Alternative chat platform to Slack/Discord Ideas

Our team has extensively used Slack for the past several years. We’ve loved it. However, our school’s admin has requested us to stop using it because the direct messages cannot be monitored, as there are many minors in the program including adults. I totally understand the liability part of it, but I haven’t found a good alternative yet. Obviously, Slack and Discord can’t be our “official” chatting platforms. Their recommendation was e-mail or making a google forum, but those really aren’t ideal, as we send ~1000 messages a week during build season.

Any recommendations for a chatting app that either lets coaches / admin monitor direct messages, or a chatting platform that is 100% public? The dream would be to disable DMs from Slack so we can keep rolling with that, but it doesn’t look like that’s an option yet.

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I believe there is a setting that your team leader can change in Slack that allows your school administrators to have access to your DMs.

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You could try groupme. We used to use that.

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Maybe you should try to figure out more about the root problem that your school admin is trying to solve. Personally I am a bit confused at this solution as no matter what you choose to use. There will still be un-monitored direct messages? Are they looking for you to pass all communications through some sort of school district filter?

My understanding is that it’s a liability thing. If it’s an official, school-sanctioned system, they need to make sure that anything that it is used for is school appropriate. It’s the same reason why I don’t have mentors and students share cell phone numbers with each other - liability.

Is there? I’ve looked into it but haven’t found anything. We use the free version, so maybe if we upgrade to paid/sponsored we can?

I think it’s a paid feature. If you school administration wants to view your DMs then maybe your school would be willing to pay the extra $8/user/month for premium? There probably is a better option, but if slack is what you want, slack is what you’ll get. I’d go with @Camren 's reply first though to see what your school really wants from your team.

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I wouldn’t discredit office 365 and emailing as a means of communication. If it is good enough for most businesses then it is good enough for your team… You will be giving up a bit of the agility that comes with media like Slack and Discord, but between outlook, skype, and a shared document repository. I think you could set up a good communication stream during build season.

Shuffle any costs onto your school if you can. If they are forcing your hand then the least they can do is pay for this added security.

One other thought: Does your school use any systems like moodle or desire2learn? Perhaps your team can be set up as a class through that system, and generally those will have quite a decent communication tool set. The downside is you would have to have your class set up accounts for non faculty mentors which could get into iffy territory.

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Run your own IRC server?

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The alternative they gave me was using Google Groups and creating a forum. It’s not a bad option, but I’m looking for the quick messages that we can do now. For example, we just received a part that was ordered - we’d send a quick message to the business admin saying the part has been received - no need for a forum post for that.

Our team uses forum software. We use phpBB. I would recommend if you go down the forum route to use something newer like Discourse.

My team uses ryver (https://ryver.com/), we have a deal with them where we pay nothing and in return we beta test stuff for them. We have liked it and I would definitely recommend it.

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Not necessarily. My team has always used e-mail as our primary method of communication, and it did have that potential flaw… however, in 2018 the school game every mentor a school email address, and every student at the school has had one for a few years. So now every communication goes from a school email address, and to a school email address - that gives them the ability to monitor any email they want.

Included with that are some Google Groups for other uses, but we treat those mostly as just a multi-person email system - a way to email all of the mentors with a single address, for example.

We also use GroupMe at competition - it’s student only, no mentors are involved with it.

Does google groups have an ability to create google hangouts? You could use the google suite in the same way I talk about the Microsoft Office365 suite. Google groups gives you an added feature even.

Google hangouts is dying soon.

We have a paid plan, well “free upgrade” due to having a 501 non profit and there is no way for workspace owners to see DMs that I have seen.

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“While signed into Slack in your browser, mosey on over to https://[insert your team name here].slack.com/account/team. Scroll to the bottom of the page, and you’ll see if that feature is turned on.”

Mattermost is a self-hosted Slack alternative. Since it’s self-hosted, I believe that server admins have access to all DMs.

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Yup, link here has the answer:

I will say if kids want to send messages to each other unmonitored, they’ll use something else, but I do understand if this is a red tape bureaucracy thing.

Agreed, BUT the concern I’ve always heard isn’t about kids messaging other kids. It’s about YPP issues related to kids and adults messaging each other. For reference, our guidelines are:

  • All email communications between students and coaches must go through their Visitation email addresses
  • Emails between a coach and an individual student-athlete must always include another coach or administrator
  • As long as all applicable parties use their Visitation email addresses and there are three or more people on the chain, no one else needs to be copied

It makes it pretty clear that using other email addresses or forms of communication are not allowed, and the whole purpose of it is oversight in order to enforce YPP efforts and maintain a history of contact in the event that something comes up that needs to be investigated further. No student on the team has any way to contact me other than my school email address - and that’s the way I want it :slight_smile: It protects them, it protects me, it protects the school - it’s good all around.

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