Face to face is the best way for any group of people to communicate for many reasons that I won’t go into right now, but communities also need ways in which to continue the conversation outside of the time that they spend together.
We live in a time where is an abundance of tools to help them do that, each with their own benefits. I asked people what tools they used and why. Here are the two most popular and why:
Slack is really popular at the moment. It allows for real-time conversation and has a bunch of options to integrate with other services. The thing that I think makes slack so beneficial to communities (and teams) is that it allows for multiple channels and that it automatically sets up a random channel. Random conversations are really important to communities and teams as it helps to build trust (and increase exposure to cat gifs). Many closed and public communities use slack, but it can be blocked by the more security heavy organisations, so can be excluding. The real-time nature of it can be distracting and if you miss a conversation, you can spend a long time scrolling back to catch up.
Slack is a place for real-time conversation and things can get lost if you are not on it all the time. And if you are on it all the time, it can be overwhelming.
Email is very prevalent and is used support communities. A recurring theme that I’ve seen with communities is that because of restrictions that some organisations put on the use of online tools, email is the fall back which doesn’t exclude people. It’s asynchronous, so you can pick it up when you need to, although not all email clients are great at dealing with long threaded conversations.
Other tools that were mentioned were:
If you have any tools that you use, please add in the comments below and why you use them.