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I'd like to see the option to add a feed to a room that posts questions and answers by users in the room at the time of the post.

"in the room" could mean one of several things, I don't mind which:

  • just 'in the room' according to the list
  • any chat message in the last 24h/week/month

Add to that that there should be some sort of rep limit on the site for the post to get fed into the room, eg minimum 200/1k/10k rep.

So what's the point of this?

  • Chat is often disconnected from what's going on on the main site—unless you have a feed of all new posts (which is only going to work on very small sites, we certainly couldn't do that on DBA.SE never mind SO)
  • Regular chat users are often high-rep site users. In some cases there is a negative correlation between how much we're in the chat-room and how active we are on main—chatting is all well and good, but while we're chatting, we're not creating/improving content and making the internet a better place to find answers.
  • One practical result of having this feed will be that users active in chat who post will get more votes. I don't know if that's fair or not, but I'm pretty sure it'll result in an increase in constructive engagement on main.
  • Of course the feed might encourage more users into chat, but I don't think that'll be counter-productive as it'll only be users arriving in chat because they're creating content on main.
  • If it's abused there are already all the necessary tools in place to combat that abuse: kicking users, deleting messages, turning off the feed etc. Having a higher rep limit for the feed is going to make this less and less likely anyway.

To give a concrete example, I'd like the main BH.SE chat room (The Library) to have feeds for BH.SE and M.SE. I figure that almost all posts by anyone in the room will likely be of some interest to virtually everyone in the room, so won't be seen as spam. M.SE posts by users in The Library are often about issues that are directly related to BH.SE pain points.


Edit: We're experimenting with manual user feeds in The Heap and The Library, as suggested by answers here, but they are limited by:

  • no ability to feed only questions and answers without comments
  • comment links are to the parent post rather than the comment itself (see this earlier post)
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    I see the upsides, and it's hard to see a downside. Unless it's this: on busy sites, this proposed feed could get quite intrusive. Perhaps a one-liner notification with Q, rather than the full "boxed + user pic + tags + extract" that we get in other kinds of feeds? – Dɑvïd Jan 1 '15 at 11:47
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    That is why Room Owners exist. Ping the room owner and ask them to add the feed and you can also mention how the feed will be useful for the chat room regulars. A room owner won't decline a valid request, but if it's added a feature, I feel it will be very intrusive and will lead to a lot of conflicts. Reputation doesn't mean that a user knows about the culture of the specific chat room. – Infinite Recursion Jan 1 '15 at 12:26
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    @InfiniteSnowflakes the room owner can't add the feed, feeds like this aren't possible without SE making them possible. This is not about creating a feed for all posts on a site, but about creating special feeds for posts on main by people in the room. Once the feeds are possible if this feature is added, they'll still need to be added to a room by a room owner of course. – Jack Douglas Jan 1 '15 at 12:28
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    @JackDouglas Yes, they can. For example, mine is meta.stackexchange.com/feeds/user/266094, and I can add it with the room owner interface on /info. – Unihedron Jan 1 '15 at 16:19
  • @Unihedro that won't feed posts only when you are in the room though, right? – Jack Douglas Jan 1 '15 at 16:20
16

I'd not like to see this option getting implemented.

Against:
◉ It is not practical. Feeds of any kind will consume transcript space, and therefore randomly interrupt conversations, if any. This will not encourage conversations, nor provide more opportunities for users to engage with each other. For a more practical example, come take a tour with me into Java Sucks!
    This is a quiet room. Users don't chat often. Therefore, the Newest questions tagged singleton java - Stack Overflow feeds exists, and dumps quite frequently:

    >>> Posting questions (and answers) of the users in low traffic rooms will not encourage conversation, and therefore will have no effect unless you want a heavy transcript.

Now, to take another case, not every room is quiet, and some rooms are populated and active. "Chat regulars" are in place, but few would bother participating on the main site - Which is why they are "chat regulars" on the first place. Posting questions (and answers) feed items will not get any attention - They simply float past, no one looks at them.

    >>> Posting questions (and answers) of the users in high traffic rooms will not motivate any of the chat users to visit the main site because of this.

◉ It creates a motive to substitute normal on-site participation with it, and therefore creates a "friend ring". We've went on this many times before; Previously, previously, previously, previously.

◉ Not everyone in the room is interested in every single post you wrote. Sites covers many fields, as indicated by the wide varieties of tags. Most of the feeds posted could be irrelevant to one's interest, and therefore doesn't encourage participation effectively, no matter how it's done.

Stack Exchange is a big city, and you cannot assume everyone wants to get to know each other until they show an interest to. Automating this is too far to go.

