At Farset Labs we use Slack for community comms, and have managed to get their NFP standard account, which is eligable for setting up Shared Channels, however these shared channels are only available between “Paid” or “Charity” accounts.

We’re not comfortable linking the charities slack instance with private interests for obvious conflict of interest stuff, but if there were any other NFP spaces across the UK that use Slack for their comms, it’d be cool to test out these kind of “inter-space” wormholes :smile:

Hello Andrew, That sounds like a great idea. Unfortunately the Slack for Charities programme in the UK only applies to Charities, at South London Makerspace as a Director I spent a very long time appealing to them about this and they showed absolutely no interest in the maker/hacker scene.

Additionally there are no UK Hackspaces that have successfully applied for charity status, so there are likely no spaces that use Slack in the UK.

I wonder if anyone has any contacts at Slack Ireleand that we might appeal to.

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We use Slack at Hitchin Hackspace, but so far we have managed with the free account, and some careful management and deletion of old messages…anything that needs to be kept permanently is transferred over to our Wiki…

Sadly although in USA ‘NFP’ or ‘Not For Profit’ companies can get Slack premium for free, they require you to register through a third party as a charity in the UK before getting access to Slack premium rather than only saying to Slack that you’re a ‘not for profit’. It’s sad times.

fears he may have opened a can of worms

Well, Farset Labs is a Charity, but I wouldn’t wish that process on anyone (We emphasise the educational, outreach and upskilling impacts of a voluntary community rather than member-focused impact and facilitiation; it’s a narrow line to dance around…)

Now, we got into the charities commission through a bit of a strange route where the Charities Commission in Northern Ireland was… broken… when we launched and managed to get HMRC X-reg to make sure we got rates relief (otherwise we’d never survive with the model we have).

So then we kinda got “grandfathered” when the charities commission started back up again, but the paperwork process back and forth between Charities Commission, Companies House and Accountants easily took 6 months.

Was reminded of this thread by another director at Farset.

Just for the record, and considering the political timing, it’s relevant; Belfast is still in the UK, and Slack Ireland have nothing to do with it. (Lovely bunch of folks though!)

But yeah, we’ve been a UK registered charity for over 3 years now (and were HMRC X-reged for 5 years before that)

Just a random thought, is there any reason why the Hackspace Foundation couldn’t set up a slack team for all the hackspaces to use, with channels for each hackspace + a few for organising stuff. I appreciate that Slack’s free tier has some limitation, but it would be good to have somewhere to coordinate things like EMF prep, inter hackspace competitions, etc, and would allow members of various hackspaces to interact outside the occasional yearly event.

We (Cheltenham Hackspace) are just about to trial using slack instead of a dedicated Discourse forum, i know of several other hackspaces that are already using Slack and at least 1 that uses discord. Yes i know there are irc channels but i’m guessing most of people on there are just using irc relays to keep logged in.

I guess in an ideal (and more OSS aligning) world the foundation would host a mattermost instance and take advantage of their non profit licensing but i do appreciate that would require upkeep & maintenance (in time and money). Slack seems to be closest to a lowest common denominator for a modern chat platform, with the least management overhead.


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Slack’s free tier’s limitation without the ability to search for past chat is frankly awful. You lose history, accountability and archives and records to hold actions and people to.

Slack isn’t free to ‘not for profits’ in the UK unless you are a registered Charity. They work this out through a third party company, in America however, it’s effectively free game because ‘not for profits’ or ‘non profits’ are recognised alongside charities.

Discourse, and forums in general, can seem awkward, and may feel awkward, and that’s mainly because people are forced to link out and structure what they say, though it can be a little ‘slow seeming’ it allows for a reference place that can be searched.

Discord, as a chat medium, to me is better than slack, because it’s free, it has voice chat and it has some limited screen share capability, but it also has roles, moderation and it has searchable history.

IRC does exist, people use matrix, relays, and some bots to have things connected together, frankly there are xkcd comics that joke about ‘yet another technology’ and ‘how do we keep it all together’.

The simplest answer is stick to one solution.

We already have some telegram chat rooms, and they can become unwieldy when there’s a lot of people in them, and also its history management is awkward, and difficult to archive chats, in fact we ended up manually archiving some of the conversations on discourse for the sake of re-answering questions that were repeatedly being asked and annoying people.

So we have discourse. It’s on the site, I recommend people try utilising this first, and posting here, at the moment it’s mostly under-used, and appears to be able to fit the bill.

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Leicester uses slack, we have managed ok with the free tier, anything important that we may need gets copied off, so fa4 we have not had to.

It depends on your size, South London Makerspace got to the point where the scrollback was unusably short, when you take a hundred members, 1/3 being active and all the private messaging between them and the Directors channel, it doesn’t last long.

At my work we have about 118 active users on our Slack this week and get through 10,000 messages in a week typically. Obvioulsy a Makerspace might be less active than a University department but the point remains, it’s not as much as you think.

Slack is great if you can get it free or afford it, but it’s otherwise not an option for any reasonable sized community otherwise, a similar option would be Mattermost.