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This question already has an answer here:

I truly loathe the 'Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat.' (air-quotes)"feature". Semantically, it does not even make sense: why move a conversation to chat? What makes a chat-room suitable for conversation?

I like the comments section. In fact, I've profited and learned more from the comments on answers (and often not the accepted answers) than from the answers themselves. Moving these fruitful and enlightening conversations kills them, perhaps even prematurely. The flow is broken, the context is lost, the conversation is dead.

Granted, my experience is mostly on StackOverflow. But take this question on Worldbuilding: What cheap modern items can I use to bribe medieval people?. If ever there was a topic that invites extended discussion, surely this is it. I was going to comment on an answer in which a just-so story was presented as historical fact, but was blocked by 'Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat.'. I checked out this chat and it was dreadful. Only a few lines of the long answer were visible, and the context of the original question and the other answers was completely lost. It felt like a closet to which the undesirables had been banned, whiling away their exile in random shouting.

To me the whole concept seems flawed. Why would StackExchange discourage extended discussion? Why have a "chat" feature at all? The internet is replete with chatter -- why do we need to facilitate and encourage more chat? Why not encourage discussion?

I understand the need to curb idle, off-topic or overly personal chattiness, but then let's do that. Rename "Comments" to "Discussion" and flag the chatter, like we do offensive or aggressive comments. Gently chastise the chatterers with a cupcake, and reward those contributing to extended discussions in a meaningful way with a badge.

marked as duplicate by gnat, Jason C, tchrist, Glorfindel, Ward Mar 25 '17 at 20:24

This question has been asked before and already has an answer. If those answers do not fully address your question, please ask a new question.

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    Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat. – Shog9 Mar 29 '17 at 21:54
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You write

The flow is broken, the context is lost, the conversation is dead.

You are completely correct. Where you went wrong is thinking those results are bad. Those results are good. These sites are about questions and answers, not conversation. When conversation breaks out on an answer, because people have opinions and desperately want to share them, the true value of these sites falters. Someone with the same problem later wants an answer, and maybe one or two comments about how that answer doesn't always hold or might have some drawbacks, not a 20- or 40- entry chit chat that was entirely context dependent.

So, when a post gets too many comments, they have to go. You might not like that, but they do. Which raises the question: would you prefer they disappeared entirely forever, or went over to chat? At least in chat there's a chance you could continue the conversation. You are not going to be allowed to continue the conversation in comments, cluttering things up for everyone who wants to read the post later.

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    There are questions and there are answers, simple, cut and dried. Many times it works like that. But many times it does not. Someone may think they want to know A but as they receive more info through comments, answers and, yes, conversations, they realize they really need to know about B. The same goes for answers. I've amended or even deleted answers because through the discussion in the comments, I realized my take on the problem was faulty. Knowledge is not always something one scopes out of the documentation-vat, often it's a process, a work-in-progress. – Elise van Looij Mar 30 '17 at 8:23
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    OK, but once that's happened, the comments need to go. They don't stay around permanently. And if it would take 50 or 100 comments to get there, chances are, you won't get there. These sites can't be all things to all people and to keep the laser focus on questions and answers, sometimes something else has to give. That a higher perfection exists, reachable only through allowing huge comment chains, may or may not be so. The cost of allowing huge comment chains is nonzero. So you pointing out a benefit is only half the story, right? – Kate Gregory Mar 30 '17 at 11:45
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Comments are second class citizens. As a moderator - in most cases I'd delete comments unless I felt they needed to be archived or keeping a limited set of comments had some immediate value. Migration gives me a third option. This meta post suggests broadly that migration is a good idea for handling tangential discussions or archiving completed conversations

As per the help

Comments are temporary "Post-It" notes left on a question or answer. They can be up-voted (but not down-voted) and flagged, but do not generate reputation. There's no revision history, and when they are deleted they're gone for good.

As such, comments are meant to be transient, and people get attached to them, presumably because they're more used to forums. If its useful, and you need it to be around, it needs to be in an answer.

Moderators get notified of posts with more than 20 comments (at which point it gets unwieldy), and we prune them. Sometimes though, comment threads could be usedful, yet they don't quite belong with the answer - and this is when we convert them.

I believe you can still comment on a moved comment thread (which kinda annoys us a bit since we can't append that to the moved conversation)

Why have a "chat" feature at all?

As someone who spends a lot of time on chat here, you wound me.

Chat's kinda unloved but the primary use of chat is to be a social venue in a typically non social environment. On SU, We use our main chatroom to discuss matters peripheral to our main site. We have extended conversations that sometimes move into questions and answers on the site, we hang out and its a nice way to engage and maintain our 'core' users or simply chill or vent.

