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Let's make it easier for people discussing a post in comments to retire to chat, without waiting for comments to pile up until the system prompts them or a moderator acts. There are two main use cases:

  1. Two (or more) users start a discussion and somebody realizes it belongs in chat. But it's not very easy to create a room and link it to the post, and the conversation could get lost in a busy general-purpose room, and if you want everything in one place you have to paste in the comments one at a time, and the special case in #2, so they just keep commenting.

  2. A new user needs help with his first post. For good reasons, you need a small amount of reputation (20) to chat, but this unfortunately makes it hard for a willing community to help a brand-new user who shows promise. The alternative to chat is a conversation in comments -- an anti-pattern that we want to stamp out, not model. (New users also tend to expect a forum style, especially because we call them comments, so conversations in comments are the most natural thing in the world for them.)

Let's allow users at some moderately-low reputation level (1000?) to push a button that:

  • creates a chat room
  • grants access to that room to the post's author and everybody who's commented so far
  • copies all comments to the room
  • creates a comment on the post linking to the room

This behavior is like the "mod move comments to chat" feature that didn't exist when I proposed something like this in 2013, except that this feature would not delete comments from the post. When the system prompts two users to take a discussion to chat, that also copies but does not delete comments. This is like that.

A community manager wrote about my earlier proposal:

This is something we were looking at strongly, but at the moment, haven't been able to find a satisfiable implementation. It's still something we're considering in some fashion down the road, though. – Grace Note♦ Jul 26 '13 at 15:13

Implementation has gotten easier since then. The "mod move to chat" code exists now and should account for most of the work. I see two remaining pieces of work:

  • Create a user interface to trigger it. Maybe we add a "start a chat" link next to "add comment", which is replaced with a link saying something like (e.g.) "visit chat room (47 messages, last update 12 min ago)" after somebody does that. Maybe there's a better UI.

  • Decide how this feature interacts with the mod move. Suppose some users are talking in comments and they get a room. Eventually 20 comments pile up and a moderator receives a flag. If the moderator moves comments to chat, the conversation is forked -- there was already a room, and now there's a new room with some additional comments. This is a problem with the two-users-chatting scenario now, too, but allowing users to proactively create chat rooms could exacerbate the problem. I don't know what we should do about that, other than implementing add comments to chat. (It would be great if we did that anyway, and then we'd get this for free.)

  • 1
    Possible duplicate: meta.stackexchange.com/questions/100967/… – Franklin Yu Apr 25 '17 at 1:43
  • @FranklinYu that question is older, but this one is much more fully specified and the answers there from 2012 don't, being old, take into account the current state of the tools. This would have been a Big Project back then; now there's enough groundwork in place that I think it's achievable by building on what we have. – Monica Cellio Apr 25 '17 at 2:53
  • @MonicaCellio your phrase "Get a room" is so apropos. Are there less creepy alternatives? "Make a boardroom for this." "Huddle." "Committee time." "Let's go for a beer and talk about this some more." Oh nevermind... – Bob Stein Jan 25 '18 at 15:04

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