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Re: [DISCUSS] Concerns about the Arrow Slack channel

Hi everyone,

I'll be chiming in from time to time as Anthony Scopatz and I help
several people from Quansight become more integrated to community
Arrow development.  I'm a fan of Arrow's goals and have similar goals
for a cousin project called http://xnd.io.  I'm eager to find ways to
collaborate on the compute infrastructure between the two projects, in
particular, for example.

Here is my $0.02 on this issue,

Chat rooms can be a useful mechanism for engaging with new developers.
However, Slack itself does not really allow for the kind of
large-scale community participation that Gitter allows for.  If you
have a chat room I recommend Gitter.

All that said, I would personally favor a discourse
(https://www.discourse.org/) solution over chat rooms.  I've noticed
several younger folks not really liking the mailing lists and seeking
out chat rooms first --- the success of pytorch, mxnet communities
indicate that perhaps they could be encouraged to use something like

On a related note, could someone help me understand the relationship
between Github Issues and JIRA issues? Is one preferred?  I understand
that contributions to the code are recommended as PRs on Github.  Does
that mean a branch at Github is considered to be the primary
repository, or is there another place that code has to go to be
official?  I suspect this is all documented somewhere. I would welcome
a simple link to the right place to read.

Thank you,


Travis Oliphant

On Thu, Jun 21, 2018 at 3:25 AM, Wes McKinney <wesmckinn@xxxxxxxxx> wrote:
> hi all,
> I wanted to bring up some concerns I have about the Slack room hosted
> at http://apachearrow.slack.com.
> Corporate communications have changed a lot in recent years with the
> new wave of IRC-like chat systems such as HipChat and Slack. In many
> companies, Slack has become a preferred form of communication over
> e-mail or other asynchronous messaging tools. This trend is negatively
> impacting Apache Arrow in some ways that I will explain.
> Initially we created the Arrow Slack channel as a means of secondary
> communication, to facilitate real-time discussions and help build the
> community. So people, particularly newcomers, are coming to the
> project and seeing 4 ways to communicate:
> * dev@ Mailing list
> * JIRA
> * GitHub
> * Slack
> As a result of broader trends in the world, they are electing to use
> Slack as their first, primary channel to interact with the project.
> This is bad for many reasons:
> * Slack is essentially private. While anyone can join Slack, chats are
> not archived in any public place, nor are they searchable through
> internet search portals. I do not think it meets the public
> communication requirements of Apache projects in general
> * We've exceeded the message limit for free Slack channels; upgrading
> to a paid Slack plan for Apache Arrow, with 650+ members, would be
> very expensive
> * Only 3 out of the top 20 Arrow contributors (by # of commits) are
> regularly on the Slack channel. I don't use Slack, for example, and I
> would rather not be expected to
> * We are geo-distributed in many time zones; even if we all used
> Slack, synchronous/real-time chat to discuss the project is frequently
> impractical
> Because of the "real-time" nature of IRC-like systems, people's
> discussions and questions get intermingled, so keeping track of
> longer-running discussions may be difficult. It's hard to know when
> someone's question has been answered or whether people have
> sufficiently discussed a particular topic.
> Many discussions or questions are by their nature asynchronous, and it
> may take 24-72 hours or more for Arrow contributors to make a
> thoughtful reply.
> As a result of all of this, we are missing opportunities to have
> deeper discussions, develop the Arrow roadmap, create new JIRAs to
> capture bug reports or feature requests, and other activities of
> healthy open source communities. Additionally, the private nature of
> Slack is causing organizational knowledge (particularly Q&A / FAQs) to
> essentially be lost. Users with questions won't stumble on answers by
> searching on Google (as they would with a mailing list or
> StackOverflow).
> I don't think Slack is necessarily bad for users in a corporate
> environment; in many companies it is expected that all people will
> have the Slack client open at all times. This isn't the case here,
> though.
> My strong preference in light of the activity I have been observing on
> Slack (which I encourage you to explore yourselves) would be to close
> the channel and direct discussions or questions take place on the
> mailing list, JIRA, or GitHub (all of which are archived on one or
> more ASF mailing lists). Since migrating to Gitbox, we have enabled
> GitHub issues on the repository, which has helped lower the barrier
> for newcomers, but a large percentage of the time GitHub issues would
> be better as JIRA issues or e-mails (which is what the GitHub issue
> template says, alas).
> Interested to hear the thoughts of others on this.
> Thanks,
> Wes