OT: Slack discussions

Honored Contributor

I've been trying to use Slack to supplement the JAMFNation discussions but I just don't get it. It's a flowing stream of consciousness in chatrooms. In order to "get" the discussion, you have to digest the entire conversation starting with the beginning... if you can find the beginning of that particular stream. Like any chatroom format, there can be 10 different conversations at the same time and can be impossible to discern who is talking to whom unless you are constantly monitoring every message that comes in.

I've tried searches for specific information within the chats but search doesn't appear to work on the iOS Slack app - it either turns up empty results even if I know for a fact the search term exists or the app just crashes. And I've never been able to search for anything via the web interface either.

What am I missing? How is Slack helpful if you can't stare at the screen and monitor all the conversations simultaneously in real time? Posted discussions like JAMFNation are great because they (usually) keep the discussions very focused on just the specific topic at hand. If the topic runs its course and a solution is provided, it stays there for anyone to find.. along with the relevant discussion focused on that topic alone. And if a year from now someone is looking for that solution, they can search the entire board for an error or symptom and get only the info they need (usually). The microsoft-office channel in Slack where the MS engineer guy has setup shop is great but it has the potential of mixing any and every Office problem into a jumble:

Q1: I'm getting an error 43 when I click a thing in Excel. How do I fix it?
Q2: Word crashes when I do this entirely different and unrelated sequence of events. how do i fix it?
A: delete the blah.plist file
Q1 & Q2: is that for my problem or the other guy?

I'm not saying Slack is garbage. I'd really like to use it since there's a lot of jamf and non-jamf talk going on over there, but I can't find my way through it all. What am I missing?


New Contributor

it's basically IRC -- it's not a message board with static questions and answers, it's active discussion... you are communicating in real time with someone and typically you would @mention a person to get their attention, or just pay attention to the conversations at hand. if something is unclear (like your example) - just ask.

it's just a different way of doing things, with active fluid conversation... it's not meant to be a message board where you can post something, leave for 2 hours and come back to find replies.

imagine you're standing with a group of people, you ask them a question and then you walk away... same thing. except you can scroll up if you want to refer back.

i don't think it's meant to be used quite like you expect.

New Contributor

(and for the record, re: your example, that probably applies to both :P)

Honored Contributor II
Honored Contributor II

Personally I like slack for the community feel and to post up opinion questions like "I'm thinking of doing XYZ, what do you all think?" and getting a load of instant feedback.

I wouldn't refer back to it, as @justin said, its like a conversation with people.

jamfnation seems more like post and wait for a response. Plus really good for searching old threads.

Contributor III

Its just a more popular version of IRC, instead of maybe the 100 or so admins that used to hang out in ##osx-server, now there is literally thousands who hang out in slack

agreed its a conversation. its not q & a

the conversation might result in an answer however, and because it is a discussion the question and answer are often easier and quicker to come by as ideas can be discounted or new ideas thought of and discussed immediately rather than a conversation taking days of back and forth it can be brought to a point very quickly.

important information that has been discussed in channels is often pinned to a channel and can be reviewed

I recommend you get the os x app

I monitor multiple channels, and slack keeps a history of the channel messages since your last visit. so you can scan through them if you like.

It can be pretty busy in some of the popular channels though.

I find the search on the os x app to be quite good

Honored Contributor

Ah, that explains it. I never really got IRC either.

Honored Contributor

It's a lot fo fun, useful, and maddening. Ask a question - but don't pee or get coffee as there will likely be 20 more questions asked and in turn answered by @bentoms and @mm2270 :)
I think it's best for chatting and quick in/out stuff. Unless you're on a channel that is slow...a good addition to, but not a replacement for JN.

Contributor II

I guess I'm old because I don't really do iRC or Slack.....I do miss gopher though....there was a great system.

