OLS Slack Guidelines

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Scroll down for the ‘Part 2: Quick Start Guide’ if you have not used Slack before.

First and foremost, Welcome! 🎉 Willkommen! 🎊 Bienvenue! 🙏 सुस्वागत (Suswagat)🎈🎈🎈

This document (the Slack Guide) will give you some information about how to use the Slack workspaces maintained by the OLS team.

The community participation guideline and Code of Conduct of OLS apply to all our community interactions, including the Slack workspace, which is our most important communications channel along with the mailing list and cohort-related calls. Please make sure you have read this document along with the Code of Conduct procedures and understand how they apply to your participation in OLS.

Find all the information about our community and projects at https://openlifesci.org/.

Part 1: OLS Slack Participation Guideline

All members of OLS – OLS team: directors, paid staff, resident fellows; and OLS cohort participants: mentors, mentees, experts, speakers, facilitators and trainers are invited to join this Slack space. All members are invited to join the Slack workspace and are sent a private joining link via email when being onboarded to the OLS community.

We want to ensure a safe and welcoming environment for all our cohort members. We want to provide community spaces, including the Slack workspace, where everyone understands and respects the OLS values.

To ensure that each of us holds respect and a shared sense of responsibility towards each other in our community, we have created pathways for purposeful participation in OLS, including the Slack workspace.

There are typically two ways to be onboarded in the OLS workspace:

  • You are part of the OLS team
  • You have previously participated or will participate in an OLS cohort

We ask each member to identify the role they take in the OLS cohort and community and understand their responsibilities as listed on the OLS webpage.

If you would like to invite someone who has not previously participated in any of the previous capacities, there are two ways to involve them:

  • If they are already open science practitioners, please let the OLS team know so that they can invite them as an expert for the current (ongoing) cohort
  • If they want to learn about open science, you can share the announcement mailing list, where we will send an announcement for the application call for the next cohort.

OLS Slack Channels

Here is a list of default Slack Channels that you will join automatically:

  • #hello-namaste-bonjour: This channel uses a greetbot to welcome each member with some pleasant greetings generated by the bot.
  • #introductions: All members are invited to introduce themselves in this channel by sharing a few words about themselves and their work.
  • #announcements: This channel is used for sharing announcements as well as sending a reminder of OLS events
  • #general: This is a primary channel where information and announcement relevant to all OLS members are shared.
  • #random: This is a ‘break’ channel where you can share anything that is not directly relevant for the OLS members, including a funny picture of your pets and posts related to pop culture. This is likely the most famous channel in our workspace.

Cohort-specific channels

You will be invited to join these channels when you participate in a cohort:

  • #OLS-X-cohort: all cohort members are added to a channel created for their cohort (replace X with the number of your cohort: 4, 5, 6).
  • #OLS-X-expert: all experts listed for a cohort are added to a channel created for their cohort to maintain communication with the OLS team and other experts.
  • #OLS-X-mentors: For mentors, there is a private channel to share and exchange information among the mentors of their respective cohorts.

Other channels

  • #opportunities-and-jobs: All OLS members are invited to share announcements that could be new opportunities for the OLS members, including jobs.
  • #events: This is a place to share events that could be relevant for the OLS members. We encourage you to share events that you organise and would like others from the community to attend.
  • #interesting-reading: Any articles, books, posts, presentations or other resources that could be useful for the OLS members.
  • #ols-español: This channel uses Spanish as the primary language for all interactions. Here you can also share opportunities relevant to Spanish-speaking communities.

There are many more channels that you can explore by clicking three dots next to the top header ‘Channels’ –> then choosing the third option ‘Browse channels’.

For any questions please contact the OLS team by emailing: team@we-are-ols.org.

Part 2: Quick Start Guide for Slack

Welcome to the community Slack group: a place for you to network, collaborate, exchange resources and share ideas with others in the community.

Table of content

  1. Configuring your account
  2. Notification settings
  3. Communicating with others

1. Configuring your account


  • Your username – please use a name by which others will be able to identify you. Your email address is visible to others.
  • Your avatar – please add a profile picture or other identifier that you’re comfortable with so that others can associate your posts with you more easily.
  • Your time zone – this determines when Slack will notify you and can also help others know whether it’s a reasonable time of day to get in touch.

