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Slack

Slack is a chat client that provides us with a centralized way to communicate without overloading our inboxes. You can login online or download the desktop or mobile clients from the App Store.

This page overviews how to get setup with Slack at TTS and covers some best practices.

Getting started

Usage of TTS’s Slack

Slack is required for all TTS staff. Some things you’ll want to remember, especially if you’re new to Slack:

Shared channels

Slack offers a feature to create shared channels with other workspaces. Shared channels are a more efficient and economic way to work with people in other Slack workspaces than managing them in our Slack workspace as guests, especially when using multiple channels for a project. All records in shared channels are retained and available for Corporate Exports.

Guidance for using shared channels

When participating in shared channels, please keep in mind:

Likewise, when setting up shared channels, we will look to set these expectations with workspaces with which we connect:

If a shared channel does not produce good results, or causes a burden, we don’t need to continue it. That won’t be the end of our collaboration - just recognizing that a particular tool isn’t effective for achieving the results that we want. If the shared channel is with a private entity (contractor or vendor) we will not continue sharing a channel after the agreement covering our work elapses.

Requesting a new shared channel

When you are interested in a shared channel, please drop into #admins-slack to request it. Please specify if you want to use a new channel or want us to share an existing channel. Please also give us a heads up before partners send us a sharing request.

Public channels

TTS has specific channels in Slack that are open to the public to join. These channels end with -public. (Note: In Slack’s parlance, all channels in a workspace are either public, allowing any full member to find/join, or private. However, when we say “public channels” on this page, we mean channels open to all members of the public.)

Friends with .gov/.mil email addresses who aren’t collaborating on a project can be invited into public channels. Fill out the user request form.

Treat these public channels like you would a livestreamed event on GSA’s YouTube page or other type of public meeting open to guests. Materials and documents should not be shared only in public channels; instead, they should be published on TTS websites and then linked to from the public channels so that access to Slack isn’t required to see the document.

Members of the public must also comply with GSA standards and the TTS Code of Conduct.

For all shared and public channels, it’s not a good idea to invite people into a shared channel that aren’t there without a heads up. Instead, please DM them the link to an interesting message. Pulling them in without their consent (where others can @ or DM them) may not be fair to their schedule if they need to be heads down.

To invite people to a public Slack channel, send them to chat.18f.gov and have them select the appropriate channel from the drop-down. Note that these users are added as single-channel guests.

Add a new public channel

See the instructions.

Channel names

Channels focused on TTS practices have their own conventions:

Feel free to join any of these practice-focused groups even if you are not actively part of the group and are just interested.

Channels

See a list of other popular channels in the Slack @ TTS guide.

How to make an announcement in #news

Use #news for vital team announcements. #news is an announcement-only channel where only administrators can post. If you have a post you’d like to go up in #news:

Please keep #news posts limited to information that the entire team needs to know. This includes things like:

When to use @channel and @here

In general, the larger a channel is, the more careful you should be about using broadcast notifications.

Some channels may have particular guidance for getting help, which you can usually check in the channel status. Regardless, if you don’t have an urgent need or a message that everyone needs to see, try posting your message without a broadcast notification.

Frequently-used emoji

Emoji Meaning Backstory
:100: “This comment is 100% correct” or “I agree 100%”  
:check: “I did this” or “I verified it was done”  
:eyes: “I’m taking a look at this.” When followed by a ?, it’s “can you/someoneone take a look at this?”  
:facepalm: Disbelief, shame, or exasperation. KnowYourMeme
:kidding-foia: Since Slack records are retained and subject to FOIA requests, indicate to any potential future readers that this was a joke.  
:plus: “I agree”  
:point_up: “I would also say this.” Can mean “this is correct” if you are the decider.  
:question: “I don’t understand this” or “this needs follow-up”  
:raccoon: ==> #channel “Please consider moving this conversation to a different channel.” Slack
:raised_hand: “I volunteer”  
:raising_hand: “Have time for a question?” Keep in mind that many folks strongly prefer that you also add what your question is about so they can determine its urgency.  
:shipit: “Ship it”, “this is ready to go”, etc. GitHub
:thanks: A picture of Tom Hanks (T. Hanks -> thanks) used as a shortcut to say “thanks”  
:thumbsup: “Sounds good”  
:troll:/:trollcute: “I’m intentionally trolling you” or making a joke  

Integrations (apps, bots)

We have a few different bots you’ll see in Slack:

Learn more about some of our unique channel customizations and auto-responses in the Slack @ TTS guide.

If you’re interested in learning more about the bots, or perhaps contributing to them, pop into #bots.

New integrations

You can add new “configurations” of pre-approved integrations to Slack, for things like posting Trello or GitHub notifications to a Slack channel. You can also freely add new configurations for “Incoming WebHooks,” which is on a different page. For any new integration types, please follow the process below.

Integration request form

Note this is only necessary for new bots or types of integrations—approval is not needed for new “configurations” of a previously-approved App. The form should be filled out again if the nature of the connection changes, e.g. a webhook connection changes to using OAuth.

Before completing this form, you might need to research how the integration interacts with Slack. For example, does the integration have read access to channels or not? Reach out to #admins-slack and/or Slack support for help.

New integrations being built/hosted by GSA should be developed against the test Slack—ask in #admins-slack for access. When ready to be integrated into the TTS Slack, fill out the form.

Responses will be reviewed in this spreadsheet. Edit the form.

New integrations/bots need approval from the following:

Considerations:

Additional shortcuts

Groups

Slack Groups allow you to direct messages to a specific list of people in a more precise way than an @-channel or @-here. Any full member can view, create, and edit Slack groups at will.

Groups are a great way to alert people who might not be in a channel about something that needs their attention or make sure urgent incidents are directed to the right people and not an entire channel. For example, you can ping @github-admins in #admins-github if you have an urgent issue instead of using an @channel or use @federalist-team to alert that group of a conversation in another channel that we should see immediately.

Usage of other Slack workspaces

You may be invited to other Slack workspaces operated by government entities, or entities under contract to the government. You’re allowed to join those workspaces as necessary for your work. You should join those workspaces with your government email address and ensure your avatar and profile information are consistent across Slack workspaces. If you’re invited to Slack workspaces unrelated to your job, you must join those workspaces with a personal email address.

Alumni rules

Security

Slack is FedRAMP Authorized.

Connectivity issues

If you are having connectivity issues with Slack, see the Slack status site for more information, and move to Hangouts Chat or email.


Still have questions?

Ask in Slack: #admins-slack, #it-issues, #questions, #teamops