Jump to content

discussion The Division and the use of Slack


Stuart Duncan

Recommended Posts

Stuart Duncan

Morning!

Everyone knows internet forums were invented by the Romans in the year 23BC.  Fast forward a couple of millenia and we're still using them to this day; or are we?

Back in the day, we used to sign on to www.vatsim-uk.org/forums which through domain changes, a community emphesis and the like became what we know and love today - community.vatsim.uk.

I'm aware the Division uses slack and have done so for quite some time.  However, I'm notincing of late more and more emphasis on and reliance of the use of Slack.

I believe this is to the detriment of the esprit de corps of the community. Firstly, I, and many others don't use Slack, so the potential exists for information and discussion to be missed.  Secondly, I get the impression that the balance of community discussion is shifting towards Slack, leaving this very forum less active with less content and potential delegation to the position of Slack's poorer cousin.  Like I say, I'm not on Slack so potentially my impression could be wide of the mark.

I guess what I'm saying is please can we look at the possibility of promoting the forum as the 1st port of call for community discussion and leave Slack as more of project management/task allocation platform?

Cheers,

S.

  • Like 1
Link to post
Simon Kelsey

Hi Stuart,

Much as I can see your point of view, unfortunately I think the reality of the situation is that imagining it's possible for any organisation to issue a dictat along the lines of 'thou shalt use the forum' is a bit like Canute and the tide.

The reality is that forums of all descriptions are generally becoming less in favour and less well-trafficked, primarily because instant messaging is now so widespread and easily available. Basically: human nature is to prefer to have a real-time conversation where an answer to a question or a quip can be obtained instantly, than write letters to each other on a forum and even if Slack/Discord/Facebook/insert IM platform here were deleted tomorrow I doubt we'd see a big influx of posts returning -- it's just not as popular a medium as before. You stated "I don't use Slack" -- equally in similar contexts I have heard people say "I don't use forums".

We can and I am sure will agree deeply and nod sagely about the benefits of forums but the reality is that we will be unable to change human nature and I imagine that before too long web-based forums will go the same way as Newsgroups (remember them) -- I can clearly recall complaining when the simflight.vatsim.uk newsgroup was closed in favour of a forum that all this web browser based stuff would never catch on, what a faff, slow and ungainly etc... but here we are, and sooner or later I imagine forums will go the same way. So we're left with a choice  - either we can move on to where the conversation is or sit around here talking to ourselves, I guess.

  • Like 3
Link to post
Harry Sugden

Agreed, Simon. That said, it would be nice if our Slack conversations lasted a little longer in the archive... I guess people in VATSIM UK talk too much! 🤷‍♂️

I do also think this shift is why it might be important to start advertising procedure changes, documentation updates, etc. somewhere other than forums, as people just don't visit here as much these days... 

Link to post
Louie Lister

With over 2000 members registered to Slack, I think it'd be really hard to focus the main community more on the forum. Although I read the forum frequently, personally, I prefer slack as it's more informal. Also, from a mentors perspective, Slack is really handy for when trying to get hold of students too, seeing as we can't email students via the CTS anymore because of GDPRubbish 😄

Any information that the community needs to know will always be put on the forum so I don't think you could miss anything important. Come and try Slack eh? You might like it.

Lister

  • Like 2
Link to post
Trevor Hannant
3 hours ago, Harry Sugden said:

Agreed, Simon. That said, it would be nice if our Slack conversations lasted a little longer in the archive... I guess people in VATSIM UK talk too much! 🤷‍♂️

I do also think this shift is why it might be important to start advertising procedure changes, documentation updates, etc. somewhere other than forums, as people just don't visit here as much these days... 

Harry's first line is the issue - the limit on the free plan that VATSIM UK uses.  because of channels such as Discussion, other items in other channels get lost after a while.   While it has it's uses (requesting people to take over a position is a good one), it also has it detriments (see above).

The forums are, for me, still the best place for Procedure/Document changes as this is a permanently available home for these - they will not be lost (save a tech issue!).  Slack for chat, forums for more permanent discussion.

  • Like 1
Link to post
Alex Ashley

We could, in the fullness of time, transition to Discord which resolves the losing messages issue... *hides*

Edited by Alex Ashley
Link to post
Luke Peters
6 hours ago, Harry Sugden said:

I do also think this shift is why it might be important to start advertising procedure changes, documentation updates, etc. somewhere other than forums, as people just don't visit here as much these days... 

This is probably one of the best ideas i've seen for a while within VATSIM UK. We have the #vatsim_uk channel in Slack that can be used, similar to how events are posted there, to point people towards procedure changes and updated documentation (particularly important things like LACC Agreed Level Changes or major VMATS updates).

