Using EtherPad in place of the Context Box
In the Pirates group we often find ourselves using a PiratePad (implementation of EtherPad run by the German Pirates) instead of the Context Box, for drafting documents. There are a number of benefits to this over using the Context Box including:
* realtime editing by multiple users
* colour-coded tracking of what has been changed by who
* timeline functions which makes it super-easy to navigate through various versions in the history and see what has changed
The downside of this is that at times people put material into the Pad that really ought to be a comment in the Loomio discussion (or both), so you end up with two diverging discussions, and because the contents of the Pad is not on the same page (literally and figuratively) as the Loomio discussion, people can end up talking at cross-purposes because one person hasn't read what the other one has been adding to the Pad. Another downside is that the Pad doesn't know about the privacy settings, or group membership, of the discussion it is attached to.
I imagine it would be a lot of work to reimplement EtherPad functionality within Loomio. But would it be possible to run an Etherpad server in parallel with a Loomio server, and have the pad appear where the Context Box currently appears? Is it possible to make it only visible to users with read access to that group, and only editable by those with write access? It is possible to set it up so that whenever a new discussion is created in the Loomio group, a new pad is also created to be associated with it as just described?
I guess this would be done through a plug-ins architecture? The Context Box would still be the default feature, but if Loomio hosts decided to run an Etherpad, and install the plug-in, the behaviour described above would replace the Context Box on that instance.