Slack is adding threaded messaging as a feature on all its versions with its most recent update. Team members can start a Thread by clicking on a message posted on a channel and follow that particular conversation in a separate window.
The feature comes as one of the simplest yet impactful updates to Slack. The platform is quite minimalistic as it is, so any significant changes feel bigger than they are.
Slack developers had been working on in-chat Threads at least since 2015, and the internal teams at the company had been using prototype versions of the app with the feature also included since that year.
How to start a Thread on Slack
To open a new Thread on a Slack chat, users need only to select the ‘Start a thread’ option in any given message they feel requires more detailed attention.
Anyone who has used Slack has had conversations derail from one topic to another or someone asking about an important issue and not getting any answers. Threads tackle that issue head-on by moving dedicated chats to the side.
Once you start a thread, a new conversation will open in the ‘flex panel’ section (under the search bar) in desktop and a separate window in mobile.
You can follow an ongoing Thread
In contrast to messages in a channel, threaded messages won’t prompt a notification on your computer or mobile device unless you are directly mentioned by someone participating on the Thread.
If you are not part of the conversation and your name does not come up either, you can still follow along with the discussion at hand by clicking the original message that started the Thread.
Thread-starting messages will show vignettes of coworkers’ profile pictures at the bottom so you can see who has responded or participated in the discussion.
If the Thread is too far gone in the main channel chat and you cannot find it, there is now a dedicated tab in the left panel to see all ongoing threads across all channels. The All Threads option is just below the All Unread.
Brief team members about Thread conclusions in the main channel
One of the primary reasons Slack did not release threaded messages feature sooner is because they could not figure out how to make it as slick and seamless as the rest of the app.
While you’re waiting for Threads to reach your team, a little post about how (and why) we built what we built. https://t.co/1DDgXbrop1
— Slack (@SlackHQ) January 18, 2017
Thread replies in other apps usually show the whole conversation beneath the original message, embedding endless discussions to a single post. Not in Slack.
The solution Slack came up with was to have the whole Thread go on separately from main channel messages, and then add an option to post important replies to said channel as a way of updating others on what became of it.
A little checkbox sits at the bottom of the screen when posting a reply to Thread so you can also send it to the main channel. The answer will show both the original and the latest message, and people can click on the Thread to see the whole discussion.