Should we migrate discussion away from Slack? If so — to where?

Slack (free) has a big problem. We lose conversation history after about 14 days due to the 10,000 message limit for free communities.

What this means is that if you don’t have your finger on the pulse, tracking conversations in Real-Time, you miss stuff. Then it’s gone. No search, nothing.

Options:

  • Discourse Forum (here)
  • Discord channel (does one already exist?)
  • Stick with Slack
  • Other

I’d like to hear the thoughts people have here.

Goals:

  • Foster a good environment for informal group chat/discussion
  • Create an Evergreen community resource (easy to search & permanent)
  • Correct the current “fragmentation” in where main conversations exist

My thoughts on Slack:

  • Love the informal nature of discussion and the subchannels
  • Love the ease-of-use and notification management.
  • Love the integrations (e.g. GitHub)
  • The 14 days quicksand is intolerable. A deal breaker.
  • IMO we need either Paid Slack (best), or something else.

My thoughts on Forum:

  • I think I could love it.
  • Love the structure.
  • Love that it forms a lasting reference that builds over time.
  • Don’t love the notifications or ease-of-use. Low visibility = lower engagement from me for sure.
  • Fig (app) seems good, but hopefully the limitations of the free version aren’t too limiting.

My thoughts on Discord:

  • I don’t know it well.
  • Some people love it, I don’t “get” the love for it.
  • Seems chaotic (less functional threading so it feels like Real-Time or bust — hard to “jump in”)
  • No message limit is good.

My thoughts on Roam Multiplayer (bonus):

  • This is a long way away yet, I think (Prove me wrong Roam team!!)
  • Too much chaos — not supportive of new users
  • Potential for incremental use within Roam sub-communities??

Anyways, these are just my poorly researched thoughts — super open to suggestions. I’d be sad to see Slack go, but something needs to change. Too much valuable content being lost right now. We’ll regret staying there too long, I think.

cc: @Calhistorian, @RobHaisfield, @beauhaan, @matthewmckinlay, @Bardia, @RoamHacker, @abhay, etc etc etc etc

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I will demonstrate here why I think, absent a better solution, Discourse is the way to go (OR, both, paid Slack plan and Discourse) - and as a bonus I can link to a post I made on the Obsidian forum which demonstrates some of these advantages too.

As you say, this IS the problem. If we eliminate this problem, do we have to move? I like the chat ideal too. But long-term, asynchronous dialogue is really HARD on Slack. But we have this forum. If only we could build a culture to move conversation here when appropriate.

I agree that discord may be more trouble than its worth, despite its advantages.

Well put.

Endorse wholeheartedly

I too agree that this would be really hard while the UI/UX is as complicated as it is. New users will feel shut out.

I don’t know how poor that is.


We need to solve this as soon as possible. The value that is lost is too great!

Mark

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ouuuuu, I like all those quote-replies!

I can feel my love of discourse growing.

tries to insert GIF of Christmas spirit meter from Elf — failed — can you use GIFs???


Yes

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There might be limitations with this, but I don’t know yet. I have just been using for quick replys.

Testing how it looks if I reply to an earlier comment

Individual notification settings per thread is nice too. Getting notified for posts to new threads and topics.

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Hi @brandontoner. I agree with your comments and sentiments and have long wanted a single solution where ALL members of Roam can converse, discuss and learn from each other. I readily admit that Slack has been a outstanding place to do this (mostly because the hardcore users were there and were super helpful to others) but I also recognise the HUGE limitation of losing all our institutional knowledge every few weeks. This is just crazy.

What really concerns me is that we have a whole bunch of new users on this forum who would really benefit from this interaction (as I did) and many of them don’t have access (or cant get access) to Slack. Somewhere in this group of new users is another @roamhacker or @abhay, or @brandontoner etc and we, as a community, should be fostering this growth for our collective benefit.

Yes, the format is different here, and it will take some getting used to, but my view is that we are stronger as a single community and the power of a single community offsets any disadvantages that may be perceived by moving to a non-slack forum.

Paid Slack is not the answer in my view - too expensive and either Roam Research pays for it or Users pay for it. Either way we are taking money away from our community and our beloved Roam and giving it to a third party just for the convenience of a few. I can’t support this solution. And I say this as a lover of Slack.

I don’t know much about Discord so can’t comment. I also agree that multi-player Roam is not quite there yet but offers potential down the track.

So, my final thoughts. We need to move soon, to preserve our institutional knowledge and to support all our upcoming Roam Power users that will emerge within our community. Over time, new options will emerge (Roam multi-player). Yes, some may feel some pain in moving to another platform that offers less engagement but I for one am happy to do this for the benefit of the community as a whole.

