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Creating/Joining WordPress Slack, orientation to channels and etiquette

Description

A quick-start guide to using WordPress Slack to communicate with the WordPress.org community.

Objectives

After completing this lesson, participants will be able to:

  • Explain what Slack is and how to use it
  • Demonstrate how to join the WordPress Slack instance
  • Employ Slack etiquette while interacting on the platform

Prerequisite Skills

Participants will get the most from this lesson if they have familiarity with:

Readiness Questions

  • Have you setup a WordPress.org account?

Materials Needed

  • An email address
  • Computer, tablet or phone
  • Slack app (not required)

Lesson Outline

  • Explain what Slack is
  • Show how to sign up for a WordPress Slack account on WordPress.org
  • Demonstrate the structure of channels and the basics of Slack
  • Practice customizing a Slack profile
  • Explain Slack etiquette

Exercises

  • Join Slack
  • Edit profile and photo
  • Attend a meeting

Assessment

There should be one assement item (or more) for each objective listed above. Each assessment item should support an objective; there should be none that don’t.

What is Slack?

  1. A “Zoom”-like video chat platform
  2. A place where people can get help using WordPress tools
  3. A team-based communication tool primarily used for text-based asynchronous communication

Answer: 3

What is your email address for WordPress Slack?

  1. An email that ends in @chat.wordpress.org
  2. My personal email address
  3. My personal WordPress site login

Answer: 1

What is the best way to communicate with someone on your team in Slack?

  1. Sending a direct message to someone on the team
  2. Posting in the team channel and, if needed, tagging the person or people you are trying to notify
  3. Posting a message in a team with no tag

Answer: 2. In some cases all three could be beneficial, but it’s best to keep the conversation open to the entire team.

Additional Resources

Example Lesson

Slack is a vital way to get involved with the open-source WordPress project. The WordPress project uses Slack as its main real-time communication platform.

Signing Up

You must have a WordPress.org account to begin.

With your WordPress.org account set up, now is the time to join the WordPress Slack community. Head to the WordPress chat page to sign up for an account.

Slack and WordPress splash page

Navigate to the “Joining the WordPress team on Slack” section. There is important information in this section.

Okay, here’s the fine print. You᾿re going to receive an email at [yourwordpressusername]@chat.wordpress.org, which will forward to the email associated with your WordPress.org account. Only Slack can email this special address, so you don’t need to worry about spam. After you accept the invitation to join Slack, you can change your email, but that email address will be public.

It’s important to note this @chat.wordpress.org email address, because it’s how you will login to Slack.

Click on the “I understand. Please send me an invite” link. You should receive an email with an invite.

Slack sign up email

Click the “Join Now” button. You will be directed to a screen to either login with your Google account, or enter your full name and password.

You don’t have to, but having the same username for both Slack and WordPress.org makes it easier to take notes in meetings.

Slack sign up page

You are directed to a “Getting Started” tutorial for Slack. We are first going to add a profile photo. This helps identify you in chats.

To do this, head into your profile settings by clicking on the profile picture icon in the upper right corner and selecting Edit Profile.

Here’s what you should fill out:

  1. Slack Display Name (using your WordPress.org username is preferred, but not required)
  2. What I Do
  3. Timezone

In “What I Do,” create a very short bio about yourself, your UTC timezone information, and where you contribute. Here’s an example:

Digital Journalist in US (-6UTC) | Contributing to #training and #docs.

Visit TimeAndDate.com to find the difference between your timezone and UTC. Get the current UTC time at 24Timezones.com.

Slack has its own lingo, but there are a few key definitions from its glossary that you need to know:

  • Channel
    Channels are spaces for all the people, tools, and files you need to get work done in Slack. You can create channels for different teams, topics, and projects to bring order and clarity to work.
  • Direct message (DM)
    Direct messages are one-to-one conversations between you and another member.
  • Mention (@mention)
    When you send a message and include an @mention, the person you mention will be notified. Type the @ sign followed by a member’s full name or display name.

View the image below from Slack breaking down the various sections of the platform.

Slack overview
Via Slack Help Center

The majority of your interactions will be in Channels. There are several ways to find channels:

  • Browse the list of channels within Slack
  • Go to make.wordpress.org and find the Slack channel where you would like to contribute.

Once you’re in a team, introduce yourself!

Typing a message in Slack.

Slack Ettiquette

There are WordPress contributors across the globe. That means there are people across many timezones and you won’t always get an immediate answer or reply.

Use threaded messages, especially when in a meeting. By replying in a thread, it helps to keep conversations organized.

Reply in thread

Mention a user if you want them to see your message. If the have notifications off, but then login to Slack, a page with all their mentions will ensure they see your post.

The default notification settings for Slack is to send you everything. You’re probably going to want to switch to the recommended settings, which are for mentions and direct messages. You can also tweak these settings further, like setting specific “highlight” words and email preferences.

Trac Integration: When you enter a Trac ticket number (e.g. #12345), a bot helpfully prints that ticket’s URL and info. You can specify a specific Trac using #12345-core or #123-meta; otherwise, it is guided by the channel you are in.

Further reading: Slack has a great list of Slack Ettiqute tips in this blog post. Pay attention to these specifically:

1. Fewer messages means fewer notifications
2. Write longer messages that scan quickly
3. Use threads. Seriously.
4. Replace short follow-up messages with emoji reactions
5. Reduce off-hours pings with Do Not Disturb

Lesson Wrap Up

Now, you should know how to use Slack and be able to start communicating on the WordPress Slack instance. The easiest first step is to just say “Howdy!” and someone in the channel will help out.