Getting your organization started with Zulip
This comprehensive guide explains in detail everything that the
administrator of a new Zulip organization needs to know to get off to a
great start with Zulip.
Configure your Zulip organization
Review and potentially
tweak the organization settings
to match your organization’s needs.
Set a policy for who can join the organization. If you’re setting
up Zulip for your company, you can restrict new users to those from
your company’s email domain. You can also allow new users to join
without being explicitly invited.
Add an organization icon and description for Zulip to
customize your login/registration pages as well as how your
organization appears in the desktop and mobile apps.
Most communication in Zulip happens in streams, and the streams you
create can help encourage types of conversations you’d like to see
happen in your organization. Streams are similar to chat rooms, email
lists, or channels in IRC or Slack, in that they determine who
receives a message. A few important notes:
- For small teams, it's often good to start with a small number of streams,
and let the number of streams grow organically.
- You can use any character in stream names, including spaces and
characters from non-Latin alphabets.
- You can
set the default streams
new organization members are subscribed to when they join.
The most important thing to do when naming your streams is to help
instill and support the culture you want to have in your organization.
- If your team is small, you can start with the default streams and
iterate from there.
- For larger organizations, it can be helpful to have a consistent,
documented naming scheme. For example, help forums might have names
together in the left sidebar.
Slack’s article on channel naming
has a lengthy version of this advice.
- Add clear descriptions to your streams.
These articles contain great ideas for streams you might want to create
in your organization:
Zulip’s topics are life-changing, but it can take a bit of time for
everyone to learn how to use them effectively. Expect there to be a
few rough edges at the beginning as people learn how to use topics
- Topics play the role of the subject line in an email. They allow for
long-running conversations, and make sure the discussion about the
new logo design isn’t interrupted by lunch plans or scheduling for
- Though the analogy to email subject lines is strong, topics in Zulip
should be short, e.g. “logo” or “logo design”, not “Thoughts about
the new logo design”.
- Topics really shine for asynchronous communication.
- When starting a new conversation, use a new topic, just like you
would when starting an email thread.
- In the left sidebar, Zulip will by default show the 5 most recent
topics in a stream as well as any topics with unread messages. You
don't need to do anything to "archive" old topics -- they will
naturally disappear from recent topics when other topics replace
them as the most recent.
Familiarize yourself with Zulip’s featureset
As the administrator of your Zulip organization, you'll be the initial
expert teaching other users how to use Zulip. It's valuable for you
to familiarize with Zulip’s featureset so you can point other users to
what they're looking for.
- Check out the keyboard shortcuts, message formatting, and search
operators, available via the gear menu in the upper right of the
- Check out the settings, organization settings, and this
documentation site to browse user and administration options.
- If you can't figure out how to do something important, ask
firstname.lastname@example.org about the
feature. It might already exist, and if not, we love hearing about
what features people want!
Invite users and onboard your community
- If you wish to delete messages before starting onboarding, hover over a
message and click on the 'message actions' menu on the far right, then select
- Use the “#zulip” stream to share tips on how to use Zulip
- If you have an existing chat tool, make sure everyone knows that the
team is switching, and why. The team should commit to use Zulip
exclusively for at least a week to make an effective trial;
stragglers will result in everyone having a bad experience.
- Help your users get used to following topics and creating new ones
when they start a new conversation. It usually takes a few
conversations to get used to topics, but once they do, they’ll never
want to go back! Using Zulip’s topic editing features to correct
mistakes can help minimize confusion.
If your organization is large,
for how to effectively roll out a new chat solution at a large company
in stages is great advice.
Set up integrations
Zulip integrates directly with dozens of products, including all major
version control and issue tracking tools, and indirectly with hundreds
more through Hubot, Zapier,
and IFTTT. Set up notifications for the products
you use! A few recommendations:
- A product’s logo is a great choice of avatar for an integration with
- For internal tools, find a cute icon for the avatar!
- Pay attention to how your integrations are configured. If
increasing activity means an integration becomes spammy, consider
moving it to its own stream or configuring it to only send
notifications for a subset of events.
Bonus things to setup
Here are some tips for improving the organization of your Zulip community over time:
- If users are confused about which stream to use for what, consider
renaming streams to make the usage more obvious, and/or adding
descriptions to the streams.
- If a stream has too much happening on it, especially very different
things (for example, both short, important announcements and long,
low-importance discussions), consider splitting it. You can do this
easily by copying the membership of the existing stream when
creating a new stream.
- Periodically think about creating new streams for culture you want
to foster in your organization. For example, the Zulip development
community has a “learning” stream where people post links to great
resources they found, and the Recurse Center community has a
“Victory” stream for celebrating success.
- Periodically garbage-collect streams that are no longer
useful. Don’t worry — if you delete a stream, the old stream history
is still searchable, and old links will still work.
- If you’re running your own Zulip server,
keep it up to date!