Against the points:

Chat is often disconnected from what's going on on the main site

◉ As seen from Privileges - talk in chat, "All sites have a real time web chat component, or as we like to call it, the 'third place'." The third place is never meant to be related to the main place, unless you like your boss to discuss your work with you on every lunch session. I doubt it.

while we're chatting, we're not creating/improving content

◉ Having feeds does not encourage creating content. Arguments can go on this point, however having feeds posted which gives another bonus slight bit of attention simply isn't any motivation. You can host a tiny contest on the most upvotes earned monthly, or take turns writing posts, but feeds doesn't do any of this for you. It is perhaps more constructive for one to implement a mailing list which sends you the posts submitted by all the users in this room.

    ◉ To put it in a clear way, this doesn't encourage chat users to participate on the main site and therefore to create or to improve content.
    ◉ This only adds the focus onto the users, and therefore causes the feeds to be biased towards the same users. As a result, the feeds shows posts only by the few users - This will at most dump a rise of attention on posts made by the chat users in the room, but how does this contribute to motivation to create new content at all? It doesn't.

One practical result of having this feed will be that users active in chat who post will get more votes.

This, my audience, is why this feature should never air - it introduces voting rings.

I don't know if that's fair or not, but I'm pretty sure it'll result in an increase in constructive engagement on main.

◉ Vote more != constructive engagement. Vote more != encourages further engagement. Vote more != directly causes further engagement.

Of course the feed might encourage more users into chat, but I don't think that'll be counter-productive as it'll only be users arriving in chat because they're creating content on main.

Your premise is invalid. If users arrives in chat solely because they're creating content on main, then this shows help vampires are lurking to attract attention onto their questions (which were of low attention for reasons including but not limited to poorly written ones, closed ones, obscure ones that no one figured out what the self-invented terms meant, et cetera...), not because it encourages chat participation.
    Therefore, it is counter-productive.

If it's abused there are already all the necessary tools in place to combat that abuse: kicking users, deleting messages, turning off the feed etc. Having a higher rep limit for the feed is going to make this less and less likely anyway.

◉ Only room owners and moderators can perform the actions you mentioned. Therefore, this feature introduces a need for moderation, which increases channel pressure as users are being punished for abusing.
◉ Reputation is not a measurement of whether users can use a feature well. Nor experience. Of no degree of reputation limit to kick in the feature will it deem a lack of abuse.

Substitutes:

  • Userscripts. If you really care about a certain user, build it yourself. Or get someone to build it.
  • Share it (the posts) by yourself(ves). Just make it clear that sharing what you write is encouraged and isn't blatant promotion. This works, and most rooms stick to it, even the ones I own.
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    You really don't want this, do you? – rene Jan 1 '15 at 17:40
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    I discussed this in the M.SE chat room with you and other users. I got downvotes. That's fair enough - you among others don't agree with this proposal, so you've voted against it and given your reasons. In other words, the chat room conversation did all the things I would hope this kind of feed would do: encourage engagement on main, etc. It didn't magically create a voting ring because you and others in the chat room have integrity - you vote the way you feel you should vote, you don't just vote up anyone who pops into chat to announce their post- doesn't that all kind of prove my points? – Jack Douglas Jan 1 '15 at 18:11
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    @Jack No, it proves mine - that you should share your own posts by yourselves and only to pick the better ones to share. The MSE Tavern encourages conversations like these, and the outcome reflected that users were interested in the specific post of yours. By the way, it did create a voting ring - after I link this answer of mine in the MSE Tavern and in a few rooms I'm in on chat.SO, it got me a Handegg badge in under 15 minutes. – Unihedron Jan 1 '15 at 18:15
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    A lot of this post seems irrelevant because it ignores that facts that ① no-one would be forcing these feeds on any chat room, and ② ticker overlay feeds don't have the effects you mention on the transcript and flow of conversation. I've accepted your answer because of your concerns about abuse and voting rings - I'm not sure I agree, but I think you've likely got more experience than me and are in a better place to judge. – Jack Douglas Jan 2 '15 at 6:25
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It's not unusual for chat users to share some of their new posts in chat, if they think they might be of interest to someone else in the room at that time. This works well if the users do it considering the interests of others present in the room, and whether or not there is a natural break in conversation. An automatic feed can't do that.

If you think the chat users are too shy to share their posts, maybe edit the room description to say that this practice is encouraged in that room.

But if a user does not want to mention their posts in chat (some folks are conscious about anything that looks like self-promotion), they should be able to use chat without their posts dropping in. Setting up such an automatic feed for the room would be a "get out of here" sign for them.

And then there's a side effect of turning chat regulars into a voting ring: they will be voting for each other more than they would normally do, since the posts by the group members are in their face all the time. This would distort the meaning of votes, with the potential for fraud allegation and alienation of non-chat users.

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    re the voting ring, maybe you need to trust your high-rep users a little bit more? Just because folk vote for each other doesn't automatically mean they are doing so for the wrong reasons. – Jack Douglas Jan 1 '15 at 18:13

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