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Slack has threaded messages to avoid clutter. Unfortunately, not everyone is disciplined enough to start a thread when they answer a message.

When that happens, is it possible to either:

  1. Move a message to another message, and start a thread that way?
  2. Or start a thread on the original message, and then move the answering message to that thread?

I have a feeling the answer is 'no'. I can't find anything in their api description or their feature description.

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  • 5
    Agree it would be a very useful feature.Drag and drop would be ideal
    – Vicki
    May 26, 2020 at 9:53
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    Just in case anyone in the Slack team might see this, I'm just dropping by to restate that this would be an incredibly useful feature for given 'admin' users to have in order to be able to keep things tidy.
    – Inigo
    Oct 19, 2021 at 12:26
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    i just google "move slack message to thread" and came here, it would be a such a great feature
    – petekaner
    Mar 14, 2022 at 7:37
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    This is one of my biggest beefs with Slack. Mar 15, 2022 at 14:55
  • Honestly, I think the comments above actually understate the extent of this problem, as does the (very comprehensive and insightful) answer below which describes it as "niche functionality". I don't think it's at all a niche functionality for an admin to be able to control where messages appear. To me, it's a vital piece of core functionality that is straight-up missing from this app. I'm constantly wishing I could re-arrange messages in this way.
    – Inigo
    Aug 16, 2023 at 6:51

2 Answers 2

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Slack doesn't seem to be in much of a feature enhancement lifecycle currently like they were earlier in life. It's unfortunate because packing in "power user" features is what got Slack its huge user-base. I don't foresee them adding such (debatably) niche functionality like this any time soon. This is too common when a giant purchases an amazing start-up, in this case Salesforce, the bloat-ware B2B behemoth.

Your Outlined Options

  1. Move a message to another message, and start a thread that way?
  2. Or a thread on the original message, and then move the answering message to that thread?

I'm not exactly sure what you mean with number one, but I'd recommend (as a work around to the feature you're hoping for of course) a third similar option.

My Workflow

  1. A question is asked, or a topic is raised that warrants a separate thread.
  2. Things start to get messy and the undisciplined someone replies in the channel.
  3. Instead of moving (or more accurately, copy/pasting) their message into a thread on the original message, reply to their message in a thread. If you want to coach them a little more to switch the conversation into that thread, @ mention them there. I'd do the same with anyone you'd like to move there as well. "@other-human, any thoughts?" I'll even follow up with another @ mention if some time has gone by, eg. "@broseph Any idea? ☝️"
  4. You can quote the original message at the start of this new thread as you stated, and for bonus points, you can link the original question with something like, "In reference to [link to original question]: Can we partition the juice box drives into three [...]" This gives the thread traceability back into the channel.
  5. Be persistent. I've done this quite a bit and people tend to get the hint relatively quickly, even my most dense colleagues conform before long.
  6. Don't be afraid to bring this up with people directly. I'll sometimes say something like, "It's getting messy in here. Let's shift to this thread: [link to first message in thread, not the parent message the thread is on since that won't open the thread itself]". The concept of "moving" a message to a thread is actually sort of passive aggressive whereas this expresses the "why" and teaches a better workflow.
  7. If the thread itself gets messy, the same general workflow applies to a new group chat (which I almost always oppose) or much better, a new channel for the topic. This can be short lived, though you'll have to delete it manually after the discussion. I typically just "Leave" (exit) the temporary channel when I'm done, but leave it in place for posterity.

About Threads In General

Something that's important to consider that is people don't always like threads. They're not as feature-rich as channels. For one thing, you can't "Thread" a thread; there's no forking so when sub-threads become necessary you're forced to start quoting messages, which has its own limitations.

Also, the right-side Thread sidebar is narrow so code blocks and the like aren't very readable or formatted nicely. Even switching to the Threads view (top left in your left side bar) isn't perfect since all of your recent threads are interlaced which can make things cumbersome to sort through when you've got multiple threads going. This can sometimes be worse than a noisy channel.

Conclusion

This approach is more intuitive for the people you're trying to wrangle since you're interacting with their message instead of the original message that they're responding to. That makes it more apparent that you want to break out of the channel, and you want to speak to them directly. It's the equivalent of being in a meeting that's getting off-track and saying, "Let's side-bar after the meeting." Doubling-down with an @ mention in the thread can help a lot, even though they're already alerted to threaded responses on their message - it feels more personal and directed to them.

For anyone else that persists on with the conversation in the channel, again, just @ mention them in the thread to invite them into the conversation you want them to be a part of. Ignoring their message in the channel, or answering them where you want the conversation to take place is also a teaching tactic.

TL;DR

Respond to a person you want to pull into a thread on their message. Speak openly about it by stating the obvious: "Things are getting messy in here."

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  • It should be noted that you can move the divider between the main conversation list on the left and the thread you're reading/replying to on the right. Doing this adds the space you may desire for code and such.
    – Todd Vanyo
    Jul 6, 2022 at 22:44
  • Yeah, if only Slack would support multiple windows, that would be a good solution to limited Thread panel real estate. Jul 7, 2022 at 15:30
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Share message icon pic

It is not possible to move a slack message to a thread, but you can always reply to thread or you can attach your reply with the message you want by clicking on share message and then typing your content. You can refer to the pic; there is a tilt arrow which is share message icon.

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