There should be an option to downvote in chat.

Chat is very tied to SO, and almost all rooms have well defined basic rules.

I believe strongly that being able to downvote off-topic or run-by questions in chat would very much discourage such irritating behavior. It is also much more humane than letting room regulars either completely ignore or pound the new person in to the ground.

(edit) The current system is lacking in user-self-regulation like on all the other SE sites. Room owners aren't always as present and vigilant as downvote-capable users (that are active and present at the time of the incident) could be.

I speak out of my personal experience (it's not me being ignored or drive-by-question dropping, it's others) in the Lounge, which is a great room if you understand the relaxed mentality governing the regulars' chatting behavior.

EDIT To respond to the comment of "the downvoting system is not described here". This is a discussion post, meant to discuss the option. The implementation depends on the outcome of this discussion, obviously. I was thinking -5 rep on the "mother site" to which the user's profile is linked. This is just an example!

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    What effect would these downvotes have - how would they discourage the activity you're seeing in chat? Would they affect the poster's reputation on SE? Which site? Or would chat now have its own reputation system? What would downvotes cost the caster? What about upvotes? You've proposed one small piece of what could be a very complex system. – Michael Petrotta Jun 22 '12 at 16:18
  • As I think about it, most of the behavior that I'd want to down-vote is from ignorance, which is treated by pointing them at the FAQ. It's pretty rare for me to want to downvote someone who has such been informed. Which means downvotes don't accomplish anything except make me feel better. – Mooing Duck Jun 22 '12 at 16:18
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    You're really missing important details as to why this would be good and why the current system does not work – slhck Jun 22 '12 at 16:20
  • @MichaelPetrotta Chats are linked to a specific SE site, so logically, it'd affect that linked site's rep. – rubenvb Jun 22 '12 at 16:20
  • I'd imagine the existing flagging system could be more reasonably extended to handle whatever issues you're seeing in chat. Any by the by - examples? What behavior, exactly, are you seeing that you'd rather not? – Michael Petrotta Jun 22 '12 at 16:22
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    @rubenvb Not necessarily - chat users have a "parent site" for historical reasons, but it can be almost anything. I can be participating in chat on Math.SE and have my parent account be set to Stack Overflow, for example. – Adam Lear Jun 22 '12 at 16:23
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    There suddenly seems to be a lot of feature requests just to keep questions out of a single SO room... – Ben Brocka Jun 22 '12 at 16:25
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    @BenBrocka: They're extremely irritating and disruptive, and the other rooms have the same problems as us. We just tend to come here and complain about it more. – DeadMG Jun 22 '12 at 16:26
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    @MichaelPetrotta: Flagging for a moderator requires a moderator, and flagging for other users disrupts the chat for everybody by making them respond to a single message completely out of context. – DeadMG Jun 22 '12 at 16:26
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    @BenBrocka: Since that room has the highest population, everyone with a question to post goes to that room so that everyone is forced to see their advertisement. – Mooing Duck Jun 22 '12 at 16:27
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    @MichaelPetrotta: Yes- after it's already pissed off every 10k user in every room. We already tried to get it fixed. – DeadMG Jun 22 '12 at 16:27
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    @MichaelPetrotta: If a message is downvoted, it's easier for us to know which messages to bin, for example, and which users are problematic. Rep in the chat would serve the exact same purpose as rep on the main sites. – DeadMG Jun 22 '12 at 16:30
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    Ok, that's a start, @DeadMG. This proposal is getting a poor reception here in part because it lacks detail, as I allude to in my first comment. I think you'll have better luck once this proposal is fleshed out. – Michael Petrotta Jun 22 '12 at 16:32
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    @BenBrocka: We're the bestest room and we care deeply about chat experience, and not just for us (also why we dislike the current flagging system). – Cat Plus Plus Jun 22 '12 at 16:36
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    +1. Not nearly enough drama in chat. – user1228 Jun 22 '12 at 17:20

Linking chat activity to reputation on the main site is a very, very bad idea. Your activity in chat - positive or negative - contributes nothing directly to the main site, where folks are asking questions and getting answers. If you're annoying people in chat, they should be able to take action directly in chat.

I believe strongly that being able to downvote off-topic or run-by questions in chat would very much discourage such irritating behavior.

A tool for this already exists: flag the post. If enough people do this, it gets deleted, and the author gets (a very short) suspension from chat. If that seems too severe to you, then you aren't really interested in discouraging anything.

