Research for Discord Alternatives

I’ve spent the last few days, with some help from others, trying to research viable alternatives to Discord.
Initially I aimed to balance three ideals: Privacy, Autonomy, Convenience.

Privacy - We are able to say whatever we want on the platform without any fear of reprisal of the service’s central administration or irl governments/groups.
Autonomy - We are able to host the service on our server and are able to modify the code of the app if we so please.
Convenience - We are able to enjoy all the comforts we had in discord: web access, custom emojis, channels, roles, voice chat, streaming/screen-sharing, etc.

As I’ve done more research into the topic, I became convinced that total security is impossible to achieve due to the basic nature of such apps and our demands. As long as there is a server that the service runs on, it cannot be completely secure, which means the first ideal becomes unattainable and thus not as important as the others. If you want privacy and security on the internet, exercise the same kind of caution you would with internet viruses: don’t be an idiot. So, if you want to talk about assassinating the president or the sort, just use the super secret chat functionality on Telegram.

Anyway, the list of features we require, absence of which would become a deal-breaker:

  • self-hosting - unless the pros heavily out-weigh the cons, the absence of self-hosting is a non-starter (hence why Guilded.gg is not included in the list)
  • multi-media sharing (images, videos, gifs, emotes)
  • chat rooms
  • VOIP - calling, group/conference-calling
  • custom emojis - people have grown really accustomed to this method of self-expression :sadcat2:

Nice to have:

  • Video-calling, video-streaming
  • roles, tags

The candidates:

Matrix/Vector/Riot/Element

https://matrix.org

Pros

  • self-hosted
  • modern-looking
  • mobile and web access

Cons

  • closed source
  • poor UX
  • default settings unsafe
  • experienced a security leak in 2019
  • unresponsive devs
  • decentralised in name only

The cons originate from a damning security report by some security researchers. It seems that in their pursuit to become as secure and decentralised, they coupled a lot of their services with the central server at matrix.org and vector.im
GitHub - libremonde-org/paper-research-privacy-matrix.org: Privacy research on Matrix.org
Despite all that, if testing proves that the UX has improved since I last tried it, I will put this app on for consideration. As stated before, total security is unattainable. Best we can do is obfuscate as much as we can.


Mattermost

https://mattermost.com

I’ve yet to do security research into the app. Posting this report I found for later reading

Pros

  • open source
  • self-hosted
  • mobile and web access
  • In-app features:
    rooms
    teams (roles)
    multi-media sharing
    custom emoji
    app integrations

Cons


Rocket Chat

https://rocket.chat

I’ve yet to do security research on this too

Pros

  • open source
  • self-hosted
  • option to not be connected to the central server
  • mobile and web access
  • In-app features:
    channels
    private groups
    custom emoji
    webhooks
    app integrations

Cons


Gajim

https://gajim.org

Pros

  • simple
  • Very old school feel

Cons

  • Dev is German => basic UX/UI
  • Doesn’t seem to be self-hosted
  • seems to lack the modern features

Mumble

https://trymumble.com

It’s not the mumble you’re thinking of. The dev is a retard who didn’t do basic research before picking a name. Or was hoping he’d outshine the original. The app function for a while but then died. I guess the dev was way in over his head. We’ve made an attempt to contact him in order to see where he’s at and if it’s possible to obtain the source code for further development.

Pros

  • Looks like the perfect discord clone
  • promised to be decentralised

Cons

  • Defunct

I’ve only had the time to briefly view video reviews of the apps and have yet to test them out myself, so please be patient. I will add my findings to the lists as I test each and every app on the list. I really hope that I will be done by the end of the week and starting Monday we will have a new home. I’d rather take my time to get this right, in order to prevent compounding the problems in the future.
As always, I am open to suggestions. And by suggestions I don’t mean unconstructive bitching.

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I sent an email to the Mumble guy yesterday but he still hasn’t responded. Hopefully they renamed to something else and it’s a good self-hosted solution.

So it looks like rocket chat and mattermost are our best options. The next hump to get over is the Retard Question. Are these simple enough for grugs like myself to sign up and operate?

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Rocket Chat sounds like the best bet so far.

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I’m deploying it right now for testing

Have you managed to test it?
Hopefully, I’ll be able to check it out later today or tomorrow

Matrix is a no-go. No good admin panel and you cannot delete users.

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Yeah, we need to have the ability to completely wipe someone’s user from our systems. It’s a cornerstone of privacy.

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Spinning up mattermost now

I’m pretty sure Patriot Front uses Rocket for whatever that is worth, they are surely even more concerned about security and privacy than we are.

That’s interesting. I didn’t know that. The two apps (rocket chat and mattermost) seem to be pretty much identical, but I have more hopes for the latter. Anyway, I am starting the personal testing now

It seems that mattermost has paywalled some very crucial user settings, like disabling the creation of new channels by non-admins. Sadly, that’s unacceptable.

I’ve switched over to rocket chat and am trying to make sense of it. The closed testing will begin shortly.

@Ironclad can you please remove Mattermost from our server and proxy rocket chat to chat.legiochristi.com, please?

Complete.

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