Teams Etiquette

These are guidelines for using Teams within a local team initially. Feel free to share to anyone who will follow these guidelines for a happy team!

Etiquette - Gonzo's rules for happy living

Some general etiquette rules for chat, these are not novel ideas.

These rules are primarily to keep groups engaged and organized.

My company didn't have official training on Teams, so I have been doing it since 2018.

If you can get a conversation going about the topic easily, that's a sign of a well-run team. Fostering good team membership is a great way to get engagement on your project and get prompt answers without waiting for email and without interrupting people's workflow like a call or a text message does. Want to see how you're doing, fostering communication? Start something where you ask for feedback, like 'how we doing?'

When you get access, I recommend the following steps:

  • Talk to groups mostly, but in public. Private discussions are purged after three months, public discussions get people involved, and last for three years. People are named for their real name, last name, comma, first name. So, sometimes you might have to differentiate between people. Use the name they prefer, if possible.

  • Create an icon for yourself. This can be a picture of you, a picture of an icon that represents you, or it can be a frog sipping tea. This makes it easier to differentiate the people in the chat, especially when you have 3 Roberts or 3 John/Jon's on a team of 7. You can upload this in the office 365 profile.

  • Join appropriate groups. These can be searched for or you can be invited by a team member. Note that these links are not descriptive and can be confusing.

    • Keep General clear, it's for announcements and people cannot opt out of it.

    • Keep that discussion tied to the project it is associated with.

    • Try to keep the channels clean but active. If a channel is generally unused, that's a bad sign, as people are not engaged. Three discussions at the same time is when you split a channel.

    • If you want to create a private channel to discuss smaller stuff, that's fine too. Putting -priv in the name helps differentiate.

  • Talk in Public. If you must message individuals, can message them through teams. But I highly recommend talking publicly in case someone else can help you with your issue. This helps with engagement.

  • Reply to threads. Teams is confusing when you don't respond to threads, as it puts things out of order. This is specific to teams, and anyone you see who doesn't reply to threads by default should be directed to these rules.

Suggestions on building a strong community:

  1. Keep discussion work appropriate. We don't want to cause someone to quit over teams being toxic.

  2. Be respectful as you would in all normal work manner. All the normal rules apply. See Suggestion #1.

  3. Teams is semi-secure, but keep confidential information through more secure channels. This goes offsite, so try to keep protected communication to secure email.

  4. Rely on groups of people rather that individuals. You don't always need the director of that group, you might need someone from the generic team. Start by asking generally without pinging anyone. Create tags for pinging a subset of people, and use the tags exclusively.

  5. Discuss important topics in public rather than explaining yourself repeatedly in private. If there are known issues with the ProductA, rather than private messaging me about what is going wrong with it, ask in the ProductA teams 'is something going on with the product-A?'. This gives a wide variety of people to respond, and keeps people in the loop. If you need a more developed topic, feel free to split to a separate channel, that you can have people filter out. Edit any post that starts a megathread, putting a subject topic by editing the formatting.

  6. Use threading in Teams. Hit 'reply' below the message when responding on a topic. This keeps that conversation on track, and makes it easier to follow. Teams has an interface that makes this a lot better. You can see 4 messages from a single person, or you can see 16 if you thread. When a new person arrives, the threads will be 'last post' ordered, making it VERY confusing.

  7. Stay on topic. Keep discussion in these chats to the channel subject. The channel is there to help you get work done easier, use it as such. If a topic gets too broad, spread out to other channels or other teams. If you get asked to move it out of there, please do. See Suggestion #1.

  8. Avoid over 'pinging'. You can 'ping' people by doing an @ and their name, which causes their client to beep. Don't ping people unless you are saying 'I need you right now'. Think of it like calling someone and interrupting their sev 1 ticket, and demanding to get help.

    1. You can always soft ping people by just using their first name and later on do the @Gonzo later on and then I'll read it. @ go to their email as well, if they're not reading it. Example of a hard ping, followed by two soft pings.

    2. When talking to someone, you don't need to say their name repeatedly unless you want them specifically to respond right now. Multiple people can respond, see Suggestion #4.

