1. 10

Yes, this is a bit of an ad, but I still found the article insightful.


  2. 16

    I think it’d be really nice if we didn’t put this sort of ad copy on here, even if it is well written. This submission seems to be 20% “I have problem with Slack that we haven’t figured out how to avoid yet” and 80% “Please give us more pageviews and buy our product”.

    For what it’s worth, the problem I think that they ran into here was using Slack as something more than just immediate conversation.

    The team I currently work with (100% remote for all members) uses Slack heavily, but also has proper services setup to allow for that longer-term “slow-twitch” sort of discussion work. Proper bug tracking using Jira, email for certain types of discussions, and–my favorite and something I pushed for–knowledge dissemination via the Confluence wiki.

    It would seem that the author of this has the following sorts of problems:

    • Using Slack for bug reports instead of a real issue tracker.
    • Failing to enforce cultural norms on naming or whatever to ease search.
    • Expecting to be able to catch up with everything as it happens.

    The last thing there is particularly important–our Slack is divided into “common areas” and “restricted areas”, to prevent things like well-meaning devs from bumbling into the customer support channel when a fire is occurring. Similarly, our CS folks are encouraged (by their leads) to stay out of our engineering channel unless there’s a really good reason. In order to facilitate certain types of interactions that that approach would wall off, I made a bug discussion channel where they could ask questions but are always told to file properly later.

    1. 1

      We use just about the same tools (except Hipchat instead of Slack), and it works great. Definitely better than cramming everything into a single chat room like the author is describing. I don’t see why anybody would even try that, it sounds like a mess.

    2. 6

      Companies will forever try and try to reinvent “better” versions of usenet, and irc. So far, I’ve seen very few improvements over either.

      1. 1

        Slack is much nicer than IRC. History integrated into the client, proper cross-device tracking of where you’d read up to, much better rich-text/image support that works consistently for all users, much better standardization of authentication/permissioning…

        1. 2

          There’s no question that the Slack experience is, out of the box, much nicer than irc. But, none of these things are impossible using irc, either.

          The problem with Slack is it is incentivized to break up communities. Instead of freenode which has #go, #racket, #lisp, #c, #java, #badmiten, #baseball … You have c.slack.com, go.slack.com etc… Basically 1 network per topic, instead of multiple topics per network. That’s significantly more annoying.

          1. 2

            none of these things are impossible using irc, either.

            They might be technically possible, but if they were socially possible they’d’ve been done by now.

            Basically 1 network per topic, instead of multiple topics per network. That’s significantly more annoying.

            I see no reason it needs to be more annoying. I don’t remember what the Slack client does with multiple networks, but on Discord I’ve ended up with one network per topic and it’s a totally fine experience.

            1. 2

              They might be technically possible, but if they were socially possible they’d’ve been done by now.

              I agree.

              The success of things these days seems to have more to do with marketing budgets/tactics and design than principles (also timing, as always). Take for instance the previous attempts at a decentralized Twitter replacement. Identi.ca, (status.net) sort of just flopped.The geek crowd used it for a while (as they do irc) but it never gained widespread adoption. Why? Primarily network effects, related to the PR and marketing that twitter was much more effective at. I’ve not heard anything about Mastadon (sp?) in weeks, to months after the initial upkick. Same story.

              So, yeah. I agree. But, we could get a lot of mainstream success for irc if there was a company with a marketing budget and clever tactics out there pushing an irc client that solved these problems. You might even compete with slack, if you were willing to run a bunch of secure irc servers for private companies and things. But, Slack is kind of a runaway success, so you’d have your work cut out for you competing with them.

              1. 2

                I don’t think Slack’s that hard to compete with. Among my friend group Discord has killed Slack - I literally don’t even have Slack installed any more. I do think IRC is structurally incapable of doing it though. A medium won’t use rich text and images unless every user’s client fully supports them, and you can’t change authentication without breaking compatibility with existing clients.

              2. 1

                I’m on several networks with Slack and not really happy with the experience. Lots of annoyances, but the biggest one is that loading each network’s state is very slow— you switch to it and it takes 2-5 seconds to show anything.

                1. 2

                  You also have to have multiple accounts, technically, and all the baggage that comes with that.

        2. 3

          I have never activated a notification nor do I catch up on general discussion unless I’m really bored. Slack is super useful for reporting system health and such, and that info should be outdated by the time you see it unless it’s your job.

          Nor is email dead, people just lost the mission.

          Twist seems like it might fill a void, but the void was created by the potential users themselves. They did this by not reading netiquette but instead going crazy with their new toys.

          1. [Comment from banned user removed]

            1. 4

              I agree with your main point, but would also argue that one of the key differences between slack (when done well) and email is that slack and most other corporate instant messaging platforms are “broadcast to topic” as opposed to “message specific people”. Specifically, most people would have the concept of “post a message in the development chat room”.

              Email can be setup to facilitate that flow, but there isn’t any great UX around it compared to slack. Finding topics that are relevant to you, but that you weren’t invited to is hard in most mailing list software.

              Twist seems interesting because it combines the “findability” of corporate chat with the segmentation and lower pressure to respond immediately of email.