Community Communication Channels + Tools

Since June, a number of different groups in our community have been experimenting with new communication channels. We’ve had discussions on Talk about trialing Slack and during Strategy+Operations calls about how we use community-centric communication tools.

I went over all of the feedback and ideas to bring together some practical guidance. These are intended promote open communication and broad participation - while balancing the need of squads and other groups to move their day to day work ahead quickly.

For those of us who use the Wiki, Talk, and a real-time chat tool like IRC and Slack, here are the main points for these tools:


Our Wiki houses our long form, relatively stable content. This includes:

  • community conventions,
  • guidance for contributors/volunteer,
  • processes and how-to articles,
  • roadmaps,
  • project descriptions,
  • and more.


Talk is the OpenMRS community’s version of a mailing list. “If it isn’t on Talk, it didn’t happen.” Talk facilitates discussion and collaboration across time zones. It is best suited for:

  • making announcements,
  • sharing ideas and proposals
  • engaging in asynchronous discussions
  • updates/meeting recordings and notes
  • communicating decisions.


Both IRC and Slack are possible channels for real-time conversation or quick Q&A. IRC is our go-to chat room where our daily scrums and technical support occurs. For squads and groups looking for a place for real-time conversation on a specific issue and for rapid iteration, consider using either IRC or a dedicated channel in the OpenMRS Slack workspace to move your work ahead on a day-to-day basis.

In the spirit of “sharing often and early,” we encourage squads and teams who choose to use IRC or Slack to think intentionally about how you use IRC/Slack and what you want to communicate via Talk (see above for ideas).

Many have pointed out that Slack can turn into a “walled garden.” It’s also a tool that many people in the community are using in their every day work - which is one reason why some conversations (#fhir) have probably taken off in that space. In addition to being intentional about using Talk and Slack, here are some specific actions we can take to open Slack Up:

  • Pin a list of Slack channels to Talk (with links on how to join and use Slack) and post on the Wiki.
  • Look into Discourse/Slack integration
  • And I’d like to give a special shout out to @burke for creating a workaround that allows anyone to join our Slack workspace!

If you want more detail or you’re interested in how the website and gitbooks fit in, you can read the full convention here.

We have some new squads and committees forming this month and next, so let’s see how well this guidance works between now and the new year. I hope you’ll keep the suggestions and feedback coming as we go along so we can then review and improve.


thanks @jennifer for the update. its a good summery