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Ever since I started using group chat rooms like gitter.im and slack, I started to feel like I am interrupting an conversation.

Slack is used in the company I work for, which means it is considered as a domain where we must behave professional. Gitter.im is mostly used by open source software projects where strangers work together with their heartfelt commitment, as well as with an excellent degree of professinal attitude.

This means we can consider this online chat rooms as 'office spaces' where we must have a professional's manners.

To elaborate my question: There is always a topic being discussed in these chat rooms. Sometimes it goes by hours where nobody actually writes anything and when read the last messages, it seems to be that the last topic is solved. Yet sometimes it is quite visible that there is an ongoing conversation, say, with a response rate of 20 mins per post.

When I have a something on my mind, unrelated to what is being dicussed, yet still in the domain of relevance of the chat room, should I simply put out? Or shall wait until I observe that the parties conclude their conversation.

Or maybe I should be quick and short on my question and be patient until somebody pick it up and we start conversing. Or perhaps since people can tag their name with an @ symbol to be able to notify each other directly, I should not worry about that all and simply post whatever I need?

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    thank you all who answered my question, I found them very useful but can't upvote because I lack the reputation currently. I found the answer of @giraffe36 to be the most clear answer to the question. Thanks y'all. – hrkucuk Jan 16 at 7:47
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I work for a company that uses Slack very heavily. Which means that we frequently run into the situation you just described - where multiple people want to have conversations about different topics within the same channel, within the same time frame.

Ideally you should handle it by using threads. As pointed out by @jcmack, threads enable you to group messages together without derailing the whole channel.

Practically speaking, this looks like:

  • Person A asks a question or starts Conversation W
  • Person B responds to Conversation W
  • A bit of lag time, but Conversation W is still open
  • Person C starts a new conversation (say, Conversation Q) right underneath Conversation W
  • Person D sees Conversation W and Q, and wants to comment on Conversation W. In that case, s/he replies to Conversation W as a thread reply, rather than a reply underneath the Conversation Q conversation.

That being said, it does happen occasionally that people don't listen to that rule... and it sometimes ends up as two simultaneous conversations in the same channel. A bit messy, and we all try to avoid it, but it happens sometimes and no one takes offense.

TL;DR - No. Don't be concerned that you're interrupting. It's just a side effect of how slack and/or similar chat rooms end up working out. The main exception to that is if people are actively typing and/or the conversation is flowing fast (ie. at least 1 post per minute). In those cases, professional protocol is to wait for a lag time before posting.

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(A bit Slack centric. I've never used gitter.im)

Am I interrupting a conversation in chat rooms like gitter.im or slack?

Generally, you aren't unless:

  • You hijack a thread and start talking about something very different. Slack supports threads so you can group messages together better.
  • You're messaging 1 person or limited set of people and the rest of the channel isn't affected by the topic or isn't the point of the channel. You'd be better off just messaging those people instead of messaging the whole channel.

I find the broader Slack channel is useful for announcements, figuring out who to talk to more 1-on-1 or discussing about topics that affects the majority of the channel.

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When I have a something on my mind, unrelated to what is being dicussed, yet still in the domain of relevance of the chat room, should I simply put out? Or shall wait until I observe that the parties conclude their conversation

This actually boils down to how your company handles Slack... in other words, and to be completely sure how to behave, ask your manager about the proper use of Slack in your company.

Still, if you have a channel about a topic, then any comment regarding that topic is in place. If you have a question or follow-up regarding a specific comment on a channel, the standard is to mention (@) such person and ask.

Now if you want to talk to a single or a few persons, consider writing directly to them instead. This will reduce noise on channels. In this case remember that a phone call is most of the times more efficient than waiting for a 20min delay response ;)

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