Exploring new communication channels


Does anyone have experience with https://www.mattermost.org? Mattermost is an open source, self-hosted Slack-alternative. I’ve used it only briefly in relatively small team, but the experience was quite pleasant.

Might be one option to reconcile the needs for openness and control with modern UX.


I think synchronous discussion is much more fleeting, which is why the need for permanence of linking is less important. Meanwhile, async platforms such as this one or GitHub usually features more lengthy arguments and texts which are more important to preserve.

Or in other words:

I’m not particularly invested in Discord. I was fine with moving to IRC to Gitter and from there to Discord and I’ll be fine with moving from Discord to something else.

My main criteria are:

  • Accessibility – IRC is not accessible
  • Reliability – Gitter is buggy
  • Support on different devices – works fine for Discord.
  • FOSS – this is important, but doesn’t outweigh everything else; I can live with the pragmatic choice of Discord.

I expect this to be temporary. I hope we can consolidate to Discord and stop using Zulip and Gitter.


I used only asynchronous channels (github/discourse -> email) for the last N years and it’s been pretty good so far.
Do I miss anything? :slight_smile:


How long until Discord integrates ads or selling personal information? It seems their only revenue source is a paid subscription, but I can’t imagine their investors will stay happy with that in the longterm.

GitHub is ad-free and supported by enterprise users, so it’s not that intrusive to use as a FOSS project. Discord probably won’t be able to compete in the already crowded enterprise communication market given its well entrenched nearly identical counterpart, Slack, and the variety of other products such as Microsoft Teams or Zoom.

I love chatrooms for asking quick questions, a much lower barrier to entry. Long discussions still benefit from the permanence of discourse/github.



AKA their only source of revenue is subscriptions.

I don’t think this argument holds much water logically.


I recommend trying out riot.im

  • It works in a web browser and it’s easy to use
  • it uses matrix instead of IRC (so it’s async, like you want)
  • It is free software and can be self hosted. So you retain autonomy.


Riot has many issues - see what I mentioned above. While it is open source, hosting an IRC bridge isn’t trivial work (that’s much harder that just running a bouncer). And if you don’t self host - it’s just a productivity killer for now.


Have you looked into pleroma chat? it’s being developed by the same person that started IRCv3.


Note: the following is pure speculation, though said speculation is informed by observation.

My understanding is that Discord is funded by a combination of VC money, and partnerships with bigger gaming industry players. The paid subscription service is probably a pittance compared to this. I would guess that they can actually turn a profit on this, given that most of their operating costs probably go towards development and paying some::cloud::provider for CDN (but really, I have no idea).

Whether this state of affairs is long term stable is an exercise for the reader.


Does anyone have experience with https://www.mattermost.org 2?

I use mattermost at work since you can self host it. It’s okay very slack-like I don’t know much about mobile support though since I only sign on when I’m at work. Has some bugs with Browsers but they tend to get fixed fairly quickly.


Redox is using “MatterMost” and it seems to work really well for them.


So, I’ve got a couple of contextual comments here. I’ve been one of the persons who heavily pushed against Slack as a discussion tool for two reasons:

  • Lack of moderation tools
  • Assumption that you are an employee, which has privacy repercussions (e.g. your email is displayed by default)

My main concern was enabling a new platform without sufficient research. Since then, people have been doing this research.

Still, I think it’s a fact to be appreciated that while there are people that really like IRC, there’s also people that hate it to the point that they won’t use it. It’s also notable that many Mozilla projects have a channel on IRC, but are badly reachable there. One of my biggest problems when trying to improve the IRC experience was trying to get in touch with IRC admins to allow more connections from KiwiIRC, to no avail. I like IRC, but are frequently annoyed by it, too.

Also, I have to say that irc.mozilla.org was never the projects meeting spot, working groups and projects were always free to meet somewhere else and many do so - even now.

Over the last months, we have used a lot of things in practice.

  • The Rust All Hans was run through Gitter and as the person responsible for it: it was terrible. People would get no notifications, the web client frequently had bugs that required a reload. Not good.
  • There are some working groups that have tried out Zulip, where I honestly don’t know the state. I love Zulips model, but also have problems with its implementation quality. Here, moderation tools are also an issue, because Zulip doesn’t allow deleting of threads and everyone can create them. It’s not built for open channels/
  • The WG-Content has used gitter, but moved back to IRC
  • Community team is still on IRC, with channels on Discord to get in touch with us (we don’t intend to bridge)
  • The WG-Events is meeting on Telegram, with no intention to move, as it suits the people there

Finally, the first and foremost concern about the working group channels is that members of the working groups can collaborate efficiently there.

