A call for a WG21 managed chat service


WG21 has historically used two distinct chat services. IRC channels hosted on freenode have long been used for coordination between rooms and meeting attendees at face to face meetings. In more recent times, channels on the Cpplang Slack workspace funded by The C++ Alliance have been used by WG21 work groups (WGs) and study groups (SGs) for informal collaboration between meetings and for coordination at face to face meetings. Neither of these services is maintained by WG21 adminstrators, nor are they moderated in accordance with the WG21 code of conduct[WG21_COC], ISO code of conduct[ISO_COC], or the IEC code of conduct[IEC_COC]. The possibility of a WG21 managed chat service was raised during the Autumn 2020 pre-meeting telecon[WG21_N4871] and Tom Honermann was directed to submit a paper to be discussed at a future administrative telecon. Contained herein is a proposal to establish a WG21 sponsored and maintained chat service governed under existing WG21 practices and procedures to be used for informal discussion within WGs and SGs, and for coordination at face to face meetings.


Slack has been a useful resource within SG16 for collaboration, informal sharing of ideas and news, and discussion of controversial topics. The author of this paper believes such use has been instrumental in creating unity, engagement, and cohesiveness within the group. Slack has also been used by SG15, and continues to be used by many WG21 members for language and library design discussions of C++ features such as ranges and concepts.

Concerns over the lack of enforcement of a code of conduct (CoC) within the Cpplang Slack workspace prompted several prominent SG16 attendees to deactivate their accounts. Discussion in the Slack workspace has reduced precipitously since then and has not resurfaced elsewhere; the real time nature of chat services appears to promote strong engagement that is hard to replicate elsewhere. SG16 is now in the position of having to migrate to a new chat service in order to restore the engagement previously enjoyed. While several options are available, a WG21 managed service that requires compliance with the WG21 CoC is preferred.

A WG21 managed service would address the current adhoc use of both IRC and Slack during face to face meetings thereby simplifying collaboration. New attendees at face to face meetings that feel intimidated by the prospect of voicing their ideas and concerns in front of a room full of experts may feel more comfortable asking for clarification, elaboration, or confirmation of their thoughts on a chat service before speaking up; a common chat service may help to facilitate increased participation by new attendees. Since both IRC and Slack are open to people that are not committee members, use of a WG21 managed service might help to reduce the possibility of unintended information leaks during face to face meetings. A discussion on the committee chairs mailing list suggested that at leat two WGs and several SGs would make use of a WG21 managed service if provided.

Examples of anticipated usage:


The following features are requirements to be used for evaluation of proposed solutions. Those listed with (M) are mandatory features that must be provided in order for a solution to be considered viable. Those listed with (A) are advantageous features that may be helpful to select from a set of viable solutions.

Client Requirements

Administrative Requirements


Assuming the identification of a product that meets the requirements listed above, the following configuration is proposed for deployment of an environment that can be managed in accordance with the WG21 CoC. This configuration is intended to encourage maximum participation by offering an appropriate balance of free expression and expectations of privacy while ensuring that CoC violations can be identified and acted on in a timely and appropriate manner.


Thank you to the C++ Alliance for funding the Slack Cpplang workspace for the last several years.

Thank you to Ville Voutilainen, Peter Brett, and Peter Bindels for their kind review of early drafts of this proposal.


[WG21_COC] Herb Sutter, "SD-4: WG21 Practices and Procedures", 2020.
[ISO_COC] International Organization for Standardization, "ISO Code of Conduct for the technical work", 2020.
[IEC_COC] International Electrotechnical Commission, "IEC code of conduct for delegates and experts", 2019.
[WG21_N4871] Nina Dinka Ranns, "WG21 Pre-Autumn 2020 telecon minutes", 2019.