Tips for making Slack work for you

slack-tips

Slack is truly a wonderful tool. I find it a lot more engaging in building a community than say Facebook Groups or other web tools. One reason is the ability to add and have other apps interact with it.

I won’t go into the technical aspects of how Slack is built, why it works out great and if alternatives like Mattermost are better?

Slack is increasingly used by companies and open source communities. I discovered Slack thanks to the WordPress.org project using it.

Reference: List of some impressive Slack customers

I have worked using Slack at both companies I have worked at in the past couple of years.

I conducted a very unscientific poll of Slack users, on how they used Slack.

  • There were 9 respondents (so not really a big number).
  • 2 are developers, 2 write for a living, 1 in human resources, 2 from marketing background.
  • Almost all of them were and have been involved with the local WordPress community.

The Interesting Patterns*

How do you use Slack?

  • 8 out of 9 used Slack for work and also for non-profit work.
  • So not surprisingly 8 out of 9 use Slack on a Desktop app.

Fun: Only 1 out of 9 used Slack as part of a fan club.

How is Slack a distraction?

  • Slack was considered a distraction for 6 out of 9 when working in a physical office.
  • By comparison only 3 responded that it distracted them while working from home.
  • All 9 respondents have had the option of doing both.

The Slack Admins

  • 4 responded that the Slack channels in their teams were created by managers and bosses.
  • The other 4 responded there was no discussion before new channels were created.
  • Only one responded suggested there was some deliberations done before a new channel was created.

Again, 9 is not exactly a great way to find patterns.

Slack’s apparent anarchy

I have worked in a remote team for work using Slack and also worked in an office where Slack was used. I found that at a physical office, Slack is often used in the most irritating and distracting ways.

Managers use it to call people to their desks, people prioritize tasks based on their who is assigning them and chatting with them and worst offender is a simple message saying “Hello” with no further context.

Chat is realtime and decisions are taken often in realtime and often people feel left out. Sometimes people feel obliged to follow discussions incessantly which can lead to loads of distractions.

Slack advice for teams

  • Create a code of conduct for Slack. Yes, it applies to companies too.
  • Create specific channels with agendas and encourage people to discuss certain topics only in their related channels.
  • Don’t have bots update messages in channels where discussions are taking place. It happens a lot. And its irritating for people involved.
  • Create a channel preferably open to all – where everyone can discuss creating a new channel and it’s purpose. This means there is some though put to creating new channels and also is means people cannot simply create new or multiple channels doing more or less the same things.
  • At a physical office, use Slack only for meetings or for important messages so others who missed out can catch up. If you want to say hello, go upto the person physically. 😛
  • As a general rule – never give feedback or criticism in public, use DM. Especially when it is work related. Also always congratulate, thank and give credit in public.
  • Always speak out and point out bad behaviour and do that publicly.

The last two points are extremely important. It should discourage people from bossing around and projecting power and allow more transparent, valuable and ultimately productive communication.

Do you have some more advice or tips you want to share, I would love to hear from you.

Email me at aditya@bombaypirate.com or drop in a comment.

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Bookmarking stuff on the web

bookmark

In the old days, I used to love storing my bookmarks on Delicious. The service worked great to sync my bookmarks on different computers at work and home. More importantly, Delicious allowed users to share stacks of bookmarks with their friends.

I used to explore and find countless beautiful and useful websites this way. Then Delicious tanked.

I still use Chrome’s bookmark manager for some links I need to look up often but I like a lot of things online which I want to be able to recall in a easy manner later but not necessarily have them on my browser. I also use Pocket but not exactly very extensively.

So now I have started saving interesting things I come across the web on a free WordPress.com website.

bombaypirate.wordpress.com it is.

I find it really convenient for the following reason

  • My bookmarks can have some context, are searchable and indexed.
  • It can be opened on any browser – no need to sign up or sync up.
  • It can be opened on any phone screen.
  • Someone could share something interesting in comments and suggest more awesome links to visit.

Where do you collect all the awesome stuff you come across on the web? Any single place sharable? Let me know in comments.

Image Credits

Stuff I use

There is a lot of things I use daily. But here is a list of things I use for work mainly.

Why am I sharing this list to public?

Why not? We share random useless data like checking into coffee shops and cinema halls. This makes more sense to me. Mainly, it serves as a way for me to keep track of stuff I am using on a daily basis. More importantly people who may read this might recommend me better alternatives.

  1. WordPress (self hosted) – Mostly for this blog and work related blogging and some documentation.
  2. Gmail – Gmail on browser and Gmail app on phone for personal and work related emails.
  3. Digital Ocean – I host this site on a Digital Ocean droplet.
  4. EasyEngine – A CLI tool to help me with using WordPress on Nginx server on Ubuntu. But I am not really a IT Admin and not very proficient with EE.
  5. Github – using it for updating documentation at work. I am not a developer. I dont really use this extensively.
  6. Macbook Air – 13 inch screen, light weight, works great, has awesome battery life.
  7. Nexus 4 – Nice Android vanilla phone – runs Android 4.4
  8. Chrome – I have Firefox installed and Safari is obviously there but Chrome for the win (but I am getting a bit annoyed with its impact on battery life)
  9. Feedly –  Using the Feedly mac app for following some good blogs usually from WordPress centric products and people.
  10. Twitter app for Mac – Works great at tracking 4-5 accounts. Since I do not need to heavily tweet for anyone of them, this suits me fine.
  11. Google Drive – Usuallly all my photos from the phone get backed up here automatically – also great for collaborative writing and planning. Use at work too.
  12. Dropbox – Stopped using it as much but still use it to backup .txt files where I often write a lot of stuff to remember
  13. Send Anywhere – Nice app to send files between my Nexus 4 and Mac
  14. Slack – Use for work mainly – also to hang around Make.WordPress community chats. Lately using it to organize WordCamp. Native app for Mac helps a lot.
  15. Skype – Not using it as much as before but still very very good for calls.
  16. Hangouts – Use rarely.
  17. Bufferapp – User bufferapp to schedule tweets automatically. Thought I use Buffer only for Twitter, it can be used with FB, Google+ pages and LinkedIn
  18. Skitch – Used extensively for screenshots on my computer.
  19. Simplenote – Nice note taking app. Not really using sync options but like using it for its labels and simplicity. Not too happy with Evernote and Google Keep.
  20. Atom – Use it to write in markdown – but really it does so much more.
  21. Pocket: Thanks to Kapil’s comment below, I realized I has skipped what I use for bookmarks. Its Pocket on PC and Phone along with Chrome’s Bookmark manager. (Added Later)

Added later:

There are other obvious things I have not included. eg: Facebook.