So, I got trolled by the expert chat AF, figured it out immediately, and I think it is really not cool for SE to do to the userbase, especially because I frequently use this site (both asking for help and attempting to help others) in the course of my job, and it just wasted my time and pissed me off. Is there somewhere (aside from this post) to submit feedback to whomever at SE made the decision that this is an appropriate joke?

Dunno if this link still works but here is my transcript http://adviza.stackexchange.com/transcript/GIytjIhQIkGH

Expert: Hello, can I help you with issues around specifying the build directory of a test run?

User: Hello, I am attempting to specify required files to be deployed with a generic test, where the required files are built by the TFS build process

Expert: I don't know.

User: This a very unwelcome joke. I am actually trying to work.

Expert: Oh really? I'm kind of actually trying to work myself.

User: Well, since you apparently only kind of actually work, keep working on it.

Expert: Hey, would you like to be keeping folder tree instead?

User: Tell your programmer that doesn't make any sense.

Expert: 42.

User: This is in poor taste and is not appropriate for the SO userbase. I am now less likely to continue using any Stack Exchange sites and I am drastically less likely to follow advertisements from SE.

Expert: Oh really? I'm kind of drastically less likely to follow advertisements from se myself.

Edit: also, for those users who I see asking about how to get rid of the popup, I'm fairly certain the popup & chat runs on client-side Javascript and all modern browsers come with tools to easily modify the way client-side scripts run....

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    So, you got trolled by an automated bot and you blame the bot? – Cody Gray Apr 1 '13 at 21:27
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    There's always the option of not feeding the (automated...) troll. That is, if you even fell to the trap of clicking on the thing. – sehe Apr 1 '13 at 21:27
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    This was f**ing hilarious, thank you – Christian Stewart Apr 1 '13 at 21:28
  • "blame the bot"! Lol no, I wanted to tell SE that it just ticked me off and wasn't funny, although I have now spent more time posting about the bot than the amount of my time wasted by the bot :P I think my transcript makes obvious my approach to bots and I did find part of the chat amusing. – taz Apr 1 '13 at 21:31
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    In my opinion it's a bit childish to vote this question down. There doesn't seem to be anything wrong with it to me, he's only asking where he can complain, what's wrong with that? If you disagree with the fact that he wants to complain in the first place then voting the question doesn't seem to be the place to do it, especially if you dont follow it with a reasonable comment ( unlike the ones I've read) . It was a really stupid joke in the first place if you ask me, and well beneath SO, and there should be somewhere people can complain ... otherwise it's not much of a community is it? – byronyasgur Apr 1 '13 at 22:36
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    @byronyasgur meta.stackoverflow.com/faq#vote-differences – Cody Gray Apr 1 '13 at 22:54
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    @CodyGray Quoting from your link "Voting here works a bit differently from other Stack Exchange sites. On Meta Stack Overflow, voting is often used to express agreement or disagreement, not to point out a lack of quality or helpfulness. Please don't be concerned if you receive downvotes – members of the community may simply disagree with your bug, feature request, support issue, or the nature of the discussion." This seems bizarre to me. This means that user privileges can be removed as a result of low reputation points, simply because of user disagreement. – taz Apr 1 '13 at 23:09
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    Yes. You're not the first person to make that observation. A quick search here will turn up lots of hits. I'm not sure why it seems so strange to you. This is a site for discussing how the Stack Exchange sites operate, so the experts here are the ones who have been around long enough to understand how the sites work. That may or may not be the same people who are experts on Stack Overflow. – Cody Gray Apr 1 '13 at 23:16
  • @CodyGray I agree, except that the experts here are ones who have been around long enough to understand how the sites work. Although time and experience are factors, many other things could contribute to one's understanding of a given domain. It seems strange to me for a community-oriented service to allow members to contribute to the revocation of other members' privileges for reasons other than noncompliance with terms of the service. Members can detract from other members' experience on the basis of mere disagreement. This discourage legitimate use and detracts from total utility. – taz Apr 1 '13 at 23:22
  • They're privileges, not entitlements. If you don't buy into the whole concept, you won't be happy on the main site either. – Cody Gray Apr 1 '13 at 23:34
  • Fair enough. I see an important difference in that, on Meta, unlike SO, users are encouraged to detract from the experience of other users with unpopular opinions, whereas on the main site, this is encouraged on the basis of perceived inferior technical knowledge or ability. The way this works on Meta is, in my opinion, detrimental to the success of such a platform and merely supports homogenization, and actively dissuades legitimate and productive discussion. I think this does also happen on the main site, but to a lesser extent, probably because of the objectivity-oriented premise. – taz Apr 1 '13 at 23:40
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    You should read the answers to this question. Especially the part entitled "Heavily Consider Not Suggesting Anything If You Are New". Yes, to some degree it does support homogenization, since except on a select few questions, there will be no objectively "correct" answer on Meta. But it isn't very helpful for people who are new to the platform to show up and suggest discarding fundamental features like voting & privileges. (Lots of good reading material in the linked questions, too.) – Cody Gray Apr 1 '13 at 23:45
  • At the risk of unnecessarily dragging this on, I have not at all suggested removing those features. I do think that voting should be encouraged according to perceived quality or expertise on Meta, just like any other main site. I think also that many of the responses of experienced users violated those answers, and I did not. Also: helpful to whom? Is it somehow disruptive for a new user to make such a suggestion? One of the things I have always liked about SO was what I perceived as minimal eliticism (baseless dismission) but some of my experiences today contradict this previous perception. – taz Apr 1 '13 at 23:56
  • The answers to that question and the difference in the encouraged nature of voting on Meta indicate that the userbase disagrees with my question, which was actually just asking where I could send a complaint. So not only are users encouraged to shun users with conflicting opinions, but apparently feedback is not welcome from users holding negative opinions of the site. Surely it becomes obvious this is not a recipe for long-term success, but paves the way for a userbase of nonvarying opinions patting itself on the back. – taz Apr 2 '13 at 0:03
  • Also, these policies and attitudes have already negatively affected the growth potential (something sponsors care about) of SE: at least one user (me) has decreased their perception of the value and integrity of SE and its community, and is influencing the opinions of friends and potential new users both online and IRL. – taz Apr 2 '13 at 0:07

