Also known as “Does this forum replace Confluent Community Slack?”
tl;dr: The Slack group will always be a vibrant and important space for the Confluent Community.
Each has its own strengths, namely:
- Real-time nature of chat interaction
- Capacity to DM people
- Usually better for short, quick, answers from community members
- All posts are stored and available for searching, including by users who aren’t signed up/logged in
- Better for deeper technical issues and long-form articles
- Gamification (badges!) and trust levels
This forum complements the existing Slack community for some of the reasons outlined below but primarily because the information in Slack is ephemeral (10k message history limit), with the impact that:
- This disincentivises people from contributing full and long-form answers
- It means that people cannot search for the answer to their question
- Consequently, there is a lot of repetition and ‘noise’.
People have different preferences for how they interact with the community, and this forum simply adds to our existing platforms:
Slack is, and will remain, an important platform for our community. People often appreciate the real-time nature of it, the interaction that comes from conversation threads, and the ability to simply chat without being constrained by the requirement to post in topics.
The Confluent Community Forum just adds another “tool in the toolbox” for our community and gives people the option to interact on whichever platform suits them best.
What makes a good community platform?
Horses for courses…right tool for the job…there is not one perfect platform, because people want different things from it.
Here are the primary factors against which platforms can be evaluated. This is not exhaustive, and there are other factors.
It’s important for developers to be able to find where the community is because they don’t always know that they’re looking for it. Only a small percentage are going to articulate the conscious thought “I wonder if there are any Apache Kafka forums/mailing lists/chat groups”. Most are just searching for an answer to something, which then should land them at the community’s door, with an answer to their question and a place at which to ask many more.
Organisation and Curation
Many users will come to a community organically, and being able to find what they want, or know where to ask their question, is important. As important, is those who are going to answer those questions being able to focus on the areas in which they are interested.
The majority of questions, or variations thereof, have been asked before. By providing a permanent record of these the person looking for help can discover their answer easily, and those who answer questions have the incentive to write something for posterity that is not ephemeral, whilst not being deluged and disgruntled by the having the same question appear for the 94th time.
Some users value the instant nature of chat (IRC, Slack, etc)
Trust & Conduct
Users of a community need to feel safe using it, and have trust that problems will be dealt with.