Slatiquette.com - A simple guide to not getting killed over your Slack behavior is not endorsed by or affiliated with Slack Technologies, Inc. "Slack" and the Slack mark are trademarks of Slack Technologies, Inc.
Last updated: April 15, 2020 (SSL deployment).
If you’re like me (and I can only hope you’re not, but that's neither here nor there), Slack has taken the place of email as your primary method of professional correspondence. Real-time, no-frills, deliciously straightforward communication.
It was fun while it lasted.
We can do better. We can rebuild. Retake the lawlessness catering to the needs of I-want-it-now children that has become Slack and restore order. Here's how we start:
1. A simple guide to @channel
@channel is a way to disseminate mission-critical information to everyone in a channel, regardless of their status (and time zone). @channel is not @here, which only alerts online users, and the two are not interchangeable.
2. A simple guide to @channel, continued
If you use @channel
either in a social channel or outside of working hours for non-critical information, you deserve the get called out as "Literally the Worst" (useful Google Slides template: [Insert name] is Literally the Worst) at the first upcoming All-Hands, banned from any and all social activity, and professionally shunned. Listen, I'm sure you're a lovely person, but really, this one is on you. Both @channel
are important, and while I can obviously mute them, I don’t want to go nuclear. I still have faith.
A quick aside here. On a scale of 1 to @channel, the use of @here during business hours, especially in heavily populated channels, is right up there.
3. A simple guide to muted notifications
Do not blast through muted notifications unless you’re bleeding profusely or on fire, or you find yourself, professionally, in the stickiest situation since Sticky the stick Insect got stuck on a sticky bun (h/t Blackadder Goes Forth, Major Star).
4. A simple guide to threading
Respect threading. Threading neatly organizes conversation. Threading is your friend. Threading is good. Thread shaming should be done without exception. It can be done subtly through the use of the Seedling emoji (
) in response to the original message, or more creatively as a comment. Do not make the mistake of thread shaming in a new message, because that will lead to thread shame thread shame, and that is more Inception than the world is ready for.
Notice how this is threaded? Threading is good. There’s one, and only one exception to the threading rule: 1-to-1 communication.
5. A simple guide to saying goodbye gracefully
If someone happens to leave a channel, assume they have a reason to do so. Maybe they’ve served their purpose, or maybe their time in the channel has just run out, or maybe they’ve mic-dropped. Whatever their reason, do not add them back unless it is absolutely critical. Adding a mopey response to their departure (either
for the overly-dramatic) adds no value; they’ll never see it.
6. A simple guide to acknowledgment
Seeing as we're real-timing here, always acknowledge receipt of a message, even if you don't know the answer. Knock yourself out: get creative.
works, and so does
. For that full ANSI experience, try "Let me get back to you on that."
7. A simple guide to tasteful memeing
There's no greater weapon in a Slack professional's arsenal than a well-placed meme, and on the average business day, you’ll find yourself tempted to use the Nopetopus
at least 14 times. Be cool. Forcing people to /collapse
8. A simple guide to formatting
>>>block quote (same thing, just applies to the entire message, across line breaks)
It's there for a reason. Or, if you want to be that person, use the WYSIWYG editor:
9. A simple guide to shrugging
. That is all.
10. A simple guide to channeling
Ask yourself if you really need another channel for [insert random thing]. At the time of writing, I am bouncing in between 149 group channels (actual count), a mere 7 of them social. As an aside: is one "in a channel" or "on a channel"? The debate rages on.
11. A simple guide to not getting strangled over hummus
Don’t set your new message notification to "hummus". It’s fun once, annoying twice, downright maddening every time after that. Besides, do you really love hummus that much? I like cars, like an unhealthy amount, but I see no reason for someone to say "cars" to me every 15 seconds.
12. A simple guide to looking like you
Be a dear: add your picture. It helps the visually inclined.
13. A simple guide to bots
Don’t add a trigger-happy bot to a large channel. May I suggest creating a separate channel for things like Jira? Jira will notify whoever is willing to listen (and even those reluctant to do so; Jira doesn’t give a crap about what you want, like Zeke smelling brain) of Karen’s two-word note on a month-old bug. Thanks, Karen.
14. A simple guide to
If you frequently find yourself saying hello to those around you, you're a great human being. "Hello" on Slack is great, too. It's warm, inclusive. Just saying "hello" and waiting for a response is just plain weird, though. Spit it out already. What do you want?
15. A simple guide to closing the door behind you
There's confetti in your hair. A confused duck is waddling through the remnants of what appears to have been a living room. You call your limbs to attention; they're all accounted for. Your head is throbbing, amplified by the rattling of empty bottles around you. Your forcefully open your right eye as you wonder if this is what licking a tombstone tastes like. You're alone. You stagger out. As the morning sun illimunates your face, you remember what your mother taught you: close the door behind you. This party is over.
Archive the channel when it has served its purpose. Small effort.
