The author of the BetterSlack extension withdraws it at the request of Slack lawyers

    Developer BetterSlack announced the recall of its extension to Chrome, which improves the functionality of the web version of Slack. This happened just a few days after the announcement of the first version , and the reason was a letter from the Slack legal department.

    Uruguayan programmer Gervasio Marchand (Gervasio Marchand) publishes the text of the letter from the legal department. It says that the extension violates a number of the provisions of the Slack acceptable use policy . In particular, the rules prohibit “reverse engineering (reverse engineering) attempts, decompilation, hacking, shutting down, interference in work, disassembling, modifying, copying, changing functionality, integrity and the order of service provision” by any third parties.

    “The introduction of JavaScript in Slack through the Chrome extension may affect the privacy and security of our customers and our product,” it was reported. “In addition, it can create reliability issues with product updates.”

    The letter contains a request to “change the product so that you do not impose your own code on us”, and also choose a new name for the project so that it does not include the word “Slack”.

    The lawyers expressed the hope that the above issues would be resolved “in the next seven days” and offered the developer the help of their consultants.

    The author believes that all the requirements are quite feasible, except for one. He cannot “change the product in order not to embed his own code” in the Slack application. Actually, this was the meaning of the extension and without such functionality it loses all meaning. He also notes that other web services are completely different from the authors of extensions that change the functionality of their website or application: among them Stack Overflow , GitHub and Atlassian . They have provided feedback to the developers and encourage the development of third-party extensions, and even tell the authors of these extensions in advance about the new features and changes on the site so that they can prepare. For example, for GitHub there is an extension ZenHubwhich greatly improves the functionality of the site. So, after its release, the GitHub developers noticed that it really helps users - and began to cooperate with the authors of the extension, so that some changes on the site did not interfere with the work of ZenHub (even a minor UI change can easily break the extension).

    ZenHub extension for GitHub

    And in general, thousands of people arbitrarily embed JS on pages through extensions like Tampermonkey. Does a person really have no right to change the page in the browser on his computer as he wants? It turns out it does not.

    One way or another, the programmer withdraws his extension. However, the source code for the extension is published on GitHub and has not yet been removed from the Chrome Web Store directory . he already has a lot of forks on GitHub, so the Slack legal department is unlikely to be able to put the paste back in the tube.

    The BetterSlack extension is a small button in the browser that opens a menu with several useful features:

    • blocking (hiding) specific users;
    • automatic generation of links Hangout;
    • Insert links through Markdown;
    • the transfer of reactions to the post in the right side, so that they do not occupy a place vertically;
    • Disable Google Drive Preview (the programmer did not find this option in the Slack settings);
    • disable link previews;
    • disabling Emoji in the status bar;
    • display only your reactions or reactions to your messages.

    The author wrote an extension for himself, so he included in it those functions that he personally needed. He just thought that BetterSlack could be useful to someone, so he published it in the public domain.

    Slack Alternatives

    It is also worth recalling the existence of Zulip and other alternatives to Slack. The same Zulip is devoid of some of the weaknesses of Slack. For example, a thread system helps to conduct a conversation in an asynchronous mode, that is, it does not require the interlocutors to be constantly in the chat during the conversation.

    System of threads Zulip

    One user can ask a question in the morning, the second will answer it in the evening - and then they will normally continue the conversation, and the chain of answers will be grouped as an email thread by header. In a continuous stream on the channel Slack is not very convenient to maintain a conversation for a long time.

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