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In the last few days I noticed that quite a few times a room goes off topic, it starts with an innocent waffles animated gif with delicious maple syrup and ends in a ten minute discussion about your favorite sports team.

Meanwhile, the room is meant to be about "Chat Feedback" or some other specific topic.

It would be nice to have some sort of moderator function that allows you to freeze a room for N seconds, and notify users that stuff is out of control and the room will be back in N seconds when stuff cools down.

(There is also a twist on this)

  • Freeze the room for the last N people who posted in the room, allow the rest (exclude mods)

Thoughts?

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11  
It's the third place... Why moderate it like that? –  George Stocker Aug 6 '10 at 1:09
    
@George, I'm proposing an emergency only moderator feature ... –  waffles Aug 6 '10 at 2:36
    
I usually just shout out "oh, BEHAVE!" and that gets people's attention. :) –  Ether Aug 6 '10 at 19:35

4 Answers 4

Time Out sucks. Warnings suck more. Way to kill the buzz...

If you're gonna bother freezing, might as well do something constructive:

  1. Freeze, select thread, move to new room.
  2. Room is created, populated with thread, users are auto-joined.
  3. Room is unfrozen. Life continues on.
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That was my other suggestion :) but the freeze function appears to be a easy change that would get us 80% of the way there –  waffles Aug 6 '10 at 0:27
2  
Well, if the 80% is pissing off the room and the 20% is placating them again... But knowing SO users as I do, I suspect you have the percentages reversed! –  Shogging through the snow Aug 6 '10 at 0:28
    
chat.meta.stackoverflow.com/rooms/143/… (only 1 comment per 15 seconds, I mock you) –  waffles Aug 6 '10 at 0:30
    
That is pretty much what we now have - at the moment dragging to another existing room, but "create new room" is in the pipeline. –  Marc Gravell Aug 13 '10 at 22:44

Chat is real-time conversation. Conversation drifts, people make jokes, they comment on the fly that just landed on their beer can and that damn neighbor's dog that just wandered into the front yard and took a dump. Keeping it tightly focused is quite a chore. The SE Q&A sites are better for that. I'm guessing you're going to have to live with the fact that the chat sites are going to be a bit, shall we say, "loose".

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1  
Totally accept drift, but if stuff drifts too far there should be something we can do that is less draconian than gagging you. –  waffles Aug 6 '10 at 0:45
    
@waf: Either you or I have misunderstood Jeff's definition of a third place. –  Ladybug Killer Aug 6 '10 at 8:54

How about spinning off the off-topic comments and their users into a new room (e.g. sports)?

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Freeze the room for the last N people who posted in the room, allow the rest (exclude mods)

With that users would get punished for an on-topic post amidst an avalanche of off-topic ones.

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