You can email us via the "contact us" link at the bottom of any page.

That said, those of us who were involved in the development of this thing will likely see this post anyway, so you're already in the right place.

I'm sorry to hear you didn't enjoy your interaction with the bot. I assure you, it's all intended to be in good fun.

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    Thanks for your response. I figured this would be where to ask. Normally I get a kick out of this sort of thing, but I have spent weeks attempting to track down an expert on the particulars of my question and have not found anyone who can help, so the joke was very aggravating and a misfire in my case. I understand it's intended to be in good fun and I am grateful for the services provided by the SE administrators and developers. Also, from a user perspective the bot AI is interesting. – taz Apr 1 '13 at 21:29
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    @AdamLear I also found the joke stupid and annoying. It simply wasted my time while I worked out whether it was a virus or an add or whatever ... jokes have to be faster ... it took me about 2 seconds to cop the google smell one but the SO one was not that clear to anyone who knows the nature of pop ups ... maybe if it had been branded SO it might have worked better .. just my 2c – byronyasgur Apr 1 '13 at 22:39
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    Plot twist: Correspondence made through the "contact us" link is handled by the same bot. – Chris Laplante Apr 2 '13 at 16:50

I realise you might have been having a tough day at work, and you were probably caught off guard by this. It is unfortunate that this got in the way of solving a problem, but I'm pretty sure that was never the original intention.

I think a lot of the bewilderment with the bot could have been avoided if it had been configured to just acknowledge the prank after a certain number of messages. Also, perhaps it was too convincing, judging from the number of people had trouble seeing through the fake conversation.

Anyway, I'm sorry you (and some other people) had a bad experience with this, and I sincerely hope you don't curtail your participation in the site over a silly joke. Here is a picture of a happy kitten to help you see the lighter side of things :)

enter image description here

  • I decided to move my "approved" answer from this one, because although it made me smile the most (not because the kitten makes everything OK, but because it was satirically hilarious), I realized that the "contact us" link is actually what I was looking for. – taz Apr 1 '13 at 23:31
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    Troll Kitten! . . – user102937 Apr 1 '13 at 23:39

I've not been a super active user of late and this too popped up for me... I then remembered the date and that SO does have a history of fun pranks on April fools day...

I realized pretty quickly what this was. I wouldn't say poor taste, but was implemented so well it felt pretty real. Maybe next time they should ad some unicorns to make it obvious its a joke.

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    The only thing that made me understand it was a joke was the used icon: It was the same face seen in a Stack Exchange advertisement. The joke was well done, IMO. – kiamlaluno Apr 1 '13 at 21:32
  • Yeah, I was suspicious of the popup but after quick consideration I figured it would be legit, coming from SE. Also, being a nerd, I instantly recognized the expert user's avatar and assumed that someone had simply picked that image for their avatar. – taz Apr 1 '13 at 21:33
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    @kiamlaluno Do you consider the entire movie Office Space to be a Stack Exchange advertisement, or did they actually use this image somewhere else? – Cody Gray Apr 1 '13 at 21:35
  • I don't know whether SE used that image somewhere else, but I recognize the "Mondays" lady from many nightmares. – taz Apr 1 '13 at 21:38
  • @CodyGray I remember seeing it in a Stack Exchange advertisement, but I don't recall the advertisement itself, except it pictured a woman with that face. – kiamlaluno Apr 1 '13 at 21:39
  • @CodyGray We used it for a Careers ad for a while, but it wasn't universally liked. – Adam Lear Apr 1 '13 at 21:44

It sounds like you feel entitled to some level of service from Stack Exchange, or that somehow your need to get down to work is our responsibility.

