Is it ok to use slack for an internal chat for sysadmins?

He's something funny I heard.
I have a friend who interned at Facebook (he now has a job offer), so the knows a bit about the company internal communication.

Practically all internal communication is done with Facebook, because why not? It's the lowest common denominator. Messaging is done through Facebook messenger, teams are private groups, etc.
Except one group has resisted this: the sysadmins.
Sysadmins need to be able to communicate at all times, /especially/ if things aren't working. And it turns out that there's no way to make sure things like Facebook messenger always work—especially during outages. They're just too damn complicated.
So, they came to a compromise. The rest of the company will move to Facebook, and the sysadmins will stay on IRC, the communication platform they know they can rely on.

When Facebook's on fire and the company is panicking because they can't communicate, you can be sure of one thing: the sysadmins are chatting away on IRC about how to get it working again.

@pounce @sir @Wolf480pl Yep, IRC is commonly used by sysadmins.


"Google has found IRC to be a huge boon in incident response. IRC is very reliable and can be used as a log of communications about this event, and such a record is invaluable in keeping detailed state changes in mind. We’ve also written bots that log incident-related traffic (which is helpful for postmortem analysis), and other bots that log events such as alerts to the channel. IRC is also a convenient medium over which geographically distributed teams can coordinate."

@pounce @sir @Wolf480pl this is not solely a problem of Facebook and the greatness of IRC. Any system will go down at times and if you are the one to bring it up again you better have another way than that system to communicate. Of course, IRC being a battle-proven and resource-friendly technology is a good choice for this. Yet, unless you are operating Slack, you can of course also use that. Just have a backup plan on what you do if your Internet, or Slack, goes down.

@marix @pounce @sir
You can also observe over a period of a year or two how often slack goes down vs how often IRC goes down.

You'll notice that slack always goes down then you need it the most.

OTOH, IRC never goes down. Sometimes it has netsplits, but even then you can still communicate with some of the people in the channel, and you can hop servers to find everyone else.

IOW, IRC is more resilient.

irc is the failsafe backbone of the world's largest social media platform. i love it. 😁

@sir What alternatives could you suggest? IRC is text-only and primitive and Matrix is slow and I haven't yet seen a client with decent UX. I haven't used Zulip or Mattermost yet, I've only heard of them.

@phoe IRC is king, text-only is a feature not a bug

@sir @slp Of course it's a feature - unless you want to chat with someone who isn't a complete and total developer nerd like me or you and wants standard contemporary features like automatic image uploads, conversation threads, channel history, or if you want to build a community of non-technological people around your software. At that point, I observed that people prefer to leave rather than stay on IRC.

Or they start Discord servers of their own.


I'm sympathetic to those concerns.

With IRC trollspamming finally endemic on many FOSS-associated networks & subsequent need for nick registration, the very low barrier-to-entry of IRC which was a trade-off against more intricate feature sets is gone.

@sir @slp

@deejoe @phoe @slp right, let me know when Slack stops making your register too


you know, you really don't have to get in my face with that shit

i don't fucking use slack

@phoe @slp

@deejoe @phoe @slp well slack is what we're fucking talking about pal


so, you're here to promote slack, then?

if not, then maybe we're also talking about something else too

@phoe @slp


That said, there are many choices which provide more features, but retain IRC's end-to-end freedom.

@sir @slp

@deejoe @phoe @slp more features are the opposite of what we need


yes, I've seen how you cherish such an expansive & welcoming "we"

@phoe @slp

@deejoe @phoe @slp who pissed in your coffee & asprin mug this morning


I don't know, but, see, it's afternoon here, and there's this guy in the timeline being all shouty, who then gets all knee jerk & sarcastic even with folks who support some his points.

But nah, that couldn't be it, could it?

@phoe @slp

@phoe @sir @slp

whichever is used by a project, my take is that it should be bridged to IRC at the very least.

@deejoe @phoe @sir @slp I wrote an IRC bridge for Potato. Sadly, not enough people were interested in a free Slack alternative to make that project viable.

It's a pity, since it worked perfectly fine, was self-hosted and had features that Slack still lacks (for example, the ability to implement bots that push custom HTML in replies).

@phoe @sir The original toot was talking about FOSS projects, so I'm assuming most people involved have a technical background.

Also, with the proper tools, IRC isn't hard to use at all.

@slp @sir Yep - my case is perhaps a little bit more specific. I want a means of collaborating with people who are both deeply technical and deeply non-technical, and also includes most (or at least some) of the features I have listed above. When it comes to programming, I'm eager to nerd all over Freenode, but when it comes to collaborating with non-technerds, I'm looking for something more featureful, or the community will go set up a Discord server anyway.

