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(As discussed - briefly - here)

I think that starring is going to become very important for high-volume rooms, but maybe it needs another icon. Starring is too much like voting - too many people are using stars to mean "I like it, it's funny" rather than "this is important".

Maybe 'pin'? or 'landmark'? 'Salient point'?

And it could/should also be used for marking not just individual posts, but (for example) the beginning of an interesting/important discussion.

When you return to a busy room after a long absence, you basically have the choice between:

  • reading from where you left off (load to my last message link at top of page)
  • jumping in 'cold'
  • scrolling up an arbitrary distance for a look
  • 'reading the stars' (haha)

And ideally, the stars would be a reliable guide to what's going on.

EDIT Mark just pointed out that there is also a 'catch up' tab in the user profile... very neat.

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2 Answers 2

☑ Vote the "Pin" Metaphor

I like the "pin" analogy myself. The "pinned notice" section to the right should read like the front page of a newspaper or an abstract of a research paper. It says, "If you read nothing else in this chat room, read THIS."

The signal to noise ratio in a chat room is inherently very low. There's a lot of chatter to get to The Good Stuff. The Good Stuff is what defines the room. When someone comes in cold, you want them to be able to see the type of results you are shooting for.

Good reasons to "pin" a message:

  • "We just discussed this topic for 20 minutes so HERE is the summary conclusion."
  • "Important question but no one here can answer, so let's post it so a user or Moderator can answer it later."

Bad reasons to "pin" a message:

  • "Ha Ha, that was funny."
  • "I agree with what you said."
  • "Nice, I can't up-vote this so I'm going to award it the only recognition I have at hand."

This list is not all-inclusive but you get the idea.

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Well, this is documented in the chat faq, at least:

Star any message in the room that you feel is particularly interesting, or worthy of summarizing, up to a maximum of 20 starred messages per room per day. Messages can be starred by anyone in the room; the more stars, the more interesting the message to that room. These starred messages appear in the room sidebar, ordered by number of stars and last time of starring. This is intended to be a collaboratively created mini-timeline of interesting room events for people who don't have time to read the entire chat log in that particular room.

Also, when you say

too many people are using stars to mean "I like it, it's funny" rather than "this is important".

That is not wrong, necessarily; it depends on the topic of the room.

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Maybe I'm not visiting the right rooms, but to me, the starred lists currently don't seem to be much use for catching up on anything important that's been happening. –  Benjol Aug 16 '10 at 5:06
    
@benjol scroll to the top of the room and click "highlights" –  Jeff Atwood Aug 16 '10 at 5:18

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