What is meta? ×
Meta Stack Exchange is where users like you discuss bugs, features, and support issues that affect the software powering all 128 Stack Exchange communities.

One issue we have on Programmers.SE is that people like to have extended discussions in comments on answers and questions. Try as we might to delete long comment chains and educate them about chat (example 1, example 2, example 3, example 4, MSO example), our chat room sits relatively empty and long comment chains still occur with great frequency.

Presumably, this problem also occurs on any Stack Exchange question that invites differing schools of thought about a problem.

Rather than continue to fight a losing battle, can we get a "migrate to chat" option for comments? This would allow people to have their extended discussions in the correct place and expose chat a little more to the people who would most benefit from it.

The artifact that could be left behind to let people know that the discussion has been moved to chat could be a comment from Community:

The extended discussion in the comments has been moved to chat.

Where the word chat links to the permalink where the comments were migrated.

There's a case where this resolution would make continued discussion inaccessible—when a user is participating in an extended discussion on his own question but does not have 20 rep—but perhaps a warning or disclaimer could be added:

The extended discussion in the comments has been moved to chat. To continue participating, you need 20 reputation.

Or some logic (like perhaps a special-cased chat room) to allow the user to continue participating in the migrated discussion.


share|improve this question
I like this idea a lot, but I want to request one additional feature. On SO I notice a lot of the extended comment discussions involve new users who can't get in to chat. I'd like to see a warning if I'm about to migrate a comment thread to chat if any of the comments are from users with less than 20 rep. –  Bill the Lizard Jun 1 '11 at 19:22
@Bill Although there's still the edge case of a new user commenting on their own questions, generally you need more rep to comment than you need to chat. I wonder if there's a way to build the it's-my-discussion-so-the-rep-rules-are-more-lax logic into chat, but absent that I agree a warning should be added. –  user149432 Jun 1 '11 at 19:27
@Mark: That might be a better idea. Create a room specifically for that conversation, then let all the users involved in to that chat room, regardless of rep. –  Bill the Lizard Jun 1 '11 at 19:34
@Bill @Mark Would we potentially end up with a lot of zombie rooms, never to be used again, as a result? –  Anna Lear Jun 1 '11 at 20:54
@Anna Because of that, I would prefer the disclaimer option rather than catering to the edge case of a user with less than 20 rep participating in an extended discussion on his own question. –  user149432 Jun 1 '11 at 21:14
-1, what about those of us who never will use chat? (not saying I try and participate in long comment chains outside of meta, but still) –  user7116 Jun 1 '11 at 21:55
@sixlettervariables you don't have to participate in chat. Right now, comment chains are deleted if a moderator catches it. This is providing an avenue for those comments to remain, but in the most appropriate location. Not willing to go to the chat room to have an extended discussion doesn't give anyone license to treat comments as a chat room. –  user149432 Jun 1 '11 at 22:01
@Mark: just delete them. If they are worth saying on chat somebody will say them. I'd wager the majority of these chains are by users who have no desire to visit chat (which is a SE gray area at best). –  user7116 Jun 1 '11 at 22:13
@Chris if I remember correctly, it was deleted in favor of this proposal. Removed the reference from the question. –  user149432 Sep 14 '11 at 22:25
@sixlettervariables I disagree. Parenting in particular leads to discussions that would be better moved to chat. –  deworde Feb 16 '12 at 10:53
+1 Please, implement this!!! :D –  Alenanno Mar 5 '12 at 22:53
good idea, Please, implement this +1 –  tgkprog Mar 30 '13 at 0:33

2 Answers 2

Agreed. I've done this at least once, and IIRC twice, by copying the text of the messages into chat, adding attributions, and deleting the comments. It was extremely tedious, but it was the right thing to do at the time.

So yes, please give us a tool do do that!

This feature should give a choice of creating a chat room (when you want to take users to a place where they won't bother anyone else, but not silence them) or using an existing room (when it's just a conversation that's been drifting away from the topic of the question).

share|improve this answer
Wish I could +1 twice for the suggestion to use an existing chat room. –  David Z Jan 14 '12 at 0:43

This is something we're putting thought to; the "mod pushing it" scenario is a bit more complex than the existing setup, as the current mechanism is designed to spot and migrate an ongoing conversation between two individuals. We've played with some experimental code to see how the existing mechanism works, and it looks like to be useful we'd have to relax the rules a fair bit on what conversations we let it transfer. Not a problem - just something to be done.

We also have some ... reservations about when it is appropriate vs. not, and (for example) whether we should check which participants are chat users before dragging it over (since in this scenario neither/none of the participants is the one pushing the button).

But: it is something we are actively now thinking about, in terms of what is/isn't appropriate.

share|improve this answer
This is good to know, thanks. I look forward to the conclusions :P –  Matthew Read Jan 23 '12 at 14:53
Sorry to bug you, but any update on this? –  HodofHod Jun 1 '12 at 16:54
Marc, the stats site is desperate for this kind of feature. If it would simplify things, we might be well enough off if you always provided the "move to chat" option to all future commenters (of sufficient rep) as soon as (say) one individual posted more than 50% of 5 or more comments to a question or answer. Although this might seem like nagging (it would be), the "monopoly" criterion I suggested would limit this behavior to just a few threads and would help users understand the reason for the nagging. –  whuber Jul 16 '12 at 18:17
A nudge on this: security.stackexchange.com/a/25600/836 is a mess that I'd love to migrate and preserve. My options are quite limited without this feature. –  Jeff Ferland Dec 18 '12 at 23:10
Marc - have there been any more progress on this? Thanks! –  DVK Feb 1 '13 at 0:40
Politics could actually be resurrected by this! –  Affable Geek Jul 9 '13 at 20:39
I don't see how allowing mods to move chatty comments to a room could be less appropriate than the current situation where we are forced to summarily delete them (and lock the post so they don't just regenerate). –  T.E.D. Aug 14 '13 at 14:39
...aaaand, just got a complaint from a user about me doing just that. Please, please give us some better tool for dealing with this than the delete button. –  T.E.D. Aug 15 '13 at 2:55
I second @T.E.D.'s request. Please for the love of mods this would help so much. –  ihtkwot Aug 20 '13 at 0:48
Any news on this? Moving discussions to chat would be so useful. –  Raphael Jan 7 at 11:34
Four months after the last request for news, two years after the initial "it's on the to-do list," can we get some update here? This feature is literally the one I most desire from SE. –  KRyan Apr 9 at 17:41
This would make a big difference on Workplace. –  Monica Cellio May 4 at 3:09
Another plea for this feature! Over at skeptics we get some.... interesting... discussions in comments which we mods unfortunately have to clean up. Sometimes it feels right to migrate the whole comment thread to its own chat room and leave just a link saying (extended discussion moved to chat). –  Jamiec Jun 20 at 23:34
It sounds like you're looking for ways to adjust the existing mechanism to auto-identify comments to move. You should totally ditch that and <strike>use jQuery instead</strike> consider letting mods select -- a selection interface + a migrate button that then calls the same code that the auto one does (to create a new room and move stuff) would be a huge win. Could it be better than that? Sure, but even that would be a major step. –  Monica Cellio Jun 23 at 16:17
Ok, I guess comment markdown doesn't include strikethrough, either <strike> or --- . Oh well. –  Monica Cellio Jun 23 at 16:17

You must log in to answer this question.