Here is a guide to help you edit your profile.


Status updates can be a useful way to let others know your availability as your status will be visible to everyone in the Slack group.

To update your status, click your name in the top left of the screen and select update status. You can select when you want your status update to be removed by stipulating a timeframe from the “clear after” dropdown. You can clear a status update at any time by clicking on your name and selecting clear status from the dropdown.

2. Channel and Notification settings

How to find, join and create channels

By default, you’re automatically added to the main channels that everyone belongs to (for example, #general, #welcome, #introductions & #random).

You will be able to create additional channels to facilitate structured conversation. You are free to create as many channels as you would like. However, channels dedicated to projects should be made public (not private) so people can collaborate or help you.

Configure your notifications

Slack notifications are great, but they may bother you when you try to focus on your project. There are a lot of options for you to determine how and when you are informed about content – and at what level of granularity.

For the overall group

  1. Click on your name at the top left of the page and select “preferences” from the dropdown
  2. In the Notifications section you have options which include:
    • Set times when you do not want to be disturbed by notifications
    • Enable desktop notifications
    • Choose to be alerted when certain keywords are mentioned

Channel by channel

  1. When you’re in a channel, click the “i” icon at the top right. Choose “more” and then click “notifications.”
    • Here you have the option to ignore any @channel messages, or mute the channel entirely.

Following a specific thread

If another group member posts something of particular interest you can choose to follow that thread. Find how to reply in a thread in Section 3.

  1. Click the ellipsis (three dots) to the right of the original post and select “follow message” from the dropdown.

Getting a reminder about a specific thread

You additionally have the option to be reminded about a thread at a more convenient time. From the ellipsis to the right of the original post select “remind me about this” from the dropdown and choose a timeframe.

Muting or leaving channels

If a channel has become too noisy, you can additionally:

  • Mute it: When you’re in a channel, click the “i” icon at the top right. Choose “more” and then choose “mute” from the dropdown.
  • Leave it: When you’re in a channel, click the “i” icon at the top right. Choose “more” and then choose “leave” from the dropdown.

3. Communicating with others


Use threads to continue conversations

  • When someone posts a brand new item in a channel, anyone in the channel can reply directly to it, creating a thread. Threads allow separate conversations to take place in the group without confusion – and for members to choose which of those conversations to follow more closely.
  • To add a comment to a thread, click the :left_speech_bubble: to the right of an existing post.

Use @channel, @here and other handles sparingly

  • If you type @channel or @here in a post or comment that will send a notification to everyone in that channel. Please use this only for items that do need everyone’s attention.

Respect the context of this shared space

  • We want it to be somewhere where learning can happen in a supportive, safe environment.
  • Please DO NOT take conversations out of context and copy/paste them elsewhere without the permission of all the individuals who posted.

Not all communications will be synchronous

  • While IM-based conversations can feel very immediate, please don’t feel that you have to respond to messages immediately, nor expect others to respond immediately. We’re all busy, really busy!

Message Editing & Deletion

  • You are allowed to edit your messages at any time. That means if you edit a message after someone replied to it, make it clear that you edited something if it changes the meaning of your message. See the example in the GIF below.


It can be helpful to others when you’re sharing resources and brainstorming solutions to “work out loud” in a specific thread because then your learning becomes a future resource for others, too.

However, sometimes you want to start a private conversation. To do this, go to the direct messages (DM) section on the bottom left of the left-hand sidebar. Click the + icon to start a new message. You can add more than one recipient to create a group message.

Direct message when necessary

You may feel tempted to use DM instead of asking questions in dedicated channels. If an instructor believes others will benefit from the answer, they will probably encourage you to ask your question in the appropriate channel. If you have a question, others likely have the same one, we are all learning from each other.

That said, DM are useful to discuss privately with other people (one or many) and you don’t want to flood a channel.

Sending files

Yes, you can send files (< 1 GB) in public channels and direct messages. See this how to guide for help.

References for the Part-2

The Slack section was adapted from a resource by BrainHackMTL and the Center for Scientific Collaboration and Community Engagement (CSCCE) under a CC BY 4.0 license: 10.5281/zenodo.3763730.