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At some research place I am working recently, there are many people from different research backgrounds and expertises. I have been assigned the task of building a team from all of them and achieve a huge increase of the scientific output (publications, grant applications) of the institution. Since I do not know them well, I thought about organising some online system where everybody connects and gives information about: research interests, current ongoing publication, expertise, suggested projects and ideas. This way, everybody can see what the other people can do, and connect them directly in this online space, and from there on start discussion about potential projects, like in a forum. I should supervise the system so that everybody connects to it, puts the right information, interacts, and so on. But do not have decided yet which kind of online system or infrastructure we could use, any suggestion?

Besides, some practical requirements: we do not have budget, this would be for no more than 20 users, and we can host it in our own server. Users should be able to register and login with just their email address.

  • Don't have a budget as in unlimited money or no money? – Raystafarian Oct 13 '16 at 14:04
  • ok, let's say I can not pay more than 99$/€ – Open the way Oct 13 '16 at 15:02
  • It's hard to get what exactly you need. Sounds like the jack of all trades device. Can you tell whether slack.com or trello.com is similar to what you're looking for (except they are paid monthly and not available for self-install)? – Thomas Weller Oct 13 '16 at 19:00
  • If you have some time, have a look at cynapse.com/cyn-in/download The community edition is free and available as an appliance for download – Thomas Weller Oct 13 '16 at 19:12
  • Hello? Placing a bounty and not answering questions contradicts the purpose of the bounty. – Thomas Weller Oct 17 '16 at 19:24
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Do they all have LinkedIn profiles? Create an unlisted group on LinkedIn:

Unlisted Groups don't show up in search results and only the group's owner and manager can invite members to the group. Anyone with the group URL can view the group profile page and request to join, but only group members can view conversations within a group.

The advantage is that they can all see each others existing LinkedIn profiles, so they don't have to start with spending a lot of time to write an introduction.

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  • no, not all of them have LinkedIn profiles – Open the way Oct 10 '16 at 13:45
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I work for a gaming community that required an alternative to Skype, since it's insecure and contains personal information. In my searches, it came down to three free softwares, which I investigated thoroughly. In my case, the other two simply were not up-to-par with the third, the third being a program called Ryver (pronounced "river").

Ryver is a private business-like chat system with private messages, group chats, public chats to all with an account in your 'domain' of sorts, and best of all - it's free and supports all known platforms I am aware of. They have a web-based platform in event a member does not want to download the app - which is nearly identical to the app itself.

I've never had an issue with the program nor have I found any security holes. You simply need to create an organization, then send invites to the emails of the 20 people you want to use it with. They only need the organization name (which comes in the email), an email address , and a password.

I recommend this program above all others if you're looking for a group chat system. As far as I am aware, there are no limits on the software, and I'm almost certain there isn't a premium version.

For more info, check their website: https://ryver.com/

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I believe Slack can function as you desire:

https://slack.com/

Slack for your size of group, should be FREE. :-) I have used Slack for a few teams I've been a part of and/or organized; and you can access Slack from any PC (Windows & Mac Web & Native Client {probably Linux to via a web browser, but I've no direct experience}), as well as BYOD for free (Android, WinPhone, iPhone). It works really well, and I've not had any issues with reliability.

It's interoperability with other sites, is quite frankly amazing!...

I always link in Google Drive & Google Calendar, but there are so many more:

https://slack.com/apps

In particular, say you need a wiki?... Integrate SlimWiki:

https://slimwiki.com/pricing

Because Slack supports sooo many different plug-ins (which truly differentiates it from any other product in this space) it's really impossible for them to setup a public demo of every possibility. However, because Slack is so popular & established, some of the wiki's that provide plugins (or really any of the plugin publishers) show screenshots and/or videos:

wordpresswiki.org/wordpress-plugin-slack
  --  has a demo video of Slack & WordPress
tettra.co
  --  has screenshots of the work flow for their wiki in conjunction with Slack.
https://slimwiki.com/slack
  --  In the specific case of Slack & SlimWiki; they're both free to setup new accounts, and so you can just sign up & test them out... it should only take you about 15 min (to 30 min max) to set everything up for both. 

Don't like that particular wiki, there's plenty more:

https://slack.com/apps/search?q=wiki

... perhaps Notion or Pingpad is more your style.

Slack also supports plugins for Trello (it's closest competitor, "sort of")... though Trello has much more limitations than Slack in it's "free" version.

Also, in addition to "just" messaging, for free you can:

Searchable message archives, up to 10k of your team’s most recent messages
10 apps or service integrations
Native apps for iOS, Android, Mac & Windows Desktop
Two-person calls
5GB total file storage for the team

Finally, you can setup as many 'channels' as you'd like and restrict and/or open access however you choose. So in your case, each researcher can setup their own #prjDrJaneDoe channel, to keep everyone apprised of what they're doing... and if they decide to work on something together, they can create their own channel on the fly.

Have fun!

PS You really, really don't want to maintain your own solution for such a small team. I'm an experienced full stack dev & admin; and the overhead (when you consider setup, hardware infrastructure, maintenance, and security) is way too much for such a small team. Slack is really cool in this area as well, and has had a minimum of 99.9% uptime over the last year+ https://status.slack.com/calendar ... how many companies are that open about how they're doing? ... and I'd say, that committed to doing good work openly.

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  • the slack thing looks interesting, but I feel there one can not find what I said: a place where people put some kind of page or wiki with the information about them. Can that information be put there? – Open the way Oct 15 '16 at 8:44
  • Plenty of wiki's available for integration... (see edited post)... Slack's real power is in it's integration of great services & not trying to re-invent the wheel and build one monolithic app/service. – George 2.0 Hope Oct 15 '16 at 17:17
  • Where can one see concrete application examples ? – Open the way Oct 16 '16 at 9:23
  • In the specific case of Slack & SlimWiki; they're both free to setup new accounts, and so you can just sign up & test them out... it should only take you about 15 min (to 30 min max) to set everything up for both. Because Slack supports sooo many different plug-ins (which truly differentiates it from any other product in this space) it's really impossible for them to setup a public demo of every possibility. – George 2.0 Hope Oct 16 '16 at 12:47
  • tettra.co -- has screenshots of the work flow for their wiki in conjunction with Slack. – George 2.0 Hope Oct 16 '16 at 12:49
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I would like to suggest taking a look at Mendeley - it is a web service & software suite specifically aimed at researchers and the like and includes group plans.

You can set up public, private and invitation only groups. There are Web, Desktop, Android and iOS applications.

The base level access is Free but you can add additional storage, support and capabilities with the subscriptions.

Disclaimer: I am a user of Mendeley but have no other connection with them.

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