Is anyone working on allowing login via mobile number? I am in east Africa right now with members of our global community, and am finding confirmation of much of what was written above in this topic. People may or may not have email, but they definitely have mobile phones and nearly all have smartphones with facebook and whatsapp installed.
To share an anecdote… even though I am one of the people who was running this learning exchange with these 20 people, there were many moments when I was out of the loop on what was going on with logistics, and found myself sitting in the hotel lobby waiting for everyone else when they all had arranged via a WhatsApp group to cancel an excursion or change plans. They were not choosing to open discourse or their email to quickly communicate with one another.
I know discourse won’t be all things to all people, but in the future it seems necessary to provide account verification via mobile phone and also to allow members to receive notifications via their approved mobile numbers, and send replies to discourse via SMS. All paid for by the discourse site owners to SMS gateways much like we pay for SMTP email now.
This is functionality that we’d be interested in contributing to if anyone gets to work on it and if the discourse team is interested in having it as a plugin or otherwise.
In case anyone is wondering. WhatsApp seems not to be the solution, which is disappointing. I asked @LeoMcA and this is what he had to say:
Sadly it doesn’t look like WhatsApp expose any APIs at all, neither for authentication nor for bots. There are reverse engineered solutions (at least for bots), but I think you risk getting your number banned (and your code taken down) with those. There’s the possibility of more love for developers on the horizon: WhatsApp Blog
Starting this year, we will test tools that allow you to use WhatsApp to communicate with businesses and organizations that you want to hear from. That could mean communicating with your bank about whether a recent transaction was fraudulent, or with an airline about a delayed flight.
But that was posted in January, and there hasn’t seemed to be any update since then.
Another similar service, Telegram, has amazing API support - but if WhatsApp is what people are using, that doesn’t really mean a lot.