Quick Start Guide for Slack#

Welcome to the community Slack group: a place for you to network, collaborate, exchanges resources and share ideas with others in the community.

Table of content

  1. Configuring your account

  2. Notification settings

  3. Communicating with others

1. Configuring your account#


  • Your username – please use a name by which others will be able to identify you. Your email address is visible to others.

  • Your avatar – please add a profile picture or other identifier that you’re comfortable with so that others can associate your posts with you more easily.

  • Your time zone – this determines when Slack will notify you and can also help others know whether it’s a reasonable time of day to get in touch.

Here is a guide to help you edit your profile.


Status updates can be a useful way to let others know your availability as your status will be visible to everyone in the Slack group.

To update your status, click your name in the top left of the screen and select update status. You can select when you want your status update to be removed by stipulating a timeframe from the “clear after” dropdown. You can clear a status update at any time by clicking on your name and selecting clear status from the dropdown.

2. Channel and Notification settings#

How to find, join and create channels#

By default, you’re automatically added to the main channels that everyone belongs to (for example, #general, #welcome, #introductions & #random).

You will be able to create additional channels to facilitate structured conversation. You are free to create as many channels as you would like. However, channels dedicated to projects should be made public (not private) so people can collaborate or help you.

Configure your notifications#

Slack notifications are great, but they may bother you when you try to focus on your project. There are a lot of options for you to determine how and when you are informed about content – and at what level of granularity.

For the overall group#

  1. Click on your name at the top left of the page and select “preferences” from the dropdown

  2. In the Notifications section you have options which include:

    • Set times when you do not want to be disturbed by notifications

    • Enable desktop notifications

    • Choose to be alerted when certain keywords are mentioned

Channel by channel#

  1. When you’re in a channel, click the “i” icon at the top right. Choose “more” and then click “notifications.”

    • Here you have the option to ignore any @channel messages, or mute the channel entirely.

Following a specific thread#

If another group member posts something of particular interest you can choose to follow that thread. Find how to reply in thread in Section 3.

  1. Click the ellipsis (three dots) to the right of the original post and select “follow message” from the dropdown.

Getting a reminder about a specific thread#

You additionally have the option to be reminded about a thread at a more convenient time. From the ellipsis to the right of the original post select “remind me about this” from the dropdown and choose a timeframe.

Muting or leaving channels#

If a channel has become too noisy, you can additionally:

  • Mute it: When you’re in a channel, click the “i” icon at the top right. Choose “more” and then choose “mute” from the dropdown.

  • Leave it: When you’re in a channel, click the “i” icon at the top right. Choose “more” and then choose “leave” from the dropdown.

3. Communicating with others#


Use threads to continue conversations#

  • When someone posts a brand new item in a channel, anyone in the channel can reply directly to it, creating a thread. Threads allow separate conversations to take place in the group without confusion – and for members to choose which of those conversations to follow more closely.

  • To add a comment to a thread, click the :left_speech_bubble: to the right of an existing post.

Use @channel, @here and other handles sparingly#

  • If you type @channel or @here or other general handles (@participants or @instructors, & @admin) in a post or comment that will send a notification to everyone in that channel. Please use this only for items that really do need everyone’s attention.

Respect the context of this shared space#

  • We want it to be somewhere where learning can happen in a supportive, safe environment.

  • Please DO NOT take conversations out of context and copy/paste them elsewhere without the permission of all the individuals who posted.

Not all communications will be synchronous#

  • While IM-based conversations can feel very immediate, please don’t feel that you have to respond to messages immediately, nor expect others to respond immediately. We’re all busy, really busy!

Message Editing & Deletion#

  • You are allowed to edit your messages at any time. That means if you edit a message after someone replied to it, make it clear that you edited something if it changes the meaning of your message. See the example in the GIF below.


It can be helpful to others when you’re sharing resources and brainstorming solutions to “work out loud” in a specific thread because then your learning becomes a future resource for others, too.

However, sometimes you want to start a private conversation. To do this, go to the direct messages (DM) section on the bottom left of the left-hand side bar. Click the + icon to start a new message. You can add more than one recipient to create a group message.

Direct message when necessary#

You may feel tempted to use DM instead of asking questions in dedicated channels. If an instructor believes others will benefit from the answer, they will probably encourage you to ask your question in the appropriate channel. If you have a question, others likely have the same one, we are all learning from each other.

That said, DM are useful to discuss privately with other people (one or many) and you don’t want to flood a channel.

Sending files#

Yes, you can send files (< 1 GB) in public channels and in direct messages. See this how to guide for help.


The Slack section was adapted from a resource by BrainHackMTL and the Center for Scientific Collaboration and Community Engagement (CSCCE) under a CC BY 4.0 license: 10.5281/zenodo.3763730.

Licensed under a CC BY 4.0 license.