Concerns about managing a fast growing Slack community


(Sarah Hawk) #1

I have a dilemma.

I run an established community of practice in a forum environment (Discourse). Alongside it I run a Slack channel which I use for AMA sessions (every 1-2 weeks). We wrote a bot that alerts newcomers that the channel isn’t moderated and that we have an active community elsewhere. Every now and then someone will ask a general question on Slack and I’ll send them over to the forums for support.

That worked well until recently. The Slack channel is growing (fast) organically and people are asking for new channels, more support to chat, etc. In essence they want a community on Slack.

I’ve always believed that for many reasons there is more value for an organisation to have a forum based community vs a Slack based one but the demand here is getting pretty strong.

I don’t have the resources to manage both. I’ve been thinking about setting up a volunteer group to manage the Slack channel but I don’t want to sabotage/cannibalise the forum community.

Thoughts, suggestions and advice welcomed!


Whisper it: I'm not a fan of Slack communities
(Duncan Field) #2

Sarah,

What a great problem to have!

I’d be curious to see if there’s a difference between who is on what delivery platform- for example, whether some people are on one and not the other (mostly thinking if they’re on slack but not discourse). For some, the forum might be overwhelming, but having seen monstrous slacks before, that isn’t always user friendly.


(Sarah Hawk) #3

Good question.

Many of the Discourse people are also on Slack (because they attend the AMAs) but not many of the people on Slack are in the forums. I sometimes hear comments like “I don’t like forums.”


(Travis King) #4

I agree that a volunteer mod group is your best way forward.

Why do you think your Slack channel will cannibalise? It sounds like you have pretty distinct groups that like one or the other (and perhaps a small group that likes both?).

I think your main problem is that we haven’t figured out a way to clone you yet :smiley:


(Sarah Hawk) #5

I’m worried on two levels. First, that I’ll focus more energy on Slack than Discourse (because people are there waiting for a response), when the latter has more value for the business and secondly, I’m worried that people will prefer the ‘quick fix’ that they get from Slack so they’ll engage there rather than on Discourse.

Actually, I wonder if the Slack–Discourse plugin could be utilised here to pull valuable content onto the forums. @erlend_sh?


(Robyn Jordan) #6

I think Slack is attractive because people can add different slack teams in one app it’s more attractive to them than a forum, I think by not having the ability to add channels you can slow the growth but you may alienate those Slack-only members.

Volunteer mods are a great option but I do think you should at least put a keyword alert in the meantime to be alerted to those topics and content that you want to pull over to the forum.


(Duncan Field) #7

@HAWK This seems like the best move from my perspective, because surely the high value (company-wise) discussions aren’t taking place all the time. Maybe you can be selective about which discussions to pull into discourse via the plug-in.

The only concern there could be transparency - I wonder if it could seem very ‘funnel-y’ if its clear what’s happening, or on the opposite side of the coin, if you should be transparent on what kind of discussions belong there.


(Sarah Hawk) #8

Agreed. I’ve done some more thinking and have decided that my approach will be to

  • create some clear guidelines around the kinds of discussions we want on Slack
  • update the custom bot to message the above
  • recruit some volunteers to moderate the channel under my guidance
  • investigate the plugin and document the cross-over process (if we go down that road)
  • add channels for discussion so that it doesn’t continue happening in the General channel (that people can’t leave if they only want to be part of the community for the events)

(Sarah Hawk) #9

Update:
I’ve written some guidelines and am working on a channel structure.

Question for anyone that belongs to a Slack community – do you think there is value in an #introductions channel or do they just add unnecessary noise?


(Shreyas) #10

We have a slack channel called Friends of HasGeek. On the #icepick channel(our alternative to #introduction) we see a lot of members who have met each other either IRL or online, getting to know more about what they’re upto these days. If the announcements, @here and @everyone is muted, Slack is a very peaceful place :slight_smile:


(Sarah Hawk) #11

My main concern about an intros channel is that people need to stay on top of responding or it defeats the purpose. That’s a resource suck. This keeps coming back to recruiting volunteers.

I’m going to approach this as I would a new forum – I’ll run without it in the immediate instance and add it if the need becomes apparent.


(Shreyas) #12

Yes! That’s definitely the best.

On a side note- I’m digging threaded replies on Slack. Makes it a wonderful place to have AMA’s


(Sarah Hawk) #13

Interesting. I’m not enjoying them. They feel hidden and add yet one more place to check.


(Erlend Sogge Heggen) #14

That is indeed a use case we’re working on to support. Can be tracked here: