Should Ember better define its use of Slack?


#21

I do wonder if a combination of things could work:

(edit: just realized I basically said the same thing as @Wayne_Douglas above)

  1. move to a Slack clone like Ryver (or other) that maintains history for free; continue to have EmberJS development specific conversations on that platform
  2. Nudge people asking for help and support in chat to this forum (or whatever similar one is setup). I like this better than pushing people to StackOverflow (not that the forum couldn’t prompt that) because the forum should promote a better sense of community compared to SO’s drive-by mentality.

2a) Look into the styling of this forum - Is it just the default? To me, it’s hard to scan, see topics at a glance and those things don’t help make it the kind of page I want to hang around on watching for new messages, interacting with the community, etc.


#22

There are some leaders in the community who seem to prefer to answer questions in Slack over and over again as opposed to Discourse and (especially) Stack Overflow “because answers get stale”.

Once you’ve had some experience in Stack Overflow, you gain the ability to edit old answers. We need to start using this.


#23

I think at the heart here is the persistence and search-ability/google-abilty of answers to help questions. I think using slack for answers hurts our seo story and thus external perception of ember. When people outside ember google for us they come up with old stuff, giving the “ember is dead” perception that we see crop up from time to time, when in fact the ecosystem is extremely vibrant. (ps there are also documentation seo issues that we are working to resolve that will help this too)

That said I think the community discussions and banter is awesome in Slack and would not want to lose that. I also don’t think the persistence of daily conversation/community building is as important as the answers to questions, though wouldn’t hurt to have it for perpetuity.

I’d be open to ways to direct questions away from the slack help channel and into discourse or SO. Either take just the help channel down or make it very clear we want questions in our preferred question forum.


#24

Help channel should go IMO as a start


#25

How about we add a topic on the help slack directing people to ask on discourse and/or stack overflow, and ask people to start answering questions there?


#26

Given that we have moderators / admins / etc here in discourse, we can properly manage stale answers if needed.


#28

There is/was a tutorial site - I forget which one - that said under the article title which versions of Ember the tutorial was tested up to. I few times that came in useful as a quick a way of knowing whether it’d be relevant to you.

Maybe there’s something we could do with that here. If a new thread enforced asking what version of Ember you’re on along with the question, it could be displayed at the top of the post so at least you’d have an idea if a solution wasn’t necessarily applicable to your version.

The internet’s full of stale answers to older versions of software, people just need to know if the answer applies to their version. Some of those “stale” answers might still be relevant for people on legacy apps :wink:


#30

It was EmberIgniter - https://emberigniter.com


#31

The problems with Slack for support as I see it (apologies for repeating some aspects here that have already come up):-

  • questions get missed, lost amongst the general conversation
  • questions get straight up removed due to message retention limits
  • questions can’t be searched for meaning the same questions get answered repeatedly
  • not having a searchable set of up to date information can make the project look less active than it is
  • not having an active tag on SO can be extremely harmful as it’s a primary source of new users looking into their framework choices

Slack is good for ad-hoc or free flowing conversations but is limited when more structure is needed.

As pragmatic devs we like to say things like ‘use the best language/framework/tool for the job at hand’. Well, Slack is not it for help and support.


#32

I’m also very much in favor of moving support questions from Slack to Discourse. The reasons are many but they have all(?) been said in this thread by others. (Just today, a coworker sent me a slack link to a recent answer but it was gone already.)

The “getting stale” problem is indeed a tough one but I think (and this is completely unscientific) the cost of maintaining the Q&A here (via tags) takes a lot less resources than the resources wasted on answering those questions on Slack. All those precious knowledge is now nowhere to be found.

Also, given Ember’s commitment to stability, a lot of answers will continue to be valid for a long time. And a lot of those that won’t will still work, it will just probably not be the most idiomatic way to do it in a more recent version of the framework (string actions vs. closure actions might be a good example). For these, an update post in the thread can be added (“from Ember 2.8, you can use a closure action, …”).

When I say support, I’d also include the “add-on” channels (e.g ec-mirage, ec-deploy, etc.), as I’m sure the maintainers have to answer very similar questions there, too, and no knowledge base is being built-up.

