Slack Pros and Cons

I love Slack, but some of the people where I work do not like it.  To be somewhat fair, I will examine some of the pros and cons.

Pros

  • Designed by software developers to help them do software development.
  • Channels.
  • Easier-to-use interface than IRC.  You don’t have to maintain an IRC server.
  • Integrates with many other systems.  REST API.
  • Mobile, web, and desktop.  Cross-platform.
  • Starred items, searchable conversation history, ad hoc group chats, fast channel switching.
  • Reminders.  It’s amazing how often people say they can’t remember something when they’ve got Slack reminders, Outlook/Google calendars, physical/virtual sticky notes, and more to help them.
  • It’s way better than email for real-time group collaboration.
  • Attachments and code snippits.  Try telling someone how to enter 3 tricky Linux commands over the phone.
  • Easy to drop pictures, emojis, and reactions.  The /giphy command.
  • Easy for people to tap into the collective knowledge of an entire department to get people unblocked while at the same time avoiding the same question being asked over and over.
  • Far more efficient for quick exchanges of information than email.  Avoids all the pretentious boilerplate salutations and signatures.
  • You can start group video calls inside Slack.
  • It’s a lot harder to get sent random spam since only people who are part of your Slack group can contact you.

Cons

  • Designed by software developers to help them do software development.  Business users may find it too feature-rich.
  • A comment on a thread within a channel does not mark that channel as unread.
  • No shortcut key to begin a new thread.
  • You can’t customize shortcut keys at all.  You can work around this with AHK, but again, now you are alienating non-programmers.
  • No abbreviations for / commands.  Again, I have to use AHK.
  • Can be overwhelming/distracting if a lot is happening on a lot of channels.
  • Email may track conversations better than channels/threads in some cases.
  • It’s yet another communication channel to monitor.
  • It’s yet another tool to learn.
  • There’s no way to customize the delays for snoozing reminders.
  • Would be useful to have more ways to tag posts than just starring them.
  • In-app video calls aren’t as good as Skype.
  • Somewhat expensive.  This becomes a problem when an organization says “We already paid for Microslop BarfChat, so use that even though our organization will be half as efficient.”
  • Even Slack (which isn’t hard) is too hard for some people.  In reality, your organization probably needs both an insanely simple chat tool for all users AND Slack for software development and other more technical communication.
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