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My proposal is to add the ability for Room Owners to create pingable groups within a chat room that people can register themselves against. This would allow the easy pinging/sharing of knowledge to groups of people who are interested in certain topics.

Example scenario

This example is taken from reality*. I've found a new ebook that I would like to share with some of the other people interested in data within the Python room. To do this I type:

@DSM @JRich @OthersThatUsePandas http://leanpub.com/effective-pandas

This pings DSM and JRichardSnape (two people I think might be interested) as well as includes @OthersThatUsePandas in an attempt to get anyone that might be interested in the pandas library to read the link too.

Unfortunately, this requires people to actively read the transcript (apart from DSM and JRich who have actually been pinged, obviously).

In this scenario, it would be great to have a python-data or python-pandas group that people can say "I am a member of". When people are members of this group, pings to the group will also ping them. If this were implemented, the above scenario would simply require

@python-data http://leanpub.com/effective-pandas

and anyone interested would be pinged. Hooray!

I propose that ROs be responsible for creating the groups for their individual rooms. Groups could span a variety of topics from special-interest (@data, @web-dev) to random (@cat-meme anyone?), whatever the specific room wanted/needed.

Extra comments/possibilities/suggestions

  1. Maybe site wide groups, such as @data? Not sure on this one, as not sure who would be responsible for maintaining it, but thought I'd throw it out for dicussion
  2. Not sure on whether you should have restricted groups or not? For example groups that are invitation only? My gut feeling is to make all groups public and joinable by all.
  3. This would solve this suggestion made by a dashing fellow on meta.SO by allowing a @RO group to be made.
  4. Should the normal mechanics of pinging apply? For instance, when people are inactive and are pinged, they come back to some form of message informing them of their missed pings - should this occur for group pings? (Thanks to Yannis for suggesting this point)

* Please ignore the snarky comment in the chat transcript, we love you really SE devs <3

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    this might get annoying fast if people abuse this. – Journeyman Geek Jul 6 '16 at 7:46
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    The fact that a small percentage of people might abuse it is not necessarily a reason to dismiss it, especially when weighed against the potential upsides. I've never tried but I think there's already restrictions on pinging people repeatedly? A system could well be added that restricted repeated pings to groups? Up for discussion. – Ffisegydd Jul 6 '16 at 7:48
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    Would normal chat ping rules apply? Would the group ping, for example, reach inactive users (for chat's definition of inactive)? – yannis Jul 6 '16 at 8:08
  • @Yannis not sure, but a good question. I'll add it to the list at the bottom to highlight it to others. I'd be tempted to say that yes it would apply, but that's just my initial thought and it might well change with more thought. – Ffisegydd Jul 6 '16 at 8:11
  • btw, something like this already exists, but it's restricted to Teacher's Lounge (the mod chat room): we can group ping all of a site's mods. And yes, it can - and often is - abused. So, expect some resistance from mods; we've all been pinged more than once for things we couldn't care less about. – yannis Jul 6 '16 at 8:22
  • It's abused by other mods? Clearly the mods need to behave as they wish others to behave :P I think that limiting it to rooms only would help to alleviate a lot of potential abuse (would stop someone in Python mass-pinging people in C++ and JS, for e.g.) and if people are abusing it then they can be kicked from the room, ROs were given kicking for a reason. – Ffisegydd Jul 6 '16 at 8:25
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    Whoever abuses group-pings in a room to annoy users could do the exact same with manual pings, and can be dealt with harshly (as Ffisegydd has already noted). Most superfluous pings seem to come from new users, and I don't think they'd be aware of the group ping feature to begin with. – Andras Deak Jul 6 '16 at 15:22
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    Another use case: on Worldbuilding we have an off-site blog with five or six editors. Sometimes writers need to ping an editor to complete a submission (or ask other questions), but most people don't know who all the editors are. Allowing site users to ping "@editors" would be useful for us. – Monica Cellio Jul 6 '16 at 16:17
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    Being that the groups would be self-selected, presumably it would be simple to remove yourself from the groups as well, if your room owners aren't available when someone comes and starts abusing the feature. – Wayne Werner Jul 6 '16 at 18:06
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    @Yannis: note that users can't remove themselves from those groups. If the SO mods could just remove themselves from the SO mods group, there'd be a whole lot less shouting every time a n00b moderator uses it ;-) – Martijn Pieters Jul 7 '16 at 8:45
  • @MartijnPieters so mods: hi! – yannis Jul 7 '16 at 12:02
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    @Yannis I guess pings could reach inactive users based on a per-chat setting they could pick: flash with sound, flash no sound, no flash no sound. Or something :) – Robert Grant Jul 7 '16 at 20:12

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