I was once a newbie on this forum and it took me weeks to figure out how to access Slack because I wanted to go where the power was. I wanted to learn Roam and I was hungry enough to make the effort. There are so many others like me who are hungry to learn Roam and we as a community should support them as much as we can. Roam will be all the better for it.

P.S. So glad we are having this discussion and having it here in this forum. This alone is a great start.

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I pretty much agree with everything @brandontoner said. I’m in a few Discords and find it very difficult to follow once the use count gets high enough. Paid Slack is the easy button, but I think Slack’s plans are per-user which seems incompatible with a large community space.

The big thing Discourse misses out on is the dynamics a real-time conversation can offer. Some conversations that happen in Slack will not happen here, but some conversations that can happen here won’t happen in Slack.

We could try to use both forums and chat, but I’m in the Obsidian Discord/Forum and I think it just creates too many conversations to follow.

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[cross posted here from Slack]. Really interesting that this topic has ‘taken off’ - which kinda demonstrates how important it is for folk. Ok, seems the discussion so far has focused on three alternatives - Slack, Discord and Discourse. The difference between the latter two have been confusing for some (including me). So I did a bit of an internet search and came across this article - which I think may be helpful for people to read and understand the differences between the three options. After reading this I feel the Discourse Forum should be our long term repository for the institutional knowledge we have been building in Slack to date. Hope this article helps inform the discussion a bit.

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Another thing to keep an eye on, Slack has been acquired by Salesforce and we may see changes in the next year that reflect the new owner’s values for better or worse.

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Thanks for posting this. I think they make pretty clear that Slack is incompatible with a large community that cares about data retention. $8 per user/month is totally not doable. I don’t want to add that fee to my investment in Roam, I don’t want to raise the bar to entry for the community that high, and I don’t want Roam Research spending that kind of money to keep Slack active.

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Why not split the Slack stack? There’s no rule that says you can only have one free Slack account. Some threads are high-volume with a lot of traffic, others not so much.

That’s a good point, though it introduces some friction in moving between topics. It also just pushes back the message limit problem rather than eliminating it.

The tradeoff then is friction v. message removal. It’s not like you’re going to eliminate the message limit without paid Slack, so you’d still be splitting the conversation by peeling off to another venue.

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Thanks for bringing this topic up @brandontoner.

It took me almost a year of trying to use Slack to figure it out. (Back when I managed big teams, we didn’t have Slack. :zombie:‍♂) But now that I have, I’m bumping into the history limitation and it’s frustrating.

For teaching people how to use Roam and learning more myself, I prefer an asynchronous dialogue.

I am a HUGE advocate of the Discourse (not Discord) platform and was thrilled to find Roam move to it. I’m a member of the awesome Keyboard Maestro Discourse forum and I can tell you, with all the helpful and intelligent people in the Roam community, we could build something really helpful for future Roamans.

Here are a few of my favorite things that I think would transfer from the KM forum to here:

  • onboarding bot : helpful and motivating
  • “gamification” of the platform with badges, trust levels, etc.
  • saving/bookmarking threads
  • sense of “community”

Regarding this…

I find the email notifications very helpful to keep me involved with the community. You have custom control over them as well as site notifications.

My vote is clearly for continuing to build this Discourse forum and leaving Slack for people who actually work at Roam Research.

Hope that helps the conversation.

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I cannot use Slack. It fries my productivity. And the lack of “history” is too unsettling for me to even consider investing there.

I’m <1 month into my use of Roam and already have been considering how to contribute more to the community. I so so so appreciate the enhancements I’m running already including Roam42 test version with SmartBlocks and a bunch of stuff from RoamJS.

Is there a decent app for Discourse?

I’d be willing to invest energy here more if it becomes the hub of the leading edge of Roam.

Rick

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Hey @Calhistorian . Nice to see you here !
yes , this seems to be a recurring problem that every community is seeming to face at one point or the other .
Real time chat is so invigorating , but isn’t ideal for all types of conversations and having two platforms for different kinds of conversations is painstaking ! Hoping to solve this crisis with some new tool . Have been thinking about this for a while now . Communities need this !

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I would like to add a [[Resource]] to this conversation. It’s a good article I’ve saved discussing Slack & Discord. Thought it might be useful for people following this conversation.

I am convinced that other communities are struggling this with as well. Wonder if there’s any good writing about it? I really believe building Communities is going to be a focus for the next 10 years or so.

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