As a moderator, it is an invaluable tool for engaging my users and vice versa.

It just so happens that many of these comment threads are conversations, chat works with them fairly often, and if not, its a nice way to keep these comments without cluttering the main question.

  • I did not mean to wound your feelings -- personally, I associate chat-rooms mostly with Catfish. But, as you say, chat's function is primarily social. I'm breaking a lance for the on-topic conversation you seem to say also happens there. Apparently, extended discussion happens and is seen as valuable, but it is not allowed to happen on the main site but in a chatroom somewhere. – Elise van Looij Mar 30 '17 at 8:32
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An explanation for "move to chat" is in the comments below. Finding it is left as an exercise to the reader.


Toon Krijthe: Great, now eat the same tag on meta.
dasblinkenlight: If the tag is removed, how will we know for sure that the user prefers us to not give complete answers? Though it's usually clear from the question itself, an explicit tag helped. Tag removal may open up old questions for downvotes, because an important piece of context is removed.
Denys Séguret: How do we do it ? I mean : if I remove the tag homework when I vote to close, other people won't see it as homework and thus won't vote. Should we refrain from removing the tag until it's closed ?
Bhuvan Rikka 웃: What is homework tag doing on meta!
Tim Post: @dasblinkenlight If you don't want a fully vetted, complete and testable answer, Stack Overflow is not the place to ask.
Tim Post: Note, the homework tag exists here (mostly) for discussions about the homework tag. Hover over it?
Toon Krijthe: So if the homework tag is gone, we probably don''t need the discussion anymore ;-).
Tim Post: @dystroy If you vote to close, there should have been problems with the question beyond the homework tag being applied.
Denys Séguret: So what do you mean by "not only in removing the tag, but also examining every question" ? I thought we were supposed to vote to close the bad ones. What are we supposed to do if there are "not even a real question" if not voting ? Is it possible, before we remove the tag, to simply put those questions on top of the "Close Vote" review queue ?
Yi Jiang: @dystroy Not all [homework] questions need to be closed. Tim Post is merely asking us to examine the existing [homework] questions and clean up the ones that needs closing / editing
Tim Post: @dystroy When you look at a question to remove the tag, it's helpful if you examine it for problems beyond just that tag being applied.
Flexo: Us mortals can't view the velocity stats you mentioned right?
Pops: We can continue to use the tag on Meta for people asking about the main site's homework question policy. Or, from another angle, [homework] is fine on Meta because it's not a meta tag here (as weird as that sentence looks).
Tim Post: @Flexo Sure you can, every question shows you votes, what links to it on SO and how many times it was viewed.
casperOne: FYI: When tags are removed from all of the questions, they are not automatically blacklisted, they simply require people with the appropriate rep to create it again. Blacklisting has to be requested and approved and is achieved on the back end with a ritualistic sacrifice as well as the whipping of low-wage workers who turn the cogs that keep the machine running.
Pops: The hamsters get wages? What do they need human money for?
Joe: I should start an open source framework called 'homework'. That should make everything easier.
Mat: Can anyone come up with a good tag set for the oldest visible homework-tagged question? @Joe: Nooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo ):
Joe: There is an 'exercise' tag. Not ideal but would work for that one.
casperOne: @Mat A good tag set, no, but I've removed the homework tag with a tag that is appropriate (even if it is a horrible tag in itself).
BoltClock's a Unicorn: Trogdor's ultimate homework assignment: burninating the [homework] tag.
David Robinson: I think @dystroy's question still needs a good answer.
meagar: @David What is there to answer? Remove the tag. If the question should be closed, vote to close it. The two things, tag-removal and vote-to-close are unrelated. The absence or presence of the homework tag shouldn't affect your vote to close it. If the question should actually be closed, anybody coming along afterwards should be able to see that without having the homework tag prompt them.
David Robinson: @meagar: The OP says "if you're going to remove the tag from a question, make darn sure you're fixing everything that's wrong with that question." But casting a single close vote doesn't fix everything wrong with the question (unless you're the fifth vote).
meagar: @David Flagging the question for closing puts it into the review queue, which will (in time) bring it to the attention of enough people for it to be closed.
Bill the Lizard: As an added bonus, this will get rid of about 10% of the most annoying recurring comments on SO.
sbi: @TimPost: "If you don't want a fully vetted, complete and testable answer, Stack Overflow is not the place to ask." So Stack Overflow isn't a place for asking homework questions anymore. I find this a very sad state of affairs.
Jane Doe: this might be slightly off topic, but: if you got rep from a homework tagged question, and it get's deleted, do you lose the rep aswell ?
