We’re moving our Community to Discourse

One year ago, we invited our Community to join our Slack Workspace. It has since grown to 2,500 members. It has been a wonderful journey, and, as we aim to grow it tenfold, the time has come to scale our setup up. Read the full story.

Slack has been an extremely helpful tool allowing us to provide timely and often live support. But we have simply reached a point where we need to provide a better experience to our growing community.

TL;DR We’re now moving our community to Discourse. Come join us!

The benefits of Slack

At Forest Admin, our product is primarily designed for developers. One thing we’ve learned is that common marketing practices don’t apply to the developer world. Slack has helped us build an environment of trust with our community from day one.

Build trust, and thus loyalty. Perhaps the most important success criteria for a company. Why should I use your product? Is this secure? How does it work? Building a relationship of trust with customers is not easy. It’s even more challenging when you’re launching a new product category. One way to do it is to treat your customers as you would a close friend. Through live-chat interactions, Slack has enabled us to respond quickly and simply to all of our customers’ requests.

Developers first. Only developers can explain technical stuff to other developers and answer their questions and doubts. Slack makes it easy to share code snippets, error messages, videos, etc. for debugging purposes. We have organized ourselves internally in order for at least one team member from our developer team to be 100% available every day to help our customers solve their problems.

A common tool. We were already using Slack internally and so were most of our customers. On our side, it was therefore easy to monitor conversations and organize ourselves internally. For our users, it was just another workspace to join.

Closing the feedback loop. Slack allows for easy integration with a wide range of tools. We have made great use of the ProductBoard and ClickUp integrations for feature requests and bug reports.

At the end of the day, Slack has allowed our community to benefit from fast and great support. But our community has started to share with us some limitations (lack of message history due to pricing limitation, poor search function, upload limits, etc.).

Should we have chosen another tool in the first place? No. Slack’s been very helpful in getting our early adopters and first testimonials. The discussions we have had with our community are a gold mine, and it’s now time to take things to the next level.

Why Discourse?

As the community is growing, we want to improve our support for developers and need a tool that scales well. With Discourse, we’ll keep our current organization (with one developer dedicated at 100% to the community every day) while giving our community free and permanent access to past discussions, in a more organized way.

History and search. One of the top reasons we are moving off Slack is to preserve the memory and value of past discussions as we move forward. Right now, due to the sheer volume of the interactions, all messages sent on Slack disappear after roughly two weeks. We want to give our developers space where they can interact without fear that what they write might disappear, and where anything that our community finds useful is at the top of the list. Moving to Discourse will give life to thousands of threads with high-quality content but which would otherwise have gone unnoticed by our wider community in Slack.

Community effect. We want to encourage a healthy ecosystem of developers that provides value to everyone involved and rewards the most active users. Discourse natively encourages positive community behaviors through a great set of features (badges, trust system, community moderator). We plan to gradually introduce additional features and Discourse will allow us to introduce these in a consistent environment.

Better organized. The Discourse model for threads, replies, quoting, etc is a far superior way of structuring conversations. This really comes down to Discourse having a very good and thought-through model whereas Slack optimizes for entirely different things than asynchronous discussions. Discourse allows many developers to participate in the same discussion without generating an excessive amount of entropy.

Slack’s limitations became more and more evident as the number of Forest Admin adopters grew exponentially in recent months. In order to grow further, we now need a tool that allows us to scale up our community while maintaining the same level of clarity and support our users learned to love. Discourse caters to a lot of developer communities and serves immense groups, such as NextCloud, Mozilla, and even a few governments. We are confident it will serve the needs of our growing developer community just as well.

What’s next?

We are investing heavily in growing our developer relations, and this new tool will become a cornerstone of our community strategy. Stay in touch… we’re planning a lot of exciting updates in the coming months.

It is also worth mentioning that we are not entirely phasing out Slack for the moment. We will continue to use Slack to:

This will allow us to keep a high-bandwidth channel for deeper discussions that go beyond everyday support cases, such as helping third-party developers with internal design discussions. However, we will continue to encourage everyone, even Enterprise customers, to post their issues on Discourse whenever they can, as we believe with our active community this will quickly become the best channel for technical support.

🎉 We can’t wait to see you on Discourse!

Sandro Munda

Sandro Munda