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Note that I'm talking about our main chat server i.e chat.SE

The parent user in chat profile serves two important purposes today:

  1. Base for being able to talk in chat

    We know that when a user get 20 reputation on any SE site (excluding the case of SO and MSE), s/he can talk in any active chat-room on main chat server. Which I discussed as Chat related privileges are not site specific. Here the parent user provides a base to talk in any active chat room on the main server.

  2. Name and Avatar

    As user can talk in any room, name and avatar of a parent user is used to identify him/her.

Now upon the discussion Show the avatar of related site of a chat-room instead of parent site of a user, I've found that there will be no point to the parent user (above mentioned 2nd point) if we implement drawing name and avatar from related site.

As balpha ♦ already declared in the post What is the point of the "Parent User" in Chat? that parent user is, for the most part, a relic.

To be honest, much of the "parent user" idea is still a leftover of the original plan to let each StackExchange site have its own chat site.

And

I don't know if we're ever going to totally get rid of the idea of a user's "main site", since most people have such a site that they consider to be the most important (if not only) site they're active on, but over time, this idea should disappear into the background more and more.

So, I think we should have some idea to get rid of parent users by identifying the user by related site of chat-room instead of parent user.


But we've to compensate for above mentioned two points if we want to get rid of the parent user mechanism. I've some suggestions[1]:

  • When a privileged user enters a chat-room, use Name and Avatar from/of his/her profile of related site to that chat-room.
  • If a user doesn't have an account on related site to the chat-room then apply one of the following:
    1. Use the parent site mechanism and user Name and Avatar from parent site.
    2. Use Name and Avatar of Network-Profile. (remove parent site mechanism)
    3. Force/prompt user to join the community. (so that s/he get Name and Avatar of related site to corresponding chat-room)

In my opinion, the 2nd option is the best. (As now you can also control what account to synchronize your network-profile with.)

Well, is there any thing we've missed? yes, the diamond! Moderators will not be identified as a moderator on the chat-rooms related to other sites. But I think it may be OK for a moderator to be identified as a moderator only on chat rooms related to site on which s/he is a moderator as s/he is a site moderator not MSE moderator. So, We'll need to provide a diamond that works through out main chat server to moderators.

[1] I was free from estimating/guessing possible programming/coding complication!

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    I think a bigger question to answer first is: Do we really still need per-site granularity on chat permissions? Why? A lot of this could be made straightforward by first simplifying chat permissions to opening up all chat rooms once you have chat permissions anywhere. Why shouldn't somebody with chat privileges on 5 other sites not be able to chat in the cooking site's chat room or wherever? I wonder if that concept is a bit dated and unnecessary now. – Jason C Jan 29 '17 at 11:27
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Some of these proposals, I like. Some, less so.

Primarily Parent sites are mostly invisible. What does this even fix? What additional utility does this give our users over the current system? Some of the proposals seem interesting but in other contexts, and If they did, there's a few ideas for implementation

We know that when a user get 20 reputation on any SE site (excluding the case of SO and MSE), s/he can talk in any active chat-room on main chat server. Which I discussed as Chat related privileges are not site specific. Here the point of parent user provide a base to talk in any active chat room on main server.

We could rejig this to letting people create a chat user at 20 reputation on any site. Then we could do all manner of positive and negative reinforcement to that account (Suspensions, account deletions) . That said, we'd have an edge case of sub 20 rep users who can chat, depending on how they lost the reputation.

If we did lose the parent site suspensions, I'd like an easier way to set longer suspensions than calculating it by the hour. In essence I'd love for this to work just like main site suspensions, and getting all the tools like annotations I'm used to having.

This also pretty much handles the reparenting name switch loophole.

Well, is there any thing we've missed? yes, the diamond! Moderator will not be identified as a moderator on the chat-rooms related to other sites. But I think it may be ok for a moderator to be identified as a moderator only on chat rooms related to site on which s/he is a moderator as s/he is a site moderator not MSE moderator. Not agreed? ok. Then we've to provide a special function for it.

I'm on half a dozen rooms right now. On a good chunk of them I am trusted to jump in and use my modly powers if things go wrong. On my home site, I have a bunch of U&L and AU mods who're pretty helpful in handling issues when I can't.

That said considering a few misconceptions I've come across, it might be worth explicitly going "Hey, all yalls are chat mods too." In many cases its also handy to have a neutral third party go "Hey guys, chill".

Removing "universal" chat mod powers is going to adversely affect chat moderation, both directly, and in terms of soft power

Having said all that, I'm not sure other than a minor annoyance one or two users abuse, and the occational need to talk to a mod on another site or a CM about problem users, I'm not sure what this fixes.

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I realize it's confusing if somebody is Joe on one site and AwesomeGeek on another and the "wrong" one shows up in your chat room, but anybody who chooses to use different names on different sites is going to cause some confusion somewhere. Having the name/avatar change based on a room's location can be confusing too, and leaves the problem of unparented rooms. (Not all chat rooms are associated with sites.)

Having a chat profile on chat.SE tied to the network profile has some appeal. You can't assume that somebody in your chat room has an account on the local site and we certainly shouldn't force creation of one, so the options are either the chat-parent system that we have now or the network profile. This also works for unparented rooms.

We should not reduce the ability of moderators to moderate on the shared chat server. As a moderator, I'm not prepared to be one of only 3 or 4 people able to police rooms created on my site. Chat is the third or fourth place, not my primary concern, and I rely on the other moderators on the network to lend a hand if something is exploding in some user-created room while I'm busy or sleeping. Fortunately, I think it's not hard for moderator status to be exposed through the network profile.

There's one other implication of chat parents that you haven't considered: suspensions. Right now, if you're suspended on a main site and that site is your chat parent, you're also suspended in chat. Now you could certainly argue that that's a little messed up -- getting suspended for rudeness on TwistyStraws.SE shouldn't necessarily impede the productive conversations you're having over in the Pizza.SE room. Further, if your parent site is actually Unicorns.SE then you can still continue your ranting in the TwistyStraws.SE room, even though you're suspended on that site, and that's not right either. So with your proposed change we'd need to do something about the connection between site suspensions and chat suspensions, ideally something better than "mods should remember to go do that manually". Arguably we should so something about it anyway, but your proposal would force the issue.

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  • Or worse yet, does as one of our users does and rotates between half a dozen accounts with different names... – Journeyman Geek Feb 1 '17 at 4:15
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Tl;dr: It's probably not worth the time to change this.

I don't think that removing the feature is worthwhile. I can pick my parent user site which is a system that seems to satisfy all functionality. To pick the network user would not provide permissions, and a database call to sum reputation for chat permissions would likely also be expensive (On Data.SE you can't even do cross-site queries.)

I am also a moderator on Lifehacks. Though chat flags are rare, being able to mod for any site (Except for the separate chat.meta.SE and chat.SO) is sometimes valuable if there's a spam fest™ going on somewhere on chat.SE. Most chat flags do not require knowledge of the associated site; something offensive or spam is always going to be offensive or spam.

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