Illustration: Nick Little

The Forge Guide to Slack, Email, and Video Calls

The Secret to Better Slacking Is a Feature That Everyone Hates

Threads can be annoying. Here’s why you should use them anyway.

Will Oremus
Published in
6 min readSep 18, 2019


SSlack, the workplace chat app that dominates office culture at hundreds of thousands of organizations, embodies Atari founder Nolan Bushnell’s famous principle of game design: easy to learn, hard to master. That’s fitting, since it was originally built as part of a game called Glitch.

But if Slack is a game, it isn’t the kind that an individual can win. It’s fundamentally collaborative, and success is defined by group objectives like productive communication, respectful interactions, and the collective construction of an online office culture that people want to be a part of. You can “win the internet” with a viral joke or stunt, but you can’t win Slack by piling up killer ideas or one-liners. If anything, dominating the conversation is a way to lose Slack: It can intimidate, alienate, or just plain annoy your colleagues. Slack is won, if at all, by an accumulation of good ideas, helpful comments, polite practices, and small kindnesses — and, sure, good-natured wisecracks, if that’s your thing.

A central problem of Slack, then, is how to balance the goals of free-flowing ideas…