Strategy for transitioning IPFS chat away from Filecoin Slack

Hello everyone, my name is Dame and I’ve been contributing to IPFS social and content for the past year. I now chair the Communications Working Group. Below you will find a strategy that I have created to help migrate the community away from using the Filecoin Slack. I’d be grateful for any feedback and comments that are made before February 14. :slight_smile:

Status: DRAFT – open for comment through February 14, 2024

IPFS contributors and the community currently rely heavily upon the Filecoin Slack due to its legacy usage by Protocol Labs. With the IPFS project continuing to mature, there is an increasing need for it to begin shifting to its own communication platforms in order to avoid confusion and brand overlap. Going forward, we would like to propose a new normal for how the community should primarily coordinate and communicate.

Status Quo:

There are two elements to the situation: 1) Chat and 2) Forums.

IPFS chat consists of 3 different platforms (Discord, Filecoin Slack, and Matrix) which have been used for both casual coordination and serious communication. The forum (hosted on Discourse) is currently underutilized due to the convenient nature of chat. That being said, convenience should not always be king or queen. For instance, chat is more ephemeral and harder to archive/search than a forum platform.

Results of Polis: https://pol.is/2v2dkpmjji

Using a tool called Polis, a recent discussion was conducted in the community to gauge sentiment about the status quo of IPFS chat.

A majority agreed that the status quo is not fine. When it came to whether or not IPFS should establish its own Slack, there was a split within the community members who voted. Many felt that Slack was ill-suited to IPFS due to its cost/corporate-ness and that bridging between chat applications creates confusion.

The one thing the community almost universally agreed upon was the statement, “aside from chat, a worldwide asynchronous community needs a forum-like structure for long form discussion”. Additionally, many agreed with the statement “forums are great for discussions, and more permanent posts. Chat is great for more immediate and real-time comms, both have a place.”

Proposal:

With the above in mind, we propose that the IPFS Forums (hosted on Discourse) become the de facto meeting place for communicating, coordinating, and collaborating on all things IPFS. To supplement this primary meeting place, we encourage the community to begin casually conversing on the IPFS Discord server when necessary, with bridging maintained with Matrix.

This transition will likely take some time due to ingrained habits, but we believe that it is for the best in the long term. Below you will find a rollout schedule for the shift:

Phase 1: February 15 - March 15 (4 Weeks)

  • Make announcements through various communication channels about the shift
  • Alert working group leads and ask them to begin transitioning their group immediately.
  • Send reminders weekly in key slack channels
  • Have people pin the forums/discord to their browsers and follow best practices outlined below

Phase 2: March 16 - 31 (2 Weeks)

  • Assess usage to see what kind of progress has been made
  • We have data/analytics about Forums and Discord usage we can tap into
  • If more push is needed, begin responding to individual Slack messages asking them to move the conversation to Discord or Forums.

Phase 3: April 1 - 7 (1 Week)

  • Turn off bridge
  • If the bridge remains active, people will be able to remain using Filecoin Slack. We must eventually shut it off to complete the transition and cause people to need to use IPFS Forums + Discord.
  • Archive the channels
  • Remove Filecoin Slack links from the website.

Next Steps:

Below you will find a series of suggestions for how to begin best shifting your practices to align with this new direction:

  • Pin the IPFS Forum and Discord server to your browser tabs.
  • Begin regularly checking these locations for new posts and direct messages.
  • Only rely upon the Filecoin Slack when absolutely necessary during the 6 week rollout.
  • Chat should only be used for ephemeral communications that don’t need to be archived or distributed to the wider community.
  • The Forum should be used as the primary communication channel for almost everything. When in doubt, use the forum!
4 Likes

Hello!

So, if I check https://pol.is/2v2dkpmjji, I see 3 opinion groups.

To the question:

We should make matrix the main chat room. It's free, open source and federated.

80% of those who voted in group A (like 12 people or so) agreed, and 1 disagreed.
In group B also the majority that voted said yes, (3 or 4 people), and 1 disagreed.
In group C around 7 people disagreed.

