The Problem with current realtime conversation platforms
The challenge of real time conversations is that you cannot reply to a specific message; when several other messages have followed that message. And if you need to follow a specific topic then you cannot do that in real time. If someone needs to catch up with everything happening for a given topic he is completely lost with several interspersed messages. In modern collaboration, conversations may also involve various types of work patterns, like tasks, group tasks, approvals, polls, image annotations, documents etc. These too require threading and currently there is no solution available. Another issue is the inability to view the unread threads in a summary fashion. Finally most applications that allow you to thread don't have the ability to mark them as unread once you have seen a thread / or even toggle it back to Unread.
All of these can be a huge problem when it comes to accountability and tracking action items.
How are we solving that problem?
We have identified that in a conversation group/channel there can be multiple topics being discussed with each topic having its own contextual significance. The same can be easier to follow if the contextual messages are easy to read, clubbed together; as in a single “thread”. So in effect each contextual conversation will have its own “thread”; and the conversation group will have multiple threads for multiple contextual conversations. We can take the analogy from an email thread which carries all the context in one place; but applying that principle to real time conversations via “Contextual Threaded Conversations”.
What do we mean by contextual threaded conversations?
Conversation threads can be in any one of the following contexts:
- Conversations in a task
- Conversations in a choice poll, number poll or a text poll
- Conversations in an approval request
- Conversations on a file upload
- Annotations for an image, or
- Simply a threaded discussion/conversation initiated on a message
Here is an example of a conversation within a task shown as a threaded conversation
The task “Task to check threaded messages” has threaded messages “Msg1”, “Msg2”, etc. So all conversation pertaining to the task remains in one place. Now this is actually part of a series of threads in a group/team conversation as shown below
Here is an example of messages and annotations for an image.
Another example is discussions for a PDF document attachment, given below
The recipient of these messages views them as a series of threads.
When each is opened we can view the entire conversation, as shown below
Threaded messages show up in the Inbox for the recipient in the “Unread Threads” view.
Each thread is actionable. You can either decide to “Mark as read”, “Unfollow”, or “Reply”.
You can "Mark as read" individual threads.
You can also “Clear read threads” once you mark threads as read.
All “read” threads can also be viewed under “Recent threads”; where all read and unread threads appear as per chronological order of most recent activity (threads).
Recent threads is a series of read threads in chronological order (latest on top)
However, for contextual threads in a Team or Project or Discussion or a Task we have provided a preference. If you want to view the Threads TAB in contexts then you can choose to view them.
Once you choose to view it; you could also set the default view as "Recent threads" or "Unread threads" based on what you are comfortable with.
A response can also be for a message to initiate a thread; here is an example. Michelle has sent this message and Neeraj is reading it and wants to respond.
Here is how Neeraj can quickly respond. Click on reply will allow to reply.
Type and send, the response is displayed right below the parent message (“context”).
Michelle gets the message in context and can further respond.
You can always open the context in the second pane to read several lines together.
And can also respond.
At a time we show up to 5 most recent messages / “Most recent Activity (5)”
Click "Open" to see all or just click on "See all"
Entire conversation is visible in the second pane.
You can choose to Unfollow a thread
If thread is “Unfollowed”, the contextual conversation thread is collapsed.
You can always open this to view in the second pane (as before).
Or “follow” it again!
You can also “Follow” a task context which you have not followed before.