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Suppose I have a very important remark on some kind of technical convention or a rude bug in the code that everybody copy all over the place, how can I notify my colleagues on subject? Although we have very little organization mails, still the mail channel feels inconvenient for technical remarks because

  • One cannot track whether all the receivers actually read the mail.
  • With (once again, relatively little, yet existing) mails like "Congratulation on our success" or "WFH today", "BD cake in the kitchen" and so on, the email messages have much less priority in the sub-consciousness. That means important mails become not that important.
  • Lack of source code formatting.

Is there some kind of technical alternative for work communication?

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    We use SharePoint mostly for project documentation (which honestly no one reads anyway) and JIRA used as wiki, yet it has no "must read" notifications. Ideally I'd like something like "sign on receive" analogy from real mails. – yevgeniy mordovkin Nov 19 '14 at 12:01
  • How many colleagues out of how many mailbox accounts are we talking about? – user8036 Nov 19 '14 at 12:08
  • We are about 10 devs, 15 with client team. – yevgeniy mordovkin Nov 19 '14 at 12:09
  • How do you know that a read receipt actually means they read it rather than clicked and ignored - this is not a technical issue – user151019 Nov 19 '14 at 18:08
  • @JoeStrazzere I ignore all receipt requests by default - mostly because the people who request that will request it for all emails they send (no matter the importance). If the email requires an action of me, I will then reply to acknowledge that activity. – HorusKol Nov 19 '14 at 22:57
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If it is really that important and you really want to reach all people and make sure they understand it, do it at your next meeting. Every other technical solution can simply be ignored or physically acknowledged, but mentally ignored. People just hit okay buttons without reading the message.

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    +1. This is what daily standup meetings are for. For Scrum purists, this falls under the "what did you do yesterday" heading.) – Stephan Kolassa Nov 19 '14 at 13:25
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    It is good to bring these things up at meetings but it shoudl NEVER be the only place for something important. THere needs to be an paper trail either through an email or WIKI or Jira or other software used to manage tasks. It is irresponsible to only put information out at a meeting. – HLGEM Nov 19 '14 at 14:21
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Do you have anything set up specifically for tech reporting, like a wiki or a Bug Traq? If not, you'll have to escalate to your management and get one set up.

You're right about emails - I get 200 a day and it's way too easy to miss anyone of them. The mail part of Outlook allows you to set a requirement that the recipient acknowledges receipt but applying that feature may be problematic for your mailbox input if you have 200 recipients. I am not sure that you are eager to take time out of your life and chase down those recipients who didn't acknowledge receipt either.

This issue is clearly a management issue, and you'll need to escalate it to your management so that they work out a solution that is to their liking.

I'll note that JIRA has a reporting facility that automatically notifies users whenever a JIRA report is updated - I used JIRA but I can't say I liked it. It works, though, and maybe that's the only thing that matters - that it works.

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  • Surely, we use JIRA for task management, and no, our team is not that big. Still, it feels awkward to me using Outlook for that matters. Also, IMO it's our own headache, not our manager's one. I want to bring them some kind of prepared solution, so all they'll have to do is agree to implement it. – yevgeniy mordovkin Nov 19 '14 at 12:10
  • It's up to you whether you want to prepare a solution and have your management sign off on it, or have the management delegate the task to you and subsequently sign off on it, or have the management do all the work. You know what you are doing, so I am not worried about how it's going to turn out :) – Vietnhi Phuvan Nov 19 '14 at 12:14
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    I always wonder what ppl do to receive 200 mails per day. Doing a cleanup every now and then (unsubscribing from mailing lists or notifications not relevant anymore), I am proud receiver of 0.3 work mails per day, and about 5 private mails, including ad mails. It's a pity that the hundreds-of-mails-ppl ruined the importance and significance of e-mail :( – phresnel Nov 19 '14 at 14:20
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Suppose I have a very important remark on some kind of technical convention or a rude bug in the code that everybody copy all over the place, how can I notify my colleagues on subject?

Don't use email. You are thinking inside a very small box currently if you limit it to email.

Some options:

  • "Standup" types of meetings every morning (or week, whatever, something regular) where people report out on their daily activities.
  • Discuss at your team meeting. If you don't have one, start having them.
  • Create a "best practices" document somewhere. This could be a wiki, SharePoint site, or even an ugly word document. Something though.

You could mention at your next team meeting something about how hard it is to communicate about technical things via email.

Make sure to take meeting notes at these meetings and also communicate/document this somewhere.

Hey guys, I have been thinking about how we can better communicate on technical things - right now we seem to want to use email but we're all overloaded with email and it's not good. Do you all have any ideas? I was thinking we could have a weekly discussion to share what works, what doesn't work, and what we should do differently.

You also want to ensure your team is on board with this sort of share. If it's you telling them, "you suck get better" and everyone else thinks "why is yevgeniy complaining about how we all suck again" you will have to work through different strategies.


Also, when using read receipt, be careful relying on it too heavily. I read my emails nearly exclusively in the reading pane. This has the interesting side effect of not ever triggering the "read receipt" message. If I read/delete the message it will send a "deleted without read" message back. It's less reliable than people think. And, frankly obnoxious to boot.

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    Outlook's "read receipt" can also not work properly when reading emails on a mobile device. When the mobile pulls the message down for the user to read later, this can trigger the read receipt even though the end user has not actually read anything yet. – Matt Giltaji Nov 19 '14 at 17:54
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Slack is working for us - and seems to be The Cool Thing To Have™.

At my work we have a channel per project, and a couple of random channels (#the-bar, #library, #general), each with it's own conventions - anything in #general is an official communication, you just post technical/interesting readings in #library, do what you want 'cause a pirate is free at #the-bar.

It's not yet a 100% polished software, but the idea is great, the tool is really nice, and they seem to work really well.

PS - I don't have any kind of relationship with them other that happy user.

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There are the benefits from convenience and access to information, but things become important when they are made important. I don't know about your email system, but where I've worked, no one uses the excuse "I didn't get that." because someone will reproduce the sent copy. Email is always on (not a great thing), so it should pop up with every message. If anything, check your spam folder. There have to be consequences and there are no excuses.

Email is a horrible archival system. Employees get replaced, so much of the old email is lost. I think the better solutions are highly accessible (web, mobile, desktop, etc), offer notifications, great search tools and have buy in from upper management all the way down. Integration with other data stores (CRM, reporting, etc.) is a big benefit as well. People use and rely on good tools. People rarely choose the dull knife over the sharp ones when they're in the same drawer.

For code format, you can attach files that can be opened with a code editor. Do non programmers need access to the code anyway?

There are too many products out there and some are better for different situations. You'll just have to do some research.

Hopefully, the rest of your team recognizes the problem and will help you in this search.

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