Slack is one of many collaboration tools that is disrupting email use as more employees choose to send quick messages and share files in a platform rich with social tools and application integration. Exporting Slack data for eDiscovery is essential where organizations need to preserve and produce relevant information for litigation, investigations, or regulatory compliance. Thus, converting Slack exports to a structured and analyzable format has become crucial. One such format is the RSMF (Relativity Short Message Format), which enables efficient data analysis, visualization, and integration with RelativityOne.
RSMF files give users a realistic view of the conversation including inline graphics, reactions, deletions, and edits, which can be crucial metadata within a conversation. We commonly see Slack conversations converted to flat text files with just the date and time, username, and message. These text files, similar to the graphic below, are missing key features to filter, search, and view inline attachments and reactions.
In order to take full advantage of this feature in Relativity, the Slack JSON export format needs to be optimized for conversion to RSMF files.
2. Conversion to RSMF:
In the JSON export, conversations by default are one file per day per conversation. If you have a group chat that spans 50 days, there will be 50 RSMF files output when using the default. You may prefer to create larger conversations such as weekly, monthly, or even put an entire conversation thread into one RSMF for easier readability. Your vendor will also make recommendations based on best practices for the RSMF size with attachments and number of events.
3. Visualizing, Reviewing and Filtering the RSMF:
Once the RSMF files are processed in RelativityOne, you will be able to search the Slack data by participants, channel and group names, and conversation date. Within the viewer, the RSMF file can be further sliced by participant(s), dates, and times.
Considerations to be Aware of:
When working with RSMF files, the collection format is key to avoiding potential pitfalls, particularly when exporting to the text format. The text export is easy to use because it can be opened and read in any platform. It is easy to read because it shows the typical back and forth conversation with time stamp, user, and message body. However, when it needs to be used for litigation, it can’t be easily filtered by date range, and the conversation has to be cut and pasted manually. Also, if there is a shared file in the chat, there will be a file ID rather than a link. The files are exported and named by ID, and will need to be manually searched using the File ID found in the chat.
Some Slack messages may also have links to files stored in other locations (I.e., OneDrive). To preserve the files, it is best to do the RSMF conversion soon after export to avoid changes or deletions. Check with your vendor to ensure they can download these files during the conversion.
While there are potential challenges to converting Slack exports to the RSMF format, this tool unlocks the potential for comprehensive data analysis and visualization. Working with a knowledgeable vendor will help you navigate the complicated JSON format so you can embrace RSMF to gain deeper insights into your Slack conversations.