@phoe @slp I reject this idea that non-nerds *need* features. It makes no sense. More features is more difficult to comprehend.

@sir @phoe @slp

yet: if everynerdy did that, nerds would be dead within a few decades entirely.

nobody's born a nerd. people don't learn in a vacuum. some people need people contact to learn, or pictures, or whatever.

if you're not volunteering to teach, that's understandable -- I refuse too -- but from someone with severe learning problems, I can tell you accessible isn't just cheap hardware

it's unicode, screenreaders, pictures, text-to-speech, and sometimes people contact

just saying ❤️

@sir @phoe @slp

(plus, technically speaking, that's a broader form of the 640k mistake, in a sense: "nobody 'needs' more than text!" well, okay, but 'nobody' disagrees pretty strongly and there's evidence suggesting that not all people can learn effectively and quickly from pure text, too. :\ )

@sydneyfalk @phoe @slp I disagree. 90% of modern nerds were raised on text. They somehow figured it out. You know computers had text-only interfaces *before* they had raster interfaces, right?

@sir @phoe @slp

I cut my teeth on Doom, son. ;) I'm aware. And I flailed desperately for years and years, mostly due to my learning defects and low tolerance for frustration.

This is also arguably an example of the "well X was just fine why would we Y"? We didn't go to the moon for years and years, said people during the space race -- why bother now? It's a waste of money, yeesh.

Nobody knows what lies beyond their space if they refuse to innovate past what they are already comfortable with.

@sydneyfalk @phoe @slp I'm not making a general argument here, just refuting your idea that nerds would die out if we used text-only interfaces. They wouldn't.

@sir @phoe @slp

If you're using lynx right now to toot things, I will literally accept that you literally believe this.

Especially if you don't have a smartphone (which was decried as 'dumbed down' computing by some, IIRC).

Otherwise, I'm going to assume you believe it in some sense, in a "well I had to so they have to" sense. And I'm gonna tell you, as someone who thought that way a long time: It doesn't move forward. It is stationary.

It is, long-term, quite unhelpful. (IMO, obviously.)

@sir @phoe @slp

And no, "Nerds" won't die. Your concept of them, though, could -- things that refuse to maintain or grow die, and fertilize the things that are willing to grow. The "old guard" of "real" techs, or whatever this concept is; yes, they'll function. But as a slim minority at best. It's endless meta-November forever, all the way down.

This is meant as food for thought, assuming people are looking for that.

Anyway: Be well. ^_^

@sir @phoe @slp

(oh, and I forgot: I don't think I actually said that they'd die? I was saying they'd be excluding people that might be interested, and if they're doing it out of "well fuck you" issues, then it's probably illogical and unnecessary. since logic is more important than feelings under all circumstance, it'd probably be logical if the old guard passed on their stuff, however they can, to people who can use it after they're in the ground.)

@sir @phoe @slp

(correction, upon rereading, I did say that. it was maybe 20% hyperbolic, but yes, I did technically say that. my mistake, and please, accept my apology for the error.)

@sydneyfalk @phoe @slp not to mention that IRC is by FAR the most accessible chat medium, if you're going to drop the text-to-speech into this discussion

@sir @phoe
Some people I have to work with don't understand this argument :/

@sir @phoe the lack of proper support for multiple logins does kind of kill it though, most people don't have the patience to set up bouncers

@sir @phoe IRC is king if your community is made of developers. And if you can deal with spam (if you're all devs, +r and the like helps).

If you have a FOSS project where most members of the community are not devs (or even tech savvy), IRC is sadly far from being king. First, end-users will not set up bouncers, and lack of history is an issue. Then comes spam (and +r isn't an option, since end-users ain't going to talk to NickServ). :|

@phoe @sir
I've tried Zulip and it works pretty well.
But when your servers go down, you need some chat that is _not_ on your server to coordinate the response.

@phoe @sir The fact that IRC is text-only (though there's an updated spec in the making) is not a handicap but a feature.

IRC + mailing lists (with archives). When you put the facts on the table, there's nothing better.

@slp @phoe @sir
Then please put these facts on the table. I only have intuition that IRC+email is better, but no arguments I could use to convince other people...

Mattermost is FOSS and has both an IRC gateway and terminal clients.

@jcbrand @phoe I'll help any person or project who wants to try IRC instead, don't listen to this XMPP noise

@jcbrand @phoe the X in XMPP is XML if anyone needs a quick reason to dismiss it

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