Like Louie, I read the forum from time to time but do not often contribute, and as a result, I only really notice procedure changes when I get a big digest e-mail following multiple changes being released all at once. If we started announcing these in Slack as well, I could get rid of my digest e-mail and make the web services team happy because there's one less e-mail affecting the division's spam score. 🙂

Also might remind people that the forums exist and get people talking here more...

Edited by Luke Peters
Link to post
Alex Hodgkinson

I don't use Slack much any more because I was disappointed at the behaviour of some members. It's definitely not as moderated as the forums and sometimes gives the appearance that it's no more than an online crèche where people go when they're bored or want to be a bit spicy. 

  • Like 8
Link to post
Ben Wright
1 hour ago, Alex Hodgkinson said:

I don't use Slack much any more because I was disappointed at the behaviour of some members. It's definitely not as moderated as the forums and sometimes gives the appearance that it's no more than an online crèche where people go when they're bored or want to be a bit spicy. 

In my opinion, the forums are generally much worse in terms of squabbling and petty arguments than Slack. Also any form of moderation on the forums is generally hit back at by certain members of the community, so it's sort of damned if you do and damned if you don't.

I certainly wouldn't let the behaviour of certain members stop you from using a free service which actually has lots of benefits over the forums (for example being able to request replacement ATC when you want to close a busy position). You can opt out of informal discussion channels and disable notifications if you don't want to be disturbed by general chit chat too.

Like Simon said, times have changed and so has the way we communicate. I've no doubt in a few years or even months time we'll be looking at a replacement to Slack, and this is just the way that technology works. I don't think anybody can make the argument that the forums are better than Slack for general discussion, nor do I think reverting to the forums would bring back the good old days. Like others have said, you might actually prefer Slack if you give it a proper go!

  • Like 4
Link to post
Luke Williams
2 hours ago, Alex Hodgkinson said:

I don't use Slack much any more because I was disappointed at the behaviour of some members. It's definitely not as moderated as the forums and sometimes gives the appearance that it's no more than an online crèche where people go when they're bored or want to be a bit spicy. 

Completely agree. I rarely look on slack nowadays. 
No offence to anyone, but 50% of things discussed on there is complete drivel that has no relevance to the division.

Edited by Luke Williams
  • Like 4
Link to post
Alex Hodgkinson
13 hours ago, Ben Wright said:

In my opinion, the forums are generally much worse in terms of squabbling and petty arguments than Slack. Also any form of moderation on the forums is generally hit back at by certain members of the community, so it's sort of damned if you do and damned if you don't.

I certainly wouldn't let the behaviour of certain members stop you from using a free service which actually has lots of benefits over the forums (for example being able to request replacement ATC when you want to close a busy position). You can opt out of informal discussion channels and disable notifications if you don't want to be disturbed by general chit chat too.

Like Simon said, times have changed and so has the way we communicate. I've no doubt in a few years or even months time we'll be looking at a replacement to Slack, and this is just the way that technology works. I don't think anybody can make the argument that the forums are better than Slack for general discussion, nor do I think reverting to the forums would bring back the good old days. Like others have said, you might actually prefer Slack if you give it a proper go!

I used it for about 12-18 months before I decided it wasn't for me. So I think this fulfils the criteria of 'giving it a proper go!' I still check it occasionally but don't contribute. Especially after the petty farce the MSM event descended too. That thread was the straw that broke the camels back for me.

Edited by Alex Hodgkinson
Link to post
Calum Towers

We are getting ready to migrate from Slack to Discord. Discord has matured as a platform in recent months and is the tool that a lot of other areas of VATSIM use. Chats hang around longer than Slack and it gives us more possibilities to automate things in the future too.

In terms of Forum vs "Chat" (Slack/Discord). I think the internet has changed a lot over the past few years. We're not the only online community that has seen its forum quieten down - chat is becoming the new norm. .NET's Forum is still very active but so is their Discord.
I understand that won't be to everyones taste which that is why we provide both mediums. Plenty of people are involved in both and I think they do serve their own purpose. Slack/Discord is more aimed at "right now" whereas the Forum provides structured discussions that can be referenced later.

Chat demands that you keep up with what is going on now and is incredibly difficult to miss a week of and catch up. This makes it great for social interactions and chit chat.
The Forum is setup in such a way that if you left it for a week and came to read it, it wouldn't be too bad. This makes it great for procedure changes, debates and feedback.

Watching this thread and keen to hear thoughts!

