If you’re doing network work with ALC you’re probably using the ALF Slack team. Slack is a wonderful service which provides a slick platform for teams to chat with each other (rather than email!). In this post I will link you do some great help pages that Slack offers then I’ll go over a strategy for setting up sane notifications and how our channel structure works. I’ll end with some tips to make you a power user.
Slack’s Help Center
You can, and should, take some time to educate yourself on how this tool works. Most frustrations can be solved by searching for the question you want to answer. Plus, the folks at Slack have made some great pages and video tutorials that cover quite a bit about the platform, have a look at the Slack Help Center.
- New User on Boarding
- Customizing Notifications
- Keeping up with what’s important (stars, custom notifications, and more!)
ALF Team Conventions
[Update 2016.06.07] We’ve been inviting more ALC Startup people into the ALF Team slack as multi-channel guests. If you are invited in as a guest you won’t have access to many of the channels I’m going to outline, but I think it will be useful to get an understanding of Slack and what it’s capable of.
I’d like to start by explaining my interpretation of what kind of conversations should be happening on Slack. I see Slack as a tool for non-binding work discussions and coordination. Slack is not the channel to pass proposals or make decisions that affect the whole ALF community. It is the place to talk about a potential new banner image on the website or ways to upgrade the gameshifting board at your ALC. It should be relaxed and fun without the expectation that everyone is going to see any one message.
In contrast email is the tool to ensure that a message has reached someone (I assume everyone checks their email on the regular).
Slack communication is broken up into channels. Each user (that’s you!) chooses which channels to “join”. In the ALF Slack there are four kinds of channels (as of writing): General topics, feed, working group, and discussion.
This category is basically a catch-all for all the channels on any topic. We’ve got #article-dump, #blogging, #gameshifting, and more. We encourage anyone to create any channel for any reason. Channels don’t have to last forever, they can be archived after they have served their purpose. You don’t have to be on every channel!
We have a few channels that just display feeds from other tools we use. Right now that includes a few Trello boards and the site wide RSS feed. These channels are nice to get a sense of the activity going on in our network without having to visit the alc network activity feed or specific Trello boards. These channels will always start with #z-feed so they stay at the bottom out of the way.
Working Group Channels
All working group channels start with #wg so they stay grouped on the channel list.
These channels are prepended with #chatter and are currently used to have “meta” discussions about tools and practices in the network. For instance #chatter-alf-cmb is where we discuss the ALF Community Mastery Board, how we use it and how to manage it.
The biggest headache people seem to have with Slack is it’s over sharing (pinging you when anything is said) or missing important conversations (not getting pinged when you should). Watch the customizing notification video first.
First off, if you want to stay well connected download the computer and phone application. I keep my slack app open on my computer and have the phone app so I never miss a message.
Now let’s set some default notifications.
First off, make sure your Do-Not-Disturb setting is correct.
Notifications will not get pushed to your phone or computer between these times. Double check that your Timezone is correct! Now move on to general notifications.
Make sure Only direct messages and highlight words is selected. All activity is going to annoy you while nothing will leave you out-of-the-loop!
Last thing to configure in the preferences is your highlight words. These are words that, when typed by others, will notify you as if someone did and @mention to your name.
I get a notification when anyone talks about the website.
With that set you are now ready to configure Channel Specific notifications! On a channel, click the gear on the right.
Then select Notification Preferences
My strategy is to set important channels (like my working groups or projects I’m interested in) to notify me of any activity on desktop, and mentions on mobile.
#announcements and #support I have set to activity of any kind on both mobile and desktop. Because I want read anything that comes across those two channels.
If people sending out @channel and @here notifications are getting on your nerves, mute them on a per-channel basis.
You can also mute entire channels if you want to read but don’t need to be notified.
Tips and Tricks
Mark as unread – If you look at a channel and can’t finish reading all the unread messages you can manually set the unread line by clicking the three dot menu from the pop-up when you hover over a message.
Get focused – Need a break from the constant pinging? Snooze notifications!
Star your favorite channels
Quick jump channels – cmd (ctrl on PC) + K brings up a menu where you can start typing channel names (or people’s names) and swap to them with ease
What other tips do you have? Leave them in the comments.