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One of my sites has a persistent problem with comments -- chatty comments, proto-answers in comments, big long conversations in comments. I suspect we're not the only ones with this problem.

While a conversation between two people will eventually trigger the "hey, you should do this in chat" notice, and while moderators can move comments to chat (after an auto-flag is raised), I'm looking for something that regular users can do, and sooner.

We currently ask people to get a room, but the process is a little cumbersome:

  • You're on the site, on a specific post, and see a comment thread that's getting away from what comments are for.

  • You leave the page or launch a new tab, navigate to chat, and find your way to "create a room". You might or might not give this room a helpful name.

  • Optionally you cut/paste existing comments there. I include this theoretical step for the sake of completeness; it's not really a reasonable thing to expect.

  • You go back to the post and write a comment linking to the chat room.

But the other commenters might just ignore you, might not even have privileges to chat, and have no easy way to move things there.

What can we do to make this easier? It'd be great if we could at least create the room (with a canonical name pattern) and auto-generate the comment containing the link, all without leaving the post page.

A harder question is what to do about existing comments; we probably don't want any random user to be able to move a whole set of comments to chat, but there's something to be said for copying existing comments to the new chat room and then raising a moderator flag on the post so mods can review and decide whether to purge those comments. (Ones that ask for clarification should remain, as usual, hence the need for human review.)

What can we do to make this process easier?

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Why not add a "new chat room" button, right next to the "new comment" button, which would have the same functionality as the "hey, you should do this in chat" notice link?

The room naming should follow the pattern of the notice; I don't think there's anything wrong with "Discussion on " or whatever it is currently.

Then we can write a big meta post asking all to use it when they think the discussion around this post will be too fast/prolific/numerous for regular comments :-)

  • By "the same functionality", do you mean copying all the comments to the chat room? (The current user-triggered one only copies comments from the two users involved, which can be unhelpful.) – Monica Cellio Jun 28 '15 at 16:21
  • @MonicaCellio I'm not sure... I was only considering making a chat room before the comments started...I think that could make sense, unless doing so would also move comments that really should stay under the post, and out of the chat room – Shokhet Jun 28 '15 at 16:44
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    Oh, I see. Most of the cases of this that I've seen have involved comments starting to get out of hand first and then an attempt to move to chat. I think we probably want this to copy all extant comments to the new chat room but not remove any from the post. Mods will have to clean that up later, but at least "everything before this comment with a chat link" is pretty easy to spot. And, as I said, they need to be able to preserve anything that should stay on the post, so some things might be in both places (post and chat room). – Monica Cellio Jun 28 '15 at 16:47
  • @MonicaCellio but aren't comments a second class citizen especially because no one should need to care, and because everything that should stay with the post should eventually get edited into it anyway? – Mołot Jun 28 '15 at 21:36
  • @Mołot that's the policy. And yet, when moderators delete piles of comments that aren't serving the purpose for which comments were implemented, people scream long and loudly. SE has the "third place", chat, which is explicitly for conversations and tangents and general chit-chat, and there are ways for comment threads to be moved to chat rooms now. I want to make that process easier, and put part of it in the hands of the users who are participating in those comment threads. If we do that, there'll be less for mods to clean up later. – Monica Cellio Jun 28 '15 at 23:26
  • I'm thinking have the option to invite people to chat at any time, with a "discussions pending" tracker branching off from the last comment. And automatically move X and copy Y preceding comments with it. – kaay Oct 21 '16 at 16:55
  • [movetodiscussion copy_preceding=0 move_preceding=1] Just too bad discussions are deleted after a while. Many nice insights are lost to people who find this later. – kaay Oct 21 '16 at 17:18

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