A possible Rust Slack channel


#1

Hi all!

Recently, I’ve been chatting with some of the other Rust Community team members about starting up a Rust Slack channel. The idea of the channel would be, just like #rust-beginners, a safe place for people new to Rust to get started. While IRC is great, some people prefer to use other means. For example, our rust-lang/rust gitter has 1000 people in it(!!)

I propose we do an experiment. Let’s set up a Slack channel for, say, 30 days. If it looks like no one is using it, we’ll take that as an indication that people prefer going to IRC/gitter, and we’ll close it down so we don’t have to keep maintaining it (which is a burden on the moderation team and the Rust folks who sit in there and answer questions). If it’s successful, great!

This channel would be unofficial, just like the gitter and /r/rust on reddit, but even being unofficial, the hope is that there would still be the same high quality Rust community spirit there.

With that, I’ll open it up for discussion. Does this sound like a good idea? Would you be interested in helping?


#2

Previous discussion here: Rust Public Slack


#3

I will be focused on IRC, and don’t plan on using Slack.


#4

I am of split opinion on this, I prefer IRC, but also need to use Slack at work anyway, so if there’s interest, I’ll definitely hang in there to help people out.

I don’t much like proprietary platforms that do what IRC did 30 years ago, but it seems that a lot of people prefer Slack these days and I think that we as a community should go where our potential users are, rather than forcing them to change platforms.

My best argument for why I think a Slack channel would actually be a good idea, is that a lot of people have it open at work, meaning it may make it easier to introduce colleagues to Rust via Slack and help adoption it the workplace this way.

The 30-day trial thing seems like a great idea.


#5

I think it would be worth to set this up. Slack has some nice features like pasting code snipets and that ability to change an exiting message you did. Also as there is an IRC bridge over to Slack people that prefer IRC can still use that.


#6

My biggest concern is moderation and tone. I really like (and am proud of) the reputation that #rust has for being a friendly and helpful place. I want to ensure that all channels have this feeling, and I am worried that if there are too many, it will be difficult.

On the other hand, I feel like we should lower barriers to entry for Rust wherever possible. Slack is popular and well-known, though it certainly has its flaws. IRC can be a pain for people to use. We want something people can use easily from their webbrowser and without needing new apps; IRC-cloud sort of fills this niche, but I think that to really make use of it costs $$. IRC in general is sort of unknown outside of open source communities (before coming to Mozilla, I know I at least viewed IRC as sort of an oddball technology).


#7

This does not work very well, to be honest.


#8

I’m on the non-Slack side of the fence. Not that it isn’t a great product, but there’s already 3 community outlets (here, reddit, IRC). Slack doesn’t seem like a great model for public forum. I know other communities use it successfully, but the 10k message cap, invite-automation hacks, and non-linkability (unless you are invited etc…) seems too “closed” to me.

Maybe I’m just afraid of change, but honestly trying to be as objective as I can, I really don’t see the point when there’s 3 open forums already.


#9

I wouldn’t underestimate the community as a whole. In my experience it’s quite rare that a moderator needs to “flex” to ensuring the composer of any of the rust channels – which is in contrast to many different channels I’ve participated in. As long as the slack channel is attracting the same kind of people as the IRC channel, Reddit, users and internals forums, I don’t think there will be a problem at all.

But let’s see! :slight_smile:

Is it too early to talk about a rust-offtopic slack channel??? :smile:


#10

I see. I haven’t actually used it myself.


#11

Just to clarify that: the slack<>IRC bridge is basically a user on every side that posts in the format:

[IRC-BOT]: [<irc-username>] I'm saying something

It’s very annoying and spammy.

Matrix is a very nice chat that has a good IRC bridge.


#12

I’m in favor of IRC too. I’ve been wanting to use IRC at work, but sadly outgoing connections to common IRC ports are blocked. So thanks to @stebalien for mentioning Kiwi IRC in the “Rust Public Slack” topic!

PS: and actually, I just saw that on the Community page of the Rust website, #rust-beginners (and in fact all IRC channels) are links to a Web IRC client (Mibbit). Somehow I never tried to click on these o_O


#13

Note that this isn’t a discussion about replacing IRC at all. The IRC channels are alive and kicking and many of us want to use them.

This is more about providing a service to people that are not into IRC.


