With over 220 channels and more than 15,000 people, the Write the Docs Slack can get noisy. Here is how I use Slack to navigate one of the best free tech writing resources around!

How I “do” Write the Docs Slack

☕ I open Slack first thing in the morning. I use Slack for my day job and for a number of open source projects, so this is where most of my work happens.

💻 I have it open all day. I close it when I want to concentrate.

🙉 I’m in about 30 channels and I keep most of them muted.

📰 I dip into #general when I have 20 minutes to spare. I’ll scroll backwards and see what folks are chatting about.

🕵️‍♀️ I use keywords to get notified when people mention topics I’m interested in.

The nuts and bolts

The Write the Docs Slack network is free to join, and is a wonderful space for connecting with like-minded people.

Write the Docs have a comprehensive explainer page about their use of Slack. It includes the signup form, the social guidelines, a channel guide, and stacks of other great info. Check it out!

Slack is a tool, and people use it differently. There is no right or wrong way to do it—make it work for you.

Check out the channels

You’re in. It’s noisy. Take a moment to browse the channels. Join a bunch, then mute a bunch.

Here’s my recommended approach:

  1. Geography - Join the channel for your geographic region(s).
  2. Products and processes - Join product-related channels for any tools you’re using (like flare or confluence or just plain doctools). Join process or methodology-related channels that jibe with your current workflow (like agile, docs-as-code, knowledge-management).
  3. Special interest - Join channels that are of professional interest, like lone-writer, managing-writers, style-guides, learn-tech-writing. Don’t forget job-posts-only if you’re looking for work.
  4. Human connection - Participate in non-work-related channels like watercooler, makers, pets, music, even flame-thrower🔥!

Lurking is not a dirty word

Actually “lurker” is a dirty word and we shouldn’t use it. But the behavior itself is fine. A lurker (otherwise known as “community member” 😁 or “vicarious learner”) tends to read rather than talk. The point is that it’s OKAY to read and never talk. The community is very welcoming and supportive, so it’s fine to use the Slack community to just hang out, read, and learn. When you’re ready to ask a question, the hive mind is ready (and friendly)!

We have great moderators, but remember to abide by the social guidelines.

Use keywords

Here’s a cool thing: you can specify keywords and get notified when they’re used—even in muted channels. For example, I’m interested in web3 and blockchain, and I have those set in Preferences > Notifications > My keywords. Whenever someone uses one of these keywords, I get a little badge icon and it’s highlighted in the chat.

Slack keyword preferences

Respect and enjoy the community

Thanks to the good folk at Write the Docs for providing a space for this great community to flourish.

If you’re new to Write the Docs, come along to a meetup or one of the conferences and start building some documentarian friendships today!

Image credits: Peeking owl photo by Saketh Upadhya on Unsplash.