Every chat user can invite another chat user to a newly created room using the "start a new room with this user" button on the chat user profile. This will ping or notify the user in the global inbox (as far as I know) and invite them to a new chat room.

I don't think this feature serves any useful purpose, inviting a random chat user into a new room is something one should almost never do. And for users you know, pinging them in a room you know they are usually present works very well.

The only time I was the target of this feature was from a user abusing it and randomly contacting multiple people. Everyone who has a reason to contact me either knows which chat rooms I can be found, or will check the regular room of the sites I'm a mod on.

Now, a user can of course abuse the regular ping in an existing chat room to achieve nearly the same effect. But I think this feature still sends the wrong message, that inviting someone into a new room is something that is somehow encouraged.

  • Would this interfere with the present workings of the automated "Convert chatty comment exchanges to a new Chat Room" feature? – Pieter Geerkens Mar 22 '13 at 17:14
  • @GangDownvoted No, I'm just proposing to remove the button on the user profile, not changing any of the functionality of the comment conversion. – Mad Scientist Mar 22 '13 at 17:15
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    Pinging a user only works if that user has a chat account (has visited chat) and has entered a room in the last 3 days. How will I contact a user that I need to talk to? Usually about a question. I might misunderstand the question, but IMHO this feature serves a useful purpose. – ɥʇǝS Mar 22 '13 at 17:17
  • @Seth If a user hasn't visited chat in more than three days, that's a pretty good sign that they might not be interested to chat. And for everything related to a question you can comment on it, and if the user responds there you can then take it to chat. – Mad Scientist Mar 22 '13 at 17:18
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    There could be cases where a relatively new user is doing something wrong (trivial edits, leaving non constructive comments) where this comes in handy. The only alternative is to comment on one of the user's posts out of context. – Asad Saeeduddin Mar 22 '13 at 17:24
  • @Asad If you point out that a certain behaviour is harmful on the post where it is happening, that is hardly out of context. Chatting with the user is also only possible if the user has a chat account, which very new users usually don't. – Mad Scientist Mar 22 '13 at 17:26
  • If someone makes incorrect edits (trivial, drastic, vandalising etc.) to a post, I can't really respond to them on the post. Also, if the user is leaving non constructive comments on a post, I don't want to hijack the thread for extended discussion of this behavior, although a single comment is fine. – Asad Saeeduddin Mar 22 '13 at 17:27
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    @Asad You can ping editors in comments, and one of the posts would be a perfectly fine place to tell the user that the edit is harmful – Mad Scientist Mar 22 '13 at 17:28
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    @MadScientist I didn't know you could ping editors. Still, I still feel this doesn't suffice for all cases. A lot of the time discussion of problematic behavior doesn't belong in comment threads on questions or answers. – Asad Saeeduddin Mar 22 '13 at 17:34
  • does this feature "overrule" protection supposed to be provided by adding someone to ignored-users? – gnat Mar 22 '13 at 17:46

I have seen this feature used quite effectively when a new topical room is created and interested parties are invited to move from the site general chat to the topical room. The feature serves a purpose and even functions well. It doesn't get in way or cause un-necessary confusion. Another constructive use is pulling aside new users to help them understand the system. The invite system helps streamline their entrance into chat in a way that pings would not.

Like any feature, it presents an opportunity for abuse. However, people whom we allow to use chat should respect the privileges they are given. When abuse does occur, we have ways to mitigate it the same as with other (more common) ways chat is abused.

I could see a case for raising the bar so that you need more reputation to use such a feature, but I don't see a case for removing it altogether. Pinging is not a good replacement because it is not always available to users and it does not streamline the process of finding and joining the right room.

  • If you're collecting users from the general site chat, pinging works fine for that. You can't add users that aren't present in that chat, but that would be a feature in my opinion, not a drawback. – Mad Scientist Mar 22 '13 at 17:24

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