How to make Slack workspaces welcoming and valuable

post by Alex_Berezhnoy · 2022-01-09T07:32:58.729Z · EA · GW · 6 comments

Contents

  What are the benefits your group members can gain from a Slack workspace? 
  Concrete steps you can take
    Create a welcoming message for everyone who joins your workspace
    Give group members the opportunity to connect for virtual coffee
    Share an invite link wisely
    Policy for creating new channels
    Use purpose as your bouncer
    Create a channel for #celebrating-success, no matter how small or big it is
    Promote consistent ways to use emojis
    Set up integrations that add value
  Reasons why you shouldn’t create a separate workspace
    How to avoid that? 
  Collaboration and sharing best practices
None
6 comments

I’m a community builder at EA Anywhere and I use Slack daily as a communication tool. I helped to set up multiple EA workspaces in Slack, and I believe it can create a lot of value for your group members. In recent times, it has become an especially popular choice for professional and affiliation groups within EA as their number grows. But virtual workspaces should be set up wisely. Sometimes people underestimate all the time costs and responsibilities involved, and in some cases, I argue against creating them.

Most of the advice covered here is applicable if you’re using other tools like Discord, Zulip, or Mattermost.

What are the benefits your group members can gain from a Slack workspace? 

I think a good workspace combines all of the following:

  1. It's a place where people keep updated about the group's activities and ways to get involved in the EA. If you run a professional group, it makes sense to share opportunities within your field (e.g. Entrepreneurship, Mental Health, etc). You can share information about volunteering, internships, and post job adverts from EA-aligned organizations.
  2. It's a place where group members can receive support and celebrate their successes, no matter how big or small they are. It can empower them to take more actions based on EA principles and feel better. But people are usually uncomfortable asking for help if other group members are complete strangers to them. That's why creating a friendly environment and fostering connections are important.
  3. It's a place where people can share knowledge and learn from each other. Nothing engages people more with the group than the feeling they are creating value for others. So make sure that it's easy for everyone to contribute and encourage group members to do it.
  4. It's a place where group members can connect with each other. It's especially challenging to foster bonds if the group operates only virtually, like many professional groups with members from all over the world. Fortunately, there are solutions that can help strengthen personal connections and build human relationships.

Concrete steps you can take

Create a welcoming message for everyone who joins your workspace

Give group members the opportunity to connect for virtual coffee

Policy for creating new channels

Use purpose as your bouncer

Create a channel for #celebrating-success, no matter how small or big it is

Promote consistent ways to use emojis

Set up integrations that add value

Reasons why you shouldn’t create a separate workspace

Whether you should start a workplace/professional group is a separate question and the decision should be made after thoughtful considerations [EA · GW]. But imagine you decided to start one. Should you create a Slack workspace for your group? It depends. So, what could go wrong?

How to avoid that? 

Collaboration and sharing best practices

EA Anywhere’s Slack workspace can be a starting place for your group to kick off. We can help with setting up virtual events too. Previously we hosted events for the Improving Institutional Decision-Making working group, EAGx Prague, and others. Feel free to reach me via Calendly or email to discuss the details. 

I hope my advice is helpful. I would love to hear about your best tips and practices on making Slack workspaces welcoming and valuable in the comments. I’d appreciate feedback and criticism on the suggestions above.

Many thanks to Marisa Jurczyk and Brian Tan for the feedback on this post!

 

6 comments

Comments sorted by top scores.

comment by nil (eFish) · 2022-01-11T19:56:14.246Z · EA(p) · GW(p)

Thanks for the guide, Alex!

You say from the start that most of the advice is applicable to similar tools, but I'd still note that one limitation of (the free version of) Slack is that message history is limited to 10,000 messages (incl. private messages). So one cannot search and view messages made 10,000 messages before.

Discord (as well as Mattermost and self-hosted Zulip), in contrast, have unlimited message histories (paid versions of Slack or Zulip don't have this limitation as well, but the pricing (x$ per user per month) isn't suitable for a public group). That said, these platforms must have their own downsides, which may still make one choose Slack in the end.

Replies from: Alex_Berezhnoy
comment by Alex_Berezhnoy · 2022-01-12T15:28:00.173Z · EA(p) · GW(p)

Thanks for bringing this up! CEA helped EA Anywhere get a free Slack pro plan - they might be able to do the same for other groups. Those interested should contact groups@centreforeffectivealtruism.org

comment by Jsevillamol · 2022-01-09T13:56:19.232Z · EA(p) · GW(p)

Why both #announcements and #general? What is the use case for each?

Replies from: Alex_Berezhnoy
comment by Alex_Berezhnoy · 2022-01-09T15:01:17.191Z · EA(p) · GW(p)

By creating #announcements channel where only admins can post you can separate group updates from other posts and discussions. The goal is to increase the visibility of important announcements everyone should know about. #general is usually the default channel for discussions and sources everyone in the workspace might be interested in, so the posting rate is higher there.

comment by Jelle Donders (jelle-donders) · 2022-01-10T13:49:52.032Z · EA(p) · GW(p)

Is there a comprehensive list of EA Slack workspaces somewhere? The couple I know of I've come across by accident. I suppose knowing what's already out there is important to know for both potential participants as well as those considering setting up something new.

Replies from: Alex_Berezhnoy
comment by Alex_Berezhnoy · 2022-01-10T14:33:21.224Z · EA(p) · GW(p)

I've listed existing Slack workspaces I know here and included invite links where possible.

You can also look through a list of existing online groups on EA Hub. It contains more groups because a lot of them are hosted on Facebook and do not have Slack.