JNK: @sbi No, SO is just not a place to ask vague, general, non-specific questions. A specific homework question is still answerable.
Pops: @JaneDoe it depends; in most cases, rep gained (or lost) on deleted posts disappears as if it had never existed, but a sorta-recent change suspended that rule for old posts with decent scores. More info in the second half of this SE blog post.
sbi: @JNK: You've just knocked out a strawman, and not in an impressive way. Tim and I were referring to answers being more vague for homework questions, not the questions themselves. But even if that were not the case — are you seriously trying to tell me that the removal of the homework tag will remove a single vague question, homework or not? All you do by removing that tag is to remove a guideline for answering questions in a way that aids learning, rather than getting a job done. This will make the web a slightly worse place.
David Robinson: @sbi: If you feel strongly about this it might be worth a Meta question.
Kev: @sbi - is it really the responsibility of SO users to police students and their homework questions? I don't think it is. For example we don't police questions about NDA'd tech such as (and typically) the next version of IOS. If a vendor has a problem with this then they can DMCA notify SE to pull the offending material if it violates copyright, or they can kick the offending devs out of their closed beta programme's. If college CS departments don't want students to get complete and correct answers to their homework questions on our site then it's up to them to police that, not SO.
Mechanical snail: @PopularDemand: What about this guy?
Yi Jiang: @sbi If the OP needs answers that are hints (with exact answers in spoilers), the use of a specific technique, more/less detailed answers because it's a homework then he/she should simply state it in the question itself. The [homework] tag, by itself, tells you nothing about how one might approach answering the question differently. SO isn't going to suddenly become inhospitable to students just because a useless tag got removed.
Tim Post: @sbi I'm not without sympathy. I've also taught, and I did spend quite a bit of rewarding time answering homework questions. Unfortunately, the tag creates a mountain of problems for each problem it's designed to solve. People being penalized for doing exactly what we want them to do - posting complete and verifiable answers to questions .. just can't continue. -1 you just did his homework for him! ... that has to stop. Looks like homework, tag it as such or ur a cheatin! .. has to stop. So much about it just has to stop.
JNK: @sbi I'm not arguing for the proposal here one way or the other. I was just disputing a single point that you raised. And it's not a strawman, since a specific question will get a specific answer. If you ask a vague, general question you will almost certainly solicit vague, general answers.
sbi: @Kev: I do care whether some kid wiggles his way through his CS major and ends up at the desk next to mine.
sbi: @TimYiJiang: "If you don't want a fully vetted, complete and testable answer, Stack Overflow is not the place to ask." Tim Post That is what I was replying to.
sbi: @TimPost: The only reason it has to stop is because you guys want it to. There is no objective reason. What you are complaining about is called social control, and it's actually seen as a feature, rather than just an annoyance, in any sane society.
sbi: @JNK: Are you deliberately obtuse? The perfect homework question is a well-formulated question right to the point, which shows a lot of effort into trying to narrow down the problem before posting. And the perfect answer is a — deliberately vague — nudge into the right direction.
Edwin Buck: The main reason I would be sad to see the homework tag go is because it is a valuable tool to me when responding to a question. That tag signals that the question is probably not of high quality because of inexperience, and that explanations need to be on a more accessible level, and that often core concepts are misunderstood. Removing the door to the common man risks disconnecting StackOverflow from the populace, the same populace that StackOverflow will then need to re-court to maintain a community.
Mysticial: @EdwinBuck Initially I was somewhat against the removal of the homework tag since it does signal that the answers should not be complete. However, had this question been tagged "homework" from the start, I wouldn't have given such a complete answer. And without a complete answer, it probably never would have had a chance to get so popular. So in that sense, I do think that the homework tag gets in the way of potential higher-quality answers.
Edwin Buck: @Mysticial Removing the tag might be the right thing to do, personally I haven't thought about it enough to have decided. It just seems that it is a partial solution to a bigger problem that won't disappear with the tag, and without the tag, how are we going to round up these posts when we do solve the problem. Are we just going to nuke them all? They have a lot of good advice for the novice programmer, but they often do need editing work due to the lack of skill of the question asker. Also, too much emotion gets into this decision, as the problems tend to irritate over time.