Legendary Contributor II

@scottb If you've been seeing answers posted by a @mm2270 on the Slack channel, they are an imposter, because I'm actually not on there. :)
I feel similarly to @AVmcclint on this. Maybe I'm just moving into my "old fart" age, but I don't really like IRC type boards. I know some of you say its like a conversation, but my feeling is, its really not. In the 'real world' when meeting a bunch of folks for a conversation, there is a logical back and forth. Someone speaks and other people (mostly, hopefully) stop and listen. And then someone else can talk, so others can listen and ingest the information. IRC communications don't really work this way. Its more like a room full of people all talking at the same time, so its a bit confusing and bewildering if you ask me. I know its popular and has its uses, but I'm not a particularly big fan of it myself. It also seems to lend itself better to those who can type fast and come up with quick one off short sentences, rather than well thought out reasoned responses, the latter of which I prefer over the former. But hey, that's just me.

And, I probably will join up at some point so I can be a part of it in some way. Just haven't done it yet.

Contributor III

I agree with what @mm2270 & @AVmcclint have said. I have tried a few times to use Slack....and got a headache. I'm glad others like it and find it useful, and it's great that someone from Microsoft is engaging with Mac Admins somewhere.

I'm sure I'll try again sometime, but it has felt like a time suck to me so far. I feel much more productive when I'm reading a @mm2270 answer on JAMF Nation or a blog post from the many great Mac Admin bloggers.

Honored Contributor

I'm glad I'm not the only one. I know I've been doing tech support in various levels for 20+ years and I can be cantankerous and crotchety about the way we used to do things "back in my day". I was worried that this new-fangled Slack thing was the way "the kids" are doing tech support these days and I was out of touch.

New Contributor III

Is the JAMF Nation channel public? I haven't heard of it until now.

Honored Contributor

Sorry @mm2270 - was meaning @rtrouton. My bad. See, it's all too fast :) Or I'm too old.

Honored Contributor

@AVmcclint - It seems to be a younger crowd, so you may be right. I think it depends on my mood, work load, and the topic. Just another tool.

Honored Contributor II
Honored Contributor II

@VT-Vincent go to macadmins.org and ask for an invite to that Slack. Then once in you'll find all sorts of lovely channels, like #jamfnation, #meetups, #general, and so on.

Contributor II

I agree with @AVmcclint , and @mm2270 . I tried it earlier this week to get some answers about the MS Office 2016 VL serial issue because people on JAMFNation discussions have been saying, "All the answers are on the Slack, blah blah..."

I log in there, and IRC immediately came to mind. I just don't have time to scroll up to the beginning and figure out the entire thread. I did get a couple of questions answered. As nice as people on there are (I did recognize many JAMFNation users), it just requires a bit too much monitoring.

Plus, it's confusing. It's a pretty face on IRC, but it's not easy to figure out.

Contributor II

Yep - had a look - waste of time..

JamfNations 'thread-based' is far better..

Esteemed Contributor II

Slack = AOL Chat Room


Honored Contributor II

Just like JAMF Nation, the MacAdmins team on Slack is a community. Folks engage with communities differently and not everyone engages with all communities. Nothing wrong with that.

I'm surprised at myself for engaging so easily with Slack because I didn't engage well with the IRC community. That may be because Slack is far more accessible and easier to understand than IRC, but the basic concept is pretty much the same. It's live conversation in a houseful of rooms populated with folks interested in discussion.

Every community will have its benefits and there will be Marco Polos out there who travel between them and take ideas back and forth. Don't worry that you're missing anything important. From what I see, information is getting through both here and there.

Honored Contributor III
Honored Contributor III

The MacAdmins slack is meant to compliment places like here.

Many times in the #jamfnation channel I've seen people post something in relation to a thread here, then they comment & post back here.

It's a bit more social, as allows for banter between questions & I don't think the age of crowd is any different to here.

Nearly 2,500 people have signed up, which is madness.

As for keeping up with the conversations, always better to mention the person you're addressing during the conversation (via @username). Else it's a little like shouting in a crowded bar.

I really like the dedicated channels & ability to gather opinions from people not using the Casper Suite. Sometimes we're all working towards the same issue, & seeing others input is invaluable.

Seems like vendors are taking note too, with people from Apple, Microsoft, Adobe, CrashPlan, Watchman Monitoring etc all there.

I'd say, try it.. If it doesn't work for you... Don't completely dismiss it. Try it again later.

Valued Contributor II

I have to admit it was quite good during the JNUC despite being rather bloated.