I really love using Slack for managing our internal Community and digital marketing strategies, but I’m wondering who’s using it as a community platform and for what types of communities? Seems to me like it is best suited for an internal community environment. Would love to hear of different communities being managed on this platform.
Interesting topic @Jennifer_Zowada
We started using Slack internally this year, in an effort to cut down on email. It’s worked brilliantly towards that goal, and has had the added benefit of making us feel generally more connected. We’re a fully remote team, so that can be a challenge. I particularly like it because I’m time-zone challenged (12 hours ahead of most of the team) and it’s great to have visibility of who’s around so I know whether I’ll be waiting until tomorrow for a response or not.
The downside that we’ve discovered is that things tend to get a bit lost in the noise. @richard_millington and I use Slack a lot, and often the others get up in the morning and find it frustrating to have to filter back through hours of our discussions – it’s a bit of a time suck.
Re communities – we’re currently trialling Slack for our AEM course attendants (which I suppose you could say is a temporary community) and that is working reasonably well, especially when someone needs urgent support in order to carry on with course work.
There is a huge and vibrant UX community using Slack with great success. The downside is that newcomers don’t have the opportunity to browse around for answers to their questions before joining the discussion.
And lastly, I’ve seen Slack used to great effect for networking prior to a conference that I attended earlier this year. It was great to see who was going to be there and to make some connections ahead of time.
We use it mostly for internal dialog too. One thing that helps us is using multiple channels as project conversations in addition to direct messaging. Not sure how to over come the 12 hr time variable @hawk.
I think Slack is wonderful for smaller groups, i.e. teams. I use it for my hobbyist open source project as well as within the Discourse team to great effect.
On the other hand, I’m seeing a growing trend of outward facing “Slack communities”, and I’m not a fan. More than just a replacement for ye olde
#myfossproejct on irc.freenode.net, some of these Slack chatrooms are also being used as the de-facto community engine for several open source projects.
These chat rooms aren’t exclusively bad, far from it. But I just think Slack has become prevalent to the point where it’s being used in ways that it shouldn’t, and one of those misaligned use cases is as the face of your community.
No peeking before you sign up!
Wanna see what everyone else is talking about? You gotta knock on the door first. No lurking; give us your email or you get nothing.
KILL ALL HUMANS
Just doesn’t look very homely
I also have some documented examples of poor etiquette, but I can’t be bothered to blur out names right now. Point is though, Slack doesn’t focus on moderation tools because it assumes that every invited user is a trusted and vetted user. If someone is being an asshole in a very active channel, it could take a long time before an admin sees it, and they might even think this is that person’s “first strike” and let it slide for now.
- for internal communities: Slack is great
- for public communities: More often than not, Slack is a bad fit
Should You Move Your Community To Slack?
I’ve really liked using it with a very small tech community I support. It’s been fantastic having super-quick and easy access to them, and the folks who are engaged are SUPER-engaged. Probably the biggest challenge I’ve found is the lack of organization. That’s fine for me since I’m always on it, but for folks who are in and out of the platform, it’s been a bit tough for them to follow. We’ve done some things with using channels to separate discussion, but now we’ve got an inordinate number of channels and a bit of duplication.
Big Podio fan.
It has chat & tasks and handles images very well. The idea of linking Slack and say Trello via API’s for tasks really put me off. Unlimited workspaces are allowed in Podio and we install “forums” into them (free add ons) for when just want to bat ideas around. The idea of topic specific forums within a task / intranet chat platform used by a team all working on forums - is fantastic.
As you were…
Below a workspace titled “Portal / Front page ideas” forum thread list where we put down ideas. And the chat window on the right. Nice thing is that any forum thread or indeed any chat history, can be turned into a “task” (containing all previously discussed data attached for reference) This is terrific for riffing around a topic before knowing what to do - once an action has been decided on - all info is linked to the task for reference.
If you go to Hamster Pad, you can literally find 1000s of external Slack communities ranging on topics from UX and development to whisky, bacon and woodworking.
I’m fascinated by how many communities are now using Slack even though it was never designed to be a community platform. You can really see where this becomes problematic when it comes to new member onboarding, searching for old posts (non-existent on the free version) and any longer discussions.
Slack really shines when it comes to real-time, short discussions. (ex: I’m heading to NYC on these dates. Who’s in town?) It lets you quickly gauge who’s around and make plans. Where it’s not so good is when a bunch of people jump into a discussion that requires lengthy posts that span multiple days, weeks or even months.
Most communities really need a mix of the two types to flourish. That’s why I think Slack groups can be amazing supplements to an online community (ex: Supplement to a forum or a Facebook group). I would be very hesitant to recommend it as a stand-alone community platform.
Jennifer, we use it for internal communication and team communication. My concern in using it for bigger communities, is that it may create too much noise and make it difficult to follow the conversation. I wouldn’t try it for a stand-alone community platform.
Using slack right now with a community of volunteers. Wordpress.com also uses it in this way. I think it’s something that can work in that context really well, as well as for building professional community, but would be hesitant to use it for a large public discussion-based community.