No, We Won’t Have a Video Call for That: Reader Feedback

Posted on Sun 26 September 2021 in presentations • 2 min read

This is a short summary of selected reactions to the original article.

Twitter, 2021-04-10

On Twitter, Michael K Johnson made an interesting point in response to this article:

My way of thinking about DMs is a little different, or maybe we think differently about confidentiality. Work goes in public, meta-work is often about relationships, and I want my reports to be 100% confident they can bring any question or concern to me.

So “encrypted email” is not the right metaphor or measuring stick in my view. DMs are a tool for saying what you aren’t comfortable saying “out loud”, but that shouldn’t be about the work itself. Never “how do I do this?” But “advice pls about how to work with fred?” — yes!

I entirely agree with the sentiments behind this; I still maintain that chat DMs are not necessarily a good approach for addressing this, for reason that some chat systems give merely an illusion of confidentiality. If both participants in a conversation use OTR encryption over a protocol like IRC or XMPP, inadvertent disclosure to a third party is highly unlikely. Slack DMs? I wouldn’t be so sure. If your report confides in you, you don’t want them to have to worry if their message is really just between you and them.

Hacker News, 2021-09-25

On 2021-09-25, a link to this article ended up being the top post on Hacker News for a few hours. You’re very welcome to read through the 200-odd comments in that thread, but here I’d like to respond to just a couple. I’m deliberately only picking out ones where I feel like clarification on my part is necessary; as far as differences of opinion are concerned I’ll be happy to let those stand.

The article also assumes every one is a native speaker who can write quickly and clearly in a chat – in a lot of international projects this is not the case.

comment from papaf

My native language is German, and neither at the time of presenting the original talk nor at the time of writing this update did I work with anyone who is a first-language English speaker.

I have an objection to the author’s blanket disregard for “pings” in chat - while the request could/should be worded a bit more clearly than just “ping”, IMHO they’re a valid way of requesting if an opportunity for synchronous communication is available in the (not that rare!) cases where asynchronous communication would be worthless.

comment from PeterisP

My blanket disregard is for naked pings, not for pings in general.