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Lessons learned from running our distributed team over HipChat (uservoice.com)
29 points by rrwhite 1875 days ago | hide | past | web | 5 comments | favorite

It sounds like a great tool, but I'm curious about the all the social rules they're trying to enforce. Who can be in what rooms; cliques; what you can say where.

In my experience using other tools, these things work themselves out when you can see/hear the other people. Regular social intercourse has mechanisms for dealing with the run-on talker, the snide remark, breaking up chat-fests ets.

{ disclaimer: I now work for Sococo }

With audio at least, you can use tone of voice, a cleared throat, a group Ewwww! etc. to turn discussion back to work topics. Add video and you can tell advanced presence info, attention vs distraction.

We've been testing video lately and its a game-changer in group meetings. Even just the thumbnail adds so many cues about where a speaker is going, what's toung-in-cheek and what's serious etc.

And chat is still there as a 'back-channel' for side topics, either in the meeting room or person-to-person as needed, while you continue to monitor the discussion via voice.

Voice and video totally speeds up group test sessions, document walkthroughs, bug descriptions by taking the delay out of dialog. A picture may be worth a thousand words, but a word and a look is worth a hundred chats.

I wouldn't consider returning to a chat tool for group dynamics, after using Teamspace. I'm addicted to the speed of exchange it allows, the advanced presence info over anything chat can provide, doc sharing and shared browsing etc.

The chat room is the perfect tool for organizing the team communication. It completely change the way you interact with your teammates. Asynchronous communication is powerful and should be done the right way (not emails for saying we are having lunch!!). We use HipChat too (and Trello). We were so convinced that working with the right tools and the right workflow was indispensable that we wrote a book showcasing the needs we had as a team and the tools we used to fulfill these needs http://leanpub.com/startupflow.

All of the points apply equally well to IRC or any other groupchat you may want to use (satisfied paying HipChat customer here, just sayin').

We used Campfire previously and there were a lot of things we couldn't do (1:1 chats, ad-hoc rooms, etc). So while in general I'd agree there are a lot of things which only worked once we moved to HipChat.

I have a bunch of complaints about Campfire that I wonder if are solved in hip chat (or another service)

-- Noise in the logs such as join/leave notifications. This makes reading old logs a pain in the ass -- Pull activity, by which I mean sending messages in campfire, but having them catch the attention of the person who isn't around. Something like @username notifications that let the user know you've mentioned them. Allow them to reply to the notification email, but have it appear in the chat window. -- Ability to clean up logs and match noise conversation as hidden by default so it's easier for people to go back and read over the logs.

1:1 chats sounds great, especially if they send notifications to the person when they aren't around.

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