Slack Idea: Hierarchical Channels

2021-02-14 2 min read

    While there are a lot of strong opinions about Slack on both sides, it clearly changed the way work gets done. I’m mixed. I appreciate the ability to quickly drop a question or response asynchronous yet acknowledge how disruptive it is and prevents deep work.

    The one thing that I did notice in our usage of Slack is that quite often the same message ends up being posted across multiple channels due to relevance for multiple groups. Yet many members exist in both groups and the repetition is redundant and inefficient. What if Slack had a way to have hierarchical channels?

    A good example is geographic interest channels. We’re an international company with Slack channels for the different regions. Some are country specific while others are for a city or region. Something that’s posted in the US channel is likely relevant for all the cities and states in the US yet something that’s posted in a New York channel may only be relevant for those in New York. Yet New York is a subset of the US - it intuitively makes sense that you should be in the New York channel but then get updates that get posted to the US audience.

    The exact implementation would be rife with UX challenges to solve - ranging from how the hierarchy is visualized to knowing which channel the message is posted to and replied from and yet I feel there’s something here. And maybe this is me falling into the software engineer trap and attempting to just add structure to something that doesn’t warrant it. On the other hand I suspect it would lead to a tighter usage of Slack and lay the foundation for a new type of use case. In any case this would make a great interview problem for engineers, product managers, and designers.