Thursday, February 15, 2024

Slack at 10

Elizabeth Lopatto:

That’s one reason why Slack, the workplace chat app that formally launched 10 years ago today, is so unusual. Slack was the rare piece of enterprise software that spread through word of mouth, because it was actually, you know, good.


Slack was not the only text-based communications software. Besides Skype chat and Gchat, there were also other startups: HipChat, Yammer, and Campfire. Slack tested out these products to see what didn’t work with them and discovered two things they could improve on: notifications and keeping a person’s place when they switched between mobile and desktop. That meant that even though Slack wasn’t doing head-to-head marketing — or indeed, any marketing at all — customers kept leaving other platforms and coming to Slack because it worked better.


Because so many people were using Slack in their work lives, some of its features started leaking out. For instance, Slack introduced emoji reactions — to reduce noise, people could just respond with a checkmark to show they’d read something. This spread from Slack back into consumer software. Tapbacks on iMessage feel like a response to Slack. Even Facebook, which had a like button, didn’t add other options until later. “I think we were the first to do it on a broad basis within the workplace,” Rodgers says. “We saw reactions show up everywhere within a couple years. I can remember one day opening GitHub of all things, and they had a reaction bar.”

Personally, I find Slack to be worse than forums and mailing lists.


15 Comments RSS · Twitter · Mastodon

worse than forums and mailing lists

For what use? Those two seem to more often be for delayed communication rather than real-time, the latter of which is (imo) where Slack shines.

Any thoughts on Discord being better or worse than Slack?

Slack is shit. Takes 4Gb or more of an 8Gb computer doing absolutely nothing. Constantly interrupts. Auto disconnects you if you stop typing, say to figure out something on paper. Expects everyone to be an adrenaline junkie or a "people person" who gets nothing done but is "so involved". I hate it. The parents of the people who made Slack should have learned about condoms and spared us their spawn. No, really.

I feel like I’m far more likely to forget a work-related request if it’s sent to me in Slack/Teams versus email, where it doesn’t disappear down the treadmill or messages if I don’t stop everything I’m doing to look at said request. Not a fan of Slack or its ilk at all. Happy birthday though I guess.

treadmill *of messages (thanks as always for nothing, autocorrect)

I find it maddening to have to be logged in to 25 Slack teams to avoid missing important information from various communities when a mailing list would do fine.

Kevin Schumacher

> Those two seem to more often be for delayed communication rather than real-time, the latter of which is (imo) where Slack shines.

I agree, that seems like very different use cases.

> Any thoughts on Discord being better or worse than Slack?

They both have their "quirks". Besides Slack's price tag, I feel like Discord does much better at integrating voice and video chat (probably because it was born as an app for communication while gaming). They also have kind of a bastardized version of forums built-in now. They only recently got channel threads, however, and their implementation is atrocious. It's also becoming monetized to the point where your reaction choices are limited by how much you pay them.

> where it doesn’t disappear down the treadmill or messages if I don’t stop everything I’m doing to look at said request

I understand that feeling, but I do like the feature that will remind you of a message at a date/time you set. I personally find it harder to keep track of things in my email inbox by comparison.

@Ruffin Much of what people use Slack for is not actually real-time.

@Old Unix Geek Totally feel you on the 4GB of memory to do nothing. Slack doesn't fundamentally do anything much more complicated than IRC was doing in 1990. But it's an inefficient web app taking way too much memory and CPU cycles in order to let you chat in a closed protocol. It's really awful this became the "standard" of software because we're so much worse off for it.

Anyone remember the days of Adium? When you could chat with anyone you wanted to in a nice looking, customizable, open source, native app? Wouldn't it be nice to have that again?

I like Slack at times, and I hate Slack at times, for the arguments outlined above.

But I don't get those that LOVE Slack. Me and a colleague floated the idea of replacing Slack with an open source chat thing, and some other colleagues strongly opposed on reflex.

I think (hope) they are better slack users than I, and take advantage of clever plugins etc. To me it's just the latest flavour of ICQ. Handy for quick short burst communication, absolute trashfire as a storage of knowledge.

I'd happily replace it with some opensource version, or Campfire, and I doubt it would have any large impact on me.

Matthias Welling

slightly related, a new blog of two early employees:


The parents of the people who made Slack should have learned about condoms and spared us their spawn. No, really.

Mmm, bit harsh, maybe? The same people gave us Nebula, which is so far the complete antithesis, and genuinely useful software, that it's kind of hard to imagine that it came from Slack. Sort of like how you just don't expect a product like VirtualBox to come from oracle. Just not natural. So I guess what I'm saying is, don't give up on human evolution yet. :)

@Bri With you on Adium! It wasn't perfect, but it was the closest thing there was to a universal and highly integrated chat app on Mac OS X. It should have been clear when Apple's Messages app dropped support for AIM and XMPP what sort of a world we were letting ourselves get suckered into. Alas, the allure of (holy imaginary) user experience at the cost of anything and everything else means that we'll be living with the dreadful consequences for a good while yet.

Forums? Mmm, nah. But Discourse redeems itself, a teeny-weeny little bit, by offering its "Mailing List Mode". I still want a proper mailing list manager in the fashion of older software like LISTSERV™ [1] or its clones like Majordomo2 though—seems everyone had the same idea to bridge the two and now all the web-based ones like Sympa and Mailman3 pretend (poorly) to be forums, even as forums pretend (poorly) to be mailing list managers. Still, I do find it to be the best and worst of all possible worlds, and its hard to argue with the utility. Slack? Just another void for messages to get lost in.

[1] LISTSERV is a registered trademark of L-Soft International, Inc. Eric Thomas really, really wants you to know that.

> Anyone remember the days of Adium?

Yes! I loved those days. One chat app to rule them all.

We skipped Slack because it costs too much, though I appreciate in this moment how Slack made crap we do use like Google Chat better. Emoji responses changed everything for us. One departments insists on using KakaoTalk because they are annoyed with the clutter of chat apps and refuse to budge. So, in this modern life, I need to watch two apps for work messages. Something like Adium seems like a pure crackpipe induced dream now ...

@Sebby: I did not know about Nebula. Sounds like it could be useful. Thanks! I'd be surprised if the people who wrote Nebula also wrote the Slack client (go versus js), so my over the top comment might not be a complete misfire ;-)

You all speak of Adium like it's gone.

You can still run it today (at least on 13.x, I haven't tried macOS Hyundai Sonata or whatever it's called). At least until they take away Rosetta again, but it shouldn't be too hard to recompile Adium.

You can also use Slack in an IRC client, see

I think Adium also has an IRC client in it too.

I personally never understood all the excitement over Slack. To me, it's a chat client, much like the others. Honestly I cannot think of anything that I think Slack does better than the others. It's not a game-changer. I find the GUI particularly noisy and irritating.

It reminds me of a lot of software these days—a lot of noise, nagging and activity...but not necessarily productivity. Oh and btw it's collecting your data. ;)

(Yeah, Adium is awesome.)

Leave a Comment