the great slack migration

3 minute read Published:

After 7 years of using IRC to keep in touch, a group of friends and I made the leap to use Slack instead of IRC. At first there was some resistance with a couple of false starts, but eventually consensus was achieved and the migration was made.

One of the immediate benefits of moving to Slack was the barrier to entry was lowered dramatically. By using IRC we limited the audience of our channel to the more techincal people in our friend group. Running and maintaining a persistent IRC connection takes some amount of work and resources that not everyone is willing to invest in. Once we moved to Slack, 4 or 5 more people joined in our daily conversation!

Some of the other things that I consider benefits of Slack over IRC are:

  • Web and mobile clients with persistent connection
  • Searchable history
  • Integrations
  • Inline media
  • Easy to discover channels

Being able to use modern clients to take advantage of features like push notifications or persistent connections without a lot of extra work or money leads to an enjoyable experience. By supporting a lot of platforms with a nice web client, everyone is able to connect easily wherever they prefer. A native client on my phone is a welcomed change after using an ssh client to connect to a screen session for years.

Some in the group still prefer the “low-fi” experience of IRC, so we immediately setup the convenient IRC gateway that lets you connect to the Slack team with your favorite IRC client. Another huge upside to this feature is that we were able to easily hook up our IRC bot to Slack so that we could take advantage of the tools we’ve built up over the years. We’ve slowly started replacing bot functionality with Slack integrations, but this will take time so it is nice to fall back to the existing bot.

Another major change Slack offers us is the ability to create and invite people to new channels. While we did this on IRC, typically only the people in the conversation when a new (mostly temporary) channel was created were able to join. Now when we decide to fork the conversation into another channel it can be public to everyone, and others don’t need to be left out just because they weren’t around at the right time. A great example of this is the Game of Thrones channel we’ve made to discuss spoilers for the latest episode away from the general chat where not everyone might be up to date on the show.

For the most part I think the migration has been a success. The major thing I’ve noticed is that by evolving our medium of communication, we’ve adapted how we converse day to day. More links are shared and consumed, and the conversation is more lively.