#14

I could write a novel on this topic, but I’ll try to keep it brief…

Since you’re talking about this being “unofficial” there’s nothing to stop you from creating a Slack team for the Rust community. Those who aren’t interested can simply not use it, and the Mozilla IRC channels aren’t going away.

That said, I really don’t like the trend of open communities using Slack. It’s a system owned and controlled by a business that does not value openness, interoperability, or the privacy of its users. Despite the hype it currently gets (which is largely deserved) it’s still just a business, and there’s no guarantee it’ll still be around in a year or two. It’s fine for a company to use Slack for their employees to chat (which is its primary use case) but it’s a very poor fit for something like this.

While the features Slack provides a team are great and it’s a good thing to want to bring them to communities using less powerful technology like IRC, the closed nature of Slack makes it less than an ideal for us. Many people are already getting annoyed with having to set up yet another Slack account just to discuss or get support for an otherwise open project. (For me, a good example of this was Kubernetes moving from IRC to Slack.)

My obviously biased opinion is that the best system to use for an open source project’s community chat is Matrix, because it is an open protocol, anyone can build a client or server for it, it’s federated, so no single company owns or controls the data, and it’s on par feature-wise with Slack (give or take, since all the Matrix clients are still beta-ish at best.)

I’m the author of Ruma, a fledgling Matrix server written in Rust. If you’re not already familiar with Matrix, we prepared a good Introduction to Matrix that explains it at a high level. Even the information in those documents should be enough to make it a compelling alternative to Slack for the Rust community’s purposes. More info about Matrix can be found at the official website. The premiere web-based Matrix client right now is Riot. You can either create an account to chat, or log in as a guest without providing any information about yourself, just like IRC.

It’s also important to note that Matrix bridges into other networks, including IRC. The Matrix server provided by Matrix.org bridges into both Freenode and Mozilla IRC, so users of Matrix and users of IRC can talk to each other in the same channels transparently, without even knowing that some other users are connected through the other system. This means that using Matrix as the community chat for Rust would make it completely transparently compatible with our existing IRC channels. In fact, this is already the case. I’ve been using Matrix through Riot to chat in the Mozilla IRC channels for some time now. This means that it’s not even necessary to “choose” Matrix. It’s simply there and working already. As such, any effort by an organized group who would’ve otherwise “chosen” Slack could simply put their effort into publicizing the fact that users can use either Matrix or IRC to participate in community chat.

I’m happy to answer more questions about Matrix, Riot, Matrix/IRC integration, etc.


#15

I’d like to add that there can be multiple “official” chat systems, “official” here being more that the project makes sure the venues are staffed with moderators and we make a longevity commitment.

I agree with you there. Any change in policy on Slacks side will be on our backs and the problem is that Slack has never even made an open commitment that they want to support this mode forever and ever. It’s not used a as intended.

I like Riot, I’d just prefer it were a bit more polished and approachable, but I’m sure that can be fixed.


#16

Circling back to this discussion, it seems that there are a couple concerns around Slack. These seem to mostly boil down to “I don’t like it” and “I prefer another tool”. Personal preference is certainly not something we’ll change (or want to change) and I respect if you prefer other tools. The question here centers around supporting those who do prefer Slack.

And on that note, it seems to be that it’s at least worth the experiment. Only some Rust folks will use it, but if there’s at least enough to help support the new users who are interested in using Slack, it still seems like a net-win.


#17

While there is nothing preventing the community from creating more channels of communication, I really don’t see the point of fragmenting it further, especially in the non-opensource-friendly walled garden that is Slack.

I am already using Matrix, and in fact I’m connected to both the rust-lang/rust Gitter room and #rust IRC channel via Matrix and riot.im. Why not create a room there, and officially bridge the existing IRC room for easy transition? Matrix is pretty similar to Slack, except opensource and self-hostable/federated.


#18

:thumbsdown: I don’t think Rust community should officially encourage using Slack. The link to IRC channel is a webclient, so IMO it’s friendly and convenient enough.


#19

Who said this? I just skimmed through the thread again and everyone seemed to have specific concerns. I don’t see how you came to this conclusion.


#20

No. Just stick to Gitter. It’s as easy as Slack to set up, and it can handle large channels. Slack caps out at about 900 users, so we’re already past their limit.