Searchable Linkable Open Public Indexed (SLOPI) Communication or Why open source projects should avoid Slack- 2 minute read
Free and open source software projects have a long history of transparent communication. GNU and Linux were announced in publicly archived USENET posts in 1983 and 1991, respectively, that we can still reflect on today. The Debian Social Contract says, “We will keep our entire bug report database open for public view at all times.” Apache “requires all communications related to code and decision-making to be publicly accessible.”
Today many open source projects are turning away from transparency, adopting tools such as Slack for the bulk of their communication. Slack is a great tool for telling co-workers on your floor that you brought in donuts. Slack may be a fine place to discuss security vulnerabilities or code of conduct violations. Open source projects can make good use of Slack. However, if nearly all communication takes place on Slack, transparency suffers.
Searchable Linkable Open Public Indexed (SLOPI) communication (pronounced “sloppy”) is a new term for reminding open source practitioners about the importance of transparency. When you find yourself making design decisions in Slack, you can say, “Wait. Let's stop having a private conversation about this. Let's bring it to the community. Let's be SLOPI.”
Messages written in the SLOPI communication style are:
- Searchable: Messages can be found using Google or other search engines.
- Linkable: Messages have a permalink on the web. Ideally the URL doesn't change or redirects.
- Open: Messages are in the open, like open access articles with the full text available.
- Public: Messages are public. No login is required.
- Indexed: Messages are indexed by search engines. Or Indexable (if you prefer) by a discovery layer you operate because data liberation is possible.
Examples of tools that support the SLOPI communication style include:
- mailing lists with public archives
- public forums
- public issue trackers
- IRC channels with public logs (#social from W3C, for example)
- Matrix rooms with public logs (many matrix-static examples)
- XMPP rooms with public logs (XFS, for example)
- Rocket.Chat rooms with public logs (Inkscape's #team_devel, for example)
- public roadmaps
- public kanban boards
The coining of the term “SLOPI” began on May 5th, 2019 and “Searchable Linkable Open Public Indexed (SLOPI) Communication” was proposed as a project later that day. SLOPI was well received when presented as one of many crazy ideas on June 21, 2019. A couple days later it was announced on Twitter.
Feedback on SLOPI is very welcome! Please simply open an issue.
Thank you to Yamil Suarez for feedback on this post.