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Slack guidelines

Back to Slack page

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.

See the Slack @ TTS guide to learn about our unique uses, bots and 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, ask in #outreach.

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

  • Major events impacting all of TTS or a TTS Business unit
  • Required trainings
  • Necessary security and compliance actions
  • Policy changes or reminders
  • All-team events
  • Senior management team meeting notes
  • Changes or actions that impact the entire team

Frequently-used emoji

Emoji Meaning Backstory
:100: “This comment is 100% correct” or “I agree 100%”  
:angel: “Yay, a meeting was cancelled!” “Every time a meeting is cancelled, an angel gets its wings.”
: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  

Usage tips

  • Add yourself to our custom emoji. Add your profile picture as a custom emoji with your name as the alias (“first-last”). This allows the whole TTS community to celebrate your contributions and serves as your introduction to our prolific custom emoji database. Post your emoji (and any other custom emoji you add) to the #emoji-showcase channel.
  • The advanced settings section provides an option for only showing channels that have unread messages. This is useful if you’re a member of a lot of channels.
  • Click the timestamp on any message to go to the archival view of it. This is helpful if you’d like to cross-post a link to a message in another channel.
  • If you’re interested in tracking specific keywords across Slack, set up highlight word notifications.
  • Feel free to pop in and out of channels. You can /mute channels (so you only receive messages when your name or @channel is mentioned) or leave channels if they become overwhelming.
  • Subscribing a channel to an RSS feed
  • You can use Slack as an archival system. It has a powerful search feature and you can search specific channels or conversations. For instance, if you have a question about a specific healthcare plan, search for that in Slack before asking.
  • You can also search by tagged emoji. To see all messages tagged with a particular emoji, search Slack for has: (for example has::evergreen_tree:).
  • Set Slack boundaries when you need to be heads-down by setting your status to Away. If you use Slack on mobile, you can prevent direct messages and mentions from pinging you when you’re not working. Just set your phone to Do Not Disturb mode or temporarily turn off notifications from the Slack app. Don’t worry — though we have different schedules and may message each other at strange times, there’s no expectation for people to respond when they’re not working.
  • Praise your coworkers. If you’d like to praise someone for doing good work, start a message with love @username or :heart: @username in #general-talk, or any channel in which Charlie is present. You can also see recent praise in #love.
  • Use text encoding when pasting a large chunk of text. Use the + sign to the left of the text box to create a snippet. There will be an option to select how you would like to encode the text; select plain text to avoid smart quotes, if you’re pasting code.
  • Change your color scheme. You can change your color scheme by going to Preferences –> Theme –> Custom Theme. Paste the following for the US Design Standards theme: #112E51,#205493,#0071BC,#FFFFFF,#323A45,#FFFFFF,#4AA564,#981B1E
  • Screen-sharing tip: If you want notifications to stop showing up so people don’t see them, hover over the Notification Center icon in the top right corner of your screen and Option + click on it. Repeat that to turn notifications back on.

Additional shortcuts


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.

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.