FWIW, this is exactly what I was talking about in this comment:
I’ve played around with simple Slack bots (made a dicebot for our D&D channel), so if we go that route and don’t use an existing solution, I’d be interested in helping.
- seems illogical to pick a forum over a live chat or vice versa. Both have different audiences and both have different use cases.
- some questions probably should be answered with a gentle reminder to RTFM (it can be seen as incredibly disrespectful to have not even done a generic search before asking a question, especially to the folks who have put so much work into making the guides really good)
- a bot is probably a good path forward to move questions & answers.
- If we’re considering alternatives to Slack: https://discordapp.com/open-source (if you haven’t tried it lately, it’s worth a try again- a lot of older complaints about the platform have been resolved)
Some food for thought, perhaps. \*(^_^)*/
Totally agreed. I believe most folks in this post are on the same page.
Well stated. This combined with better discussion (in this forum) of common pitfalls will almost certainly result in a general “rising tide” that will help everyone.
Yep, hopefully we can move forward with the integration that I’ve mentioned a few times above.
Yes, definitely. I love Discord. I do share the general “I have too many instant messenger clients” complaint, but I’m already always present in discord so I guess its “fine by me”. In the end, I think if we solve for the other points you’ve made, the choice to stay with Slack is likely much less important…
I think moving Slack conversation / questions & answers, if deemed of value, to a repository of knowledge (here or otherwise) makes sense, but I see much value in realtime conversation.
In spite of trying many times, I have never managed to get into the habit of answering questions on Stack Overflow or on a forum, but I answer questions in Slack relatively often. Questions often do not contain the complete picture and if I can immediately ask follow up questions it means I can usually offer my help in the span of a few minutes I happen to have available. On SO or on here, I would have to remember to check for responses, or respond to notifications, and follow up over time, or the asker may never respond, and that’s something that takes a much larger bite of my time and mental overhead.
I share this experience. However, I think this is just another point in favor of a bot to extract conversation from slack to a post here in the forum. It should be straightforward to grab the conversation (edit out the unrelated comments) and post back here, with most of the heavy lifting being done by the integration itself…
I have mixed feelings about using a Slack bot to copy the conversations into Discourse. On one hand, I think it’s great to see the flow of the conversation because you can learn a lot from it (for example, the questions that the expert asks the novice to try to identify the problem) but on the other hand, it can also be a lot of noise in the sense of needing to read the whole conversation, to maybe find out that the person who asked the question made a mistake writing a command or something totally unrelated.
Another concern is the lack of tools in Discourse to handle these questions. For example, in StackOverflow a question can be flagged as duplicated but as far as I know, that option is not available here (it’s possible to flag a post but to be reviewed in general). The same happens with the options of editing questions & answers of other people which are not possible here either.
So I just want to point out that many of the core folks (who have chimed in) are leaning on the slack side. I just ask that you don’t lose sight of what the community is asking for as well. As mentioned before, the core needs will likely differ from the community needs. Thx all!
TBH, I don’t understand what you are referencing here. AFAICT the vast majority of folks chiming in here (core, subteam folks, community folks, etc) are quite in favor of moving a non-trivial part of the conversation that happens here.
Perhaps you are referring to the repeated references to there still being a need for realtime communication? IMHO, that’s quite a different beast. Realtime chat is (and will continue to be) very useful for a number of specific situations…
Ok, that’s good. I guess I got that feeling from the past couple comments but won’t belabor the point if we’re all on the same page. Thanks!
Any thoughts on when we can start to move on some of these ideas? Things like the redirect from #help can happen anytime. But I suppose there should be some sort of official endorsement of the changes, or just to clarify the support model.?.
Just my two cents here.
At first, I thought real-time conversations for help in Slack was a good thing. To be honest, it’s nice to get that 1-on-1 help and get answers to questions/concerns quickly.
Over time, my mentality on this has shifted for various reasons.