It is not.

  • Prior to this answer being posted, I commented on the first answer: "I understand it's intended to be in good fun and I am grateful for the services provided by the SE administrators and developers." – taz Apr 1 '13 at 21:37
  • I'm not answering comments. I'm answering the question. – Lightness Races with Monica Apr 1 '13 at 21:38
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    Well, we are here to provide a service and we generally try not to be obnoxious about it. If someone doesn't like what we do, we'd like to hear about it. Sometimes it makes sense, sometimes it doesn't, but in general I think your attitude displayed in this answer is misguided. – Adam Lear Apr 1 '13 at 21:39
  • @AdamLear Here, here! Lightness Races in Orbit: Most people feel entitled to some level of service from a company that's explicitly offered a service, supported by revenue from advertisements that the people are seeing. I share some of your attitude in that I am inclined to dismiss this particular complaint as not well-founded, but the attitude that it doesn't matter if there are problems on Stack Exchange sites, or that as a community we shouldn't speak up to make SE better, is fundamentally (albeit perhaps unintentionally) embedded in this answer. – Eliah Kagan Apr 1 '13 at 21:41
  • @LightnessRacesinOrbit facepalm, "I'm not answering comments. I'm answering the question." You realize that was an answer to my comment right? :P Also, in general I try to keep in the spirit of SE and only post things that will be helpful to future readers, whom I thought would benefit from the knowledge that my OP was not made under the assumptions of privilege your answer implied, and that I had already described this. – taz Apr 1 '13 at 21:41
  • @EliahKagan I am curious why you would dismiss this particular complain as not well-founded (I am not disagreeing, just asking for your reasoning) – taz Apr 1 '13 at 21:42
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    @taz You told the bot the joke was unwelcome, knowing it was a joke and not something that would help you with your work. Then you continued engaging with it. There's no reason for you to have thought the bot would convey information to its developers (because it's a joke bot). If you immediately stopped playing around with the feature you're objecting to the existence of, and just posted feedback on meta, I would see this as a more serious complaint. Lightness is right that SE is not responsible when you choose to waste your time on it, whether with this joke or any other feature. – Eliah Kagan Apr 1 '13 at 21:48
  • @EliahKagan I type very fast, and I typed my responses to the bot while waiting for the Meta pages to load, so I did not actually waste any more of my own time via my interactions with the bot. Also, any time I write a program which receives public input, I have at least some mechanism to log & check user feedback and input, and given the high quality of service I have come to expect from SE, I believed there would be a mechanism for reviewing bot input. I find the disdainful attitude of [some of] the SE community towards my negative opinion to be somewhat surprising and closed-minded. – taz Apr 1 '13 at 21:54
  • @EliahKagan I also don't view my continued engagement with the SE community regarding feedback on the joke to be a waste of my time, because I believe in the long run it will maximize the utility of SE for both myself and other users. – taz Apr 1 '13 at 21:55
  • @EliahKagan Also, the fact that the "expert chat" advertises that the transcripts are publicly available and provides a link to a transcript completely defeats the argument that there's no reason to think continuing engagement with the bot could provide information to developers or anyone else. After viewing more responses of the SE community/admins to people who dislike the prank, I have seriously lost respect for the SE admin community, and I definitely will not choose to continue using the site and clicking on ads to the extent that I have previously. – taz Apr 1 '13 at 22:40
  • cant downvote yet but this is a dodgy comment – byronyasgur Apr 1 '13 at 22:42
  • @byronyasgur Can you explain in greater detail what you're trying to express? It's not really clear. – Eliah Kagan Apr 1 '13 at 22:42
  • @taz The ability to share the "expert chat" transcript is so that if you think it's funny, you can show it to others so they laugh too. Did you ever think there was any other purpose for it? Did anybody? SE has well defined ways of providing feedback to SE employees and community. One is meta. Why would you assume something that's not advertised as a way to do this is one? Also, if it took so long for meta to load that you carried on a detailed conversation with the bot while waiting, either SE or your workplace connection is slow enough that its speed is the real productivity issue. – Eliah Kagan Apr 1 '13 at 22:43
  • @EliahKagan Yes, I did, and judging by the myriad of other user posts on meta, plenty of others did as well. I think the SE admin community should stop acting butthurt that their joke didn't go over as well as they'd hoped, stop blaming the users for something that was out of the users' control, and take the feedback. – taz Apr 1 '13 at 22:47
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    @taz You explicitly requested that I give my opinion in detail. Everything I have said here since then has been by your request. I have taken time out of my day to comment further here because you asked me to. I'd complain about the effect of that on my productivity, but I know that I, not you, am the one responsible for my productivity. (Also, you seem fundamentally unaware of how the SE community works at a basic level, and who runs it. You may want to look into that.) – Eliah Kagan Apr 1 '13 at 22:55

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