Who would have thought adding a simple Rich Text editor to a chat app could cause so much controversy? Certainly not Slack, who has had to deal with a campaign of protest from users.
Till recently Slack had been using Markdown to format text e.g. putting * around your text to make it bold. Then Slack replaced Markdown with a rich text editor such as in Word, which they touted as a “new and improved ways to format your messages.”
Led by programmer Arthur O’Dwyer, the rich text editor was immediately branded as “really terrible”, largely because users who were used to the old way of working had no way to go back, and that it was rather buggy with lost of issues.
I _HAAAATTEEEE_ how the new rich text editor completely screws up the fake-markdown I was finally mastering.
Now most of my slack messages have random ticks, underscores, and asterisks haphazardly strewn.
— Charles Crossan (He/Him) (@crossan007) November 21, 2019
The blog post went viral, and Slack decided to change course, saying:
“Our recently introduced WYSIWYG formatting toolbar was developed with that broader customer community in mind. We thought we had nailed it, but we have seen an outpouring of feedback from customers who love using Slack with markup.”
The ability to roll back from the Slack rich text editor to Markup will be rolling out in a number of weeks.
The problem underlines Slack’s difficulty is expanding their market beyond their core audience, having been rapidly overtaken by Microsoft Teams. Staying loyal to their power users may in the end doom Slack to a niche tool which showed the way, but never quite made it to the mainstream.