Collaboration tools

This document lists some communication and collaboration tools that people in the OpenHatch community use in order to work together effectively. The purpose of this part of the documentation is to help people who are new to these tools quickly become oriented, and to help us share tips on how to use these tools well.

Freenode IRC

Developers, event organizers, documentation writers, bug filers, and basically everyone in the OpenHatch community sometimes uses IRC as a real-time chat system.

See to read more about how to join us there.

Email lists

We use the email lists at (hosted by the free-software Mailman package).

These lists are typically publicly archived, and typically are open for anyone to join. Archives are currently performed by the “pipermail” software tool, which is widely-used but not universally loved.


Etherpad is a real-time, rich-text capable, free software text editor.

People discussing a topic on IRC often use it to think aloud so they can write more than a few sentences at a time, and to get feedback on an idea that is a paragraph or longer.

The Etherpad software is widely available; we typically use the websites running Etherpad hosted by Mozilla or Wikimedia. To create a new Etherpad document, one procedure is:

This way, you can choose the name of the pad, rather than accepting the default behavior of having a randomly-generated name.

We typically treat Etherpads as temporary storing places for documents, since it is easy to misplace the link to the document. Therefore, it’s usually a good idea to export a document as HTML from within the Etherpad interface, and send that HTML document to the devel list.

Google Docs

Google Docs is a free-of-cost collection of collaboration tools for writing text documents, spreadsheets, and other such things.

We sometimes use that, too.