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Teams Removes System Messages from the General Channel


Uncluttering the General Channel

Office 365 notification MC215375 (6 June) says that Teams will remove some system messages from the General channel beginning in mid-June. The process should be complete worldwide by mid-July, except for government tenants where the roll-out is in August.

In large teams, or teams where the membership turns over regularly (for example, classes), the number of system messages posted to the General channel clutter up conversations without delivering a lot of value. In fact, at times, the system messages are unhelpful, as in the case of prematurely announcing the hiring of a new employee. System messages have only ever appeared in the browser and desktop client; the Teams mobile client has never displayed these messages.

When the change happens, old system messages posted to General to announce events like a member joining or leaving the team or a channel being added, removed, or renamed are hidden and Teams won’t post system messages for new events in General. Instead, system messages will be visible in list of team members accessed through the new information pane (MC215186 – due for deployment in July).

Some might find the system messages interesting, but the majority probably don’t, so the change is welcome.

Losing System Messages

Figure 1 shows an example of Teams system messages, including additions and removals of members and the addition of an app to the team. Other system messages include those posted when the Information Barrier Processor removes someone because their membership violated an information barrier policy. No one is likely to shed too many tears by not being able to read such compelling messages.

Figure 1: Teams system messages posted in General

Losing system messages is not a problem. Team membership is visible through the Manage team option and is easily retrieved with PowerShell if a report is necessary (the Get-TeamUser and Get-UnifiedGroupLinks cmdlets both do the job, as indeed does Get-AzureADGroupMember). And the actual operations to add or remove members or channels from a team are auditable events captured in the Office 365 audit log.

Reserve General for Important Messages

Even after system messages are removed, it’s still best to keep the General channel for important messages and announcements. You can do this by limiting the ability of team members to post in General. Instead, create a suitable set of other channels to host discussions. This approach means that the General channel doesn’t become a catch-all for messages about all types of topics where announcements are easily lost.

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