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