I am not affiliated with any chat service provider. I am however a creator of a chat platform. One that didn't work out so well, so It doesn't actually count as a service provider.
I also fully understand that Slack is made for private teams and not large communities.. but when they say their platform is to help you get things done. You will tend to listen and maybe even try it. I am here to tell you Slack is not worth trying.
When I was starting out in the world
I was trying many different things to build a community around my new born project. I even tried IRC. At this point I was hesitant to use Slack even though it just looked so amazing. It was the invite system that kept pushing me away. I then got a message on the Shinobi Twitter account from Christos (Knackrack615). We got talking and he offered to create a Discord community for me. I accepted and loved Discord the day I used it.
Later many users were messaging me on other platforms voicing privacy concerns. So I turned to Slack. While using this platform I found a number of things very wrong. The key points are noted below.
It also turns out my decision to turn to Slack for security of user data was pointless. You can read more about that in the links at the bottom of the article.
Now here is why I will not touch Slack again!
- You must set up a web server for automatic invite creation - Quite honestly this makes very little sense to me. Why not allow us to make links like in Discord? If security is the issue then why not allow people to delete the links? I would rather do work than think about all this.
- Free teams are only allowed 100 members until they need to pay or contact the slack team for limitation lift - This isn't mentioned when signing up so that you are locked in when your team gets big enough. From my point-of-view, the little guy trying to make it in the world, it is a seriously dirty trick.
- Cost per active slack user is ~$8/month - Imagine you have around 800 users for a project you are giving out for free. That is $6400/month just to talk about your platform with other developers.
- Chat History Limit on Free Teams - This limit of 10,000 messages is quite shocking. Who can actually get any work done when their references are being locked by something as arbitrary as a sign that says "Pay Me". Honestly the platform is nearly useless to developers when it has this limit.
- Voice Chat is limited to Direct Messages - or pay them and they will let you do it in the group too.
- No Dark Theme - Slack was asked numerous times over tweets and probably other methods to add this but they neglect the task even to this day. The sad part is that users in thieir community have done their job for them and all they need to do is integrate. This may seem like a simple thing and easy to accept but when you are someone who works at night or in the morning then a dark background for messages is more than comforting. It raises productivity.
- Email addresses shown to all users by default - Ok seriously. I don't need to explain why that is a bad idea. The purpose of the platform is to chat and you can attach documents there also. There is no need to spread this information. It should be off by default.
I made suggestions to Slack and their response was something like "We get asked this a lot, We're thinking about how we can deliver it"... Essentially saying "Maybe."
I made suggestions to Discord and they provided to me a link. It was to a section of their site where the community can post what they would like to see in Discord. Along with a voting system.
Slack claims to be for the little guys and that's why it imposes such restrictions but that is absolute non-sense and they know it.
If not Slack, What then?
I went back to Discord. I'll admit that Discord is reminiscent of Slack but at least they understand how Slack should have been. They may focus on gaming but I am willing to follow the platform that cares about the details and actually engages with their community's ideas.
- You can create invite links - Send off your invites then remove the link when you are done. Simple.
- Unlimited members - Not joking. I have seen some Discord groups with over 7000 people joined and over 800 people online.
- Free - I am so happy with Discord I actually donate monthly.
- No chat history limit - the platform is nearly useless to developers when it has this limit.
- Voice Chat in Group Chat - It's free unlike slack. You can even make multiple audio channels. Some for chat and some for music.
- Dark theme - It comes with it, like they knew people would be reading messages at night.
- No personal information being shown to community members without consent of the user
Discord had its act together from the beginning. Go with Discord if you want your team to succeed.