In Slack, how to get notified when people DON'T reply?
December 26, 2016 1:15 PM   Subscribe

When sending messages in Slack to specific people, I would like to have a notification if they don't reply back to me within a certain amount of time. How to do this?

I'm used to doing this in email with Boomerang. But now I'm working in a company that uses Slack for everything. I don't want to constantly be checking to see if people have replied back to things I've sent to them. It's better to have a "fire and forget" style of messaging where I stop thinking about the message sent to the person until either #1. they reply back or #2. a deadline goes by without them replying. When either event happens, I think about that message again, and not before.

For example, I send a Slack direct message like "@JoeBlow, could you send me the doc that you showed in todays meeting?" And at that time I set a reminder to fire if Joe hasn't replied in 2 days on the same direct channel. Then 2 days later, Slack shows me a message that I'm still waiting for a reply. And I can poke Joe again with my request.

This is all part of an "Inbox Zero" style of work that avoids rehashing old messages. I am open-minded to hear about different approaches that work for you in Slack to accomplish this.
posted by ErikH2000 to Work & Money (6 answers total)
There might be an integration that does this, but there's definitely a built in "/remind" command: "/remind me to check for a reply from Joe in 2 days". Can trigger it in any channel and it will be invisible to everyone else. It just won't automatically disable if Joe replies.
posted by supercres at 1:31 PM on December 26, 2016 [2 favorites]

My company does a lot over Slack, and I have two 'official' answers to this question for our workflow:

1) Anything that won't be a really quick action (ie, takes them longer than 'send me the doc') doesn't just go in slack - it gets thrown into our actual task-management tool and, at most, what I'm slacking is "Hey @joeblow, just tossed a bunch of tickets at you to dig through those old docs we talked about."
2) Requests that _do_ go into Slack get pinned to the channel, and we all periodically review what's pinned and unpin things we handled, or follow up if needed.

Slack is not email; things in Slack don't get "Replied to" in the same way as email. This is in fact part of why we use email as well as Slack, and why we have a real task-management system (in our case Jira) in addition to Slack. It's very common to start talking about something in Slack - "We really should document the process for this, it's getting confusing for the new team members" and then end up with a formal tracking ticket elsewhere that can get moved through work, to approval by managers, and on to "completed." Slack is not well-suited to task-management and trying to force it into that role is just going to drive you batty if you're used to being able to run a proper "inbox zero" system.
posted by Tomorrowful at 1:52 PM on December 26, 2016 [9 favorites]

nthing the "you can do this with Slack with some integrations, but this is not what Slack is for." Try the /remind feature mentioned above. If that doesn't work for you and your workplace, then maybe something more task-oriented like JIRA would be more appropriate for you workplace's style. If it doesn't work for you but works for everyone else in your workplace, then you'll just have to adjust.
posted by erst at 2:05 PM on December 26, 2016

Nthing comments about workflow.

Anyway, for some of your use cases, you might find reminders useful; they can be sent to others and you can track the status of your reminders. For example, /remind @JoeBlow "send me that document" tomorrow at 9 AM.

More details at
posted by Ickster at 2:11 PM on December 26, 2016

Why not use the /remind command to remind the person you asked, instead of reminding yourself to bug them about answering the question? So,
/remind @coworker "Hey did you do the thing?" at 9:15 am tomorrow.

posted by emelenjr at 6:48 PM on December 26, 2016 [1 favorite]

I have Slack remind me about the message itself by right-clicking on the message. There's no way for Slack to know if a reply is relevant but with this method, the chat context is included.

If this is a badly pressing need, look into the chatbot API that incorporates buttons/prefilled responses. Or maybe look into what you can do with conditionals in Zapier if this is a recurring need and a keyword filter would be accurate.
posted by michaelh at 12:12 AM on December 27, 2016 [1 favorite]

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