- It’s distracting to have another Slack group open at work
- You develop a feeling of instant gratification over time (e.g. I need this answered now)
- Knowledge transfer is non-existent (e.g. A question will probably be asked and answered with little to no track record)
- It’s not beginner friendly
Let me touch on that last one real quick.
I totally loved the Slack channel and thought it was great for beginners, and I’ve definitely pointed people to Slack to ask for help. But that requires a lot of trust (new person) from people (ember folks) you don’t know. Personally, I’m very transparent but many people aren’t immediately and don’t want to create a new alias for themselves just to ask questions - initially. This changes over time, but it’s a big ask for newbies.
Either way, these are observations I’ve had. Hopefully, it’s useful in some manner.
Just want to chime in, on record, that my dev team talks about this a lot. We don’t think Slack is “bad” per se, or bear anyone any ill will for using it, but everything that happens there is inherently ephemeral and walled-off if it isn’t somehow archived and exported. This seems prohibitively tedious at the moment & I haven’t come across any examples of it happening - rather, I keep seeing the opposite, where a promising SO or forum thread from whenever ago will end with “Come join us on the Slack channel,” the internet equivalent of tire tracks going over a cliff.
My biggest concern isn’t that it’s hard to Google answers when I get stuck, but rather that the lack of a strong web presence means less overall mindshare, which means that #EmberJS isn’t trickling down to the kids or up to the C-suite as hard and fast as it should. Fewer pointy-haired bosses have heard of it, which means fewer job postings ask for it, which means fewer junior devs are learning it, which for me personally directly translates to (1) having to take Angular/React freelance gigs, because that’s overwhelmingly what keeps coming my way, and (2) having a really hard time finding other Ember freelancers to work with, on the bigger Ember projects that do show up, who aren’t either fresh out of code camp or basically members of the core team.
Nothing but love for the framework & community, just adding my $0.02 because this seems to be an active conversation about Ember in a widely-seen, non-ephemeral forum - exactly what I think we need more of.
I’m strongly in favor of doing more here in Discourse where it’s searchable and backed entirely by open source.
There are some useful ideas in this post about how the Discourse team themselves use it. Notably, they agree that having realtime chat for quick answers is still helpful, but needs to be treated as throw-away and anything else goes in Discourse.
Another alternative is Keybase, who picked Slack’s defunct history as part of their pitch for their new Teams feature:
The long term usage of slack is a turn off. But ultimately this is a process question and not a technical one as there is a time and place for quick answer real time questions. I think perhaps we need to encourage participants who ask QA stuff on slack to take as action item a transfer of that info into Discourse/SO.
For example a back and forth question session on slack is great start and then once the “problem solved” restate in a QA form on the forum.
To this end I think a slack bot integration to facilitate this would be an excellent idea. MVP could be just copying the slack thread to a new post on discourse. It can always be further refined or curated on the forum, especially if a particular question gets popular.
And we should probably let popularity drive how much effort goes into curating any given thread.
As many have said, the utility of a tool like slack justifies it’s continued use in our community. But, I’m very much in favor of this conversation and look forward to what we all can learn from it.
The Learning team has done a fantastic job improving the guides to help guide new developers . However, there is no way they can answer every question, nor should the guides try to accomplish that. Having Slack as the primary channel for questions is not only intimidating, it’s inefficient. The signal to noise ratio is astronomical. This adds a lot of friction, especially in those critical early days of learning of the framework.
The article @ef4 shared above about how Discourse uses Discourse, is instructive. Slack is ephemeral. The core team and addon authors should push Q&A to here or StackOverflow. It should not take long for the community to shift gears.
(Side note: I didn’t realize how capable Discourse is. Check out these two sections as potential sources of inspiration for here: https://meta.discourse.org/c/howto & https://meta.discourse.org/c/plugin)
I hope these thoughts are helpful. Go team!
An important point to consider here is that Slack has been taking steps to actively push “open” Slack teams off the platform. This is most obvious with the pricing plans - $ per month per user - that is completely untenable for anything with open signup.
