Ping Etiquette

Hi, this is Steve, your resident Basecamp/Jason Fried fanboy. In case you haven’t read any of my previous posts on these subjects (here, here and here), Jason is the founder and CEO of Basecamp, which is a project management tool that we’ve used here at Block Club for years.

I’m always on the lookout for any interviews, podcasts or articles that Jason puts out, as the content is always informative and I walk away learning something new.

A recent post on Basecamp’s company blog Signal v. Noise talked about the problems surrounding pings, or IMs, in Basecamp 3. That is, the ability to send an instant message to someone on your team, which can be a helpful way to get ahold of someone, but also a forceful interruption.

Like many other companies, we use Slack here at Block Club. It’s been a great asset to collect quick feedback, follow up on something without a call or an email and blow off some steam. But with most nice things, there can be downsides. With Slack or IMs in general, you run the risk of disrupting your teammates and affecting their work. Jason suggests that you can avoid this by making sure your messages are quick, to the point and make the ask in the first message. Don’t send a message that simply states “Hey” or “Are you there?” as that’s the equivalent of sending an email with those same subject lines and nothing else. Here’s a great example from the post on what to avoid and what to do instead:

Instead of…
Me: Ping.
You: What’s up?
Me: Got time to catch up today at 3:30 p.m?
You: Sure.
Me: How’s team room 2?
You: Perfect, see you then.

You’d send…
Me: Got time to catch up today at 3:30 p.m. to review the latest breadcrumb design?
You: Yup, how’s team room 2?
Me: Perfect, see you then.

Make sure your direct message or IM gets to the ask right away so that you and your colleague can both get back to work as quickly as possible.

Tags: , , ,