Sara's toolbox


Slack effects & layoffs

Last month, I was laid off (more info). 2 days after my 5-year anniversary, no less! :persevere:

But what I’m interested in today is what happened before I was laid off. Or… while I was being laid off? Ugh, whichever.

My last team made heavy, heavy use of Slack’s integrations; in fact, we had a channel (#flex-team-bots!) just for Github and CI-related (continuous integration) messages. New pull request? Message! Build failed on x server? Message!

All of that would have been 150% overwhelming in our regular channel, but siloed this way they were easy to consume as needed.

The morning of the layoffs, right as DM conversations about layoffs fired up, I noticed a bunch of integrations in multiple channels disappearing. So-and-so deleted an integration in this channel: Github

After a handful of these, I @-messaged the person whose name paired with the delete messages, asking if he was auditing integrations or what.

Right about then, Mike Evans DM’d me to point out that when a Slack account is deleted… any integrations that account setup are deleted as well.

Oh. Ooooh. Oh, fuck.

So, tl;dr: the Slack account responsible for deleting is the account used in automated messages to the channels/people specified by a given integration.

A few thoughts…

  1. I don’t imagine anyone expected automated messages to act as a coal mine canary, my goal here isn’t to wag a finger at Slack, I just wanted to point this out.

    Knowing is half the battle…?
  2. In this situation, the person responsible for deleting might not enjoy having to do it but the way Slack seems to be set up, that person ends up the face of it (who knows how many DMs and @’s he got that day…  :confused: ).

    Maybe slackbot could “send” these messages?
  3. Because the automated messages don’t provide any detail beyond their app (Github, New Relic, etc.) there’s no way to know which integration was deleted. It might have been really important and useful, but once the dust settles and people realize it’s missing, it’s a guessing game about how to get it back.

    An integration archive might be useful here?
    [integration app] [channel destination] [settings] [dates]

Anil Dash talks about humane tech and my friend (and former coworker!) Ernie Miller talks about humane development and these layoffs functioned, for me, as a practical demonstration of how and why humane tech & development are important.