Channel vs Chat Smackdown

During one of those long, philosophical conversations with a colleague, we were discussing governance/guidance around the usage of channels vs chats.  That spawned a few other conversations Here’s what we came up with:

First, chats will store documents in the OneDrive for Business of the person sharing the file. Channels will store documents in the SharePoint library for the Team/channel. That could be impactful if you are applying different retention policies on the Team/channel.

One very adamant opinion was that if there is a Team that the post could possibly belong to, it should be posted there so it can be seen by other Team members, whether or not it’s felt that this is something they “need” to see. This was described as “working out loud” in another discussion on private channels.

To the contrary, others felt that only very specific “final” content should be posted to a channel conversation, and that “drafts” or “side discussions” should take place in chats.

A rule of thumb that one person uses, is that if the conversation is private or can be “easily forgotten” about by the organization without any impact, then a chat is fine.

In a discussion, someone felt that chats were useful to make sure that someone responded to an item, and that things would get lost in a channel. While this could happen, it was pointed out that use of @mentions should work to prevent the conversation from getting lost. Others contributed that there were still some misgivings or reluctance to @mention people in Teams (or even Outlook). Finally, it was mentioned that threads in channels provide for a much more scalable multi-conversation experience than multiple chats.

Another person commented that a chat might be used if you think the person you are contacting has the answer to a question, which a channel would be for a multi-person “help me! Who knows XYZ”.

Finally, one person compared the difference to Facebook wall posts vs a Messenger chat.


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