casperOne: @sbi I won't lose skin if the tag (and associated approach) goes away as I'm way past the point where I need to do assignments for a grade. That said, consider this: if I am not in school and as a professional I want the answer to the same question then Satck Overflow has failed me. In that particular case, I don't want (nor do I expect, based on Stack Exchange's mission statement) vagaries, I expect answers. The approach to homework has a detrimental effect on the quality of site, maybe not for the person asking the question, but everyone who wants to gain something from it after.
sbi: @casper: You got a point there, but a so has Edwin, when he says that those you'll alienate by this would make up SO's population in half a decade.
casperOne: @sbi Perhaps a separate site, sohomework? I think a physical divide is needed here, with it's own community rules. For example, not an answer would include completely fleshed out answers, instead of guidance. It's using a Q&A engine, which we've seen can handle guidance, but not offering up the actual answers. Then, when they graduate, they know they'd get more of what they need on SO (and probably want to help others in the future on the homework site as well). I think it could possibly work very well.
casperOne: @sbi But that's what I'm recommending, a separate SE site. .SE abides by the general guidelines of SE, but if the community there, as a consensus, agrees that say, the interpretation of Not An Answer should be different, then that's generally accepted. It would not be outside of the SE family. Going to see if I can dig a proposal up or create one.
sbi: @casperOne: Yeah, but 95% of the programmers are on SO, and many of those who can give real helpful answers won't take the time to browse yet another programming site.
casperOne: @sbi Well, it's painless to find out, here's the Area 51 proposal as well as further clarification.
Earlz: It looks like you're trying to remove the homework tab. You should totally blacklist that and tag as jquery
Michael McGowan: Does this apply to all of Stack Exchange or just Stack Overflow?
Tim Post: @MichaelMcGowan This applies only to Stack Overflow.
Peter Lawrey: I assume [I-don't-know-how-to-google] and [I-didn't-know-the-question-should-contain-a-question] tags are out of the question. ;)
Tim Post: @PeterLawrey Where is Bing in all of that? You insensitive clod!
Peter Lawrey: @TimPost I use google as a verb in the generic searching the web sense. ;)
Tim Post: @PeterLawrey Clearly, I need to cease all attempts at being deliberately funny. One day, I'll understand it.
Peter Lawrey: @TimPost That's why I add ;) I remind people its a joke otherwise people can forget to laugh. :D
Dave Newton: @casperOne I was going to suggest that as well. I was against removing the tag (still am), with it gone, IMO something new is needed.
cereallarceny: Perhaps there should be a badge for helping with the cleanup of this tag?
JP Hellemons: Only about 1665 left of the 20.000! https://stackoverflow.com/questions/tagged/homework
Erick Robertson: I'm actually finding it useful to edit the question title itself when something is too localized. This highlights its localization. Then I vote to close and leave the homework tag on it. This makes it easy for other cleaners to spot.
Frank Farmer: @kev: I'm not interested in policing students using SO to do their homework for them. But I am interested in not wasting my own time doing people's homework for them. I want my answers to help people, and giving free answers to homework does not help the asker.
DNA: Doesn't this mean that all homework questions with artificial constraints are effectively banned because they are, pretty much by definition, "too localized" - the solution is unlikely to be of use to anyone else with "real-world" constraints (or indeed a different set of arbitrary constraints)? Is this the intention?
Chris Marisic: This is a stupid change. Just like most changes that have been done that REMOVE content. Stupid stupid stupid.
Shog9: @DNA: no, it does not mean that. And I'm removing the "too localized" bit from the post here, since explaining that properly makes this already-lengthy beast entirely too long; if you're interested: Should a question where the question artificially rules out several good options be closed as "Too Localized" and Consider changing the wording of the "too localized" close reason
Shog9: Also, I feel this is tangentially related: Stack Overflow as a class assignment?
monkut: This is not a question. Don't have enough rep to close.
Tim Post: @monkut On the chance that you weren't kidding, Meta works a bit differently than the main site. Things like tag changes don't always start out as questions.
monkut: yeah, just kidding. I rarely stumble over on to meta, and it's strange to see "questions" as statements and "answers" as.... comments?
ely: My two cents: this is a bad idea. We need a specifically perjorative tag to say, "we're not going to just solve this for you." I think that's way way way more effective than trying to tiptoe around it and elicit from the poster whether it is homework. Many obviously homework questions already get quickly closed anyway; so not having the homework tag won't do much beyond obfuscating the actually-homework questions that don't get quickly closed.
Mike Pone: I also think this is a bad idea. This will not prevent users from submitting homework related questions. Now it will be MORE work to filter those homework questions out.
