Slack’s New Threaded Messages Tame Your Meandering Chats

WIRED’s best Slack channel is called #cookiechat. It’s a place to discuss life’s important questions, like “Thin Mints or Samoas,” and to alert fellow cookie fans where that day’s office treats are hiding. But sometimes, the conversation breaks from strictly cookies-ice-cream-and-cake related topics, and wanders into the territory of pastries. Now, a new Slack feature lets WIRED’s cookie chatters—and OK, all Slack users—pursue divergent, yet equally essential, flavors of thought without distracting from a room’s larger, occasionally delicious mission.

Slack’s new trick is called threaded messaging, and it’s a way to connect related messages inside a given chatroom. The feature rolls out to about 10 percent of Slack users today, but the company says the goal is to get the feature live across all Slack users within a week.

Using threaded messaging seems intuitive enough. To begin a detailed discussion on a particular topic—say, croissants—you just hover over the first croissant-related message in a chatroom and click on “Start a thread.

” A sidebar to the right of the Slack room launches so you can add your reply.

In the main Slack room, you’ll see little thumbnail headshots of those participating in the thread, plus the number of replies. You can click to expand and see all the replies to a thread, which are arranged chronologically. Every time you add your own response, you automatically “follow” that thread, and you’ll get updates for all the threads you follow in a new category called “All Threads,” which appears on the right-hand sidebar of Slack. The category lights up when new messages are added to the threads you follow, but you’ll only see a numbered alert if you’re named directly in a thread reply. If for some reason you need to let all the participants of the channel know about your latest response, a checkbox in the right panel lets you “also send” a message to the whole channel.