Elm's Slack logback is failling the community

I just saw that topic (Building 0.19 from source?) form Joey, and thought, great ! I know where to find the info: on the elm-dev Slack ! That topic has been discussed on elm-dev many times, unfortunately the logback of the chan is too short (less than a month, and keeps getting shorter). I think tons of information has been lost since the community opted-in for Slack. I’ve heard many times people struggling to find info on the 0.19, and I’m thinking that Slack might be related.

Am I the only one feeling this ? I previously hesitated between replying to Joey’s thread, or the Slack because this is where the community hangs out. But I’d like to hear what the community thinks about the subject, and if you have already ideas to address the issue.


I’m not a fan of slack, specially because of what happened in December, when they banned accounts based on countries visited and US sanctions.

They did rectify shortly but it seems to me a terrible sign of things that could happen, so I don’t trust them any more.

I also don’t know of any good alternatives, and running communities is hard…


I would suggest making a blog post or discourse thread if you see a slack conversation worth reading, that way it can benefit more people and is a way of contributing to the community.


Slack isn’t designed to be used the way that open source communities use it, to the detriment of every community that does. Ultimately, to get all the features, the workspace owner needs to pay per user. Slack charges $8 per user per month, and the Elm slack currently has 16,000 members… so that would be $128,000 a month. Of course, that will never happen.

What’s the solution? Probably to stop using Slack. There self-hosted solutions out there that can be operated like this Discourse server. Or you can switch to IRC. The Haskell community has an extremely popular IRC channel (#haskell on the Freenode IRC server). There are several websites that make the logs from the channel available, dating back years.

Here’s an example of a site hosting the #haskell IRC logs: http://tunes.org/~nef/logs/haskell/

NixOS, a different community for the Nix Linux distribution and Nix package manager, also has an IRC channel on Freenode (#nixos), and their logs are available as well. They’re even nicer to search through: https://logs.nix.samueldr.com/nixos (this is hosted using a project called irclogger).

There is an #elm channel on #Freenode, but I think the existence of the Slack community takes away a lot of traffic. Of course, it does make sense to have multiple channels for different topics. The Elm community could potentially host their own IRC server (e.g. irc.elm-lang.org), and people could connect with whatever client the want (there are IRC web apps, desktop apps, mobile apps, etc).


For what it’s worth, slack offers a premium instance for open source projects.

In general I really hope slack will be replaced by something open and open source somewhen. I really like where matrix/riot.im is heading.
Another open source project that would be an option is zulip.

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I’ve looked at what the react comunity does:

The various alternatives have also all been discussed to death on #admin-help, but of course these conversations are all lost to the Slack log limit :see_no_evil:


Me and some other people at our work don’t like Slack as well. But for reasons unrelated to this. One of our colleagues searched for alternative and found Zulip. It is a little better than Slack. Though I’m not sure if it would be the best bet for Open source community because we never used it for something more serious than testing. For community like Elm it should be self hosted because hosted version would be as expensive as Slacks.

It has two very cool features: Custom branding and two way integration with Slack, IRC. So maybe data from slack could be imported to Zulip and we could move without loosing any data. I’m not sure if it offers anonymous access to public channels but that could be fixed since it’s open source. But I’m a little bit concerned about security.

As most chat systems do, zulip offers a free cloud tier for other open source projects, see https://zulipchat.com/plans/

For reference: FAQ: The history of Elm Slack History

To share a bit of my experience with zulip:

Roughly a month ago, I was interested in testing zulip also, so I’ve created an online instance to try it. I like most of it, especially the fact that discussions can have topics (like emails) so you can follow only threads of discussions of interest to you, not necessarily read every channel message.

I wanted to try the “import discussions and users” from Slack feature but it is not accessible through the online interface, or couldn’t find it. So I’ve tried to set up my own zulip instance following the docs but it got fairly complicated. For trying the “Zulip in Production” install, you need to deploy with a domain name, otherwise the certbot step (for https) will fail. Currently my VPS is to cheap to try that. So I tried the “Devolopment Environment” installation. Installation process is not the friendliest! Doable though. Then I wanted to integrate with our LDAP, trying to follow the different docs there and issues on github but couldn’t make it. I’ve not touched it since, so never tried the Slack import yet.

If someone else have the motivation to try all this and report on their Slack->Zulip transition I think it could be valuable for the community.

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You need to go through support to get it imported. https://zulipchat.com/help/import-from-slack

I still hope riot might be the front runner.

The moderation team is aware of the pain folks are having with Slack as we grow. We’re currently investigating Zulip. If it gets far enough along we will put out a call for testing. :slight_smile:

I’m currently moving this forward. The most helpful thing I could get from folks on this right now is experience reports like the following:

  • I tried Zulip in such-and-such a context, and liked / didn’t like it because such-and-such a thing
  • I have participated in an open source project that uses Zulip, and this is how it helped or hurt the project

I’m especially interested in ways you’ve noticed conversations flow—is “topics for everything” a big barrier to entry to discussion? Do you feel OK jumping into conversation? Have you felt pressure to respond, or been able to get help in the ways you needed when you’ve used Zulip?

These would be especially helpful reports if your experience was with a very large Zulip instance. I’ve already talked to several Recursers and it seems nice! But more feedback would still be helpful, especially from folks at RC. :slight_smile:

For what it’s worth, I don’t currently see us importing the full Slack history into a Zulip instance. Zulip seems to be just different enough that the character of interactions would change pretty significantly. We did the same thing for our Google Groups to Discourse transition, and that worked fine. I know it’s not 100% the same thing, but I think it’s better to start this slowly and grow.

Finally, on the off chance that any of you have registered the “elm” instance on zulipchat.com, please get in touch. We have a good enough name for testing but would like to make it unambiguous.


I might have missed that particular information, but has a mailing list been ruled out completely?

There were two mailing lists in the past:

Those got deprecated by #elm-dev Slack channel and Discourse.

Does zulip solve the issue with conversations not being indexed by search engines?

Note that you can activate Mailing list mode here in Discourse (Preferences -> Emails). And you can reply by e-mail.

But then, what’s wrong with Discourse. This forum has been intentionally limited to three peculiar categories, but there is no reason for that. Will Zulip be limited in a similar way? If not, why not add all the categories here instead?

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It might not solve it out of the box but it’s open source. This means it can be added there and logs from Zulip can be publicly accessible and indexable by search engines.

I was looking at the github trending packages, and clicked on the elm button out of curiosity. Surprise, the first trending elm project is level, a “team communication software optimized for deep work”, basically a Slack replacement. Unfortunately the author recently announced stepping back from the project. The blog post describing this decision is quite interesting.

One thing mentioned in the post felt quite relevant to this discussion (emphasis mine):

An engineer at Stripe told me about their careful balance of email, forums, and Slack. They recognize that Slack is not suitable for meaningful conversations, so they automatically delete chat messages older than a few weeks to discourage relying on it for long-term archival. In retrospectives, team members often reflect on whether they chose the right medium (email, chat, or forum) for various conversations.

So this brings the question in our case, is Slack short memory an advantage instead of a disadvantage? Should we (as a community) take more responsibility in transferring interesting Slack conversations to Discourse? In the event of Slack being replaced, should the new tool enforce short memory for chat messaging?


Vue is using Discord, and it’s working great with more than 62.000 users.

How do you define working? What qualifies as working? Just cause it has 62.000 users?

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