How we Slack at FiftyThree

As a growing company with over 50 people (and we’re hiring), the days of being able to hear just about everything going on just by sitting around our CEO’s apartment are long gone. When we added Slack to our communications mix, @julianwa and I spent a little time up front trying to come up with a set of pretty simple channel conventions as a way to bring a little clarity into our Slack world (we had been using Hipchat and it was pretty disorganized). Before doing this we tried to ask around about how others do this, but we didn’t find much. Since what we have seems to be working reasonably well for us so far, we figured it would be worth sharing to help others getting starting or trying to get more organized.

When we first set up Slack, we set up our channels using these conventions and then put together a Quip doc outlining them so that as new channels come online they fit the basic model. How and when we use Quip vs. Slack is a subject for a whole different post.

Below is the basic doc that we use internally, redacted a bit to hide some of the future projects we are working on. The examples obviously aren’t comprehensive but are intended to give people an idea of the types of channels that fall under each category.

team-

Teams are effectively the various groups on our org chart, although as a startup we still have a decent amount of overlap in roles so people sit in multiple teams. Examples:

  • team-app
  • team-web
  • team-web-backend
  • team-web-ui
  • team-product
  • team-design
  • team-operations
  • team-marketing
  • team-sales

Who should join: Team channels are mostly for the people in that specific organization. In cases where there are tight relationships others can and should join as well.

product-

Product- is for our general discussion on the progress of products in the market, how the product is being received, feature ideas, etc. Examples:

  • product-paper
  • product-pencil
  • product-mix

Who should join: Anyone interested.

ft-

Feature teams are specific groups of people working on a particular feature. Features often have a specific end date as they get completed, and then the channel can get archived. The scale of feature teams can range from small to very large. Examples:

  • ft-activitycenter
  • ft-thinkkit
  • ft-backup

Who should join: Generally these are more tactical so they are most appropriate for the team working directly on the feature.

x-

All general and social groups. Examples:

  • x-random
  • x-general-nyc
  • x-general-seattle
  • x-jams
  • x-company-roadmap
  • x-app-notifications (commits and automated build completions via integrations)
  • x-children (cute photos of fiftythree kids)
  • x-moving-pictures
  • x-coffee-nyc

Who should join: Anyone interested.
Why the x-? Slack displays channels alphabetically. This keeps general-purpose, non-core channels from jumbling up all the others.

53-

Any channel that includes external participants (see Restricted-account-and-single-channel-guest-FAQ). Examples:

  • 53-firmware
  • 53-remixer-discussions

Who should join: Only those who need to be in contact with the external people or communities in a given channel. Please be careful with these channels as they represent communication with partners, contractors, and customers.
Why the 53-? Since these are visible to people outside of FiftyThree we want a clear qualifier that this channel allows communication with our company.
Who can create these channels? Only Slack administrators. Generally these channels are temporary meeting rooms setup to collaborate for a fixed period of time.

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