A Slack bot that counts the days each user was active on a channel, calling out the inactive users.
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.gitignore
LICENSE.md
README.md
add_user.sh
list_channels.py
list_users.py
remove_user.sh
slack_api.py
standup_snitch.py
verify_changes.sh

README.md

Slack Standup Snitch

snitch_bot_in_action

The Slack Standup Snitch is a Slack bot that counts the unique days that each user was active on a specified channel and calls out the inactive users. It runs on Python 3 without any further dependencies. It does the timestamp math to grab the posts from Slack between midnight the previous night and n days before that. It aggregates the unique days - if you posted five times on Monday and once on Wednesday, that counts for two days. It returns a text histogram of the activity and "ats" the users who checked in zero times.

Setup instructions

  1. Clone this repo.

  2. Get a Slack API token. Save it to the repo's directory under api_token.txt. (You can save it wherever you want, but the .gitignore is put together to make this a convenient choice. The same is true for the other filenames below.)

  3. Get a list of your users along with their internal Slack IDs:

    python3 list_users.py < api_token.txt > users.csv
    

    Typically you'll manually edit users.csv to pare the list down to the active people you want to monitor.

  4. Get a list of your channels along with their internal Slack IDs:

    python3 list_channels.py < api_token.txt > input_channel.csv
    cp input_channel.csv output_channel.csv
    

    Manually remove all but two lines from each file: input_channel.csv should have a header and the line for the channel you want to monitor. Similarly, output_channel.csv should have a header and the line for the channel you want to send the report to.

How to use

Typical use

I run the bot from my work computer each Monday morning:

python3 standup_snitch.py -t api_token.txt \
                          -d 7 \
                          -i input_channel.csv \
                          -o output_channel.csv \
                          -u users.csv \
                          -b SnitchBot

Configure as you see fit; name the bot creatively; put it in a crontab; and take good care of your people!

Other features

  • -r: Dry-run the standup_snitch report to standard output instead of sending it to Slack.

Maintaining the user list

You can manually maintain users.csv to add users (running list_users.py and merging the lists) and remove users (deleting lines from users.csv). However, since internships, vacations, and normal turnover means that the set of active users changes frequently, two bash scripts are included to make these tasks easier. Each script creates a file users.csv.new, shows you the proposed changes, and prompts you to verify the changes before applying them.

  • bash add_user.sh users.csv new_user_name api_token.txt
  • bash remove_user.sh users.csv user_to_remove

Philosophy

I am releasing this with trepidation because I know it's going to be used by lousy bosses to harass their workers. In our academic research group, we use Slack, which we've found to be a great way to organize communications between a bunch of busy people with varied schedules and semi-remote working habits. (Much better than endless email threads with ever-changing cc lists.) One of the ongoing expectations in our lab is to touch base at least weekly on a #standup Slack channel to let your peers know what you've worked on, what you plan to work on, and if you're stuck on anything.

I've personally seen a lot of very talented people drop out of Ph.D. programs. In my experience, graduation rate has seemed highly correlated with engaging one's peers about one's challenges in the process of overcoming them. (Notably, it has also seemed almost uncorrelated with intelligence; virtually everyone who gets into a graduate program is smart enough to graduate.) Dropping out of grad school seems to me to be mostly a failure of community. For this reason, I was pleased to see the #standup channel when I started here and felt motivated to help enforce its usage. I wrote this bot to automate the process of following up on students who might fall through the cracks without extra attention.