Bulletins

Slack is down for some users

Time to figure out a backup plan for talking with your co-workers.

Sad Slack

Slack is down.

Image: Slack/Protocol

Slack is down for some users this morning. Maybe the universe doesn't want us to go back to work this week.


Customers logged on Tuesday morning to find difficulties sending messages, viewing message threads or loading the platform at all. According to Slack's status update site, "something's not quite right" with login/SSO, messaging and posts/files. Slack is currently looking into the issue.

Down Detector showed a spike in reports of Slack outages at around 9 a.m. Eastern this morning, jumping from 1 to 2,481. According to Slack's status site, some users weren't able to connect to the platform for about an hour Monday afternoon. A change in code "caused a conflict" in the desktop app and web browser, preventing some users from sending messages. The company tweeted that it resolved the issue, but clearly is having more issues today.

Slack experienced an hourslong outage in January of 2021, initially caused by an AWS networking error. It's unclear how long Tuesday's outage will last. Slack is the "digital HQ" of choice for many companies, so without it, many may be scrambling to find a way to talk to each other.

Like with any major platform outage, many users turned to Twitter. (The real crises occur when Twitter goes down.) People joked about talking to co-workers over text, Microsoft Teams or even email. One user told Protocol her company created an impromptu Google Meet. Some people have turned to Discord. Discord doesn't advertise itself as a work product, but people have been working in there anyway. A Discord spokesperson told Protocol back in October that the company thinks it's great people are using it to "co-work", but "our focus right now is making Discord the best place it can be for friends, communities and creators to hang out and have fun together."

Software company Stark posted its Wordle thread conducted via email, declaring that "drastic times call for drastic measures." CEO Cat Noone runs the 22-person company asynchronously, dispersed across nine countries. The company relies on Slack quite a bit, but "if Slack is down for a few hours, it's not the end of the world for us," Noone said. "Jokingly, we turned to email."

But even this temporary outage raises questions on what a company would do if Slack went down for a long period of time. All of your communication history lives on Slack. How do you then access that useful information? This is especially serious for async companies like Stark, who rarely live chat with co-workers. "A few days or weeks or whatnot, then you start to get into funky territory," Noone said. "You have these microneighborhoods and you have this microburst communication about things that are going on.”

The outage brings into sharp relief how essential Slack has become for finishing work. You might compare a Slack outage to a power outage in a physical office. We can still do our work, but it's become more difficult. Right now, companies are developing ragtag backup plans while hopping to other platforms. Will today's Slack outage convince companies to go elsewhere? Probably not. Switching platforms can be expensive and time-consuming. But it's become clear that Slack isn't the only option in a saturated workplace software market where people are increasingly passionate about the tools they want to use.

Slack's site is still reporting an outage, though some users are able to use it on mobile. Today, many will be relieved of having to talk to co-workers. Except for the folks at Slack.

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