Slack is telling users how to work around Social Crowding

I read some advice from Merci Victoria Grace of Slack about how to deal with some of the issues of social crowding in Slack. In this case, how to provide something like the corporate broadcast functionality that is more integral to follow-centric work technology tools (‘work media’ or ‘enterprise social network’ apps, like Yammer, and so on), and which is a primitive built into workforce communications tools (like Lua, etc.).

With Slack, you have to tweak the settings of a standard Slack channel to emulate company-wide messaging:

Managing noise and channel overload

Once your team is at a certain size or volume of messages, you’ll almost certainly want a channel where the company leadership or community stewards can just announce things without provoking a big discussion. This is great for communicating stuff like “Fill out your 401k information today!” and “We just hit $50k in MRR!”

To do this, first rename #general to something like #announcements: click on the gear at the top of the #general channel (Channel Settings) and select “Additional Options,” then select “Rename Channel”.

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Once you’ve renamed the channel, the next step is to actually limit the user roles who can post messages in it. Do this by selecting “Team Settings” from your team menu. This will open a web page and you’ll see a few tabs. Click on the Permissions tab and then expand the Messaging Restrictions option. Select “Team Admins and Owners” from the option “Who can post in #announcements.” You are now on lockdown.

As others have stated — most eloquently, Lee Bryant — Slack has to rethink its scaffolding to scale up to teams of teams. Workarounds like the one sketched by Merci Victoria Grace above are just a stopgap. Something more architectural is called for.

Written by

Founder, Work Futures. Editor, GigaOm. My obsession is the ecology of work, and the anthropology of the future.

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