Campfire now has permissions Marcel 16 May 2006

28 comments Latest by Joel Miller

While working on integrating Campfire into Basecamp, we've added permissions to Campfire.

Campfire account admins can now assign which rooms a member is allowed to access. In the lobby and the files & transcripts section, members only see the rooms they have access to.

Say your dev shop just brought on Theo, a contract sys admin, so you send him an invite to join your Campfire account.


By default, he has access to all rooms. You want him to be able to search the transcripts and uploads of the conversations your dev team has with him in the Servers chat room so giving him guest access isn't a good fit, but you don't want him to have access to all your account's transcripts and uploads.

So you go over to the Members tab and restrict his access to just the Servers room. The Skunkworks room is reserved for just the developers.


Now Alice and Fred can work with Theo in the Servers room but Theo can't wander into the Skunkworks room.


Also Henry, the college programmer intern you picked up for the summer, just has access to the Skunkworks room since he won't be doing any work with Theo and the servers. Simple. Done.

28 comments so far (Jump to latest)

Campfire User 16 May 06

This is great, thanks a lot!

And when you have time, can you please add the ability to delete obsolete people, room names under Files & Transcripts?

Marc Hedlund 16 May 06

Thank you for making Fred Brooks an admin. I needed that.

Mike 16 May 06

Cant wait till its integrated into Bascamp! Paying for both is annoying, but not having shared users between the two is a pain to coordinate with clients.

Anonymous Coward 16 May 06

what’s with the jab at openbsd?

FredS 16 May 06

↑ Yeaaah… you arrogant sluts.

Javier Cabrera (ClearYourMind) 16 May 06

Wow! I love how simple it is!

Fred 17 May 06

Just in time - my workaround was to give guest access only, but this is better. Keep ‘em coming.

Peter Jennings 17 May 06

This is great - alllows me to start using this with clients and suppliers.

That said, unless my customers/suppliers also start using Campfire themselves, they’ll need to be constantly logged-in in order to properly utilise this. I’d think that the best way for this to happen would be for them to use Campfire themselves. Of course that would mean setting up their own domain - any plans for allowing users to have their own lobby showing the various rooms they’re subscribed to acrosss different domains? This would really expand uptake of Campfire IMO.

Alisdair McDiarmid 17 May 06

The permissions table is kind of confusing looking, no? By having the solid column headings, it makes it look like there are two separate columns with no relation between them.

I couldn’t work out what was going on at first, because there was no line or background colour linking the user name and their permissions settings. It just made it look like a list of users, and a separate list of permissions.

Marko Karppinen 17 May 06

As posted on our site: Since Campfire now has permissions, your clients and partners can also use Pyro when chatting with you. Anonymous guests still cannot enter a room with Pyro, but now you can create limited-access accounts for Pyro users outside of your organization. Yay!

Peter Jennings 17 May 06

I’m using Pyro already - great software. Any plans to allow people to login into rooms from different Campfire domains at the same time, or into multiple domains? I’d like to run both personal and corporate Campfire domains. As Campfire spreads it is inevitable that we’ll be members of rooms across multiple domains.

Also, does anyone know of a PC equivalent to Campfire? It would be helpful to be able to recommend something to my PC-using clients.

gwg 17 May 06

@ Peter - Campfire works on PC and Mac

Peter Jennings 17 May 06

Sorry, I meant to say Pyro. :)

Kevin 17 May 06

With this change, did you also cut the simultaneous chatter limit to four? It was five as late as yesterday, but now it’s down to four on my account.

If so, why not tell us about it? See “Getting Real,” pp 130, “A Softer Bullet.” I mean, I can take the bad news, I guess, but why not tell me about it first?

Anonymous Coward 17 May 06

Theo is god !

Kevin 17 May 06

Sorry, I meant, “…did you also cut the simultaneous chatter limit to four on the free version?” I’ve been using the free version for a while now.

Ben Tsai 17 May 06

@ Peter: I was looking for a Pyro-esque client for the PC as well, mainly because the current notifications were too ambient for my coworkers.

My solution was to write an AutoIt script that basically watches for the title of the web page to change (when there’s a new message, a “(1)” gets prepended).

It solves the problem we were having. Now, my coworkers get a notification bubble in the trayicon area. If you’re interested, I can send you my script (bentsai at gmail). Cheers!

Peter Jennings 17 May 06

@ Ben Tsai - Thanks for the offer, but I am looking for something that I could recommend to clients that they could install as quickly and easily as Pyro. That said, perhaps that would never be possible on a PC. :) If I was looking for in-house solution what you suggested would be perfect.

Alex P 17 May 06


Joel Miller 22 May 06

Anybody heard an explanation from 37signals as to why they reduced the simultaneous user limit to 4 on the free account, WITHOUT any notice, after announcing the 5 user limit with such bravado…

JF 23 May 06

Joel, we’re experimenting with the free for life plan a little. We are planning on announcing changes once they are more permanent, but for now they aren’t.

