Slacking Off in Class: Setting Up Your Team (Part 1)

Now we get into the meat. Assuming you’re the primary owner of your team, these settings are found under the Administration list as the Settings & Permissions page. You can find it at https://my.slack.com/admin/settings (the my.slack.com link will automagically take you to the Slack team you’re signed into).

You’ll need to think about whether you’re using a team-per-class or -department or -campus or what-have-you. This will fundamentally change the setup and policy choices you’ll make. I’m also skipping over the Billing page, as it’s self-explanatory and only relevant if you’re on a paid tier, at which point you’ll have been talking to a Slack representative and they can answer any questions you have.

This list does not include any of the channel setup, customization, or profile settings. Those are on another article, Setting Up Your Team (Part 2).

First, pick a name for your team and a URL. That’s the easy part. It could be math101fall2017 if you’re using a per-class team or myuniversitydept if it’s a larger one. Totally up to you. (Keep in mind that this does not take into consideration the upcoming Enterprise tier, which will presumably change some of what you have control over and place it in the hands of your IT office, though it was supposed to appear in early 2016, then late 2016, which it is now, and it’s still listed as “Coming Soon.”)

Now, just run down this list on that Settings & Permissions page. Afterward, if you chose different settings, feel free to leave a comment and describe what and why.

Settings

  • Team Sign-Up Mode: depends on your tier. If you’re free and doing a team-per-class, you may want to leave it open until your students have finished signing up, then set it to invitation only. If you’re a larger team, you may want to use your Google Apps for Education (on a paid tier) or set it to an email domain (email.school.edu, for example, to keep anyone not affiliate with the school out of the team). It’s again up to you.
  • Username Guidelines: if you’re using a paid tier an have it tied into your school’s login, you can skip this. Otherwise, you may want to pick something that resembles (or matches) your school’s username policy just to keep things consistent.
  • Name Display: choose to display usernames or real names. If you wish to foster community (which we do), choose real names.
  • Require @ for mentions: up to you. With this on, you must type the @ symbol before you’re given the opportunity to tag users. Off for small teams, on for large.
  • Do Not Disturb: turns off notifications for all users between the hours specified. They can change it. Not all that important.
  • Hide your team URL from external sites’ logs: Turn this on.
  • Calls: turns on audio calls allowing you to make conference calls with up to 15 people. Handy for business but not all that much for classes. No reason to turn it off, necessarily, but likely isn’t going to be used much. Better off with the Hangouts extension or adding your Skype name to the profile.
  • Message retention: since you likely want to be able to go back into the message logs to search for conversations (especially on the admin side), change all these subsettings to Keep all messages and turn off Allow Channel Overrides.Note that on free teams message retention is limited to 10,000 messages. They don’t disappear after you hit 10,000, exactly, but you can no longer search for those beyond that threshold.
  • File Retention: same, keep all forever. No reason not to.
  • Team Icon: pick something simple and easily identifiable.
  • Team Name & URL: you picked this when you started, but here you can change them. Try to avoid doing this as much as possible.
  • Delete Team: we won’t go there…. It would be nice if you had the option to deactivate a team, but right now that’s not available.

Permissions

These will vary greatly depending on what level of freedom and power you want your users to have. If it’s a small, class-based team, you can leave this more open. For larger department- or campus-wide teams, you’ll likely want to use these suggested settings.

Messaging

  • @channel and @here: Everyone except guests. Good for class-based channels and getting quick answers from everyone that’s online.
  • Show a warning when using @channel or @everyone: The first time each day. No need to show it every time but users will likely need that reminder, at least at first, that they’re about to notify everyone in a channel.
  • People who can post to #announcements: Team Owners and Admins only (more on why later)
  • People who can use @everyone: Team Owners and Admins only

Invitations

  • Allow everyone (except guests) to invite new members): Off (Really only important to leave off when you’re on a paid tier and a budget. If you’re unconcerned about the number of users on the team, leave it on.)

Channel Management

  • People who can create private channels: Everyone, except Multi-Channel Guests (you want users to be able to create their own discussion groups!)
  • People who can create channels: Team Admins and Owners only (but not fill up the team with random public channels)
  • People who can archive channels: Team Admins and Owners only (or archive important public channels)
  • People who can remove team members from private channels: Everyone, except guests (give them some control over their private groups)
  • People who can remove team members from channels: Team Admins and Owners only (but don’t let regular users kick out other regular users from public channels)

User Groups

(Only available on paid tiers. These for things like branch campus locations or buildings.)

  • People who can create and disable user groups: Team Admins and Owners only
  • People who can modify user groups: Team Admins and Owners only

Message Editing & Deletion

  • Allow editing: Up to 1 hour after posting (to avoid “ninja edits;” especially good for discussion)
  • People who can delete messages: Team Owners and Admins only

Profile Customization

  • People who can add profile fields: Team Admins and Owners only

Stats

  • People who can view team statistics: Team Owner and Admins only

Custom Emoji & Loading Messages

  • People who can manage custom emoji: Everyone, except guests (lets users create their own emojis and use them; have an inside joke from class? let students turn it into an emoji)
  • People who can manage custom loading messages: Team Owner and Admins only (these messages randomly display to everyone while Slack is loading, so keep that in mind)

Slackbot Responses

  • Enable Slackbot Responses: On, and set to Team Owner and Admins only (more on Slackbot responses later)

Public File Sharing

  • Enable public file URL creation: Off. (Especially if you have students sharing work among themselves.)

Gateways

  • Unless you want to connect other messaging services to Slack, ignore these.

Authentication

Whether you’re on a paid tier will heavily impact your settings on this screen. Assuming you are on a paid Education tier, here are some best practices:

Google Authentication Settings

  • Use if your school uses Google Apps for Education.

Switch to built-in authentication

  • Only relevant if you use another Single Sign-On (SSO) like Google

Team-wide two-factor authentication

  • Highly suggested that you use this if you’re using Slack’s built-in authentication (and even when you’re not). 2FA is ALWAYS suggested if available. Ignore the haters (but talk to your tech folks).

Session Duration

  • If you’re concerned about students logging in on public computers, you’ll want to set this to “Log users out when they close the application.” It’s really up to you and your in-house security policy.

Forced Session Reset and SSO Binding

  • If you’ve recently switched from Slack’s built-in authentication to something like Google, this will sign everyone out and force them to sign back in using the other log-in method.

Forced Password Reset

  • Again only useful for those not using SSO. May wish to create a once-a-year password reset policy.

Attachments

Not much here aside from the option to blacklist certain types of attachments. Well, technically, the option to do that isn’t here, but it tells you that the option is available once you see the attachment in a Slack channel.

And that’s it. You’re good to go on the back-end of your Slack team. Now to work on the front-end and start thinking about how you’d like to organize your channels and private groups. That’s up next.