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Zulip is definitely the best of the open source Slack alternatives. But having to think of a subject for every single message is just ... well, it's a newsgroup, not IRC.

This is a common confusion from folks who haven't really used Zulip. You don't need to think about the subject for every message, because 95% of messages you send are replying to an existing message/conversation, and you don't need to think about topics to do that.

For those messages where you are effectively changing the topic of conversation, in Zulip, rather than starting your message with "On another note," or a similar phrase to communicate that you're about to say something unrelated words, you instead just send your message to another topic.

And if there are multiple conversations happening at overlapping times, Zulip's model often ends up saving you from having to say "@fred yes" in your reply to indicate which question you're answering "yes" to, because it's obvious from the structure.

You can argue it's slightly more work for the person sending a message to type a topic when you bring up something unrelated, but it's certainly not much, and it's only relevant to a small fraction of messages that one sends. Whereas what Zulip's model saves your organization is every one of the N users who can have to read the conversation needing to spend much more time and mental effort in order to understand what conversation(s) happened while they weren't looking at chat and whether there was something that needs their attention.

I haven't found this a problem. We tend to just have general topics, like very often the "what's everybody working on this week" topic.

I am a newbie in this area, but could Zulip use machine learning to come up with a relevant subject or topic name? I am not sure how it would work though, since it might be required BEFORE you send messages, and you may not want to change it frequently after that, because people should not memorize the changes all the time, it would backfire I think.

But still, does it make sense in any way that I cannot think about right now?

you don't have to use a topic by default... another option is to have a default topic like `general`

Having hundreds of messages with no way to tell them apart is an absolute nightmare. Zulip doesn't require a subject for every message, but it does impose some discipline, and that's a good thing.

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