Dave: @sbi: "Tim and I were referring to answers being more vague for homework questions, not the questions themselves." To support EMS, I thought the purpose of the homework tag was to signal to answerers that they shouldn't just post working code - that the purpose of homework is to teach programmers how to fish, not give them fishes. For homework questions that are well-presented (copied directly from the assignment itself), is SO's purpose to help the diligent student, do the work for the lazy, or both?
Dave: @TimPost: "'you did his homework for him'" has got to stop." As a lowly newcomer, I will comply with the wisdom of the elders. But I think you're wrong.
code4life: I think the move to get rid of the homework tag was pretty well thought out. I don't understand why people are fuming about it. I always thought that homework didn't quite fit alongside tags like wpf and java etc.
Dave: @code4life: whathaveyoutried.com explains the problem. The homework tag may be a poor mechanism to solve it, but some mechanism is needed (IMHO) to signal answer authors to not just automatically provide an answer without making an effort to teach.
Anthony Grist: @Dave I think the fact a question has been asked is the mechanism that should signal answerers to make an effort to teach, rather than just posting the answer. At least in my case, the majority of questions I look at are being asked because the asker doesn't understand (or isn't aware of) some particular concept - an answer that just posts the solution (code) without any explanation isn't going to help them in the future or future users.
ruakh: To clarify: If a question is already closed, and should remain closed, then all we need to do is remove the tag, right?
jalf: Congratulations, meta crowd. Another victory is achieved. Better pat yourselves on the back for this. It's going to make SO so much nicer and tidier and more productive, when there's no way to indicate to answerers that "you should withhold complete answers and help, rather than just solve the problem completely, so as to make the OP solve it himself".
sbi: @Anrhony: Pardon me for being so frank, but this is bovine excrements. I have said that numerous times in this discussion, but here you go: If I am tasked to do X at work, and stumble over problem Y in the process, then I need a solution quickly, or someone is going to be breathing down my neck soon. If I am tasked to solve problem X, because I am learn something from doing so, then I need a helpful nudge into the right direction, rather than a ready-made solution.
Benjamin Lindley: I must take issue with the assumption that nobody seems to be arguing with. That is that the only way (or even the best way) to learn is a "nudge in the right direction" rather than "a ready-made solution". I can learn perfectly fine when I have a solution handy. That's what I do all the time in fact, I look at other peoples code to learn how to do a thing. If there's something I don't understand in the code, then I ask questions about that. Frankly, if this helps students cheat their way through college, I don't give a damn. Fix your hiring process.
Nicol Bolas: @sbi: The question really comes down to this: what is Stack Overflow for? Is it a place for you to get help for your questions? Or is it a place that uses the Q&A format to build a knowledge base so that people's questions are answered before they ask them? The "helpful nudge in the right direction" will only be useful to the person asking; people who happen by later will almost certainly not find the nudge valuable. So the question is this: do we want answers that only help the person asking and nobody else?
jmort253: @ruakh - Even closed questions should be cleaned up. When you eliminate all the thorny spots that distract from the main idea, it then becomes easier to see if the post could be reopened or if it really does need to stay closed. Also, it's not impossible for a closed question to be helpful to someone. Closure just means we're not taking more answers until the problems are fixed.
Anthony Grist: @sbi As far as I'm concerned what you'd need from the answer(s) in the first scenario is irrelevant, because questions aren't just about the asker - their merit is determined by their potential value to future visitors to the site who have the same problem. The additional explanation is likely going to increase the value to future visitors, and isn't likely going to greatly increase the time you have to wait for the solution you're so desperate for, so what exactly is the harm?
Anthony Grist: @sbi Or, as seems to be a common practice based on what I've observed, answerers can post the basic solution straight away and then go back and edit in explanations about how/why it works afterwards, so you get the best of both.
sbi: @Nicol: Yeah, it seems it comes down to this — and it already seemed so two weeks ago, when I already responded to such a statement.
sbi: @Anthony: If what the asker needs is irrelevant, then that, too, is a sad state of affairs. OTOH, this does explain a lot of what I have seen at meta.
Nicol Bolas: @sbi: I wouldn't go so far as to say that what the asker needs is irrelevant, but it isn't paramount either. That's what "Too Localized" is all about, after all. SO is not about offering help; a discussion forum is a much better interface for helping a person. You can talk to them, ask about their needs, hand-hold them, etc. Every element of SO is designed to encourage the creation of easily indexed knowledge; it just happens to use a Q&A format to do it.
