Wednesday, June 26, 2024

Slack to Delete Old Messages in Free Accounts

Slack (Hacker News, Slashdot):

Slack will no longer keep messages and files for the lifetime of your free workspace. Starting 26th August 2024, Customer Data – such as messages and file history – older than one year may be deleted on a rolling basis from workspaces on the free subscription[…]


If you choose to remain on a free workspace, you’ll have full access to the past 90 days of message and file history, and the remaining 275 days will become available should you upgrade to a paid subscription. If you decide to upgrade, we’ll store messages and files based on your chosen retention period, with an option to keep all history.

For the last few years, the free plan stored older messages but would not let you see them or export links to files from them. At this point, you have two months to pay, at least temporarily, if you want to export your data before it’s deleted. Exporting everything (including DMs) requires a Business+ plan at $15/user/month.

I think a lot of people thought that Slack would be like other services and use their enterprise business to subsidize much lower volume free accounts indefinitely. Instead, they are severely limiting the free accounts and pricing out informal communities and even small businesses. True, the search isn’t very good now, but there was always the potential that you would be able to find something in the future. This will also break any saved links to conversations. (Printing to PDF doesn’t work, but I have been archiving ones I want to keep by using EagleFiler’s system service hotkey to save the selected text as a Web archive.)

I see no reason that Discord and other free competitors won’t eventually do the same thing.

Adam Engst:

From Slack’s perspective, this policy update will reduce its data storage needs and may trigger some upgrades in the next two months. I doubt most free existing teams were dragging their heels on upgrading because they knew they could always recover all their old content. But perhaps it will increase the incentive for new free teams to upgrade.

I don’t really get it because it doesn’t seem like it would reduce Slack’s costs that much, nor would many stragglers on the free plan be able to or choose to upgrade.

Lucas Mearian (via Hacker News):

What Slack will eventually be able to offer both its own and Salesforce’s users is a unified experience where AI oversees any influx of both structured and unstructured data and parses through it to offer users the most important summaries. Being able to find key moments in chats and knowing what happened in conversations is hard to navigate, Dresser said, and is at the heart of Slack’s AI integration.


Update (2024-06-28): Adam Engst:

For anyone who would like to extract all their historical data from a free workspace, it turns out you can do that without subscribing. You only get public channels (but you can make private channels public temporarily and set them back again afterward) and files are only linked, not downloaded, which is a loss, but you will get all the text in JSON format.

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Yet another example of the enshitification principle.

I’m on a free plan and never considered upgrading even after they limited the visibility of messages to 90 days.

Now, by deleting everything that is older than 12 months, it somehow removes the burden to do it myself.

Kevin Schumacher

I'm not in the camp that believes this is necessarily nefarious. I think they consider the free version of Slack to be a trial version and don't really want to be in the business of supporting free users long-term. I don't really blame them for that, and I don't think they're responsible for people believing that the free version of a service that otherwise starts at $15 a month is intended for small groups who can't afford that; Slack is overkill for small communities anyway.

And that is what I think distinguishes it from Discord, which would have a literal riot on their hands if they tried this. I don't see any indication Discord would go this route. They became the de facto gaming communication client, relegating TeamSpeak, Mumble, and others to the dust bin, specifically because they were better. They may not be the best decision-makers in the world but I think they understand their base community. They have since broadened substantially to become more general purpose, although seemingly not terribly successfully, but the point remains that their gaming community would leave overnight if need be.

Lucas’s description of what’s to come sounds like a dystopian solution to a problem Slack (and Teams, and to a lesser extent Discord) itself created by being lousy software.

Almost as if email was the best solution all along.

Please tell me what software messaging platform I can reasonably expect to get people to switch to that has a better interface, less memory usage, and friendlier policies and I will gladly do so. Zulip, Rocket.Chat, Mattermost… I’ve seen them all but it’d maddening how hard it is to change at scale. I’m part of 20-some Slack teams and unless I can move 80% of them, it will create MORE cognitive burden, not LESS.

Der Teilweise

As an European, you can get an export due to GDPR Art 15 (3): “The controller shall provide a copy of the personal data undergoing processing. […] Where the data subject makes the request by electronic means, and unless otherwise requested by the data subject, the information shall be provided in a commonly used electronic form.”

They know that, their export guide states you can get a full export “Under limited circumstances […] under applicable laws”

Many private users have at least Basic Nitro. Even I got it for a year just to be able to use all the emoji and stickers everywhere. Discord isn't free and will be fine.

I still don't get slack. To me it's a more intrusive email client

i feel pretty strongly that not retaining conversations forever makes the service substantially better, especially if you're just using slack for casual conversations with your friends. i don't want anyone, not even me, to be able to dig up decade-old conversations i had with friends, and i *especially* don't want the only people who have access them to be cops and salesforce employees

Does unlimited digital memory really scale? I don't think it does. What powers all those cloud data centers with all that ephemera we keep collecting, all the drives that house that data. Even just the impossible comprehension of all the digital junk we keep hoarding. At some point I think folks in general need to realize it can't _all_ be saved forever…

To paraphrase Ozymandias

I met a traveller from an antique land
Who said: Two vast and trunkless centers of data
Stand in the desert.

"My name is catlover523, King of the Forums:
Look on my posts, ye Mighty, and despair!"
No thing beside remains. Round the decay
Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare
The lone and level sands stretch far away.

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