Discussion platform with full message history

#1

What are your opinions on migrating away from Slack to a chat platform that doesn’t erase old messages?

It looks like anything older than 12 days is deleted (10k message limit shared with FP workspace). I often suspect that I’m asking questions that were already answered before, but outside of the search window.

Discourse seems like a great solution to the message retention problem, yet Slack is more active. Do folks prefer Slack’s instant-messaging format over Discourse’s forum experience?

Are either of these alternative instant-messaging tools appealing:

  • Zulip - Unlimited message retention for open source projects. Nice organization of conversation threads.
  • Riot - Also free. Content is visible without registering (like Discourse), although searching requires logging-in.

Both Zulip and Riot allow for bridging with the PureScript IRC channel, which would address some of the fragmentation concerns outlined in “The state of things” thread. Slack disabled IRC bridging, which is a bummer, but that wouldn’t have solved the message retention issue anyway.

#2

I think there are network effects to consider here, too. For example, while we could migrate to another chatroom, there’s other channels in the FP slack that people might be a part of. The nice part about Slack is that there are multiple chatrooms I can be a part of without exiting the app and switching to a new one / without installing 5 different apps on my phone.

I do think it unfortunate that messages get erased after so many days because of the point you mentioned above.

Do folks prefer Slack’s instant-messaging format over Discourse’s forum experience?

I think the general consensus is that Slack is used for short, quick, informal “help me” conversations and Discourse for longer sometimes formal discussions.

#3

I just want to link to some previous discussions on this topic in a different project. The Core Infrastructure Initiative has a goal of defining what a “good project” looks like and how it is run.

Here is the relevant item on discussion channels/tools in their official criteria:

The project MUST have one or more mechanisms for discussion (including proposed changes and issues) that are searchable, allow messages and topics to be addressed by URL, enable new people to participate in some of the discussions, and do not require client-side installation of proprietary software.

And here was the discussion thread that lead to that item’s inclusion, if you’re interested in reading more about that:

This document about “SLOPI communication” has some interesting requirements of what a good public discussion tool should look like, if you’re interested in seeing a more strict recommendation.

#4

FWIW I really enjoy my chat messages being “forgotten” after a while (I know Slack still has them but I doubt anyone wants to pay them to retrieve them). Discourse is for things I’d like to reference (or I just make a Gist). We’ve also archived a couple of Slack conversations that contained interesting bits on Discourse.

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#5

I’ve seen this sentiment echoed a number of times in the Slack community — many people like that their messages aren’t preserved and they can ask stupid questions, have discussions about the language in a fully non-official way, and so on. I like that the Slack acts as a sort of water cooler / social environment and that it can get cluttered with random one-off questions and weird tangents with no issue because it’s all forgotten.

And I’m glad we have the Discourse for more long-form, measured discussions where people can have thoughtful…discourse. A lot of conversations of value can’t happen easily in Slack. It’s a shame that not as many good conversations get copied over to Discourse as I’d like, but that takes a bit of vigilance to stay on top of.

I personally don’t care about my messages being forgotten, though I prefer they are not saved to a public log. I don’t mind switching to a different chat client. I do want to preserve the chat / discourse combination, however.

#6

If I see resolved questions on Slack that don’t already have a searchable solution on Discourse, should I cross-post those here (along with the solution) in the interest of building up a knowledge base? Would this be too spammy? Is StackOverflow more appropriate?

In either case, I think it would also be good to establish a policy of redacting names to respect the users who don’t want their potentially embarrassing exchanges to be memorialized.

#7

There’s no real policy around it. My take is that if you see an interesting thread of conversation or a solved question in the Slack channel then you could quickly ask if the participants are OK with you cross-posting and if so paste it here. But it’s pretty loose – so far @chexxor is the only person who has regularly done so.

#8

Actually, now that I think of it, there’s a Discord with a PureScript channel, which I don’t believe has message limits, but it has much less activity than the Slack: