Using Gitter for real-time discussion

Would there be any interest in using Gitter for discussion in real-time around any issues? It is based around GitHub, so discussions can be specific to packages or other repositories in the main pyOpenSci project. Currently, there is only the Lobby, which is a default channel created for any project pyOpenSci/Lobby - Gitter.


Good morning @gawbull !! Great to “see” you here!

we’ve had several discussions surrounding chat be it gitter or slack as options. Id appreciate having something more realtime and if we get funding this spring, i had been wondering about considering slack too given it provides more functionality! let’s see what @NickleDave and @xmnlab think about chat options. Given gitter is already setup i’m happy to start there and we can always move to slack if we decide it would be useful.

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Good morning (it’s actually evening over here :laughing:) :wave: Great to be here :smiley:

Sounds like a plan :+1: You get Gitter for free essentially with any GitHub repo (i.e. it’s setup automatically for all GitHub repos), but I agree that Slack would be good. You can get a free plan, but it limits to 10,000 messages history I believe? Being able to search through things is useful with Slack, but if the funding stretches to it, then maybe taking out a basic subscription would be beneficial. I guess it depends on how many users. Pricing information is here.

Hi all,

@gawbul thank you for bringing up different tools for discussion, great that you are interested in being more involved

but … @lwasser I am strongly against using any tool outside of GitHub issues wherever possible, especially where it concerns review of packages, changes to community guides, etc., for all the reasons Matthew Rocklin outlines in this blog post:

Happy to paste the list in here but it already does a better job of explaining everything than I can.

If it was about something like e.g. co-ordinating monthly meetings, ok maybe

but if we really want to be PyOpenSci, then Slack would be the worst, and gitter would just be one other thing we have to monitor and somehow relate back to GitHub issues. I think we want to prefer github + discourse for more general discussion

see also this previous discussion we had on twitter:

where the verdict was basically “GitHub issues + discourse”, from multiple maintainers

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Hi everyone! this is an interesting topic. with different opinions.

I read this article some weeks ago If it will matter after today, stop talking about it in a chat room – Mike Crittenden

and OpenScienceLabs released an article about this topic (in Spanish):
10 Plataformas que te ayudarán en la gestión de tu grupo de trabajo.

I didn’t have time yet to test all these platforms

but from my personal experience, I really need to learn how to configure the notification for discourse I always miss all the discussions here.

at work, the slack works fine in general, the problem is when clients ask anything in the slack and no one put that into a github issue.

at opensciencelabs, we are managing everything using keybase, it is working good in general, if it has private channels, that would be perfect for us.

a lot of other groups in Latin America uses telegram, for these communities it looks good enough for their purposes.

For example, for SciPy Latin America we had a google group for discussion, and there is no movement there. We created a telegram group and we can see people participating in the group, asking, answering, sharing etc

I don’t have any answer for that, but I think we need to know first the proposes for the communication channel we want and check the options for that.

For the communication goal, does discourse do a good job? if not, what is missing and what platforms or tools would be better?

PS: btw, when I have any problem and I want quick help from a community, platforms such as telegram have helped a lot, the notifications are fast etc


Thanks for your reply and I understand your reservations completely regarding the potential challenges around moving things away from GitHub issues, especially when you’ve already set up your workflow around that. Discourse, of course, seems to be where you are currently managing all your discussions relating to the management of the project. If you’re happy to stick with both of those, then that is fine. I just feel that real-time discussion can sometimes be helpful and neither GitHub nor Discourse are ideal for that.

One thing I would say, though, is that Slack has awesome integrations with GitHub (and many other services) and information can be streamed into the channels relating to the creation of new issues etc. in real-time and you can even create issues and other things in GitHub directly from within Slack using the relevant Slack bot functionality.

I agree Slack may be best suited for discussions around meetings and administrative tasks etc. given your current workflow, though if it is only to be used for that purpose then Gitter might be a better option, as it is free. Many open-source projects use it and have detailed discussions around specific repositories, including providing support. But, if you are interested in exploring the integrations that Slack can bring to assist in project management and collaboration around these projects then I would highly recommend it.

I’ve been using Slack (and Gitter to a lesser extent) extensively over the last 5+ years and have the opposite view to Matthew Rocklin. I think it really helps with project management and collaboration. Most people don’t use Slack to its full potential. If you see how Slack use Slack you’d be amazed - they run their whole company using it.

I think many people in academia tend to be averse to tools like Slack though, as your Twitter post suggests. Though my position is coming from using it at an enterprise level for managing multiple projects across many different teams, so maybe I’m biased?

Anyway, I’m happy with whatever you prefer. It was just a thought :slightly_smiling_face:

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Yeah Telegram, Signal, Keybase are all awesome tools for real-time discussion. I think they’re missing out on the integrations that Slack brings, though. Good for general discussion and maybe pinging someone urgently?

I do agree, however, that it sometimes requires a conscious effort to ensure that any discussion is updated/reflected in the relevant GitHub issue. People need to remember to use the integrations to summarise any discussions for example.

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This discussion is great - thank you all!

Having a way to directly communicate with colleagues on projects is invaluable for project management. In the future it will also be a good place for people to get help with things like pull requests on github and such as we do training! i love slack for events - when we do our transform event (assuming we are funded) some sort of chat will be important for that.