  • Like 3
Link to post
Ben Wright
1 hour ago, Alex Hodgkinson said:

I used it for about 12-18 months before I decided it wasn't for me. So I think this fulfils the criteria of 'giving it a proper go!' I still check it occasionally but don't contribute. Especially after the petty farce the MSM event descended too. That thread was the straw that broke the camels back for me.

That’s fair enough, but I still don’t think that moving back to forums for general chit chat is the answer. Bear in mind that the MSM event thread on the forums was equally as bad - however in both cases posts were moderated.

 

39 minutes ago, Calum Towers said:

We are getting ready to migrate from Slack to Discord. Discord has matured as a platform in recent months and is the tool that a lot of other areas of VATSIM use. Chats hang around longer than Slack and it gives us more possibilities to automate things in the future too.

In terms of Forum vs "Chat" (Slack/Discord). I think the internet has changed a lot over the past few years. We're not the only online community that has seen its forum quieten down - chat is becoming the new norm. .NET's Forum is still very active but so is their Discord.
I understand that won't be to everyones taste which that is why we provide both mediums. Plenty of people are involved in both and I think they do serve their own purpose. Slack/Discord is more aimed at "right now" whereas the Forum provides structured discussions that can be referenced later.

Chat demands that you keep up with what is going on now and is incredibly difficult to miss a week of and catch up. This makes it great for social interactions and chit chat.
The Forum is setup in such a way that if you left it for a week and came to read it, it wouldn't be too bad. This makes it great for procedure changes, debates and feedback.

Watching this thread and keen to hear thoughts!

I think this is certainly the way forward.  Like Calum has said, we have the forums for long term procedure changes and event posting etc where we don’t want posts to get lost, and then Discord for chatting to each other. It certainly makes the most sense.

Link to post
Stuart Duncan

Thanks all for your replies.  Guess either platform is a bit like Marmite.

@Calum Towers interesting. Will this transition to Discord render our TS3 server redundant?

Link to post
Calum Towers
19 minutes ago, Stuart Duncan said:

@Calum Towers interesting. Will this transition to Discord render our TS3 server redundant?

In the future, perhaps, but not right now - TeamSpeak seems to work well for what we use it for.

We identified a few issues with Slack (message history & integration with our services being the primary two) that led us to look at Discord as an alternative. At launch, Discord will be text only to replace Slack and ensure we don't end up with half of our members using TeamSpeak and the other half using Discord for voice.

There are a few factors I'm thinking about with TeamSpeak;

  • TeamSpeak is hosted on our servers so is an additional overhead to maintain
  • The free licence we use is no longer offered (does that mean existing ones may be revoked at some stage?)
  • TeamSpeak 5 is on the horizon (offers backwards compatibility, but is that going to cause problems for members?)

When it comes to migrating services, I'd always rather jump than be pushed, so once we've tackled Slack, we'll put some thought into how Discord could work to replace TeamSpeak.

  • Like 4
Link to post
  • 3 months later...
Alistair Thomson
On 15/07/2020 at 07:52, Calum Towers said:

Slack/Discord is more aimed at "right now" whereas the Forum provides structured discussions that can be referenced later.

+1!

Some of the posts in this thread seem to suggest that "modern" users of the internet seek instant discourse, via informal chat systems, and that forums are less popular as a result. I suppose that the huge popularity of social media environments reinforces that view.

I personally have found many of these social media environments to be insubstantial in content, if not in volume. On the other hand, the durability of discussions in forums seems to promote a degree of formality and serious intent, which may make contributions more considered (and therefore probably of greater value).

So there is absolutely a need for forums, but some folks will also wish to use more immediately responsive mechanisms. Mutual exclusivity is not an option.

