ITAA Slack guide

This document covers some general information for using Slack, a communication tool for members of ITAA to stay in touch with each other. There is also a separate document explaining what settings an ITAA member can adjust to make this tool less compulsive.

What is Slack?

Slack is a messaging app originally developed for use in professional settings. Instead of a single big chat group, Slack allows conversations to happen in “channels”, group conversations with specific topics. You can choose which groups you want to be a part of and which you don’t, and you can also control how and when you get notifications. Slack also allows members to message each other directly and make voice calls.

Accessing Slack
  • To join the ITAA workspace you will need an invite link, which you can get by asking another member of the ITAA Slack, or by sending a message through the contact form on our website.
  • Once you’ve been invited, you can access the web version of Slack at https://itaa-fellowship.slack.com
  • Desktop clients for Windows, Mac, and Linux are available at https://slack.com/downloads
  • Mobile apps are available from the app store for your device
Using channels and direct messages

The channels and direct messages pane shows channels that you are a member of, and people you can exchange direct messages with.

  • On the website and the desktop client, this pane is always visible on the left side of the screen. Instructions for accessing this pane on a mobile device are included in the mobile device section.
  • You can click/tap the name of a channel in the list to open that channel. Click or tap the “+” sign to the right of the word “Channels” to find more channels to join.
  • You may leave a channel by right clicking on it and selecting “Leave channel”. You can find it again and rejoin anytime by clicking or tapping on the “+” sign to the right of the word “Channels”.
  • Below channels in the sidebar, you will see a list of people you can send direct messages (DMs) to. Tap the “+” sign next to the words “Direct messages” to add someone to this list. Tap someone’s name to view your recent message history with them or send them a DM.
  • You can also create group DMs, where a small group of people send private messages to each-other. To do this, when you are sending a DM, type multiple names in the box where you enter names to send the message to.
  • You can hover over a DM’s label on the sidebar and press the “X” sign to remove the DM conversation from your sidebar. This does not delete your message history.
Channel descriptions

Each channel has a purpose listed in its channel description. Furthermore, each channel specifies the following:

  1. Links disallowed / Links allowed in-thread
    1. If links are disallowed, please do not share any links, videos, images or files in the channel. 
    2. If links are allowed in-thread, you may share external content by first writing a text description of the content, and then sharing the content in a threaded response, so long as the content is relevant to the purpose of the channel. An explanation of how to use threading is provided in the Threading section below.
  2. Crosstalk disallowed / Feedback welcome
    1. If crosstalk is disallowed, please refrain from offering feedback, suggestions, advice, or comments on other members’ shares. 
    2. If feedback is welcome, you may offer feedback, suggestions, advice or comments, unless a member specifies in their message that they would prefer not to receive feedback.
Threading

To allow multiple conversations to occur together in a channel without people “talking over each-other”, Slack supports threading.

  • On the website or the desktop client, you can start a thread by hovering over a message and clicking “Start a thread”
  • On the phone/tablet app, you can start a thread by tapping the message to bring up a screen showing just that message, and then tapping “Start a thread”

When threaded conversations are going on in a channel, it is usually polite to use threading for your own conversations too, so your messages don’t make other peoples’ threads scroll off the screen and make them harder for others to see/find/join. Not all ITAA channels use threading, but please try to follow the norms for each channel you that are in.

@ notifications

Within Slack channels, the @ character can be used to send notifications to a person or group of people.

  • @persons_name will send a notification to a specific person, eg. @Bob would send a notification to Bob
  • @here will send a notification to active members of a channel
  • @channel will send a notification to all members of a channel, even if they are inactive/away.
    • It is almost always better to use @here instead of @channel unless there is a specific reason why you need to notify inactive members (eg. a reminder for members of a committee that is about to meet).
  • To prevent accidental mass-messaging, @all and @everyone are disabled for the entire ITAA workspace