slack @here is bad for your team

@here Notify active channel members

The slack help docs say the @here mention;

…lets you notify just the members in a channel who are currently active in Slack.

Alright, that sounds great. It’s for making announcements / contacting the team right? Well no. Slack is best at async but instant communication for teams. @here ruins that.

Cross pollinate teams

Your company is probably made up of a bunch of different teams, sales, marketing, engineering etc. And there are many reasons why the commercial side of your business should be open to input from engineers. Not only because it reduces the number of communication paths, reduces layers of overhead and focuses your engineers on users and commercial goals; but because the cross pollination of ideas helps all the teams involved.

So it’s a good thing you have open slack channels that anyone can be in, sure those slack channels have topic and focus. They are places that people can go to actively engage and talk about topic. They are also places people can go to read, to be a spectator, to follow a conversation or get back up to speed on topics.

Participants in any given slack channel fall into two categories:

  1. Actives - these are the people engaging in the discussion. In a biz focused channel; the commercial teams.
  2. Squatters - there are the people following but not engaging. In a biz focused channel; these are your engineers.

Respect the squatters

The Squatters are far more important than it might seem. This is where the cross team relationships and cross pollination of ideas happens. This is where the communication pathways are reduced, this is where people do more efficient work. Squatters aren’t just engineers in commercial channels; in a larger company with many dev teams, each team might have their own channels, idea sharing here can be just as (if not more) valuable. Squatters are any channel members who are just following a conversation or channel, maybe they dip in and out; for interest.

Then someone drops an @here in a channel. To them it makes sense right? This is a channel about topic X this message / announcement is relevant to topic X so all the members should know. No!

Ann Ouncer: @here super important message about topic X
# the entire dev team has left the channel

^^ Every @here message ever.

Ann Ouncer has achieved more than intended [@]here. You’ve made this channel a place that is not welcoming to squatters.

Respect the squatters, don’t drop @here