Nicol Bolas: @sbi: What the asker needs is important, but what the site is trying to do is more important. And if the asker's needs don't mesh with ours, we close the question. Just as we do for discussion-y questions. Just as we do for poll questions. Just as we do for broad, beginner questions like "how do I make a web-page". And other such things. None of those creates viable information that will be of value in the future, so we shut them down.
Nicol Bolas: @sbi: Personally, my main concern is not that SO will not be the place to ask homework questions. It's that it will be the place to ask homework questions. That people will ask, untagged, and people will answer before any bad questions are closed. That SO users will be unwittingly suborning academic dishonesty. SO should never have been a place for homework questions to begin with, but since they're inevitable, at least having the homework tag lessened the chance of someone helping someone cheat.
Shog9: Frankly, this argument is mostly irrelevant - regardless of the intent, the tag does nothing to stop complete answers and precious little to encourage "pedagogical" answers. The folks willing to hand over a complete answer tend to find themselves rewarded (particularly when that's all the asker wants), while the folks willing to teach tend to have to suss out the presence of homework anyway. Maybe the tag worked better when SO was smaller; maybe a sufficiently-small, sufficiently dedicated community could still make it work. But from what I've seen, good intentions aren't going far here.
jam: Just to clarify - for already-closed questions that can't be salvaged, should we remove the tag so the effort of checking doesn't get repeated by someone else? Or should we leave them for the automated un-tagging?
Tim Post: @J20 You can just remove the tag and flag the post as 'Very Low Quality'. This tells us that you think the question can't be salvaged with a normal amount of editing and should probably be removed. You can also flag as 'other' and indicate that you removed the tag as part of the cleanup and think the question should probably get a proper burial. Either way, if we agree that it can't be salvaged, off it goes. Once in a while, if a bad question got great answers, we try our best to salvage it, but your flag should still be validated if the post was extremely problematic.
thb: "Looks like homework, tag it as such or ur a cheatin! .. has to stop. So much about it just has to stop." First, it is not written that I should comprehend everything. Second, I am not (and do not wish to be) a moderator, so I do not understand or sympathize. However, for what it's worth, since you ask, I do not grasp your motive. The utility of the homework tag is clear to me. The problems associated with it are not.
sbi: @Shog: Regardless of the intent, the tag removal does nothing to solve any of the problem homework questions come with, while it does create the problem that they are harder to, well, tag. So far, and in the more than two weeks since I first wrote this here, nobody has come up with any evidence that removing the tag would solve any of the problems. However, due to you guys repeating the same non-arguments, we are just going in circles, and I am now tired of doing so, which is why I will now stop repeating myself here, and bow out of the discussion.
Jeroen: "Only remove the tag once that question is as close to perfect as you can get it." Can you elaborate a bit more on that in the question? I see a lot of edits in my review queue where just the tag is removed, and the question is "Okay-ish" but could still be improved. Most of those get approved by others will I sit and ponder what to do (i.e. most folks in the community seem to think it was ok).
Jason C: The reason we have a "move to chat" feature is to cut down on noise when conversations get intense, so that the signal:noise ratio is kept high for further relevant comments. It's also an effective strategy when the conversation gets side-tracked. ChiefTwoPencils: Sorry, but this is horse poopy. There are way more instances of the "elite" pushing the homework issue, which people tend not to tag as already because of the scrutiny, and lack of answers. That's not the posters fault, that's the fault of those who want to make an example out of less knowledgeable folks. If you remove the tag, all the people who already question if it's homework or not will disregard the question based on suspicion. I hope you add a new feature that auto-deletes all the I'm not sure if this is homework comments you're about to get. I won't be sending peers here anymore!,.|..
Coral Doe: The cleanup has just stopeed little by little in time. After the few thusand questions have been handled, for the last week things are very slow. There are stil 14000 questions taged homework. Shouldn't the community be more involved? Just saying in an old meta questions that the tag is deprecated seems not enough.
Tim Post: @CoralDoe The problem is they come in at such a high volume, it's like chasing our tail. We're talking about what to do about that now.
Coral Doe: @TimPost: It is clear to me that it is a high volume of work for moderators only, I was asking about things to envolve the whole community. When this meta questions was visible in the left on stackoverflow people could be reminded of this clean-up. Now it seems that most just forgot.