    3. Do not ping @channel or @here unless absolutely necessary or unless you are like 'hey, everyone we're on fire!' If you abuse these features, people will ignore it, and then when an emergency happens, you won't have anyone respond. see Suggestion #8

  9. Never start conversations with just: Hello. (This is a clickable link that does a far better job explaining why you don't call people on the phone and put them on hold.)

  10. Always say what you need. Always start conversations with: Hey, do you have time to install stuff to test2? Can you tell me when it's done?

  11. Never ignore conversations. See Suggestion #1.

  12. Always respond to these conversations with a busy message, as long as you say when you're available to help. Example: A bit busy right now, will get to it this afternoon.

  13. Hide Channels that don't interest you. Maybe the group is bigger than you care about. Just focus on the things you find interesting. But hide channels you don't want by clicking the ... next to the channel name.

  14. Work inside the community. All of these guidelines are centered around being respectful of people's time and attention. If you abuse it, then people ignore it, and then it becomes a useless tool. The entire reason this list exists.

  15. Respect group meetings. It is important to have meetings run smoothly. If you have more than 20 people on the phone, there is a 'mute all' button you can use, and people have to unmute to talk. Just make sure to notify the call that you're muting all. The default is to have people join large calls muted already, people choose not to. But it's better to have one person struggle for 20 seconds than interrupt the flow of a meeting every single time someone has something going in the background, you cough, etc. You never have to explain 'I was muted', we've all done it.

  16. Get a headset. Run your meetings directly over teams rather than a separate phone call. It is highly recommended to use the Teams client rather than the phone, as we can see who you are and it is easier for you to control the conversation. Plus, it is easier to identify and control the call. If you want a bluetooth wireless one, it is a good investment, especially if you want to make a sandwich while on a call.

  17. Sign back in. You will be signed out everyday, please make sure to sign back in in the morning. First launch VPN, then sign in to have it work easily.

  18. Keep channels busy. If channels are not busy, then combine them with other non-busy channels. If you have three conversations at once regularly, maybe start a new channel. But have a reason for people to be involved. Keep these channels to short names, so they show up on phones easily.

  19. Do not create empty channels. Channels are only created if another one is busy, with 3 conversations at the same time. Any idle channels will get closed down unless they are providing a function. Anyone can request a channel get created.

  20. Set notifications on important channels. Channels get talked about a lot, some with important stuff, others like Watercooler that nobody needs a 'ping' about. You can edit these easily under channel notifications, see below.

Shortcut keys

Was sifting through and these are the ones I found useful:

Control-shift-M - Mute/unmute. holy crap I hit this a lot.

Ctrl-. - show all hotkeys(!)

Ctrl-E Search

Ctrl-N New chat

Ctrl-2 Chats

Ctrl-3 teams

alt-up - Move up in the team chats

alt-down - move down in the team chats

Specific guidance:

We generally use a super group policy. You have one super team that is large, maybe 150 people, and then you create channels for the different products.

Note that public channels are stored for several years, private conversations only last 6 months. Make it easily searchable, getting people involved, and have a reason to talk about the work you're doing!


If there are channels you are interested in, you can 'show' them by clicking the three dots next to their name and hitting 'show'.

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Otherwise, you can hide an existing channel (except this one) by clicking the three dots and hitting 'hide'.

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If a channel is important to you, you can 'pin' it and it will appear at the top. You can also get notifications when someone talks in it:

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Example of a hard ping, followed by a soft ping

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Example of a hidden channel. (I only help with EMEA and NA) See the three dots next to the name IPG Devops, that's where I can get the link to invite other people.

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Example of a proper reply mixed in with an improperly replied thread when you first see it:

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And how it looks later when you navigate away: ( you can see how this is confusing.)

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Getting Access

* Insert instructions on getting access to your teams environment here!

Useful settings:

  • Settings - General - I tend to enable Dark mode, and Disabling GPU Hardware acceleration can sometimes solve some problems.

  • Settings - Notifications - Missed activity emails can help if you get too many pings

Known Teams

  • Insert your known teams here, with links and descriptions

By why, Gonzo?

Note from Gonzo: These etiquette rules are after literally 30 years of running chat servers on efnet, gamesnet, and many other gaming networks by Gonzo. Ignore these rules and your teams will become disengaged and will ignore your discussions, unfortunately.