I do agree that discussions about issues with reviews could get messy. the ROS slack channel is nice because it does track new submissions and such via slack. in earth lab i track docker builds too which is gold for me. it’s also how i manage my team given remote work ! i’d love to be able to ping ivan, dave, steve etc directly when we are working on things together. and if we hire someone new - (fingers crossed!) i’ll need to chat with them too daily.

twitter messages aren’t ideal. we can’t always zoom. email gets cluttered. so gitter or slack both work for that. maybe we can setup rules about how we do and don’t use whatever chat client we decide upon? All of the points above are valid and important to consider as we move forward!

i think so many people don’t use discourse regularly @xmnlab and setting up notifications can be tricky - i agree!!

So thoughts on this @NickleDave @xmnlab @gawbul :slight_smile:

  1. we use some sort of chat for

    • project management (assuming we are funded), direct communication when coordinating things
    • helping people when they are stuck
    • building community where people can talk to each other outside of the review process
    • future: tracking github things :slight_smile:
  2. We don’t use slack (or gitter) for

    • managing reviews and associated issues (caveat - unless someone really needs technical help then it’s potentially useful but we can talk more about that)

PS - to make things more complex - discussions in github are pretty great. i’ve thought about moving there instead of discourse as it’s one less thing to manage. then again we’re digging ourselves deeper into a commitment to github. i do like it however a lot.

thank you for this discussion! the above is just a set of thoughts that attempt to address dave’s super valid concerns and Ivans extensive experience in this space combined with Steve’s original suggestion!
I welcome your thoughts on the above!

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@NickleDave so discussions + issues could be better than issues + discourse. just food for thought. i use the rioxarray discussion forum to ask questions. it’s nice!

you are totally right @gawbul that Leah would want a tool for real-time communication to manage the project day-to-day.I totally agree that Slack can be good for managing multiple projects and teams.

I think the Matthew Rocklin post and the twitter replies are not necessarily written from the perspective of someone that’s in academia, but from the perspective of people that are developing and maintaining open source software communities. It’s just that Slack has real potential to limit how open the community is, and I would hope we can keep everything as accessible to all as possible. Anything that happens on Slack won’t really happen out in the open. Even for community building, if a lot of it happens on Slack, aren’t we kind of self-selecting for people who are willing to add themselves to yet another Slack team and dedicate some of their very limited bandwidth to those notifications?

Other apps that @xmnlab mentions like keybase and telegram might have the same issues. But I guess people are using them, and I have to admit it seems to be hard to get the same interactions going on with Discourse :frowning_face:

at any rate @lwasser the thoughts you put in your outline sound good to me – just didn’t want my sole contribution to this convo to be one gruff post. Not sure if this one’s any better :joy:

I didn’t know ROpenSci used Slack integrations. I agree they can be nice additions … at least I like showing my bosses I’m productive by setting off notifications with every PR and review :slight_smile:
also we can’t deny that Slack has really helped ROpenSci build a community and that must be in part because of real time communication.

i’m open to what we do here. i think slack or some sort of chat helps with realtime communication in a way that message boards can’t fill. :slight_smile: but you are right the streaming nature makes it such that all conversations aren’t open. all of these points are great and valid!

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hi all! i want to revisit this thread. I hear all of the feedback above and want to think about this carefully. i do think that a tool for realtime communication can be nice just for day to day management and to connect people directly if they want to chat, zoom, interact etc. But for questions it’s useful to have this history. now github has a really nice discussion feature now that many repos are starting to use for questions and help. i’ve found that many people miss discourse notifications as well @xmnlab it’s not just you it’s most people i talk with. the only challenge with discussions in github is they offer a bit less functionality than discourse.

i would like to have a realtime chat option. i’m leaning towards slack only because it’s what i’m used to and adding another organization is annoying but we are all using it for real time day to day things. we could consider using the discussion in the software review repo (i can turn it on) if discourse is difficult for people. but we’d want to move / redirect the 50 or so people here over to that if possible too.

thoughts all? @NickleDave

im happy to see what the twitterverse has to say about this too!

In spite of my strongly-worded post above I am +1 for a Slack to give us a real-time chat option

even though yes we will all now be on infinite Slack teams :infinity: :grinning:

If we’re considering discourse v GitHub discussion, I think I lean toward discourse?

Yes I do wish I would get more notifications from discourse (can’t believe I want more notifications from anything :roll_eyes: ) – for example, I missed it when @xmnlab first asked about SciPy back in February.

But in general I like the way discourse divides up topics but allows for flexibility at the same time. The matplotlib jupyter and Python discourse sites all feel very searchable + discoverable to me. I can very quickly get a high-level view of what people are talking about for multiple topics.

GitHub discussions is still tied to a specific repo, right?
Not sure it would make sense to be discussing e.g. real-time chat options on the pyOpenSci/softwarereview repo. Would it be as findable?

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i hear ya. ok i’ll setup slack. i’ve wanted this anyway so we can get that going now.
i think people would get used to posting somewhere - for instance when rioxarray started their discussion i quickly found it and began to use it. of course keeping things here is easier because we are already here :slight_smile: but i’ve noticed that some forums - even the ropensci discourse forum - aren’t super duper active while slack is very active. i’ve always wondered if this was because the forum itself is a bit “closed”. conversely if we decide we don’t like github in 2 years our discussion forum will still be the same if we stick with discourse now.

in short i think we could stay here for the time being and start slack and see what everyone has to say about discourse vs github discussions later. thanks for the input!! once i have an org setup i’ll share the url here! my dream is one day py and ropensci will share community space. it’s a dream.


Done - i will talk with ROS about how they manage slack in terms of inviting new people! let’s keep talking about what discussion platform we prefer. i’m happy to stay here for the time being. i don’t have a good assessment of needs yet and would rather that those of us who are involved are all happy with whatever we use!!

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