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Tl;dr

The EA Gather town is cost-efficient to share among EA organisations - and gives you access to its own highly engaged EA community.

Ways you can use the EA Gather space

  • Have a permanent online ‘office’ for your organisation or group to cowork in
  • Run meetings or internal events in the space
  • Run public events, either for the broader EA community or other groups

The space is run by a group of volunteers, so ping one of us on here if you want to talk about setting up a presence there - or just hop onto the space for a while and see how you find it!

EA Gather Updates

Gather has reduced their free plan from 25 concurrent users to 10, which has forced many EA groups using it to seek different services, which may also charge or have their own limitations

However, CEA has generously agreed to fund the EA Gather Town instance for 30-40 concurrent users, a capacity which EA organisations can freely piggyback on. 

The rest of this post will discuss the benefits and drawbacks of using the space.

Benefits

‘Free’ virtual space

Given the uneven distribution of usage over a month, almost all of the capacity we’re paying for goes unused. Each org might have a weekly meeting of 1-2 hours, spiking the usage to near capacity, then have 0-5 users online for the rest of the week. So it’s very likely you could run your own weekly meetings at whatever time suits you without any concern about capacity, and virtually certain if you have any flexibility to adjust the times. 

We have a shared event calendar so that you can track whether your usage spikes might overlap. In that event, we have some excess funding to boost capacity.

Integration with a growing section of the EA community

EA groups that have used the space regularly include EAGx Cambridge, Charity Entrepreneurship, Anima International, Training for Good, Alignment Ecosystem Development, EA France, EA Hong Kong, Metaculus, and more.

Last year we were the meetup and hangout space for EAGxVirtual, and hopefully will host many more such events. We also have many independent regular users, who might be future staff of, donors to, beneficiaries of, or otherwise supporters of your group. 

It’s entirely up to you how public your office space is to other users. Some EA groups welcome guests, some are entirely private, some are in between. We’re currently exploring intuitive visual norms to clearly signal the preferences of different groups (feel free to suggest some!).

Also, your office is not a prison - your members are always welcome and warmly encouraged to join us either for coworking or socialising in the common area :)

Gather Town native functionality/default norms

Gather Town has a number of nice features that led us to originally set up this group there and to stay there since:

  • Intuitive video call protocol (if you stand near someone, you’re in conversation with them)
  • Embeddable webpages (so you can eg have native access to pomodoro timers)
  • Cute aesthetic - your office can look like a virtual office, a virtual park, a virtual pirate ship, or anything else you can imagine! You can traverse on foot, by go-kart, or by magic portal :)
  • Various other bits of functionality and suggested norms

Drawbacks

The main reasons why you might not want to use the space:

Buggyness

Gather is relatively new, and has a few more moving parts than other video calling services. It has a few intermittent glitches (most of which can be resolved by refreshing the page). Twice in the last 13 months or so I’m aware of it having gone down for about an hour. If you need perfect uptime, Zoom is probably better. Note there’s both an app and browser version, so one might work substantially better than the other at any given point.

Resource use

Some people have reported finding Gather Town quite system intensive. Personally I’ve found it less so than Google Meet, slightly more so than Zoom. This is quickly noticeable for those who it affects, so easy to test if it might be a concern. 

Confusingness

Some people find it more confusing than Zoom et al, given the RPGesque interface. For others it seems to be more intuitive, so this seems mainly about familiarity.

Let one of us know if you want to join, or just come and try it out!

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Sorted by Click to highlight new comments since: Today at 8:12 PM

Thanks to EA GatherTown team for your efforts! It's a great coworking space for remote teams. When we worked on EAGxVirtual last year it definitely helped us to sync faster and do more work. I also know many people outside of major EA hubs who are using the GT coworking space to stay accountable and productive. And because embedded pomodoro timers are synced you can have breaks at the same time and chat with others.

We've received lots of excited comments about EA GT in the EAGxVirtual '22 feedback form, so we are looking into incorporating it even more this year as a virtual venue. Though some people were confused with the platform and asked for a better guidance/onboarding.

CEA staff occasionally virtually co-work together in gathertown and that's been realy fun! I'd be excited to see Gathertown become a more active space.

[Obvious disclaimer that CEA funds this]

Happy to see this! My impression is that it could be really great to get a lot of EAs in spaces like this, but also that it can be quite tricky to do. Hopefully as the tech improves it will become easier.

I also am a fan of Immersed VR, but fewer people have VR headsets and work in them. I find that more engaging though.

I'll try the Gather Town out, will see if I can use it in my workflow.

>We have a shared event calendar so that you can track whether your usage spikes might overlap

Minor note: The link to the calendar seems broken for me. 

Should be fixed now, thanks for highlighting. 
There's EA VR - they're listed as inactive but I think there's some activity in their discord. Look forward to seeing you around and feel free to ping anyone with 'EAGather Steward' in their name for a tour :)

Good to know, thanks!