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There was a time when I thought something like this was a good idea. But after using Slack for about a week, there's no way I would give up all the benefits of a well-integrated centrally controlled service. All the clients work together perfectly. We have Slack channels with customers. It just all works much better than I can imagine any self-hosted, decentralized service would.



Yeah, but is kind of expensive if you don't live in a developed country. If I lived in the US I would happily pay what they charge, but here in my country I would end up paying almost as much in Slack as in the office rent.


Where are you located? Slack is $7-9/mo a user iirc. Genuinely curious, that seems insanely cheap for rent.


Really? that's cheap for you? that's some thousands a year for any mid-size company. I always saw them as really expensive for something I'm used to get for free. And the paid alternatives like hipchat are like $2/month. I guess it's all a matter of perception.

http://www.npr.org/sections/money/2015/09/23/442921757/episo...


"Thousands a year" is a rounding error for any company that has the 20+ employees it takes to get to "thousands a year" in Slack bills. Those employees are costing tens to hundreds of thousands of dollars per month.


I think you are seeing it from the strongly-VC-backed startup perspective. In any company I've worked for that kind of expense needs to be justified. Sure, that's a small fraction compared to salaries, but there will be many such "needs" for many small fractions, and if they are not watched after they add up pretty quickly.


I think you are seeing it from the strongly-VC-backed startup perspective.

I feel I can pretty authoritatively answer "Betcha not" here. </cofounder>

It's trivial to justify Slack's pricetag at any software company. Your entire team lives in it continuously and it becomes the nerve center of the company... for freaking pennies. It's ludicrous. If you add it up the non-Starfighter companies I run spend like $50k a year on SaaS/hosting/etc ("everything with an API attached") of which Slack is like ~1%, and probably the most underpriced-relative-to-value service which does not quote its pricing in picodollars.


Aren't you down to appointreminder.org and Starfighter now? How's the alpha going?


That's how you get bloated budgets. Why spend thousands of dollars per year on a communications platform if you don't need to spend it?

IRC, mattermost, email, Gitlab, Wekan, Skype/Google Hangouts/BigBlueButton.... there are plenty of tools to communicate without spending loads of cash.


None of those tools work as well as Slack out of the box. Some of them require significant work to integrate with other web services. That's time your staff is spending on those projects rather than your core product.

Seriously, Slack was the EASIEST things to justify as an expense when we proposed it to upper management earlier this year. And they are known to be very stingy.


why use macs (or Dells) instead of a cheap china-built off-brand PC? Why use fancy Pilot G2s instead of 10/$1 bic pens? Why use ${SuperiorProduct} instead of ${InferiorProduct}? Because it has value outside of the immediate short-term economic value.


Of course, it is always a matter of perceived utility. I buy really nice food sometimes, because my happiness gained from the delicious steak is worth it.

I might hypothetically use an open source tool instead of Slack because it's not worth $2000 of productivity for 15 people per year.


If it is ad-supported it is not free: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=7485773


And they clearly aren't as good, otherwise Slack wouldn't be so popular.


giovannibonetti's employees probably cost him "only" thousands of dollars per month, so his Slack bill would be 1/10th of an employee or so.


And where can a mid-size company rent an office for only some thousands a year?


I'm located in Brazil. 30 users x $8/user/month x 4 R$/US$ = R$ 960/month (as a ballpark figure, a R$ is worth for a Brazilian about the same as a US$ is worth for an american)


U$ 240 / month is not cheap, and I'd seriously consider an alternative or asking for a discount, but it's nowhere near the price of an office in Sao Paulo or Porto Alegre (I live in Uruguay and was looking for office space in Sao Paulo earlier this year).

If you have to pay for customers, then it's way too expensive.

I've seen a remote-based company put Slack to VERY good use, integrating it very tightly with their development process, I believe it definitely pays itself then.

If it's just a glorified IRC/XMPP, then definitely not.


How a self-hosted service prevents you from having channels with customers or whatever else Slack offers?

The only upside of third-party SaaS is that you don't have to bother yourself to set things up and maintain them. Otherwise, I really don't see any limits that Slack can do but a self-hosted system can't.


I'm involved in a few communities that have slack setups. One of the other nice things that Slack offers is that I only need to have one login to all of them. That's something that none of the self-hosted systems can do right now.


Not sure I understand.

What prevents you from using a same identity to log in to multiple self-hosted instances?

I think it's the same. As far as I get it - haven't used Slack much - with Slack you either have to use different email address to create account for each team (subdomain), or you have to be explicitly invited. Or maybe I got a wrong idea. Either way, while I'm not sure all self-hosted alternatives have options to consume external identities (be it third-party leased ones like Google account or self-originating ones), at least some have those. Which means the authentication is fairly transparent.


I'm talking about using slack as a member of various groups, with very different focuses. The fact that it is centralized means I don't need to have Yet Another Server I have to remember the address to, the username, the password, etc, and enter in on my desktop, my laptop, my mobile, etc. Plus, if one of those decentralized instances has a mobile app, chances are, I'd have to put in configuration info there for each and every service. Self-hosted communications services quickly become a pain in the ass when you end up needing to deal with more than a couple, and sometimes centralizing things a bit is an actual benefit.


You still have to create accounts on all of them. And if you mistype your password on one, you'll have to change it, and either you have to remember that there's one with a changed password, or go and change your password on all of them. And what if someone's taken your regular name on one of them?


That's not really a problem though. Everyone uses 20 different communications platforms. SMS, Hangouts, Hipchat, Slack, Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, Whatsapp, etc all have different logins.

It may be nice to combine them in one place but it won't prevent anyone from using them.


The problem is, there is no standard for truly owned identities besides usernames and passwords, and those are frowned upon as "different accounts". And many services seem to not want any interoperability at authentication layer and to accept third party (esp. competitors') assertions as credentials.

This applies to Slack too - to best of my knowledge, one can't log in there, using, say, GitHub identity assertion as a credential.

But I'm not sure how Slack has anything to do with this. You're right. They're just a yet another platform with its own non-interoperable account system. Don't see how it's better than anything other, except when everyone is already there, which I find hard to believe. (But any other platform that knows how to consume external credentials is wins in this regard.)


Doesn't prevent it. But since it's sub-optimal, it never happens.


Maybe then this product isn't for you. Even that's a maybe. Fair to say it's needlessly discouraging.

Somebody made something, and is giving it out for free so that people can learn code, improve it or just use it. They haven't made the claim that this beats Slack today, but with a community of users and developers, it just might. Btw, it can be a success even if it doesn't fully outclass Slack.

Your comment is equally valid for the Linux kernel if it were 1991. Who would use a baby OS when they can get a well rounded commercial OS that crashes less often? Look at where we are now.


Linux kernel is completely different since there is little or no network effect.


You are fine with a commercial US company storing all your communications? I am not.


Yes. I can't imagine living life worrying about something like that.


You can't imagine working a French defence contractor? Or a bank anywhere on earth outside of the US?


Or someone who likes to freely express their political views, maybe even extremist opinions, but still would like to peacefully visit the US as a tourist some day.


My first thought was that this is a viable alternative if and only if it were possible to self-host a central server.


I came here to say exactly this. We host a Slack team for local freelancers, and I'm part of a few communities.. and I currently can't imagine me using two different clients for this (2 desktop apps, 2 mobile apps, 2 admin web apps). So, Slack it's gonna be.


Hah. The history repeats.

We had non-interoperable web services, and then businesses offering aggregation of those (like various social media aggregators, or even Slack) had appeared.

Now we have non-interoperable mobile apps.




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