One of my colleagues recently created a private slack channel and invited all the non-admin-level people at our location to it. About 70% of the time people chatting in it just communicate about standard work stuff (which there's no reason to keep private). But oftentimes it veers into complaining about an issue or a person which I find annoying and oftentimes immature or mean-spirited, and occasionally quite so. I would just leave the channel out of this persistent annoyance but since they also talk about relevant work things I fear I'll just be ostracizing myself. What are some better ways to handle this?
Like general 'water cooler' chatter in an office, online collaboration tools are generally not exempt from 'off topic' conversation.
Skim-read conversation and ignore anything not relevant to you. I apply this tactic to email CC's where I really do not need to be "in the know".
If you miss something important, someone will make sure to let you know, I'm sure.
Slack has some great custom settings when it comes to channel notifications. I have used many combinations in the past when I had to keep a finger in multiple channels that were mostly chatter.
The solution that fitted me best was to mute the channel and then skim it through it once or twice a day for work stuff. I also set up an alert so I was notified if anyone @'ed me - that way I never missed anything important, but avoided the noise.