Prefer having technical discussions in public

July 30, 2020

In general, prefer having technical conversations in a public forum, such as a public team Slack channel, Google Doc comment or a GitHub pull request comment thread.

This applies to:

  • asking the onpoint a technical question (this one in particular!)
  • asking your code reviewer about something they commented in a Pull Request
  • talking with coworkers to decide a technical approach for something
  • a conversation started in a google doc for scoping a project

Instead of a private Slack chat, consider having the conversation in the same forum that the question first came up (the team slack channel, Google Doc or Pull Request).


  • Public forums let others weigh in.

    • It’s not unlikely that someone else on the team has an opinion or knows the answer.
    • You might get an answer from someone else quicker!
    • Asking the question where others can see it leads to more knowledge sharing.
  • Private channels are private.

    • There’s no searchable paper trail for future teammates to refer back to later about the surrounding context in which a decision was made.
    • (Yes this is also true of equivalent in-person meetings, but that’s a seperate blog post for another day)
  • Private Slack channel message history may be ephemeral by default.

    • Depending on your Slack plan - you might have to remember to set the private slack thread message history beyond some default. Otherwise the message history and context may get deleted after some time!

What should I do if someone DMs me a technical question anyway?

Don’t be afraid to gently respond something like “hey, let’s take this back to <team channel> so others can weigh in!” and move the conversation over.

(Or feel free to link to this post and let me be the killjoy :P)

Discuss on TwitterEdit on GitHub