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    As has been <strike>ignored</strike>stated repeatedly, the existing flagging system leaves a lot to be desired. – DeadMG Jun 22 '12 at 16:35
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    @DeadMG so suggest something that fixes that problem instead of creating a second awkward chat moderation tool – Ben Brocka Jun 22 '12 at 16:36
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    @BenBrocka: Pretty sure we already tried that. – DeadMG Jun 22 '12 at 16:37
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    @DeadMG: So suggest improvements to it, or refine existing suggestions for improvement (amusingly, the folks I see complaining about flagging tend to fall into two separate groups: the "we want flags to be more powerful" and "we hate censorship and want to stop flags from being effective" parties - if you can come up with something that resolves this tension better than the current system without also creating dictatorial walled gardens, I'd love to hear it). Start with examples of real problem - always a great way to get stuff done. – Shog9 Jun 22 '12 at 16:37
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    +1 -- Linking chat activity to the site in general is an awful idea IMHO (though that could be because I hang out in the sewer known as The Comms Room). Chat is chat - it's a bunch of people gathered in a virtual bar to BS. The sites are "the office" where we "work" helping people get answers to their questions. You might talk about the office at the bar, but if you spill your drink on someone your pay shouldn't be docked for the dry cleaning. – voretaq7 Jun 22 '12 at 16:51

So what you want is to tell the user "don't do that". Downvotes don't actually do that, they indicate quality. Indicating quality of isolated chat messages is problematic at best.

If someone is doing something they shouldn't, tell them. You'll still have to do that anyway, because when users get downvotes they're just going to ask why they got downvotes; they do the same thing on the main site. Then instead of saying "Hey, don't ask questions here" you're saying that, and explaining your downvote. So now you've got two problems, and drama on top of that.

It seems like what you really want is some sort of way to punish these users for being annoying. That's sort of understandable, but this would be a huge (and unusual) feature change that barely addresses the problem in any useful way.

If you want better community/room owner/ect tools for chat, request that with a specific suggestion. Downvotes just aren't the way to do that (and just imagine the hellish drama they would incite).

  • Chat messages are not isolated. If they are, the completely disconnected context is a good reason for a downvote. I also don't see what kind of hellish drama you see coming from this. – rubenvb Jun 22 '12 at 16:32
  • The problem is that if user X ignores it, and then simply comes back later to a different group in the chat, you have no way of knowing that. There's no history. It can take days for a user to get thoroughly ignored and flagged out of the room. – DeadMG Jun 22 '12 at 16:34
  • @DeadMG: how much of a problem is it that a single user does that? Virtually never that I've been aware of. – Mooing Duck Jun 22 '12 at 16:44
  • @dead No history? Oh yes there is. Mods can see a list of flags on a user. Isn't that enough? – Manishearth Jun 22 '12 at 19:28

The current system is lacking in user-self-regulation like on all the other SE sites. Room owners aren't always as present and vigilant as downvote-capable users (that are active and present at the time of the incident) could be.

Sounds like you need to add more room owners, not start re-architecting chat. Just my humble opinion...

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    Room owners can't banish in public chat rooms. Flags are needed, which can be dismissed by random other chatters that fail to check the message's context. – rubenvb Jun 22 '12 at 17:46
  • @rubenvb I fail to see the need for flags to deal with this, though I could get behind giving room owners "kick" ability if you want a technical solution to "people are being chatty in chat" – voretaq7 Jun 22 '12 at 18:25
  • It's not "chatty" I'm wanting to punish. It's all out disrupting. Like barfight disrupting. – rubenvb Jun 22 '12 at 18:47
  • @rubenvb And I can see the merit of giving room owners a way to deal with that (let them kick people). Downvotes don't seem to be the right answer to me, for all the reasons Shog9 mentioned – voretaq7 Jun 22 '12 at 19:09

I agree. Wherever it is possible for bad behaviour to disrupt other users and the site in general, downvoting should be an option. And we already have a form of upvoting in starring things.

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    Stars aren't up-votes, and they definitely don't contribute to your reputation on the main site (or anywhere else). – Shog9 Jun 22 '12 at 16:40
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    @Shog9: The original proposal did not imply that down-votes would be tied to the rep on the main site, until his sample. I rather like the idea of chat-specific rep. "Plays nice with others" – Mooing Duck Jun 22 '12 at 16:46
  • @Mooing: sounds like more of a distraction than anything else, IMHO. But that'd be a separate proposal at this point. Definitely against a system that allows punishing folks who are doing fine on the main site if they venture into chat - that's just a recipe for discouraging anyone who isn't part of the right clique from ever using it. – Shog9 Jun 22 '12 at 16:52

I totally agree that many chats are off topic and adding downvote will regulate behavior for some people. There is concern though that this can have negative side as well. It can discourage some people to chat freely.

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    One of SE's most popular chat rooms, The Bridge, rarely has any on-topic chat at all. – fredley Jun 22 '12 at 16:27
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    It's not about sticking to some preestablished topic, that's just silly. – Cat Plus Plus Jun 22 '12 at 16:38

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