My Initial Impression of Slack

Although I’d heard of Slack from the NoVa Code & Coffee Meetup, I’d never had the opportunity to use it in a work environment until this past week. I thought I’d set my first impressions down in a blog post while they were still fresh in my mind.

What I dislike:

  • Opening Screen with random “Fortune Cookie” message
    Telling me “You look good today” when I first log in? Kinda weird.
  • The Slackbot
    I still haven’t figured out what this bot is used for. Anyone?
  • Desktop Notifications
    If you don’t already have ADD, you’ll feel like you do after receiving 1 billion back-to-back notifications from the chit-chat in your #random channel. Fortunately, this is adjustable (see below).
  • Giphy integration

    Captain Picard thinks Slack's Giphy integration is as ridiculous as I do.
    Who thought this was a good idea?

What I like:

  • Channels
    Makes getting the right information to the right people easier and more efficient (e.g. if you need to reboot the development server in ten minutes, putting that message in the #developers channel tells the people who need to know without “spamming” everyone.)
  • Channel-by-Channel notification settings
    Being able to pick & choose which channels can interrupt your flow with desktop notifications helps improve the signal-to-noise ratio. You can monitor the #servers channel, while squelching #random, for instance.
  • The Team Directory
    Especially since I work with a geographically distributed team, this helps me put faces to names/voices, and better understand the role(s) each team member plays.

TL; DR – Although Slack is annoying with its default configuration, it can be turned into a helpful group communications tool by tuning its settings.