Slack

UCLA’s Good Slacker Guide

Profiles

It’s helpful to provide some context of who you are for collaboration purposes and so people can find you.  For faculty/staff, include your full name, role, and department (Josephine Bruin (Office Mgr, Res Life)).  Students, in addition to your full name, maybe add an expected grad year and major if you like (Joe Bruin (’23 English)). 

Channels

  • Channel Names should indicate who will likely be interested in the channel and what they will want to discuss.
  • Channels are great for information-seeking and community building. Consider posting your question publicly. You may not be the only one with that question.
  • In order to allow people to find your channel, create a channel topic and description that is meaningful and reflects the purpose of the channel.   
  • Be mindful of the channel’s purpose. Each channel is designated for a specific purpose. Although  it may be tempting to share something interesting you saw online, remember why the channel  was created. Ask yourself, “Is this going to contribute to the purpose of the channel, or should I post it in a different channel?” 
  • If you are new to a channel, take some time to review the older messages. You will get a  sense of the communication style and what is acceptable in the group. 

When Not to Use Slack

Know when other applications are a better alternative to Slack. Consider using other approaches  for the following items: 

  • Verbal discussions are best for matters that need an immediate response, when you need  to discuss something personal or sensitive, or when you have to explain something  complicated and anticipate a lot of questions. 
  • Zoom or Slack Calling for real-time meetings with multiple individuals, or to reduce long, drawn-out conversations in text.  You can also start Zoom or Slack calls in channels and DMs. It’s great for meetings on the fly.
  • UCLA Box or UCLA Google Drive links when sharing attachments or multiple files. 

Threads

Threads are the best way to keep track of discussions and reduce noise. Using threads allows members to ask questions or share ideas without additional unread indicators appearing for everyone else in the channel.  

Emojis

Emojis are a great way to acknowledge messages and react to them without creating a long thread. 

Etiquette Tips

  • Remember that channels are for groups, and DMs are for direct messaging to an individual or selected people in a group DM. If it doesn’t benefit the whole group to read your message, consider sending it through DM.
  • If you want to correct someone, consider doing so privately and not in a Slack channel.  
  • Do not send multiple messages to an unresponsive coworker or send push notifications for every message. Slack notifications can pile up and become distracting and  unproductive. Remember, fewer messages mean fewer notifications. 
  • Try to search Slack first before asking someone to provide answers.
  • If you are logged into Slack but too busy to respond, consider setting your status to “Do Not Disturb” or “Away.”
  • Remember that Slack messages will be read on phone screens as well as large computer screens. Brevity is the soul of wit.
    • Even further: think about how to "chunk" your long paragraphs of text into shorter individual messages, and post those "chunks" separately and in sequence. That way, someone can comment or react to something specific that you said without slogging through the whole uninterrupted paragraph. It's a quicker and easier read!
    • Or if you really need to put the whole paragraph into one post, you can use Shift + Return to create line breaks. ;-)
  • Use emojis to supplement your message and provide tone. :grin:
  • You can always edit/delete something you have submitted by clicking on the three-dot icon in your message and selecting the option from the dropdown menu. 

Common Pitfalls

  • Be careful about posting in the wrong channel. If you ever get lost in which channel or workspace you're in, the History and Back/Forward buttons (next to the search bar at the top of your Slack desktop app) can help you navigate.
  • If you are working in multiple workspaces, be careful to post in the correct workspace.
  • Remember that the linked chain icon next to a channel name (like with the #slack-help and #slack-feedback channels) means that these channels are shared across the UCLA grid, and posts you make will be visible to members of UCLA workspaces other than the one you are posting in.
  • Want to post the same message in multiple spaces? Use the “Share” button instead of copying and pasting.

Notifications

Getting your notifications right is key to a pleasant Slack experience.

  • Set your overall levels.
  • Set your keywords.
  • Set your Do Not Disturb.
  • Set different sounds for your different workspaces.

When should I DM

vs. make a private channel

vs. make a public channel

vs. request a new workspace?

 

Let’s consider this metaphor for how the Slack Enterprise Grid is our digital “campus:”

Every workspace could be a “building” on that campus.
Every channel could be a “room” in that building.
And every direct message is a “person” you can access no matter where you are on campus.
 

If you’re DM’ing someone… would someone else in your world benefit from listening to or reading the conversation you’re having? If so, think about @mentioning the person in a channel instead. A little bit of outward performance goes a long way in building shared knowledge.

You can also create group DMs with multiple, selected people.
 

Not sure if you want to make your channel public or private? Slack works better when more information is public, but it’s valuable for teams to have a sense of privacy.

  • One way to go is a public/private pair of channels. The private channel is your “backstage” for your internal team to discuss work and planning in a safe space, while the private channel can be your “mainstage” where you get to reach out into the wider UCLA community.

But what if I want to make a lot of channels for myself and my teams? Should they all be in the UCLA workspace, or should I request my own workspace?

  • Again, it depends! One way to think about it is that your new workspace becomes your “backstage” area, and your “mainstage” stays in ucla.slack.com.
  • You also get a lot more administrative control in your own workspace. Broadcast messaging using the @channel and @here and @everyone labels are not permitted in ucla.slack.com, nor can you build your own user groups in ucla.slack.com. There is a trade-off: you could do both broadcasting and build groups  in your own workspace, but you need to administrate that workspace!