The pricing plan has been there for a while, but if you take a look at the more recent platform changes and the API blog updates, you get a sense that the company really doesn’t like the “open to everyone” teams. I think that’s a large part of why these conversations are happening right now as opposed to six months ago
I think the new name is a great way to frame the conversation.
I wrote the topic referenced in the original post a little over 2 years ago.
Some notable observations:
- I wrote that 2 years ago, and you were able to find it and link to it here. Good thing I didn’t just post it in a Slack instance somewhere.
- The original post is a copy of a conversation from Slack. Good job capturing that and getting a discussion going here where it can evolve over a longer period of time!
- I wrote that 2 years ago, and it’s something we still struggle with
We have the chat integration plugin installed. Adoption of the “subscribe to a category or tag via slack” feature of that plugin is OK, but not great. The “post a transcript from Slack” is rarely used. In part because of the lack of thread support, but I think in greater part because chats just don’t transfer that well to this medium.
The more successful patterns we’ve seen are social ones, which is why I think the renaming of this topic is on target. What kinds of behaviors do you want to encourage and how can the leaders (formal or informal) in the community best model them?
Some things that I have seen work well:
- Start the discussion on Discourse, and then share the link in one or more relevant Slack channels, inviting people to participate in the discussion who’s “canonical home” is on Discourse
- When a conversation takes place in Slack that is related to an existing thread on Discourse, point out the link to the Discourse thread in Slack. Don’t try to move the conversation over while it’s in flight though – that’s often disruptive. Instead, if anything new came out of the Slack chat, summarize it in a follow-up post on the Discourse topic (in our case, we also encourage linking back to the Slack conversation, but we’re paying for archives… that probably wouldn’t be too helpful here).
- When a discussion just starts to feel like it’s the kind of thing that may have lasting value, suggest moving it at some point, “Hey, this is some really interesting stuff, you should consider posting it on Discourse so it doesn’t get lost.” Natural times to do this include when people type multi-paragraph posts in Slack, but others will just be apparent, I imagine. Another example is when people work through something kind of gnarly troubleshooting wise (“hey, glad we finally go to the bottom of this, It’d be great if you could summarize the issue and the resolution for others on Discourse”)
- Nudge people by making them aware of the value of asynchronous communication. “I’m kinda busy so I can’t help you right now, but if you post this on Discourse, I’ll try to answer later (unless someone else gets to it first.)”
Changing culture is hard, but I think that’s the necessary element to make something like this succeed, more so than any technical integrations.
Greetings from the Discourse team
First of all, thank you all very much for your insights! I’m going to be writing a blog post to clarify our stance on the whole “Discourse (forum) and Slack (chat)” conundrum. As you’ve already concluded, the short answer is: Forum & chat can and should co-exist perfectly well. It’s just a matter of recognising their individual strengths and weaknesses.
I only have one more thing to add to this largely complete discussion: I find it odd that no one brought up the fact that Discourse is an open source Ember application. discuss.emberjs.com is hosted for free on Discourse.org’s servers. If anyone ever wants to make a plugin to improve any part of your workflow, such as:
- improving our Slack integration
- making Discourse more “real-time” (for instance we recently added “Who’s writing” capability)
- integrating your Discourse with canonical resources in the Ember ecosystem, e.g. https://www.emberaddons.com/
then you can do that.
I’d also recommend replacing Disqus with Discourse on https://emberjs.com/blog/. There’s a lot to be said about Disqus but I’ll just boil it waaay down to: Open source (and Ember-app) is better.
Sooo… I’m sold?
Let me make a concrete suggestion, see if folks think its a decent initial step forward:
- Make a Q/A category here (and make some subcategories for more common types of questions).
- Update the channel topic in #-help (in slack) to point to this forum (recommending searching here as part of the troubleshooting process there)
- As common issues are discovered during slack conversations and elsewhere we (as a community) try to take the time to discuss the issue here. This may just mean posting a quick summary and hopefully doesn’t need to become a burden on folks.
I think that this smallish step will ultimately make a large difference. What do y’all think?