Hi. I am wondering how Slack (Communication Software) is used by teams. I was recently at a roundtable with a few other teams and all of the teams besides mine talked about using Slack. I am wondering if it is beneficial to teams, and what ways teams are using it. I am hoping to learn if Slack is something I will consider implementing next build season. I currently have downloaded the free version to play around and learn the ins and outs of it, so I am also asking if the paid version is necessary for effectiveness.
My team uses slack. To effectively use it, you need to compartmentalize. Create an announcements channel, and maybe a “random” channel for off topic talking. Then create private channels for sub teams, mentors only, student leadership, etc. Creating groups is good too, as you can @ a subteam in any other chat and they will all be notified
On my old FRC team we used slack for all team communication and sometimes document sharing. We created dedicated channels for subteams (build, CAD, etc.), mentors, competition and had a general and random channel for all unrelated robotics talk. You can also make channels private so only certain people can access them (mentor channel).
The benefit to Slack is that it supports a lot of 3rd party app integrations that are available on the app. There are scheduling apps that give you reminders on meetings, due dates etc. There are apps that allow you to send polls and receive responses (may seem simple but the app is super effective).
Another added benefit is just simply being able to see who’s online at a given time. This may sound useless but trust me, I found this extremely useful.
Tl;DR Slack is a really useful and efficient way to communicate with team members and IMO is an extremely useful tool for the Build Season.
Thanks for the advice. Now can I ask what you use slack for besides announcements? Do you use it as a GroupMe type of thing for each channel?
Subteams use it to coordinate. Random is used for general conversation as well ask asking questions to mentors. We also have a channel for students that have 3d printers, so they can coordinate distribution of parts if we make them. I know our mentors and student leadership use it a lot to stay coordinated.
We create a channel for every event we attend, and important information for that event is sent there. Where to meet, what time to be where, and we use it to find missing people and summon them to the pit for judges or inspection and such
Can you do all of that with the free version of Slack or would I need to purchase one of the paid versions of Slack?
You should be able to utilize the free version. I am not sure if our team pays for it. You can start with the free plan and if it doesn’t meet your needs, upgrade later
The only issue with the free version that we ran into was storage issues. Old messages would be autodeleated for space.
Yup, everything there is available in the free version.
We use the free version of slack and have sent over 430k messages, and slack does only allow you to see the last 10k you sent, but that doesn’t seem to be a problem for us. As for the file storage limit that you run into when you’re on the free plan, we have found that slack doesn’t enforce it at all (we have had over 20gb of files where the limit is supposed to be 5gb).
Otherwise, one piece of advice I would give is to make your sub-team channels public. We have found that this increases transparency and sparks a lot of good discussion with other team members not typically a part of the discussion.
Another good thing that we just started to do this year is to have an “updates” channel, where leadership would post progress on the robot during the season, or awards presentation progress, etc. We found that really engages new members who don’t necessarily attend all of the meetings.
Looking at the website for Slack, it looks very similar to Discord. What differences between Slack and Discord could have a useful FRC application. We currently just moved to a discord server and I am wondering what the possible pros and cons would be to switching to Slack or staying with Discord.
Slack has threads and channels that aren’t private but that anyone can join if they want (Slack users must manually join or be manually invited to any non-default channel). Slack is in general much more compartmentalized that Discord
We just started using it. I let the student leadership play with it, to see if there are any pitfalls.
It’s very easy and very similar to Discourse, without the fee structure. Discourse provides teachers with an 85% discount, but $15.00 per month gets expensive for a small team.
We also use Remind, for those short, but important messages.
The main advantage I’ve heard teams describe in choosing Slack over Discord is that students take Slack more seriously than Discord if they’re used to more casual Discord servers where people just post memes and stuff.
Personally, I would rather use Discord over Slack for role management and voice channels, though.
Is there any sort of role management/moderation features within slack that are similar to Discord?
Remind vs Slack
Is Slack really a better communication system than Remind?
It sounds like Slack does the same thing- messages to your phone. Not emails or anything.
Currently using FB messenger and Classroom.
Our lead mentor uses remind to send messages to the whole team, while the rest of the team uses discord to talk amongst ourselves and set up meetings for individual subteams.
As of now my team has a Remind but we barely use it. We prefer using GroupMe so there can be conversations and not just announcements, and hopefully maybe next year Slack if we can figure out if it will work for us.
1102 used Slack initially…but you will find you run out of messages real quick on the free plan. So any historical records you want to search back through will be inaccessible without paying.
Discord has been a good alternative. I find the management interfaces are easier to use. Plus I have my arsenal of Discord Nitro emojis :^)
We sort our channels into subteam groups and it helps keep conversation organized.