Wait a bit, then answer with a link

I thought these two tips from “Unusual tips to keep Slack from becoming a nightmare” were pretty great:

Introducing a delay to the time before you answer a question is actually a desirable way to make a more efficient, scalable communication system. Being overly helpful may feel good, but it’s not serving the long-term interests of the company.

And:

Whenever someone asks you a question, document it somewhere, and point them to that document. This helps train people to look things up first, and know where the source of information is.

Put together, here’s what the process would look like:

  1. Someone asks a question on Slack
  2. You document the answer somewhere (on the wiki, etc.)
  3. Wait an hour or so
  4. Send the link to the person who asked

That way people build a habit of searching for an answer before asking, plus each answer gets documented for the next person. Will it annoy people? Yeah, but that’s the point.

If the jerk factor is too hard to swallow, the post takes it a step further which another option:

A useful pattern to apply everywhere is: I’ll document the answer to this question, in exchange for you providing the answer to this question.

Make it a cultural norm to put the onus of documentation on the asker rather than the answerer! I love it.


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