Slack Is Cracking Down on Fun

Just some good clean fun, which Slack evidently does not allow.
Image: The Word of the Day Is

A public Slack channel that offered up cash prizes of $1,000 to guess a random word—yes, you read that right—has been shut down by the company, which said the game violated its rules.

The Word of the Day Is skyrocketed in popularity after its launch last Tuesday. The rules were simple: You guess the random word, you get a grand via Venmo. Only one word could be guessed at a time (no paragraphs or sentences), and usernames of participants needed to keep it PG. If no one guessed the word of the day, it was revealed just before midnight and the game reset. That’s it!

But despite being a hit with its community of thousands of users, Slack had other ideas.

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The Verge reported that a notice sent to Gabriel Whaley, CEO of MSCHF Internet Studios and the brains behind this operation, said that “that the Slack workspace associated with the Word of the Day website will be permanently suspended in [24 hours].” (Slack clarified that the given time before the channel would be shut down that was cited by the Verge was likely a typo and the actual time was 24 hours, rather than 124 as stated by the site.) Slack reportedly stated the project violated “several” of its rules.

Slack states in its terms of service that its platform does not permit its users to “use the Services for consumer purposes, as Slack is intended for use by businesses and organizations.” The Verge citing the company as saying the Word of the Day Is violated Slack’s rules by allowing members to join through its website and then using the platform to hand out cash prizes. Slack issued the following statement to Gizmodo by email about its decision to ban fun:

While we love the creativity behind the Word of the Day project, Slack is a tool intended for use by businesses and organizations—not as a platform for consumer games (even when they expand our vocabulary!). We love seeing people get creative on our platform, but as a work-first organization we also need to ensure that we enforce our Terms of Service and Acceptable Use Policy and maintain our commitment to the businesses and organizations that use Slack.

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Speaking to Gizmodo in a direct message on Twitter, Whaley said that he started the game “just for fun” and that it was a “sneaky way to help people ‘escape work’ while looking like they’re working,” some of whom included Slack’s own employees.

Interestingly, it sounds like this experiment was a resounding success. People weren’t assholes, and folks who joined the group behaved themselves—a notable feat considering that, according to Whaley, the channel had more than 4,000 users. MSCHF backed the project, though both BuzzFeed and Chipotle sponsored a day.

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“There was oddly no harassment or foul play, people were rooting for each other,” Whaley said. “Unexpectedly, it was a wholesome place and we all made a lot of new friends [because] of it.”

There’s an argument to be made that Slack is the perfect social media network—or it could be if it were used as such by more communities of friends and family. Whaley said he knows “there are countless Slack communities out there with no real business or work purpose,” and that’s true. This writer has used Slack as more of a social tool and let me tell you, it is a pleasant platform that performs many of the same basic functions as say, Facebook, without all of the ads and creepiness and randoms and public figures. It’s great!

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People that I interact with in Slack on a purely social basis don’t show off or go out of their way to be outlandish. Possibly this is because we subconsciously associate Slack with a work environment, or maybe it’s because there is no real incentive to be anyone other than yourself (there are no likes or retweets). And maybe, to be honest, it’s best that it stays that way.

Whatever the reason, Slack isn’t here for that kind of tomfoolery. Slack is for business. It’s where work happens, according to its own tagline and a line of cheeky MSCHF merch that features Slack literally on fire. Whatever the reason for Slack’s barring of the public channel, it was fun while it lasted.

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Updated to include comment from Slack.

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