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    Here's a comment to highlight the part of the answer I found most helpful: Jason C: The reason we have a "move to chat" feature is to cut down on noise when conversations get intense, so that the signal:noise ratio is kept high for further relevant comments. It's also an effective strategy when the conversation gets side-tracked. – Dan Bron Mar 25 '17 at 12:48
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    @DanBron Isn't it nice to be able to leave a relevant comment that is clearly visible in a clean comment thread? Unfortunately, unlike leaving a comment on this answer (which is not actually a comment thread, despite its content), there is no way to leave summary comments about a comment thread in a clearly visible place once the comment thread gets off the rails. So rather than suppressing them, we put them in chat and link to it, where you can still read and interact with them without issue, and this leaves the comment thread clear for you to make comments such as the one you just made. – Jason C Mar 25 '17 at 12:50
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    I find the comment voting mechanism useful for sorting valuable comments from less valuable comments. I see removal of comments as damaging on the whole. Some comments add value which can't be edited in the post they're attached to, because they're orthogonal to it, or contrary to it, but still relevant and helpful. I agree with OP's premise and disagree with those who dismiss it, but I also know that position is hopeless on SE. Still, one is obliged to try. – Dan Bron Mar 25 '17 at 12:55
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    @DanBron Totally agreed on votes in theory, in reality when comment threads get off topic, high votes tend to take on a blend of "this is legitimately useful" and "ohhh, burn!" - or they indicate good points, but off-topic. You also have the issue of later comments although certainly those are more visible merely by their position towards the end, so I can see that as well. The problem, though, is that you see moving to chat as "removal of comments" and "suppression", but it's not. The link is there, the comments (mostly) remain, and you can still interact in chat. So they do exist. – Jason C Mar 25 '17 at 12:58
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    The only bit of flaw in the mechanism is that you can only move to chat once. After that then it's delete or nothing. Adding an ability to continuously move comments to chat could be a reasonable feature request. And being overzealous about moving to chat is a potential issue, but that is different than saying "move to chat should not exist". Btw, going back to "can't be edited in", I'd argue that if you've got enough extra info to add, you ought to consider posting an answer. – Jason C Mar 25 '17 at 12:58
  • In re "but they're really still there!", see my reply to you under the question. In re "ohh, burn!": of course people are going to vote for stuff which appeals to them, whether it's the "most helpful" stuff or not, but the same applies to answers and questions (as you most know from long experiences or the endless complaints about the HNQ list), and I don't see anyone arguing to sweep the low-value answers under the rug. – Dan Bron Mar 25 '17 at 13:02
  • @DanBron In reality, the same does not actually apply to answers or questions. Questions are a different beast, and long back-and-forths don't happen via answers. Comment votes can't be compared to question and answer votes. You also have the ability to downvote questions and answers, unlike comments. There have been a few feature requests to allow downvotes on comments although they've mostly been poorly received. I don't have any available to link to off the top of my head (sorry) but they shouldn't be hard to find if you're interested or find value in supporting them. – Jason C Mar 25 '17 at 13:06
  • The mass "upvoting for stuff which appeals to me, even if it's not the most helpful or relevant" absolutely does happen to Qs and As. My most upvoted answer is on some simple dictionary answer to a trivial question and not the ones where I've had to provide legitimate expertise, research, and effort. Programmers.se almost died because people upvoted jokes and lists and not useful content. No, it happens the same on Qs, As, and comments. Back and forth I'll give you, but I think back and forth is often valuable to future readers, for example our exchange here. – Dan Bron Mar 25 '17 at 13:09
  • (And this really is a side issue, but when moving to chat, all comment votes are lost, so it becomes even harder to separate the wheat from the chaff, and so far the team has rejected all feature requests to preserve comment votes when moving to chat, e.g. as stars.) – Dan Bron Mar 25 '17 at 13:11
  • @DanBron I agree, the mass "upvoting for stuff which appeals to me, even if it's not the most helpful or relevant" absolutely does happen to Qs and As. You are correct. And this is completely different than comments, due to sheer volume, lack of sorting by votes, lack of downvotes, lack of comment review queues, different standards on what is acceptable, and all of the other differences. They cannot be compared, you can't stretch the comparison to try to make a parallel here. – Jason C Mar 25 '17 at 13:12
  • @DanBron Re: Your second comment: Fwiw I absolutely would support votes being converted to stars in chat. That has always bothered me. There doesn't appear to be an FR for it on MSE or MSO, at least not that I could find with moderate effort put into searching. – Jason C Mar 25 '17 at 13:13
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Also I think, maybe the SE chat could be made more useful with a little UX tuning. So, I agree that point. Note: after using it a lot, I accustomed it, and now I think it has a big worth - here is the only way, where you can make unbounded, free talk with your pals.

