Embroidery hoop
Threaded conversations can be easier to follow. PHOTO: Annie Spratt

Now it will be easier to keep conversations going in Slack. The enterprise collaboration provider this week released a new feature to help connect related messages and better manage a variety of conversations in its chat tool.

If you want to target a conversation with someone on a particular topic, you can hover over that message and click "Start a thread." The right sidebar in Slack will open, and you can add your reply.

Slack threads

Messages with threaded replies will show thumbnails of discussion participants right in the channel, as well as the number of replies posted, according to Slack officials.

"Threads are particularly useful when you want to contain discussions around specific topics in one place," Slack officials blogged. "This includes asking (and answering) detailed questions, and posting updates to earlier messages."

David Lavenda, technology and marketing strategist and harmon.ie co-founder, told CMSWire "chat as such doesn’t scale beyond a handful of people. It was supposed to replace email as the de facto method of communication in business, but people now realize that this modality has some serious shortcomings."

Harmon.ie provides tools that help people manage their Microsoft SharePoint, Office 365 and collaboration ecosystems.

Slack is taking the approach of collapsing conversations into threads; i.e. trying to consolidate information by creating a hierarchy of conversations, Lavenda said. 

"But this won’t solve the problem," Lavenda added, "because information overload is the result of two root causes: quantity of information, but also quality of information (i.e. context, or how easy is it to understand as presented). While Slack has addressed the first problem, they don’t even purport to deal with the second."

"The bottom line is that work conversations don’t live in a vacuum," Lavenda said. "They live in a context of work topics like customers, products, projects, and services. And that is why this solution by itself is not enough. These Slack (and Microsoft Teams and other) conversations have to be organized by work topics and be matched with related emails, documents and application updates in order for this solution to be viable for business."