Slack is a workplace environment for team communication. It has many advantages compared to traditional email and instant messaging, but it should not be confused with them. People do not get instant notifications unless they are tagged and have slack downloaded on their phones. Most tech companies use it at work, which offers an opportunity for CYF trainers to be available (as they can switch among workplaces).
Slack should be kept tidy and organised to maximise its usefulness.
Use threaded communication (replies to a topic should always be in a thread)
Edit your entries instead of adding extra information that you forgot in a message
Learn to tag people and groups (every class is in a user group)
Tag people only when you need their attention
Use plain text names instead of tags if you don’t require a response from people
Start a new thread if you are talking about a completely different topic
Know what channels to use to make posts and ask for questions
Learn to use thumbs up to confirm announcement has been read
Communicate in advance if you want to work with another classmate and specify time and topic (you can tag the class)
Ensure you reply in threads to communication and tag relevant people to get their attention to arrange on working together
Use the student channel for organisation and non-class related discussion
Start calls in the channel so that other students can join you.
Ensure that it is titled with clear description of what are you working on
Delete any failed group calls to keep the channel clear
Inform the class as soon as possible if you are not planning to come or able to come to class
Make sure to tag students and graduates for events and create user groups for core volunteers
Share social meetings and pictures in public channels
Summarise meetings in minutes using assigned shared document
In this guide, I want to give some high level tips about how to communicate and organise effectively on Slack.
Most of this document is what I’ve gleaned from digital organising with other code schools and activist organisations.
Using Slack as an organisational tool has several problems
People do not check Slack enough
Unless you work for a company that uses Slack extensively, it’s very easy to forget that Slack exists
The longer people don’t check the Slack, the harder it is to catch up
Messages are easily sent off screen so they get missed
Important messages are quickly sent off the first scroll of the page if there are lots of people talking
It’s hard to tell the difference between an important message and people chatting
Everyone’s messages have the same importance
There’s no way to tell who is in charge
However, I’ve noticed a few tricks that can help us cut through the noise.
Every message is a project
When you’re writing a message you should always have in mind the information you’re trying to convey and the goals you’re trying to achieve with the message.
The importance of the message is directly proportional to how much time you spend creating it
People respond better when they know that the person sending the message has spent time creating it. The respect goes two ways.
Fewer, better crafted messages
It is very easy to swamp Slack channels with requests. You shouldn’t send multiple requests within a few hours, especially if they are low quality.
Every message should, at a glance, be able to answer these questions
Who is the message for?
What needs to be done?
How do I get involved?
Let’s imagine we have an urgent request to get volunteers to help with approving applicants.
Here is an example of a poorly made Slack Request:
Here is an example of a better Slack Request:
Here is an example of a better, very urgent Slack Request:
What does the second message do better than the first?
Splitting the request out onto separate lines help to break up the post
Using bold to highlight the most important parts of the request to get people understand the request quickly.
By tagging relevant people in the thread (instead of into the post itself) it encourages people to respond in the thread.
Whilst you shouldn’t use for every request. A line of emojis at the top of the request can help to break the message apart from others in the chat log.
The amount of screen real estate that the message takes up should be in line with how important the message is
There’s no point in using long, run on sentences in a Slack message. Nobody will read it. Always be succinct.