But, about the moving of the long comments into chat: the posts are mainly for the googlers of the future, and they won't read such long comment talks there. Nobody will. It will be crap for them.

The essence of the SE is, to provide highly concentrated, useful information. Thus, 1 question, below that one or more answer, with their indexed usability, all of them should be clear and self-contained. This is why we are all here, this is why we found the site with google long ago.

If you have some additional info about the post, to extend it, you can edit it into, or you can write a new answer.

  • I think of myself as a googler of the future. Indeed, I recently googled myself to a StackOverflow question and when I read the comments I was surprised to encounter myself there. My contribution from three years ago was quite forgettable but the train of thought that was developed by my co-commenters pointed me towards a new approach. – Elise van Looij Mar 30 '17 at 8:40
1

So, just to put some things in perspective (I'm posting this as a separate answer for... obvious reasons), since August 5, 2015 (this is when "move to chat" was added to the moderator control panel, prior to that only autoflags could trigger this) (% posts deleted is included because those posts are not reflected in these numbers):

                 Total   Mod-Moved   User-Moved    % Posts
Site             Posts      Convos       Convos    Deleted
----------------------------------------------------------
SO             9129821         448        32963     18.35%
MSO              31519          37           53     22.77%
MSE              17953           9           24     32.44%
English          81580         276          104     27.28%
Worldbuilding    46230         397          124      7.61%

And, since I cannot gather data on deleted posts, here are some projected numbers correcting for the average % of deleted posts on a site (* indicates projected values, which actually are close to the true number at least for SO, see rationale link below):

                 Total   Mod-Moved   User-Moved
Site             Posts      Convos*      Convos*
-----------------------------------------------
SO            11181007         549        40369
MSO              40813          48           69
MSE              26574          13           36
English         112181         380          143
Worldbuilding    50036         430          134

The above numbers were taken from this query (see rationale and discussion, that's why it took so long to post this).

A few observations:

  • In reality, the number of comment conversations moved to chat by moderators is low. The truth is that this feature is just not actually used that often.
  • Interestingly, on SO, the number of comment conversations moved to chat voluntarily by users (not mods) is exceedingly high, suggesting users find value in this.

Even if you doubled these numbers just to be generous, this is still not a lot of comments moved to chat. That suggests that this really is a non-issue (the objectively poor reception of this discussion lends some support here as well) and, beyond that, may be interpreted to suggest that users actually do find value in it (I know I do, at least).

As for the purpose of move-to-chat itself, Kate Gregory sufficiently nailed it. My focus above is on the data.

Also bear in mind that comments moved to chat are still visible, and still interactive (until inactivity freezes the room), despite the barrier of a click.


As for chat:

Why have a "chat" feature at all? The internet is replete with chatter -- why do we need to facilitate and encourage more chat?

So, spending a lot of time in the chat rooms here myself, I can tell you that they are, for the most part, active, well-used, and useful. There are the site specific chat rooms (some very successful, others cold and bleak), topic-specific chat rooms, the comments-moved-to-chat chat rooms (an infamous recent example that somewhat pains me to link to), and others. Many great things at stackapps were born out of chat, many of the behind-the-scenes things that keep the site nice for you came out of chat, and so much more. Bear in mind that you, personally, not using a feature does not equate to that feature having no value.

Why not encourage discussion?

Because that's not what SE is about. That's not the purpose of these sites. These sites are intended to be low-noise Q&A sites. That's the entire philosophy of Stack Exchange -- "Ask questions, get answers, no distractions". There are other communities that are more geared to discussion, such as Reddit, various mailing lists, newsgroups, forums, etc.


As for your case specifically:

To be honest, it sounds to me like you had an experience that was bad for you. This is fine, but it does not mean the feature is an issue, or that it needs to go. If you believe comments were inappropriately moved to chat, you have some options:

  • Accept the possibility that the move was called for: that there's a bigger picture outside of the heated debate you were having in a comment thread, and that while the move might be jarring to you, in the grand scheme of things it may have served a purpose.
  • Bring it up in chat.
  • Bring it up on meta.
  • Raise a custom flag with a polite request if and only if you have a solid case for restoring some of the comments.
  • If the move was a legitimate mistake, also accept the possibility that mistakes happen, repost the important information, and carry on in the chat room.

Also, if you come across a question with comments moved to chat, and the room is frozen but you have something to add:

  • If it's relevant to the post, add it as a new comment. Moving comments to chat does not prohibit further on-topic comments.
  • If it's something off-topic and you'd like to address a specific user, feel free to find them in a chat room somewhere.
  • If it's something off-topic that you just feel compelled to express, well, this isn't the place. Tweet about it, blog about it, start a reddit thread about it, use another outlet.

Anyways hopefully some of this puts some things about this feature into perspective. Look at the numbers above and judge for yourself if it's an issue or not. Browse around through various moved comment chat rooms and think about the sites from a moderation perspective and try to get a sense of the benefit the ability to do this brings in the bigger picture.

  • I'm happy to see I've reached step 4 in this program you apparently wrote just for me. Are there weekly sessions? Ooooohm .... – Elise van Looij Mar 30 '17 at 8:51
  • @ElisevanLooij I'm sorry, I do not understand. What's "step 4"? – Jason C Mar 30 '17 at 11:15

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