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    “We all know the real reason Slack has closed off their gateways. Their business model dictates that they should.”

    Which is why they should’ve never been used in the first place if anyone wanted to keep anything. This isn’t a new lesson with mission-critical, proprietary software. Anyone relying on profit-hungry, 3rd parties is just asking for it. Only people I feel sympathy for are those who didn’t know the risks (esp non-technical folks) or those who did that were forced by managers/customers to use the product at work despite its disadvantages (esp resource hogging).

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      I mean, I think categorizing this as a “bait and switch” is disingenuous. How many people were attracted to Slack by their gateways versus their total addressable market or indeed their total number of users? I’m going to go out on a limb and say that number is basically zero.

      Too, the people who are affected by this change are overwhelmingly the people who should have known better. It’s hard for me to gather much sympathy.

      ETA: I’m not a fan of Slack, particularly their godawful clients, but I think this article falls into the classic “It is what I want, therefore it is what everyone wants” fallacy. As my boss at Apple once told me, “we’d go broke if we made products for you.”

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        How many didn’t push harder against slack because they could just use a bridge?

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          I mean, the problem is that, as Slack is paying for their product by spending Marc Andreessen’s money and not selling goods and services to their users, what leverage does a user have?

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            I think the idea was that people didn’t push back against their own organizations and managers in their decision to go with Slack because they figured “well, I can just use a bridge and not have to care”.

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          I mean, I think categorizing this as a “bait and switch” is disingenuous. How many people were attracted to Slack by their gateways versus their total addressable market or indeed their total number of users? I’m going to go out on a limb and say that number is basically zero.

          What evidence do you have for this? I know of at least 5 people who agreed to adopt slack for various personal projects explicitly because of its IRC gateway.

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            Against the total universe of Slack users? OK, 5 people you know personally, against a total user population of 9MM. I’m not saying that people who use the gateways don’t exist; I’m saying that as a percentage of Slack’s total userbase, the number is insignificant; it is, to the first order of approximation, zero.

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              I don’t think you actually know this and I am not sure if it is relevant for bait-and-switch how many such users exist now. Question is how many of them were there in early days when Slack first started to fight for mind-share?

              My guess would be a lot since it started as a glorified web interface over IRC. However, probably like you I don’t actually know and can only go with anecdotal experience from people I know which was similar to @feoh.

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                It’s a bit funny that you say “sure, 5 people, but that’s just your anecdote, you don’t have actual numbers” and then go on to confidently assert what the numbers are… apparently without having them, or at the very least without showing them.

                I also concur with @markos that there were probably disproportionately many gateway users among early adopters of Slack. I watched with concern as its use spread among libre projects, and it was the gateways that made it hard to sell the argument on general principle against it. Apparently “you’re putting yourself in a position to get burned” is not sufficient to convince anyone; people have to actually get burned before they’ll renege on a choice. (And I’m not convinced that they learn from the experience.) I must also admit “it’s where the users are” is hard to argue against; as long as everything goes well, that fact matters.

                The answer may be that we need something more mobile-device-friendly than traditional XMPP? (I know of things like XEP-0286… but a profile only helps as far as it is deployed.)

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              I totally agree they’d be majority of those affected.

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              non-technical folks

              I doubt there are many non-technical people left that still use IRC, but I think the general idea behind this holds true. people who don’t know the risks of putting companies in control of their stuff get screwed over when this sort of thing happens.

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                I doubt there are many non-technical people left that still use IRC

                There are lots (for some definition of lots). At least Undernet and Snoonet are completely non-technical, and while they probably don’t have that many users in terms of absolute numbers, in relative terms they comprise a big chunk of all IRC users.

            4. [Comment from banned user removed]

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                “Embrace, extend, and extinguish […] is a […] strategy for entering product categories involving widely used standards, extending those standards with proprietary capabilities, and then using those differences to disadvantage its competitors.”

                Is that actually what’s happening here? Is XMPP actually widely used anymore? I’d bet Lync/Skype for Business users greatly outnumber XMPP users. What competitor is Slack disadvantaging by ending XMPP support? The author of the article actually complains that they’re not putting in the effort to extend XMPP, when they could. I feel like this “Embrace, extend…” phrase gets thrown out a lot, because it’s catchy, but I’m not sure it’s really accurate. It seems to me more like “make adoption easy in the beginning, then when enough people have switched over to your platform end support for the easy adoption process because new users just download Slack directly.”. But there’s no catchphrase for that.

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                  Leverage - existing technologies/standards

                  Lure - users to your implementation, usually with incompatible features

                  Leave - behind those who didn’t convert, and don’t give those improvements back to the technologies you used to get where you are.


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                    I like it 👍

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                No offense to anybody, but I feel like this is more naivete on the user’s part than it is bait-and-switch on Slack’s part. It was very easy to see this coming, and Google even did nearly the same thing with Google Chat.

                I’m surprised more tech people don’t realize by now never to rely on free services from for profit companies.

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                  Bait-and-switch schemes would not be viable without naivete. They go hand in hand.

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                    People get born and die every day so we are not the same crowd we were :)

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                    The main attraction of Slack is not its IRC compatibility. Because if it were, we all would be using IRC and Slack had no reason to exist. Slack won its large following (and first among technical users) because its total feature set^ and usability was found to be convincing. While I would have liked Slack to continue to offer these gateways, they were never the central features. I therefore find the accusation of bait and switch overblown.

                    ^ Ease of use, OS support, integrations, inline expansion of images, URL, tweets, emoji support, search, signup process, UI design, …

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                      Interesting. My impression was that in the beginning Slack was getting popular among designers (UX, graphical) that still had fond memories of Stewart Butterfield’s Flickr and could get tech crowd to go along because they could keep using their existing IRC/XMPP clients. But like I said in my other comment, I don’t actually know.

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                        As I see it, usability is all about the clients available. IRC does not mean glass tty at all.

                        And I wonder why would technical users run away from technical tools.

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                        How does Discord play into all of this? Seems like many folks are moving towards that as an alternative to Slack, but it isn’t federated either, is it?

                        XMPP, it seems needs a killer app and a whole lot of marketing, which it isn’t getting right now…

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                          Discord has exactly the same problems that slack does, with respect to data freedom and control by a single corporation.

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                            Discord is Slack for teenagers, and it’s at an earlier stage of the bait-and-switch scheme (i.e. it still has IRC gateways, for now).

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                              Not a lot of people use Discord for work-related things. Some OSS communities do use it but they usually provide an anonymous login (unlike slack, you don’t need an email to check it out and the search is unlimited).

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                                XMPP does need a killer app to get people using it…but who’s going to make it if they can’t raise millions of dollars? Making really great software that works everywhere and supporting that is really expensive… I don’t know how we can change that.

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                                This is a great post. I’ve always found XMPP to be a fascinating protocol, but mostly ignored it because from my limited perspective nobody used it. I’m a firm believer in promoting the standards you value by using them, but I’m not sure how to convince people in my circle who I might want to chat with that federated chat is the way to go.

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                                  You could try converting slowly by using jmp.chat to chat with people via SMS who haven’t switched yet.

                                  I do this and it’s let me get most of my core contacts slowly moved over, while still being able to chat with everyone else.

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                                  The only reason I see IRC and XMPP are less popular than Slack, Discord, Telegram, and all the others is that IRC does not have a huge marketting team. There is no Market Penetration with IRC. Only an agreement.

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                                    People seems to love proprietary platform to communicate.

                                    Tomorrow, I launch a proprietary spoken lanugage.