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It has come up several times in chat that it would be useful to be able to ping a group of people in one go without having to find the id of each individual person.

It would be particularly useful in the Teachers Lounge when a moderator from site A wants to contact someone from site B to discuss a potential question migration.

It would also be useful there to contact the community coordinators, CHAOS team or even the developers (though this could be abused).

In the site specific rooms users could ping that site's moderators.

All users in the group would get the message in their inbox. A nice to have feature would be to remove it once the ping had been responded to by someone. If this can't be implemented then perhaps the ping should disappear after a while under the assumption that someone from the group has replied.

As Adam has pointed out in the comments, this may well need to be rate limited in some way to prevent abuse. That was part of my point about removing the ping when someone from the group replied.

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Right now alerts are naturally rate limited - if you alert too many people one at a time, you'll get flagged pretty quickly. If, however, you can alert a group of people several times, you can annoy quite a few more people before getting flagged. A simple solution would be limiting group alerts to one per 5-10 minutes per user. If someone abuses it, that's plenty of time to get the flagged, and even if they aren't stopped, it's slower than doing it one at a time. Regardless of the chosen solution, this should be taken into account. – Adam Davis Aug 10 '11 at 20:28
@Adam - fair enough, in that case there should be some rate limiting built in. – ChrisF Aug 10 '11 at 20:30
How about just limit this to mods. And maybe 30k users? – random Aug 10 '11 at 20:44
This needs to be WUPHFd – random Aug 10 '11 at 21:10
How is this [status-completed]? – Canadian Luke Dec 5 '13 at 22:58
@CanadianLuke Because, while it's limited to pinging mods, the method exists where it is most needed - in TL. It would have limited use elsewhere as there is no way of creating groups of users in chat. – ChrisF Dec 5 '13 at 23:01
Ahhh, OK. Just checking – Canadian Luke Dec 5 '13 at 23:02

The real problem is that if you have a problem that would benefit from the attention from someone in a group (be it mods on site B, the community coordinators, etc.). Currently you have to:

  1. remember who's in that group (a problem for SO mods as there's so many) and then
  2. find out who's online and likely to respond to a ping.

So an alternative would be to have the special syntax bring up a drop down of those members of the group who are/were recently on line. You'd then pick one (or at the most two) of these to receive the ping.

The user has had their problem solved - they've contacted someone who might be able to help with their problem but the inconvenience to other members of the contacted group is minimised.

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Bonus if it also shows the user activity chart so you can see who's likely to be online soon. – mmyers Aug 10 '11 at 21:52
@mmyers - that'd work too. – ChrisF Aug 10 '11 at 21:53

Let's see if you feel the same way when we implement a network-wide "moderator ping" in chat. <grin>

This might be convenient to the asker, but in all likelihood, the asker doesn't actually NEED to contact everyone in the group. They simply want to talk to anyone in the group. So, more often than not, this global paging system will impose on a larger group of people simply to save the asker a bit of time.

It's a bit like cross posting. Questions are typically cross-posted to multiple sites because the author would be happy with an answer from any of the sites. They don't realize that this shot-gun approach is being intrusive on a large group of people in the interest of saving that one person a bit of extra effort.

I'm not saying there is never a valid reason to contact a group of people, but the time recipients spend following up on indiscriminate pages will likely outweigh whatever benefits this feature provides.

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I see your point, hence the bit I included about the ping auto decaying or being removed once someone has responded. That way if I respond then the other Programmers mods don't need to see the ping, or if no one responds within an hour (say) it just disappears. – ChrisF Aug 10 '11 at 20:54
@ChrisF I try to answer "pings" as I hear them. When your cell phone rings, you answer it because someone wants to talk to you. But if it rang every time someone called anyone in your friends-and-family list, not only would that be very intrusive, but you would likely learn to ignore it. Same thing here. – Robert Cartaino Aug 10 '11 at 21:06
See my answer for an alternate implementation. – ChrisF Aug 10 '11 at 21:19
Ping-a-mod is precisely what we want — and the purpose is to ping one mod, and as soon as one has responded the others aren't needed. It would be an improvement to what we do now, which is go to /about then @mod1 @mod2 @mod3. – Gilles Aug 10 '11 at 21:53
@Gilles: Isn't "ping-a-mod" already implemented in terms of flags? Or does chat not work the same way as everything else? – Cody Gray Aug 11 '11 at 13:01
@Cody Flags ping-a-mod to raise attention about a particular post/message, they aren't appropriate as a general communication method. Chat flags go to all chat mods, by the way, no to the mods of a site. Ping-a-mod would be for things like “do you guys take questions like this?” or “has this issue come up on your meta before?” or “does this user cause trouble on your site as well?”. – Gilles Aug 11 '11 at 16:40

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