For the non-support channels (dev-, topic-, local-, etc.) having something like Slack is great, although if there are alternatives that retain history and are easily searchable, they’d even be greater :slight_smile:


#33

I totally agree here, giving up on Slack entirely is the wrong idea.

I do really like the idea of moving the main “help” center to Discourse, though, or really any medium without the temporal limits of Slack. Whether that means redirecting people to Stack Overflow or here doesn’t really matter to me, but a place where we can begin to create a publicly visible (and searchable) location for answers to problems would be really valuable.

I think the concerns around “right answers” eventually getting stale is really interesting, though. The fact that Slack “fixes” this by answers just disappearing is incidental, though. Maybe with a really well-maintained Discourse channel, answers to questions can be reviewed every so often and if something new would be considered “best practice” that can be surfaced in some way.


#34

Not sure if it’s search engine indexable, but if so, we should consider Spectrum in the list of Slack alternatives. It just went open source.


#35

Chiming in here, I moderate a few local and online communities and I am a frequent participant to the Ember Slack.

A few take aways that I have.

  1. Long lived question/answer format is not great in a chat service form
  2. The same goes for long term plans or longer form discussion

While the history of Spectrum or Discord helps some search-ability it becomes an excuse for not properly answering in a longer lived and more easily parsable format like Discourse. I think we need to do a better job at pointing people to this Discourse to ask questions and look for answers.

That said!!!

IMO Slack does an incredible job for community building. It is easy to manage compared to other services and has high adoption rates for users from companies of all sizes (yes there are some companies that block Slack, but there are companies that block any untrusted site or chat program so this is something we’ll face no matter what we chose).

Slack has brought me closer to people in the Ember Community in ways that a forum wouldn’t. The instant conversation more closely mimics being in a room and while modern forums like Discourse have better notification settings and background loading this doesn’t match the simplicity of the chat you are already using for work that loads near instantly.

From a support standpoint I think a good practice would be to recommend this series for people looking for help:

  1. Search Discourse to see if this has been asked before (IIRC Discourse actually links you to similarly titled posts from the creation screen and lets you move to a comment)
  2. Post new question or post comment on thread if not answered by 1
  3. Post link to question (maybe bot integration?) to #-help
  4. Troubleshoot and work through hurtles in Slack (preferably in a thread/comment stream)
  5. Post relevant discussion and final answer from Slack in Discourse

#36

I think there’s a middle ground here. I believe our major issues with Slack would be solved with a small Slackbot that people could summon (like giphy or remind) to move a question/answer onto this forum.

I think we should try out a few creative solutions before making any big moves. I’d love to chat with anyone interested to help build a bot like that.


#37

I know @chrismou likes to build a slack bot :wink:


#38

a few thoughts from my side:

  • realtime conversation has its place, we shouldn’t replace it completely

  • due to the adoption of Slack in several companies and other communities you only need one client, if we move to XXX (Discord, Mattermost, Gitter, …) I would need to run yet another messenger application (I feel reminded of the 90s…)

  • for Q&A I would prefer StackOverflow over Discourse due to SEO, discoverability and us improving in the regular SO reports on community activity

  • IMHO a main issue with SO/Discourse is discoverability of the questions for people that can answer them, because you need to actively monitor the pages. Slack is often already open in the background and I think a bot that posts new SO questions to Slack might help here.

  • once such a bot is in place we could refer people asking questions on Slack to StackOverflow and answer the questions there

  • Discourse vs. Discord has really unfortunate naming and can lead to much confusion :see_no_evil:


#39

I think Slack definitely has it’s place and I renamed this thread to reflect that :slight_smile:

IMO this discussion is not about moving the “conversation” to another platform - it’s about placing Q&A in the right place to show that the community is very active and to help with SEO

Also IMO - SO - esp recently - has become a negative experience and has wider issues outside the control of this community which is why I guess I would prefer Discourse over SO - the community here doesn’t need fixing!

All IMO - but the nuts and bolts are that something is wrong - and right now I feel it urgently needs fixing.


#40

FWIW, this is exactly what I was talking about in this comment:


#41

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.


#42
  • 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. \*(^_^)*/