The only changes to the pay plans since we launched have been to include *more* chatters on each plan, not less.

There’s no conspiracy or malicious intent, we’re just experimenting with the free plan to see where the right limits are.

Joel Miller 24 May 06

Thanks for the response JF.

I realise the intent is not malicious, nor conspiratorial. However, the result of the downgrade you characterise as experimentation, has had a real and negative effect on my user experience, and hence my (once very positive) perception of 37signals.

I also feel that describing the service as “free for life” is disingenuous. Let�s say 5 users signed up for an account, each partly basing their decision to do so on the notion that they would receive the service free for life (the term �life� implying human life). By reducing the limit to 4, for 1 user the service is effectively no longer free. The account is still free, and I presume will be free the duration of 37signals existence, but from the user�s perspective the promise of a free tool for life has not been fulfilled.

I understand that capacity and business pressures constantly shape your ability to offer a certain services. I just wish that loyal, early adopters had not been mistreated in this way, and future users were not being potentially misled by a deceptive marketing phrase.

JF 24 May 06

but from the user�s perspective the promise of a free tool for life has not been fulfilled.

You’re mixing things here. 4 or 5 chatters, the product is still free. You may not like that we reduced the free plan to 4 chatters from 5, but the product is still free and remains free. There’s nothing deceptive about that.

And, as noted, we recently *raised* the limits on the pay plans.

We’re letting you use our software for free for as long as you’d like to. We’re spending a lot of money to make sure the servers are up 24/7/365 so you can use our product at no charge forever. In fact we have free versions of all of our products. Hundreds of thousands of people use our software for free. That’s not free for us, but it’s free for you.

If we allowed 10 chatters or 9 chatters or 8 or 5 or 4 or 3 it’s still free. The number of chatters may go up or down as we experiment with the free tier and how system resources are effected by free plans, but the service remains free.

J 24 May 06

What’s your problem Joel? 37s is giving you free software and you’re complaining. You think they have an obligation to you to do what you want when you aren’t even paying them a penny for their software? Upgrade to a paying plan if you’re so troubled by the difference between 4 and 5 chatters. Their Basic tier allows 12 chatters so you won’t have any problems. Or go use some IM network or IRC if you’re that bothered that 37signals won’t do what you want when you aren’t paying them a penny.

Joel Miller 24 May 06

JF, J,

I am a paying user of Backpack (and for the time being a paying user of Campfire); I used the free Backpack, liked it, wanted more features, and started paying for them. This is the model 37signals and many others employ. It works. I have been recommending 37signals products widely ever since I first used Basecamp last year. I really liked the design, execution and philosophy of the products. The free basic product approach, allied with good software, nurtures this kind of community support. Clearly, it is not an entirely benevolent exercise.

Furthermore, we all use software such as Google�s for free. They are spending a LOT of money to make sure their servers are up 24/7/365 so that we can use their product at no charge forever. Their product, like 37signals free Campfire, is ad supported. If the free Google product was suddenly degraded we would complain, post comments etc and ultimately Google�s profile would suffer. We would not think� �well they were giving it to us for free, so its not our place to have an interest in what level of service they provide�. Actually, free should not have to equal poor.

One of the points I was making, is this: for a multi user product, reducing the effective user quantity is akin to excluding a user, and for a group or team of 5, reducing the limit to 4 renders the service useless. It may still be free for life, but is useless. If, during my Backpack trial 37signals had reduced the page limit, it would only have had a slight impact on the viability of the trial to me as the user.

Finally, as I say in my post, I understand that things change. And as the provider of a free product, 37signals reserve the right to change things. However, if I had been informed that the service was changing, and it had been explained why, then I would not have sent a polite but frustrated email to support. If my email had been responded to, I would not have posted a comment here. If my second email had been responded to with a coherent explanation I would not have posted here for a second time. If my second post had been responded to with even the slightest hint of conciliation I would not be writing now.

As I say above, free should not equal poor. The handling of the change has been poor, and it is poor that JF can�t accept that at the very least. And J; providing a service is actually all about �doing what I, as a user, want�, free or otherwise. I am paying 37signals several pennies, and would have paid many more, if this had been handled correctly.


J 24 May 06

Joel you are continuing to dig yourself into assholedom. It’s a free product. Things change. Pay plans got better. Free plan got a little worse. Get over it, it’s free. Upgrade and be happy already.

Joel Miller 26 May 06

JF - Do you feel that you have said all you need to say on the subject? Do you plan to make an announcement to the users of the service, about the changes (increases as well as decreases)? Do you feel that the matter was handled satisfactorily? Do you think that, as I wasn’t paying for Campfire, I am in no position to feel slightly put out? From the tone of your comments, am I correct in concluding that you feel my comments are unreasonable? Is good UX only important for users who pay? Would the web be where it is today if that was the general rule?