Whatsapp group to facilitate space "hosting"?

Hi :slight_smile:

after tonight’s discussion, I thought I’d start a thread to discuss how to facilitate space booking.

The issue seems to be that putting an appointment on the calendar is a bit too burdensome, and people don’t always not well in advance in they’re going to go to the space.

I was wondering, what about a WhatsApp group? This would make it easy to ask “hey anyone going tomorrow?” and easy to say “I’ll be down this afternoon yes”. It could be a parallel solution to the current calendar booking system. Always good to have several communication channels anyways (e.g. some people don’t have a phone).

To be precise, this is not about booking a machine that requires booking, but advertising on the calendar when you’re going to be there to help non-shutter people to plan & join.

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I’m one of the weird people who doesn’t use Whatsapp.
Hopefully encouraging use of Discourse for conversation/planning might help.

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I wasn’t around for that part of the discussion. However, I think the logic goes like this:

  1. Having shutter access provides benefits but also reciprocal responsibilities and duties
  2. One of the duties is to support other members accessing the space
  3. Accessing the space is only useful if the tool or room is available for use
  4. So, it is not enough to say “the space is open”, some kind of booking system is also needed

This doesn’t mean that we can’t make the process easier, but, to be honest, it takes me less than 3 minutes to add a booking entry.

I am not in favour of a whatsapp process because the scheduling will be lost in the long stream of announcements, it cannot do the booking list, and it creates a duplicate entry system, with the possibility of clashes.

In summary, if someone are a host, then they need to do it properly. If there is a reason why someone cannot use the current or a revised booking system, then their specific issue should be explored in order to help them overcome the issue.

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I too missed the end of the meeting. I’m (genuinely) curious though, what are people finding burdensome about using the calendar? It may be simpler to find a way of making that part of the process easier rather than inventing new processes.

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I understand your point of view and I share and support it. I also understand members who prefer a much more spontaneous approach, i.e. don’t want to bring a laptop or a device they’re happy to use discourse on. Let’s not forget, there are people who are triggered to “learn” yet another social media platform… Yes, I am playing Devil’s advocate… but hear me out:

Last night, we were exploring the idea of “pinging” a member who opens the shutter to remind them, if there is no booking for this time, to set an automated calendar entry of how long they’re willing to keep the shutters open for.
If this is technically possible and how this could be implemented needs exploring, i.e. automated text message, a flashing light next to the entry door with simple controls making the “shutters down in xyz hours/minutes”… situation as accessible as possible.

  • any Android/Xcode developers happy to make an app that talks to our calendar?
  • hardware buttons or a tablet/device/etc… by the entry doors that reminds them to just press a button / i.e. +1hour -1hour and then the calendar will be added for them.
  • ideas, anybody…?

This would give a bit more transparency to members without shutter who have a commute than the current green tic/red cross situation.

We’re a community and we have to look after every member. That includes the ones who have an aversion of using the booking system, but…

…having shutter access, IMHO, should also include the universal understanding to look out for new members who currently don’t have shutter access and make their access to the space more managable.

It is not about forcing anybody to book a specific tool in the woodshop. Last night, it sounded to me like there is a genuine misconception about the booking system that puts extra labour on the shutter users.

Is it additional work? Yes. Is it worth it? YES! Makes our community even more awesome and different from services like Buildingbloqs.

We could also do the opposite of this idea; make it impossible to open the shutters unless there is a calendar booking :slight_smile:

I’m not being serious about this!!!

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I’d caution replacing a specialist tool (calendar) with a general-purpose tool (whatsapp).

Even if we were proposing a social chat group, I would advise against whatsapp. It does not deserve its popularity.

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Would you consider Telegram instead? Its easier to manage groups…or discord? we already have one.

if i was on any of these chats i would just go and create a booking in the current calendar with the person that sent the message as a host.

I understand there’s a lot of friction in using new systems to do certain things, and there are some people who don’t use calendars at all. But if the majority who have shutter access just put something in the calendar as the space being open, i think that is a step forward until we get more people shutter access.

Personally i think people that don’t use discourse are missing out on certain things (social, information), i don’t know how else we can manage inductions and other things without it, also i don’t know how we would inform the people that don’t use discourse about events, other useful info.

Also i think it’s really helpful for people that feel like there’s a knowledge gap or who are not as technical to have a sort of in person demo of how to do it, maybe even a video. I found that talking to people at the space and practically showing things has way more impact. :smiley:

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<irony>

Then, there is this thread…

an old Webcam could do wonders!!11!

</irony>

Sorry, couldn’t resist. :smiley:

We need a chat server on Discord by the way:

https://discourse.southlondonmakerspace.org/t/slms-discord-not-discourse-channel/18297

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Mhh, so the Discord might be the way to go for the purpose of a more “interactive” channel.
I thought WhatsApp was more readily available to most people but if there is already a discord, could use this instead.

I’m happy to (try!) to query regularly on the discord for who is there and when and make the relay to put this as calendar bookings for other members. It is not a viable long-term solution but can be a patch while we explore technical solutions.

Perhaps a combination of:

  • a tablet/laptop by the entrance that reminds you to put a booking and that is there open and ready to receive the booking.
  • A system allowing to text a message which will directly translate into a calendar booking

That being said I agree with what was said above that having shutter access should give more rights but also more responsibilities.

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I wasn’t in the meeting but my 2 cents is to avoid a duplicate system, be it Whatsapp or other. The solution to people not using a system is never another system.

If anything having a hardware button that i can click when i open the shutter that will say how long I’m there…4 clicks for 4 hours… Something that reduces the boundary to create a calendar entry.

Let’s avoid a future where i have to check discord, discourse, WhatsApp, the calendar, and signal to see how long the space will be open.

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Hey Siri, add 4 hours to the calendar please. 🫣

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I agree, a video showing the steps of booking would help. As tech minded as people could be, a simple admin task like this is perplexing to some folk. I guess a lot of people who come to the space learn by doing, its as @father said, practically showing someone hits home better than text, and/or verbal instructions.

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Good idea @Amit_Kohli
A entry system that requires an estimated time of use for the first user that opens for the day. Could implement a flashing light indicating in each zone, half an hour left of open time. If another shutter access member arrives, it requests the estimated time of departure and overrides the first user of the days timer.

I don’t have any electronics skills, but I trust in the community effort to pull it off.

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The shutter being open is only part of the process. The room or machine booking is the other. The clarity on whether I will be able to use a machine is really, really, really, really important to me.

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I’ve always operated by the person whose name is on the calendar booking gets the tool. If I’ve decided not to put my name on the calendar and another member has, it’s my responsibility to walk away from it if someone else has and they show up.

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Hi @mbg

What I was talking about is that some people are suggesting a process which seems to do away with the granularity of host opening the space, members booking individual spaces and machines.

I also agree with your approach - if I didn’t book a machine and someone else did, I need to give it up to them.

However, my preference is that people always book, otherwise availability vagueness becomes the norm.

Hey Brendon. I think the main problem to solve is to ensure there is a calendar booking that corresponds to the space being open. If that were the case, you would always have charity if your tool is available or not, right?