I don’t think I can see exact results for each question, only per group etc. but iirc, we have around 15 votes saying YES and 9 saying NO.

To the question:

Let's avoid using Discord please, as discussed elsewhere, for all the warts that Slack might have, the bridging is a great feature for us

Around 12 people in group A agreed and 1 disagreed.
Around 7 or 8 people in group B agreed and 1 disagreed.
Around 7 people in group C disagreed.

Result: 20 people would like to avoid discord, and around 9 are against.

So if I’m reading it correctly, the majority prefers Matrix being the default. And the majority too prefers to avoid Discord. I don’t understand then how Discord becomes the default chat if the decision is based on the poll. :man_shrugging:

Ideally we default to Matrix, and discord can be bridge but no one should expect to find in discord anything that is not in Matrix.

1 Like

While I’m happy to go wherever the community wants (I already interact with the IPFS community in Slack, Discord, Matrix, Telegram, Signal, etc. and I’m sure there’ll be more) and I’m fine with continuing to use this Discourse. However, I’m a bit concerned about the transition from Slack + Discord bridged to Matrix to Discord only bridging.

My two main concerns are:

  1. A chunk of the community has tried this (shuffling people from Slack into Discord) before and it didn’t work out well.
  2. The bridged threading between Matrix and Discord is quite bad
    • I personally find threading useful (and the Matrix/Slack one better than the Discord one), but I can certainly see an argument where anything long enough to be a thread could reasonably have been (or transition to be) a discussion on the forum which is more searchable. I think that pushing people to make that switch would be more painful than say how Discord encourages setting up a thread after a few replies, but would be happy to be proven wrong.
    • IIUC there are multiple bridging options here, maybe there’s one that’s less bad since the bridging was initially set up?

I’m not familiar with the bridging details and it might be that Slack just makes building open communities both painful and prohibitively expensive (even if people/orgs bring their own Slack Connect accounts) which is why it should go/we shouldn’t be encouraging its use for open community functions. If so I get it.

IIUC the tradeoff with bridges is that it enables users to interact from where they already are in exchange for some friction around how well features are supported and complexity for the chat-channel operators. As someone who gets drafted into all the different systems anyway I have no personal preference, but if it still rings true to people that they’d rather interact from where they are (at a slightly worse experience) vs use a different application then it’d be nice to preserve bridging.

Hey @hector, thank you for chiming in here! I really appreciate your voice in the conversation, and it’s clear you’ve taken the time to understand the Polis results (which were rather complex). I did want to clarify that in my view the Polis was meant to gauge sentiment and was not meant to be the de-facto decision maker based purely on the results. Unfortunately the Polis represents a very small number of community members, so relying upon it solely would be unwise.

That being said, I think your post highlights something important: the primary issue at hand is the reliance upon Filecoin Slack, not on Discord or Matrix. I think a world in which we are relying upon Discord + Matrix is a world better than relying upon all 3 of these chat spaces, would you agree? Ultimately we are in a decentralized environment and people are free to coordinate and collaborate as they see fit, this is mainly an attempt at rallying together to form a better solution than the status quo (which most people agree is not good).

Hey @adin, thank you for sharing all of this, it’s very helpful and has some info that I wasn’t aware of. Can you expand a bit on what didn’t work out well about the previous attempt at a transition? I guess I’m curious to see if it was a result of the centralized nature of PLGO. Moving forward we’re in a very different era than the past (hopefully), so I’m wondering if this was a case of a transition being tried too soon/when the institutions and various parties were not ready.

Something to consider is that there are at least to audiences:

  1. people using IPFS, asking for help, wanting to find out news with chat as their preferred channel

This seems to map pretty well to Discord and many large technical communities use it.

  1. protocol, operator, and other deeper / more advanced usage and discussions

As an ecosystem, one could argue that some of these might choose a channel on a case by case basis.

eg Adin picked Telegram for the dapps working group because it made sense for the audience

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My observation is that whoever wants to volunteer (or get paid?) to manage ecosystem channels can pick whatever they like.

I’ll volunteer to be a mod here on the forum, but not interested in moderating chat channels :sweat_smile: