IM - DOs and DON'Ts

TLDR: Please use email.

Some people seem to exhibit very particular, quite annoying habits when contacting me over IM. If you've received this link as a reply to your message, there's a chance you're one of them. I have nothing against you personally, however let me explain...

Is it on fire?

Please always take at least 30 seconds to assess the urgency of the situation and classify it as either "on fire" or "not on fire".

If it's not on fire, there's a chance I'm in the middle of putting out another fire. (Or perhaps just sleeping^W working.)

(Tip: Unless you see actual flames, it's not on fire.)

Are you there?

[11:34:42] you: hi kamil
[11:56:29] you: are you there?

Maybe. Maybe I'm not. You know, you can just write exactly what you need from me, and I will write you back with an actual answer as soon as I see your message. Which can be in 30 seconds or in 30 minutes - but that's as soon as I see it.

Away means away. Busy means busy.

Pay attention to the little icon next to my contact name. It gives you a really great general hint of whether I'm available for chatting. To rehash:

If I'm busy, and you use email, I guarantee you that I will eventually read it, at a time that's best for me - and also best for you, because you do deserve my full attention! Just perhaps not right now.

If you randomly demand my full attention on IM while I can't give it to you - you just kill my flow and you do a disservice to both of us.

Chatrooms - need my attention? Mention my name!

Some group chats are idle most of the time, others are pretty busy almost non stop. I can't follow everything and I don't - I just turn off notifications, and skim over the chat history every hour or so.

If you need me to actively join the discussion, just mention my name. This will trigger a notification and draw my full attention. Don't do this unless you actually need my input.

Creating rooms like crazy

It's really counter-productive to create a new sub-chatroom to discuss every new minor issue, or each time you feel like changing the topic.

  1. You create a mess.
    • Before long there's going to be a dozen chatrooms, most of the participants will be the same between them.
    • Where do I go to mention a new issue? Start another room and multiply the mess?
    • I need to set up notification settings for each new room separately, this often means I get some random notifications that disturb my flow.
  2. The topic is usually closely tied to the project.
    • You leave some project members out of the discussion - which means they will have to be eventually updated anyway, when you realise they actually are interested and do have valuable input.
  3. It's much more difficult to find anything in the chat history.
    • I have to go over several rooms and dig deep in the chat history to look for a specific thing.
    • I usually leave the room as soon as the issue is resolved, to keep my roster clean - which means the archive is as good as lost forever.

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