Slack or Discourse, what are your feelings?

Up to now, I always saw Slack as a tool for closed groups of people (for example, a company, a specific project, etc.). But suddenly realized that a lot of people was gathering around Slack communities, displacing the role of traditional forums. And wondered, how do you feel about it?

Building a community around Slack seems like a BIG NO-GO for me. To my understanding, content is non-indexable by search engines, and therefore it is not discoverable. Also, content is behind a paywall which is incredibly expensive (at 6.67U$/user/month), imagine if you have a small community of 100 people, we are already talking 8k/year. I am part of one such community that generates a lot of content, and some useful information falls behind the 10k messages limit. However, we can't afford the 15k/year we should pay to Slack.

On the other hand, self-hosting an instance of Discourse starts at around 5U$/month, and a managed solution is 1200k/year (with no user limit). I opted for a Discourse instance on Digital Ocean for the community I'm slowly building (mostly because I didn't even considered Slack at that time). Making it public helps with the indexing by Google, but I see that the interactions are different compared to how people behave on Slack.

I am happy with my decision for the time being, but wonder how are community builders, managers, and members, feeling about being on a Slack community, or a public forum, such as Discourse.

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    I 100% agree with the arguments you’ve laid out above. The BIGGEST detriment using Slack as a community will inflict in your business is the lack of portability. They make it impossible (or extremely difficult) to get your data out.

    This sucks.

    You did the work of building an audience. You nurtured the community and create awesome content. But for some reason Slack decides it’s theirs and locks you in. Now obviously this is a retention tactic. In part, due to Slack not being designed for “communities.”

    However, as someone who is currently using it (and making the switch to something much better soon), I can’t recommend Slack if you’re serious about community building.

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      Indeed, Slack is a good tool but not for every use case. Circle.so is doing a good job, looks modeled on Dev.to but not sure if they are using the same code-base (dev.to is open-source).

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        Discourse is open source and self-hostable (that's my current approach):


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    slack and discourse are not fundamentally the same thing. one is "chat" while the other is a "forum" — two very different intents and UX... as well as workflows.

    it all depends, though, on how you use it. i have a 17k+ install of discourse and it's great... for what that community needs. i'm also part of a ton of slack groups... but, i've fallen out of favor with that technology for a lot of the reasons you've mentioned... so, +1 to that!

    community isn't hard... but, we make it more complicated than it is. sometimes, the best communities just start on email.

    ultimately, a real community is portable — so, i don't worry about starting in one place and then moving them to another. this is just the natural consequence of growth and evolution.

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      I was looking at it from the perspective of building a community of people that do not work together. This means that the chat feature of Slack is almost never used, since people come in and out once in a while, and threads grow slowly.

      Talking about portability, how portable is Slack if you would like to transform it to, say, Discourse?

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