Early open source communities have long established rules stating that if something is not discussed on the mailing list, it never happened. Lately though, I’ve seen a trend emerging in large open source communities where live and real-time meetings are being privileged over asynchronous discussions (i.e. email.)
Evidence #1: OpenStack community
It’s a very large and differentiated community. While developers use mailing list a lot and use IRC weekly meetings mainly to iron out controversies, all development-related decisions are taken on async tools like email and gerrit reviews (used for code and changes to governance policies.) Most working groups in OpenStack instead use mailing list mainly to send notice of incoming meetings: almost no conversations are held via email, most decisions are taken during real-time meetings (IRC or voice) and results are rarely reported or discussed at length on email.
Evidence #2: WordPress community
The “Get involved” pages for Community, Marketing, Design, Meta all refer to Slack as the main medium for conversation. Many groups hold weekly meetings on Slack, and write summaries on Make blogs with the P2 theme.
The effects on myself and my close circle of friends is that privileging real-time conversations in communities leads to detachment and disengaged contributors. For example, meetings on IRC or Slack only allow participation to those in a compatible timezone: holding meetings at times convenient for residents in Europe, US West and Asia is impossible. Even if logs are public, archives easy to read, I find that chiming in a conversation that happened when I was not online is not worth it. And publishing only a public summary, with the implication that if I want to join and contribute I need to join next week’s meeting is not exactly smooth. Over time this can only lead to a decreasing pool of engaged contributors.
Have you seen similar trends in other communities, where real-time interaction is privileged over async communication in a forum or email? Is that a good thing?