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Guidelines for Rutgers IT Slack

The following guidelines apply to the use of Slack for Rutgers IT.

Joining Slack
Any member of Rutgers IT with a NetID, either from the Office of Information Technology or distributed IT, can request a Slack account and use it both to communicate directly with other Slack users in IT or to join channels that provide information about different topics.

General guidelines for Slack usage
Slack is a tool that lets IT employees from various departments and units across the university connect via chat message. There are “channels” (otherwise known as chatrooms) for information exchange, discussing central services, and casual conversation. If you have a question, ask it on a channel dedicated to the appropriate topic. If you can answer a question in your area of expertise, please do.

Slack is intended to be an informal way of communicating, so you don’t need to phrase a post the way you’d phrase an email to your boss, but all normal rules about treating your colleagues with respect, courtesy and professionalism do apply.

Channels and direct messages
Slack allows users to communicate in three ways:

  • Public channels: Anyone can join these channels, and all messages ever posted can be viewed by all members of the Rutgers IT Slack community. Browse the full list of public channels.
  • Private channels: Only members can post messages or view message history in these invitation-only channels. Private channels are invisible to non-members, so there is no way to know what private channels exist.
  • Direct messages (DM): These are one-to-one or small-group (up to nine) messages between specific individuals. DMs are best used as an alternative to casual emails where quick conversation is the objective.

Official and unofficial public channels
Some of the public Slack channels that Rutgers IT members can follow are official channels that are used by service owners as a platform to make announcements and/or provide support to users with questions. Most public Slack channels, however, are unofficial venues for discussion about a particular topic. Service owners may or may not see posts, and posted questions may or may not receive answers. View a listing of official channels.

Naming channels
If your channel is designed to provide alerts about a particular product, we ask that you use alerts- as a prefix in your name. A channel designed to provide alerts about Zoom should thus be named #alerts-zoom.

If your channel is designed for something else, just convey the topic as clearly as you can in 80 characters or less.

Descriptions of channels
When you create a public Slack channel, please write a description that both explains the topic and conveys whether the channel is intended to be official or unofficial. Here are some description templates to help guide you, but you can adjust them as accuracy demands:

Official channels (i.e., ones used by service owners to provide official support or updates)
This channel is used by OIT staff to provide support and occasional service updates about [SERVICE NAME]. The channel is typically monitored on weekdays from [TIME] to [TIME].

Unofficial channels
This channel is intended for informal communications about [SERVICE NAME]. Service owners don’t monitor this channel regularly or provide support via this channel. To get support, please [indicate webpage or email address].

Dormant channels
In order to keep the total number of public Slack channels browsable and prevent people from asking questions on a dormant forum, public Slack channels that go unused for long periods of time are periodically deleted.

Automated messages
Automated messages within Slack should be used as reminders about whether a channel is official or not, and/or how to get support.

Advanced Slack usage
Slack maintains a large library of tutorial texts and videos that will help you do more with the software. The best place for beginners to start is probably the How to use Slack page. Power users might want to check out these tutorials on advanced features.