I and my team at The Green Land are looking for a self-hosted version of event organisation tools like MeetUp.com or Eventbrite. Both for small scale events as part of projects, such as meet-ups of citizen scientists, as well as for ourselves, such as small gatherings we organise around AI ethics with our professional peer network.
We don’t want to use Meetup.com or things like Eventbrite because we don’t want personal data to be handed over to US based entities, nor require the participants to do so just because they want to attend a local event. We also notice a strong hesitancy amongst participants of events when it is needed to create yet another account on yet another service just to let us know they will be joining us for something.
Nevertheless we do want an easy way to announce events, track registrations, and have a place to share material before, during and afterwards. And I know that events are hard in terms of discovery, because although there are a plethora of events, for most participants as well as event organisers they’re incidents (years ago I came across a blogpost describing this Events Paradox well.). Additionally, for us as professionals it is usually more logical to host our own events than find one that fits our needs.
So we need a way to announce events where we can assure participants there’s no need to hand over personal information, and where material can be shared.
There seem to be two FOSS offerings in this space. Mobilizon by Framasoft and Gettogether. In the past weeks my colleague S and I tried to test Mobilizon.
Mobilizon is ActivityPub based, and there’s a Yunohost version which I installed on our VPS early last month. Mobilizon promises several strong points:
- Fully self-hosted, and able to federate with other instances. There aren’t many visible instances out there, but one NGO we frequently encounter in our network does run its own instance.
- you can maintain different profiles in your account, so that for different parts of your life you can subscribe to events, without e.g. your historical re-enactment events showing up amongst your professional events in a public profile.
- People can register for an event without needing an account or profile (using e-mail confirmation)
Working with Mobilizon turned out less than ideal at a very basic level. Accounts couldn’t log in after creation. As an administrator I could not force password resets for users (that couldn’t log in anymore). Not being able to do user admin (other than suspending accounts) seems to be a deliberate design choice.
I still had access through my Yunohost admin account, but after an update yesterday of the Mobilizon app that stopped working too. So now both instance admins were locked out. Existing documentation wasn’t much help in understanding what exactly is going on.
I also came across an announcement dat Framasoft intends to shift development resources away from Mobilizon by the end of the year, and thusfar there’s little momentum in the developer community to pick up where they intend to leave off.
For now I have uninstalled Mobilizon. I will reach out to the mentioned NGO to hear how their experiences are. And will look at the other tool, although no Yunohost version of it exists.
I’m open te hear about other alternatives that might be good to try.