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Slack to Stop Storing Historical Content for Free Workspaces

In its Help Center, Slack writes:

We will be reducing our data storage offering for the free version of Slack; starting August 26, 2024, we’ll begin deleting messages and files more than one year old from free workspaces on a rolling basis.

Several years ago, Slack changed the terms for its free plans to provide access to the last 90 days of messages and files rather than limiting to 10,000 messages and 5 GB of files (see “Examining Slack’s New Free Plan Restrictions and Motivations,” 27 July 2022). That annoyed the admins of some free teams, though I’ve seldom found searching in Slack helpful.

Slack is changing the carrot/stick balance for free workspaces yet again. In the past, if you switched from a free to a paid plan, all your old messages and files suddenly reappeared. Now, if you upgrade after 26 August 2024, only those items from the last year will return—everything older will have been deleted. Nothing changes if you have no desire to upgrade and don’t care about older data.

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.

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Comments About Slack to Stop Storing Historical Content for Free Workspaces

Notable Replies

  1. Slack is shooting itself in the foot again. Maybe I should say, its users need to dance!

    I’ve been part of the xAPI Cohort, now sponsored by the Learning Guild, for about five years. The previous sponsor had setup a Slack channel that was well used, by the twice a year free learning cohort, to discuss project ideas, build teams, document project process over the 12 week cohort, and share results and code!

    The previous sponsor, who purchased a corporate license, investigated how to maintain the slack history and data that was accumulated over nearly a decade of use. They were told “thank you for your purchase,” but you will also need to buy each of the 5,000 users a license to maintain the archive.

    We are seeing our team’s knowlege erode in a horrible way. New users were told to join, and consider purchasing an account, to continue access to the archives. A few did and then, to our horror, the archives began to ‘zombify’ in front of us.

    Free users saw ads saying we needed a paid account to continue to access the archives. Then we saw messages that the content was no longer available. Then, paid users saw these same messages!

    Further investigation revealed that the archives were eroding because all the users had not upgraded.

    They are still pumping new users into the unsustainable slack economy. The cycle begins again this Fall.

    IMHO, we need to discuss an open, and archivable, alternative.

  2. I realise that I don’t know the full purpose and nature of the group, but from your description it doesn’t sound like Slack is the right tool. It’s essentially a chat app so I would be hesitant to use it for anything where I want a permanent record or archive. A forum like Discourse which TidBITS Talk runs on seems more appropriate (though probably not quite right either).

  3. The sponsor (or someone else who has the time and access) needs to write/run a script to download the entire history. Then put the archive on a file-sharing system of some kind. Some mechanism to format/link them in order to preserve discussion threads would be nice, but even a giant directory of text files would be better than nothing.

    Mailing lists have had this capability for quite some time. Hopefully Slack will have something, or at minimum, won’t put up roadblocks preventing the owner from downloading the content.

    And I agree with @jzw that some other kind of forum software where the owner owns (and can therefore download, backup and archive) the database is critical here. You simply can’t trust a third-party to be a responsible steward of your data.

  4. 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.

    So here’s a question: What’s a good process/format for making this data human-readable?

  5. Sounds like something a skilled web app developer could put together. JSON data is pretty straightforward, and there plenty of open source libraries for handling it. And there are standard tools (like wget) that can download links.

    So you would need to decide what the results would look like (probably something like a set of linked HTML files), but I think it should be possible to write a program in Python or something similar to either bulk-generate a web site from the content or dynamically generate pages from the JSON data.

  6. Both ChatGPT and my PhD son claim it’s trivial to do in Python. :slight_smile: I’ll let Tristan take a crack at it when he visits soon.

  7. Wow! Congratulations! Is that recent, or just new to me?

  8. I was too terse—PhD candidate… :slight_smile: He’s three years into a machine learning program at Simon Fraser University.

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