Turning the ephemeral nature of free Slack into a feature

Slack screenshot

Whilst I fully appreciate I am no fan of Slack, for many reasons, not least who they seem to like to associate with, I do accept that not everyone shares my views and that Slack is at the heart of many open source communities.

One argument other instant messaging (IM) solutions make, certainly in the Drupal Community, is that Slack is costly unless you take the free option which means that only a fixed number of past messages are visible. In a very popular community, like Drupal, that can mean messages disappear after only a few days. Yes, currently Slack have allowed historical access during COVID-19. That offer isn't forever.

I wonder, though, if this is really much of a problem, and maybe even Slack's greatest feature? After all, much of what is said is general chit-chat, only interspersed with golden nuggets of valuable knowledge. Why keep the chit-chat? 

What would be amazing is a way to extract those valuable golden nuggets of knowledge and make it easy – like, very easy – for people to find them. Well, I know how I would do this...

I would love to see a "Slack app" that people could interact with when they have had a question they posed answered well. Imagine a scenario where Naveen, a Drupal Community member asks a question:


After a few days, this will be lost. But! What if the next thing Naveen did was tell the Slack app to keep this, by typing a quick command?

/keep "How to make sure incompatible modules are not installed concomitantly?" thread

This would wake up the app, tell it to add the whole thread (we could also have options to keep all messages since a time etc) to an entry in a knowledge repository - something like https://drupal.stackexchange.com. We could even add a few keywords to the command to help searching. Heh - we could even give contribution credit for the work!

Indeed, using an app helps in other ways, too. For example, as hinted earlier not all of the Drupal Community use Slack, some use drupalchat.me and I know others are even using discord, Skype and there are even many die-hards on IRC! No reason at all that the app couldn't have connectors to other platforms at all - pretty easy work. Then, we can all share great knowledge whilst not having to be "present" everywhere.

I wonder - would this be useful? Would it reduce the impact of lost content on Slack? Would it reduce the need to be in all places at all times? Does it even become a super simple way to keep records of text meetings? You tell me.