March 18, 2021

Slack as a resource

My friend Kevin posted some good points about email vs Slack and how Slack fails at being a good medium for business communication. I agree with all of his points, but I do think Kevin misses one important feature of Slack that, for me, still makes it a better default choice: search.

Kevin and I happen to be coworkers, on the same team at the same BigCo. As engineers, we have to grapple with a ton of complexity in various procedures, policies, infrastructure tools, etc. Slack search is by far the best way to get help with problems I run into. There’s a ton of institutional knowledge in Slack threads, which is generally much more accurate and up-to-date than documentation. If every bit of communication between teams happened over email, my job would be a lot harder.

You might say that this just exposes a problem with how documentation is treated, and that this could be fixed with better policies or better tools to manage it. Perhaps. I tend to think that good documentation is the exception to the rule. In the meantime, I’m selfishly going to hope that most other people at the company use Slack, so I can benefit.

That all said, I agree that the culture of reaching for a DM instead of an email to get work done is generally bad.