16. A simple guide to picking your audience
In-person communication is terrifying; you never know what you're walking into. As a socially awkward engineer, this is more uncertainty than you need. Luckily, Slack offers some options. Here's a handy decision tree:
17. A simple guide to not tagging me in a direct message
Seriously: why? What is your expectation tagging me in a direct message. In the unlikely event I've switched off direct message notifications, I'm not extending some challenge for you to find a notification backdoor. Save your characters, avoid @whoever in direct messages.
18. A simple guide to not using Slack like the good people of Away Travel (even if you're tempted to do so because you find yourself engaged to the CEO of Slack)
Let's direct our attention to this excellent piece of reporting
by The Verge's @ZoeSchiffer
There's so much to unpack here and it's all equally amazing. Let's break down the highlights:
- First of all, let's all calm the fuck down for a moment: you're selling Energizered luggage, not some travel Walhalla.
- As a white person, playing the racism card to a PoC is tricky. And when I say tricky, I mean there are very few (for all intents and purposes: no) scenarios in which this will fly. Slack is tricky to begin with, because context often gets lost in digitization. This is expecially true for centuries for historical context.
- I sincerely hope my employees have a private #Hot-Topics channel, and I hope that when I ask to join, they tell me to fuck off. I'm a huge proponent of public diversity/equality/inclusion/employee resource group channels, but I also get the need for digital safe spaces.
- This is going to sound wild, but person-to-person messaging is a pretty core use case of Slack. You... banned it?
- "Over the course of our careers, Jen and I observed situations where women and underrepresented groups were often excluded from key emails or meetings." Ah yes, if only James Damore would have been on Slack. Let's not pretend Slack is some engine of wokeness. Our industry is (still) god-awful when it comes to diversity, equality and inclusion. (Said the straight white male from a privileged upbringing in a position of power; I'll get ahead of that one myself.)
- "I'll be working late tonight — dinner is here if any of you can work beside me. I mean, leave if you have to, but I have to stay." It gets better: "Okay everyone! Take a photo with your computer in bed when you get home. Here’s mine!" If you find yourself in bed with your laptop at 1 AM (working; you do you), it's time to examine your fucking life.
- Leaders, lean in for a moment. Let's talk. You're an emotional being. I get it. Sometimes life is rough. You want to say how you really feel and not be burdened by all that leaderness. You just want to grab your air horn and let it rip. Yeah, see, you can't. Slack has made it super easy to do so on public channels (THAT'LL SHOW 'EM!), but you're a leader, and that comes with the annoying fact that your comms carry weight, and impact the people on the other side of the channel, even those not involved in the conversation. Collateral damage is real.
Of course, the industry has an opinion. Or a couple. Let's continue reading on VC Starter Kit:
- Here's what completely missing the point looks like: "Late night slacks aren't a problem. Slack mutes notifs outside of work hours by default! Posting in channels about work-related stuff instead of DMs encourages transparency and teamwork and ensures everyone has the information they need to do their jobs."
- Not wrong: "She would have been totally fine if she hadn't sent that [Slack] with the bold emphasis. Bold text is solely the domain of the unhinged."
- For the people in the back: "Also [Slack] for communicating goals is just lunacy."
- Equally delicious: "The base premise is that using [Slack] publicly for transparency is a lie with an insidious 'real' purpose of public shame."
For some additional seriously spicy takes, turn (predictably) to the Twitter.
19. A simple guide to timing
Slack doesn't really rank unread messages. Sure, by default it ranks unread messages scientifically (coincidentally, this is also how I shop for groceries by default) in the All unreads section, but in channels we're all fishing for attention in the same pond, so to speak. Be considerate of those who have posted before you. Outshining a business update within minutes with a birth, death, or pandemic isn't cool. Wait 15 minutes, then outshine.
20. A simple guide to heart emojis
I don't know how (or why) we got here, and I can't imagine this is what the designers had in mind, but here we are.
- A little strong for a business environment, me thinks, but I guess acceptable if your dominant brand color is red. The red heart is hard love territory.
- Morbidity and dark humor. Appropriate for anything related to politics.
- Autism awareness, water-based activities, and Duke University. The blue heart also has a decidedly kinky side (find it on Instagram at your own peril), so use with caution.
- I have no idea why anyone would ever use this. Activities involving a horse? Stay away.
- Love for the earth conscious and/or the Irish.
- A sign of battle scars, but also just general fabulousness. This, basically.
- An expression of spring, sun, joy, and everything that's lighthearted and fun and lambs in a pasture.
- Whenever a single heart just doesn't cut it. Also: body positivity. It's a curve thing.
- The red heart backdoor. More sparkle than love, but not free of risk. Know your audience.
Did I miss anything? Submit your slatiquette on Twitter @Slatiquette.
is Vice President of Product & Design at People.ai, Inc.
, all rights reserved. Emojis courtesy of Twemoji