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Cover image for Slack: You don't have to reply so fast

Slack: You don't have to reply so fast

anevins12 profile image Andrew Nevins ・2 min read

When we see a new message on Slack, some of us have the urge to reply immediately even though we haven't thought of the full answer. That's fine and natural, and why Slack is great for conversations, but sometimes it can become a frustrating habit when things we say are half-baked. Especially when someone challenges you on the comment, at which point I've found myself deleting the comment because it wasn't thought-out or I've misread the question.

It's also fine to tell yourself to slow down and take a break, but for some of us taking the time to stop and reflect is trickier than it sounds. I'd rather if there was some mechanism that told me to slow down.

That's why I developed this Tampermonkey script named 'Slack cool-down' (requires the Tampermonkey browser extension).

What it does:
1) Adds a button to Slack with the text "Cool-down replies"
2) Pressing the button then disables the comment box inside threads
3) Pressing the button again enables the comment box

A demonstration is also available on YouTube.

That's all, it's just a self-regulating tool that helps some of us take a breather when we're getting caught up in the world of Slack.

Disclaimers:

  • [Env] I have only tested this on Chrome
  • [Env] This is only usuable on the Slack Web interface (slack.com)
  • [Env] This has been developed with the use of 'Tampermonkey' as the browser extension that runs it
  • [A11y] The DOM position of the cool-down button is at the bottom, but it should be inside the thread header. The problem is, this thread header doesn't exists when the JS is executed and I couldn't find a decent way of waiting for it to exist.
  • [A11y] There's a big problem in the focus experience. If you were to press the cool-down button, you'd then have to trawl back to where you were and then trawl back again when you want to turn the cool-down off
  • [A11y] The text "Take a break" is implemented in the CSS 'content' property and won't be supported in all browser screen-reader combination
  • [A11y] The way the comment field is disabled is not semantic. The comment field just has an opacity style with the text laid on top to visually-disable the field. This won't work for assistive tech.

Posted on by:

anevins12 profile

Andrew Nevins

@anevins12

Accessibility advocate

Discussion

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I think it's related to FOMO. There is a very interesting read from basecamp on the topic here.

 

That's a great article thank you Michael, I wasn't aware of that before. I've been using Slack as a means to keep up-to-date with a community in my spare time, but the negative points definitely relate to things I've experienced.

 

Yes! Those "negatives" of chat are so spot-on! VERY interesting to see it laid out like that, thanks for posting that here!

 

This basecamp article is fantastic, thanks

 

Sometimes the reflexive "answer before someone else does" is because there might be someone(s) in the channel who tends to be both quick to reply and doesn't tend to bother to ask clarifying questions before throwing out an answer. It's the whole "I need to say something lest the asker get lead down the wrong path and I have an even bigger mess to clean up."

 

That's a good point Thomas thanks for the insight

 

Really glad to come across this - thanks so much for writing it! I am so guilty of this. I see a message and want to dive in to answer/help straight away. But you're right, it would behoove me to take the time to get that full answer ready before diving in. Thanks for this food for thought!

 

I appreciate the honesty and thank you for reading. When I wrote this with reference to "some of us", that was just a hope that it wouldn't have been a me-only problem

 

There is a proven technology called email, people. Asynchronous communication gives people time to think and write thoughtful responses.