1. No one mumbles in chat

  2. You can zone out and zone back in and catch up without missing anything

  3. Everyone can talk at once without being drowned out

  4. You can edit what you said (in Slack at least)

  5. Meeting minutes are a built-in feature

  6. You can join midway and catch up by scrolling back

  7. You can punctuate your feelings with emojis and ASCII art ¯\(ツ)

  8. Your ear doesn’t get sweaty

  9. No one is accidentally on mute

  10. You can paste links in your comments

I think chat with channels is the most efficient and effective form of communication and should be the default for any organization. That goes triple for teams that aren’t co-located. Some conversations really require the synchronous interaction you can only get with voice/video/screenshare or IRL, but I will always default to chat if I can. E-mail is only really useful when you’re communicating outside your team or really need to send a big one-way blast message.

Here’s my rules for effective ChatOps with your team:

  • Send your messages the most public channel that is relevant. Unless you need to keep it secret, just broadcast it now or else you’ll end up repeating it anyway.
  • Keep channels on-topic. Too much irrelevant noise will make people tune out.
  • Keep the number of channels as small as you can based on the volume of messages. Too many channels leads to confusion about where to post and makes it harder to track. If you proactively create channels for topics you think people will want, you may end up with a lot of quiet channels.
  • Do create new channels when it gets too crowded. For example, by default you would just want a single channel for a project team. If your team ends up growing to the point that design conversations are constantly overlapping with dev messages and no one can follow either, it’s time to split.
  • Set your notifications judiciously. I find chat to be by far the most convenient way for me to be interrupted, but it’s still an interruption. Slack and others let you tune your notifications so you can target DMs, mentions and critical channels only.