The ‘Choosing Software‘ page lists some of the considerations that you might think about in selecting software for hosting online communities and meeting places.
Here we review some of the popular choices, for comparative purposes.
Please note, that as software often gets updated regularly, this information should not be relied on, and each user must make their own informed decision on the appropriateness of the software for their needs. There are often differences between paid and free versions of each product that must be considered.
|Platform||Number or participants in video meeting||Text chat during meetings||Group chat outside meetings||User Management||Sign in / account required||Community type||Schedule events|
|WhatsApp group||16||only add / remove||yes||Open||no|
|Microsoft Teams||250||yes||yes||Managed||not for guests|
Notes – video chat
Microsoft Teams has been criticised for only displays 4 callers on screen during meetings, and that the users cannot choose who is on screen. This has been increased to 9 callers on recent updates, but is a limitation in terms of numbers, control and usability.
Jitsi claims to have no limits on numbers of participants, but is limited only by bandwidth, which could lead to poor connection.
Starleaf protects the quality of the call by disabling video function on poor connections, so some uses may only have access to audio connection.
Notes – community type
None – these platforms offer ad-hoc meeting events, built around sharable invites for specific meetings. Anyone with the invite (and password) can join the meeting. There is not a community as such built in to the platform. One advantage of this is that for Zoom for example it is not necessary to have a user account to join a meeting, which can make joining easier. However there maybe a different meeting password each time.
Open – These are big membership platforms, like Facebook, where many peopler are already signed up with an account, and may join an event or a group within the platform. This means they may be used to the interface and log-ins etc, but the groups activities will share an app with many other social networking activities.