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I'm looking for a cost-free alternative to slack where channels can be set as "open" so people can join without having to be invited (slack has this feature but only when paying)

In other words, this is what I'm hoping to find:

  • Cost-free (both the hosting and the software itself)
  • Real-time text chat
  • Email notifications for missed messages
  • Possible to create different "channels" or "areas"
  • Channels can be set to be "open" or "closed"
    • Users can join open channels without being invited

Context: I'm working on a software project and the normal setup is to have an email list for slower communication and also have an IRC channel for real-time communication. What I'd like is to have everything in one place, with email notifications, and also have several channels (for developers, users, testers, etc)

Grateful for help with this!

Similar question: Team chat with private rooms, file upload and link previews (alternative to Slack)

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Atlassian Stride has a free version that includes all the features that you requested for any size team plus video and voice meetings, file sharing and 5GB storage, 10 apps or bots, 25K of message history and collaboration tools. The paid version adds unlimited file sharing and storage, unlimited apps & bots and unlimited message history. See the main page and the feature list here.

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Gitter has all of the features, even private rooms. I've been using it now for a while and I'm happy with it

UPDATE: Below is a list of why i prefer gitter over slack

  • I can take part in several chats for several projects using gitter more easily (when on slack it takes more mouse clicks and also a long load time to view another chat, and the difference is big)
  • Gitter chats can be open - without requiring registration (users do have to be on github or twitter to participate though) - making it easy for people to join
  • Gitter doesn't have any limits for non-paying users

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