Thanks for addressing this.
While it might be lucrative to go the Free Software way (which Signal is not really as well: https://blog.grobox.de/2016/is-signal-a-threat-to-free-software/) So we can agree that potentially moving to Signal would not be because of Free Software reasons.
Although, Signal is definitely “more free and open” than Telegram. Signal usually requires Google Play services for analytics, hence it’s also not available on F-Droid (which makes a lot of sense I believe, but that’s my opinion). You can download the apk from their website, but installing it outside the Play Store is actually a less secure way for non-technical users. You’d be suggested to verify the signing certificate and fingerprint if you really care about security. If you want to get the apk, check this out:
Having said this, it’s a good option if you are not running Google Apps on your phone and/or have a custom Rom like Lineage OS. You have went into some trouble doing that and probably can handle a bit more.
Now, if you care about privacy and encryption, the best way to go ahead is using Signal or WhatsApp. Considering that we don’t have any official sensitive channels apart the @Members group (and the channels are public by design) I don’t think it makes much sense to have large groups on Signal, including other reasons:
- You have to share your phone number to everyone in the group
- Message history is problematic if you switch devices
- Message time stamps differ depending on the time you are online with a device with Signal
- no bots (would be stupid if they did)
Now, I’d argue it would make sense to have the Open Labs Members group migrate to Signal because it’s all NDA protected and dealing with 30 member’s phone numbers makes more sense than 120 in a publicly accessible group. It would also reduce spam eventually as Telegram has become a bit more casual in its usage.
Another point I’d like to raise is the fact that most of the time we spent on Telegram, is on mobile. Please correct me if I’m wrong. So a good mobile app would be a requirement I believe. Signal is pretty good but I think that any IRC or Matrix client has bad usability on mobile and we want to make it accessible to new people wanting to contribute to Open Labs, not scare them with all these “scary” processes, right?
Although I believe that Matrix/ Riot has great potential, I don’t think it’s there yet. We would potentially lose communication and contributors because the barrier is higher compared to Telegram. We currently have an IRC bridge channel, which is the main channel of Open Labs. It is accessible through any IRC and Matrix client and should provide all these people access to our main channel. If required, we can open new bridges for project specific channels if needed however. I’d argue here again though, that you can easily see the ratio between IRC and Telegram users on the Open Labs chat and only a handful of IRC users. If you care about switching from Telegram, you should use IRC or Matrix. I haven’t seen that much yet.
I hope I have given some context here. The way moving forward in my opinion would be to test pilot a Members Signal group for sensitive discussions. I agree that NDA discussions should not happen on Telegram (Mozilla has a similar policy).
If you are unsure about the topic, I’d kindly ask you to consult with the @infra team for any questions.