having separate dedicated applications makes it easier to use each appropriately.


  1. further independent discussion: https://blog.discourse.org/2018/04/effectively-using-discourse-together-with-group-chat/
  2. Mattermost Android app https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.mattermost.rn&hl=en
  3. Mattermost iOS app https://geo.itunes.apple.com/us/app/nextcloud/id1125420102?mt=8
  4. Discourse Android app https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.discourse
  5. Discourse iOS app https://apps.apple.com/gb/app/discourse-hub/id1173672076