Climate Action Discourse

Why use Slack in CAT

The question often comes up why ClimateAction.tech uses Slack, instead of Discord, MatterMost, IRC, Matrix, or some other tool.

To help answer this, I think it’s helpful to refer to a few principles:

  • fish where the fish are
  • think about the ecosystem
  • protect our members - not everything needs to last forever

I’ll outline this in more detail:

Fish where the fish are

Like or not, Slack is extremely popular in the tech industry and the market leader by a long way. It’s safer to assume that if people are using a chat tool at work, then they’ll be able to use slack. This isn’t necessarily the case with Mattermost, Discord, Zulip, IRC or any other tool at the mo, and one reason is simply that more time money and energy is being thrown at the user experience than other tools.

Also, when we refer to tech industry, we’re not aiming at a specific subgroup in the industry that might be more comfortable with their preferred tool.

Think about the ecosystem

The other reason for using slack right now, is that because it’s the most popular, it also has the largest ecosystem.

If we choose to migrate in future, there are many more migration options for slack than other tools. Also, there is scope to build on top of it, and how to do so is relatively well documented.

Protecting our members - not everything needs to last forever

The final reason, is that while the rolling 10k message limit can be a pain, it also acts like a useful safeguard in a online community.

The ClimateAction.tech slack acts as something between a fully private space, and a fully public space. It’s a community where one of our goals is to make it easier to argue for change around climate, where you work, and as result you end up engaging with issues around power and equity.

With this in mind, we think it’s a reasonable assumption that things said in semi-private not linger forever - this gives us time for our opinions to evolve, and makes it harder for an employer to trawl community spaces like CAT looking for things to use against employees who they might see as trouble makers.

Because Discourse can work like a wiki, we use this site here to capture useful links and learnings for public consumption, in a form that’s useful to as wide an audience as possible, and where necessary, protects the source of the information.

Updates on this

Like all things, this decision is not set in stone.

There’s a small group actively reviewing alternatives, and if you’re prepared to put in some time to reviewing them against a set an agreed set of criteria, please dm @mrchrisadams in the slack.