  • Like 5
Link to post

Please sign in to comment

You will be able to leave a comment after signing in



Sign In Now
  • Similar Content

    • Harry Sugden
      By Harry Sugden
      Unfortunately, I have now had enough. I have tried so hard over the last 5 months to pursue other avenues. This forum post is genuinely the last thing I wanted to write on a network that is built by and sustained by volunteers. But at the top of VATSIM UK and above it, it is clear that it is nigh on impossible to get anyone to care. Perhaps it is just me? Nope, I know - and I’m not asking you to speak up publicly, I’m happy to do it - that there are others who are fed up of being ignored.
      From the moment a new Division Director was appointed in the UK, I was waiting for an Operations vacancy to open up. I was actually the first Operations Manager (it was called then), before losing interest in VATSIM as I moved on to University. I was excited to come back and contribute in something that I know I’m good at, so as soon as lockdown began, I enquired as to the plan. There wasn’t one. As you may have noticed, I’ve been back for a while and I just can’t get enough.
      The thing that’s missing though is an Operations department to thrive. Our previous Division Director has told me that they had enough to do in that role alone. Being a leader is about delegating. It is about encouraging people to contribute, the glue that holds the division together strategically and into the future. But where is ours? A leader doesn’t hog, on a volunteer network. A leader doesn’t keep an I3 badge when they don’t have time to instruct. A leader says hello sooner than 3 weeks after their appointment. A leader involves themselves in events and day-to-day division life. But how does our current one manage 4 roles at once (5 if you include the DDD!)? 
      I don’t think they can. My tickets, emails and PMs are invariably ignored, responded to months later - sometimes Slack even archived them before they were replied to! Myself and others have waited weeks and weeks to even be given approval to start on a new document. We contributors often wait until the night before AIRAC release to have our Pull Requests reviewed for the sector file, leaving no time to make changes in time for release. I struggle to receive even an acknowledgement that a document has been received and is in the queue for review.
      I genuinely love Ops and this division. I’ve tried putting my absolute all into document creation, Spotlight posts, the like, with absolutely no reward other than the odd thanks. That’s fine - I don’t want a reward. But when I offer to help more formally, it falls on deaf ears. An email where I, in effect, formally complained got a response just under 4 weeks after I sent it. I was reassured by the Region Director that Ops would be appointed ‘soon’ - this was now over a month ago. An email I received nearly 4 weeks ago from the DD promised a more regular line of communication to discuss procedures and documents. I replied within days saying that sounded like a great idea! Guess what... no reply since! 
      Yet, I receive a review on a pull request, 3 months after it was submitted, last night?!

       
      Let’s wrap this up. Active suppression of volunteerism is what this division is now about apparently. Not everywhere, of course. All staff - including the DD - put their all into this place. Training, Web, Marketing and Member Servcies should all be applauded for what they do - at times we all disagree with things, but they are volunteers who quite frankly deserve more praise.
      But our DD doesn’t recognise when it’s time to let others help. I’ve sent my blueprint for Ops to them, because I have ideas to get YOU involved - the airfield info update project, which I’ve just started without ‘approval’, is the first of them. I don’t even want to be on the DSG (powerless ‘Manager’ would be fine), and I wouldn’t even mind if someone else got Ops Director... as long as it meant I could get a reply from them! 
      This isn’t what the network is about. I’m tired of 5 months of offering to help, of waiting. It shouldn’t be like this, and I’ve tried so hard via the UK and Europe. I’ve run out of steam. And so I wanted you to know about it.
       
      (P.S. If I’ve blown my chances of being ‘respected’ by the ‘old boys club’ management, then of course I’m sad, but not surprised. I love this network and have only ever tried to help. May this be my last attempt!)
    • Yakov Dlougach
      By Yakov Dlougach
      Real-world EGLL AIP does not explicitly prohibit fixed-wing VFR traffic:
       However here on VATSIM VFR in the Inner zone is only allowed for helicopters. Any reasons for that?
    • Richard Keen
      By Richard Keen
      Hi all
       
      Just like to say well done to all the controllers tonight for another fantastic Mid Week Gatwick event, really enjoyed the short flight from EGHQ .... although I did scare the TMA controller who thought I was holding wrong when infact the Aerosoft A330 flew it correctly which was  parallel entry into the hold. They must have improved the Holds in the latest patch lol ....can't wait till the next event.
      Thanks again all roll on the next one
      Rich

    • Joe Dobson
      By Joe Dobson
      Posting this as I can't use the feedback form (requires individual CID and the controllers are all offline now).
       
      Thanks for a great event. Special thanks to EGPH and EGCC controllers, MAN and Scottish Control North of Edinburgh. Bounced around EGCC, EGPH and EGPE in a KA350 and it was very good fun.
    • Alex Hodgkinson
      By Alex Hodgkinson
      Morning.
      Would it be possible for individual members to see all their feedback that has been written against them? Both positive and negative? 
      Reason? I believe there is a significant amount of feedback that’s not being seen by the membership probably because no-doubt each piece of feedback needs individually actioning by an individual to then be seen by the member to which it relates. If we could review our own feedback then surely we can take it upon ourselves to improve?
      I understand there will be some people who won’t want to see their negative feedback so perhaps an opt-out feature could be installed where the member won’t automatically be able to see their feedback unless it was given to them by the vatsim uk team? (As is the current process now aiui) 
      TYKR. 
       
×
×
  • Create New...