In the end, many groups have tried out and moved to Discord. It’s of reasonable implementation quality and from my perspective, I see that outstanding problems are worked on.

It’s less like there was a call to move. We opened the test instance and people started moving in. Not all WGs have moved, and some never might. That’s also not the goal. This has also lead to problems: this meant that discord suddenly became more then a test and used for productive work, without an official announcement that it’s there to try. This is why we make one.

There’s also no intention to close our IRC presence. The #rust and #rust-beginners are incredibly useful places. There’s a lot of people running around there. But they need to be moderated and we need people for that.

A word about bridges: I’m actually opposed to them. WGs are small enough to negotiate their place of work by themselves. Channels like #rust and #rust-beginners are large enough to be side-by-side. Those channels are often used for questions that can be posed to anyone.

After having spent a lot of time in these discussions last year, I would like to say that I’m actually impressed by how actively many things were tried on occasions and how this came to be. I know it’s a sad state that any chat platform is closed and hope that interoperability improves at some point.


in another language, we are using Slack as a support channel for a framework.

here are some points:

  • Workspaces such as slack or discord get messy when a lot of members join.
  • It adds overhead of having an “admin” or team to moderate channels
  • These workspaces require paid plans which isn’t feasible for large teams. They offer a free plan but messages are overwritten every week.
  • This point is true for any service (includes IRC). Most people aren’t aware of the different channels so end up asking/posting in the default channel resulting in a skewed traffic.


They have also said this: https://support.discordapp.com/hc/en-us/articles/210544537-How-is-Discord-making-money-How-can-I-contribute-


You know I was going to say something about how the VC money claim comes from Discord being a young software startup, but then I remembered that I joined back when I was a sophomore in college. I feel old o_o.

On a related note, I was digging through their site to see where I read the bit about corporate partnerships and came across this page. I’m surprised we’re not on it yet. =p


For those (like me) who feel like the Discord UI leaves much to be desired in terms of legibility, typesetting, contrast, etc., I wrote up some stylesheet improvements here: https://twitter.com/Jonhoo/status/1014230426897010688 (note though that you should use Stylus, not Stylish). It looks something like this:


My 2c: Riot is making a lot of progress. I’ve been using it on a daily basis for a particular project and while the UX is still… not great compared to something like Slack, they have been making a lot of progress improving it. The default theme is a tad atrocious but the dark theme is pretty sweet.

Also note that they’re working on a complete UI redesign which looks like a huge improvement:

Having used Gitter (I’d still use it for chat for random OSS projects), RocketChat, and MatterMost, I think Riot has the best technical foundation and is on the best velocity. The https://riot.im service has worked pretty well for me so there’s no need to host any software.


I do believe telegram is the very good place where you can discuss all the things. Yes, it uses your phone number to authorise, but it should be mentioned that it isn’t shown by default. So you login via your phone (which all of us actually have), but it doesn’t show it to third-party users or organisations. It’s unfortunate a bit, but on the other side we have huge advantages: telegram is the most lightweight and blazingly fast messenger (just like Rust), it’s open-sourced and have a reputation of the messenger that doesn’t give up users privacy at all costs. It also has great clients and it already have different communities which work fine (e.g. https://t.me/rustlang_ru has more than 700 active users that help each other, or https://t.me/Rustlang_EN which is not that popular, but it exist too).


I understand, and share, your frustration here. (It’s worth remembering that you’re not the only one having to juggle all these chat systems!) Fragmentation is a downside of moving around, and of experimentation. We only started to move away from Gitter when new, persistent bugs made it totally unusable (though we also discovered later in the game that the phone apps have long been buggy as well).

It’s worth noting the emphasis in the post, though, as well as @skade’s comment: this is fundamentally about each individual team determining what’s most effective for them, and in general many people have found that the costs of moving are outweighed by the benefits. (As far as I know, the Libs Team remains IRC-based).


As far as I know as well, but I found out that there is a “Libs team #std” channel on Discord that was created seemingly without informing members of the relevant team.