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I had a thought last night that when people are leaving a comment on a question or an answer, they are trying to engage with the person who wrote that question or answer.

Many times, there is hope that they will respond in the comments or adjust their post - but often times it falls on deaf ears. Other times, the comments go back and forth so much that it generates an automatic chat room offer.

Given the nature of comments is ephemeral, and they're there to try and improve a post, why not just automatically create a room where it can be discussed? Those rooms can be removed over time, which keeps the question/answer section much cleaner as well.

This would keep the comments section incredibly clean and let those who do want interact do so in a place that is separate from the main question/answer.

I'm probably missing something here, but wanted to raise the idea to the group.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Automatically create it at what point? Like, straight off the bat or something? \$\endgroup\$ – doppelgreener Dec 29 '17 at 14:03
  • \$\begingroup\$ Yes, the first entry into comments would generate the room where it would go - and a link to the room would show under the question/answer. \$\endgroup\$ – NautArch Dec 29 '17 at 14:05
  • \$\begingroup\$ I would recommend that this go to MSE, but I understand why you wouldn't want to … \$\endgroup\$ – can-ned_food Jun 9 '18 at 0:02
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Coming at this from a different angle, there's nothing stopping a (20+ rep) user from doing exactly what you're suggesting. You could, if you like, instead of leaving a "usual" first comment take a moment to create a new room, copy its URL, and leave a comment saying

I have some thoughts about this question's formulation and the situation where it arose. Please join me in this chat room when you have a chance.

As for automatically doing so... the answers and comments elsewhere do a pretty good job of explaining some reasons this isn't currently supported.

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So from what I understand, you're raising the idea of being able to create a chat room at square 0, without the long ABAB trail that offers to generate one for you.

I have some concerns with that:

  • it doesn't actually fix the engagement issue. I get pings about comments left on my posts, except where they're specifically pinging someone else. I actually get less pings about chat; people have to deliberately ping me on each message to get me a notification for it.
  • part of what Stack Exchange does for us is keep all the useful information publicly in one place in the same question & answer page. When I ask for information you can see it's been asked for, and you can see the clarification it received. If peoples' mode of interaction is to spawn off 2-3 chat rooms to converse with the asker, instead of leaving comments, then the same information gets sequestered away and is harder to find. As an author, you might find yourself in situations where you're saying "as I said in the other two chat rooms people opened..."

Comment sections do get messy on developing situations, but personally as a community member and moderator I'd prefer you tame the mess by flagging stuff for me to delete. We can help the important stuff stand out that way.

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    \$\begingroup\$ In the past, chat was used to review and revise questions to the point that we had to be reminded chat isn't designed to fill that role because it was creating action on main site without a visible cause or reason. \$\endgroup\$ – BESW Dec 29 '17 at 14:19
  • \$\begingroup\$ On the first point, there is no way to generate the autoping in chat? On the 2nd point, I had thought comments were meant to generally be ephemeral and not lost forever (in fact, many longer comment threads get removed entirely.) Rather than deleting the unwanted comments, a chat would allow moving of the quality comments to be saved under the answers/questions. \$\endgroup\$ – NautArch Dec 29 '17 at 14:20
  • \$\begingroup\$ @BESW Right; we'd workshop a question in chat, change it on main, and then people on main who weren't there for the chat would be stunned and confused wondering why such a major change was made by another user -- there wouldn't be any comment trail providing context. IIRC we were asked afterwards: don't do that, but if you do do that, leave a comment on the post linking to the chat conversation and explain what happened. \$\endgroup\$ – doppelgreener Dec 29 '17 at 14:21
  • \$\begingroup\$ @BESW I hadn't thought of it like that. But while stars aren't voting, how are they different than upvotes on comments? And this isn't utilizing the main chat, this is a side chat specifically for a particular question or answer. \$\endgroup\$ – NautArch Dec 29 '17 at 14:21
  • \$\begingroup\$ In addition, just like going to each answer, the querent would be going to each answer's chat to respond. Yes, they're different pages and if that's the reason against this, then it's a reasonable one - but if the goal is clean questions/answers and to give people an opportunity to revise/suggest/question, then the chat does do that as well without overloading the primary question/answer page. \$\endgroup\$ – NautArch Dec 29 '17 at 14:24
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    \$\begingroup\$ @NautArch There's no current feature for every message in a chat room to ping someone -- but would you really want that? That's going to be a lot of pings sometimes. Aside, moderators can move comments to chat instead of just deleting them outright -- but we often do delete comments outright because either they're not useful for our site, or they're work in progress that has already been actioned (and at that point we're only building a "how we got here" record). Bring yourself back to this question: what are you trying to improve or resolve, and how would this address it or harm things? \$\endgroup\$ – doppelgreener Dec 29 '17 at 14:24
  • \$\begingroup\$ Wow, clearly this was not a well received idea. I guess that'll learn me to bring up new suggestions. But to counter the ping, wouldn't it be the same amount of pings whether it was the current comment or the chat room? It's just a different location you're being pinged from. \$\endgroup\$ – NautArch Dec 29 '17 at 14:26
  • \$\begingroup\$ Chat rooms tend to generate a lot larger bursts of activity than comments. Comments are like twitter: we put thought into a single concentrated message, and avoid posting more than one, and when we leave multiple comments in series it's because after serious consideration we really couldn't fit what we had to say in just one. On the other hand, chat is chat and I'll thought-dump 10 different awkward messages there if I can. (And... yeah, sorry about that. I know how that feels. Making a feature suggestion can sting more often than not.) \$\endgroup\$ – doppelgreener Dec 29 '17 at 14:29
  • \$\begingroup\$ No worries. It just seemed like a lot of times there is a lot of back and forth that muddy the comments section - and that moving it elsewhere would be an option to make it cleaner and give those people who do want to interact a place to do so. \$\endgroup\$ – NautArch Dec 29 '17 at 14:30
  • \$\begingroup\$ @NautArch Diamond moderators can do something like that -- we can move entire comment sections to chat, but we can also move only a subset by carefully deleting ones we don't want to move, then moving all remaining comments to chat, then undeleting those we put aside. (It sounds like a lot of work because it often is, and we try to keep comment sections from reaching this point in the first place.) On the other hand, we have a semi-hidden feature on peoples' chat profiles: there's a button to create a room for you and that user, which invites them into it. \$\endgroup\$ – doppelgreener Dec 29 '17 at 14:33
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    \$\begingroup\$ Ahah, that makes sense, and it's a good instinct. Unfortunately the Stack doesn't want to encourage discussion. Comments are awkward and clumsy in part because that helps keeps them from becoming full dialogs: they're supposed to focus on just improving posts. And when a dialog develops anyway, there's an autogenerated "take it to chat" feature--so people who do want to chat get nudged into chat, without automatically turning every comment thread into a chat, because that would reduce the chances of the comments focusing on improving the posts. \$\endgroup\$ – BESW Dec 29 '17 at 14:35
  • \$\begingroup\$ @BESW I think that's the answer I'm looking for :) \$\endgroup\$ – NautArch Dec 29 '17 at 14:36

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