Agorakit after 2 years of work

Two years ago, I started a project management tool for activists. 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 being used by several citizen initiative like "Tout autre chose" and "Hart boven Hard" in Belgium and elsewhere.

It is open source (GPL) and in active development. Development happens on Github.

The presentation website is here : https://www.agorakit.org and a demo can be tested on https://demo.agorakit.org

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 groups

  • 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)

Discussions

  • 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)

Calendar

  • 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
  • RSS
  • Embed elsewhere using iframes

Files

  • 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

Members

  • 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)

Admin

  • Get stats on everything
  • Mass invite members using their email
  • Mass add existing members to groups
  • Settings control panel (in progress)

Architecture

  • 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)

Privacy

  • 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