I think that chat is bad because it is permanent and searchable. If it existed for some reasonable time, like 30 days - no problem. I don't want my words retained for posterity and findable by anyone who chooses to look. This is far worse than Facebook, it needs to stop.

I never agree when people want to take something to chat, I just stop. But I discovered that if the comments of any post are moved to chat, my comments go right along. I do not want this to happen. I don't want to be in chat, I don't want my words in chat, no way, no how. "I do not want it in a box, I do not want it with a fox, I do not want it here or there, I do not want it anywhere."

Is there some way that I can NOT be dragged into chat, short of simply deleting all of my profiles on all SE sites (which is my next move)?

  • 14
    At the danger of sounding condescending: Have you read the Terms Of Service? All content you provide is perpetually and irrevocably licensed to StackExchange under CC-BY-SA. If you don't want your comments moved to chat, don't comment. Also do note that you can effect a deletion of the content in chat. Then again: questions and answers are also permanent and searchable, so why exactly is chat different? Apr 11, 2018 at 18:25
  • @πάνταῥεῖ this is about the "move comments to chat" moderator action. Apr 11, 2018 at 18:25
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    You do know your comments under a post are potentially just as permanent as chat messages are?
    – Magisch
    Apr 11, 2018 at 18:31
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    Chat is different because I don't ask for it to happen. I realize that I am posting or commenting, but chat seems like something that should be transitory and it is NOT. Why on earth would we want to keep it around forever? The more stuff that hangs around, the more problems. Haven't we learned that lesson by now? When will we learn it?
    – user291305
    Apr 11, 2018 at 18:36
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    The main problem seems to be that you can't delete the comments that are moved to chat, while you can always delete your own comments on normal questions and answers. Is that right? Would a delete message option for the OP in chatrooms that are linked to a question/answer be an option to address your concern?
    – rene
    Apr 11, 2018 at 18:46
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    @Magisch not really. You can always delete your own comments you left on a post. You can even do so years later. And except for moderators those deleted comments will not be visible to anyone.
    – rene
    Apr 11, 2018 at 18:52
  • If you're deliberately commenting, knowing that your comments might last indefinitely, and then those comments are converted to a seemingly-transient but actually potentially-long-lived mode… what is actually different? You were OK with your comments hanging around more or less forever. And, indeed, they may well hang around more or less forever. Nothing actually changed. (Well, chat is easier to remove things from, arguably, given auto-deletion of some rooms, and harder to find things in as well.) Apr 11, 2018 at 18:53
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    @OOO Because your comments were moved from being comments to being chat messages, they should be considered an Adaptation, as defined in CC BY-SA 3.0. As such, the CC BY-SA 3.0 license, under which all content is licensed to Stack Exchange, provides you the option of having the content you've provided disassociated from any credit given to you. in other words, they don't have to remove the messages, but they must, upon request, make them not directly credited to you. Note that this does not mean they have to, or will, remove your @name from when people reply to those messages.
    – Makyen
    Apr 13, 2018 at 1:04

2 Answers 2


I think this is a fair request.

You're right that once a discussion gets moved to chat, you lose the option to effectively moderate your own comments (which can always be deleted by the owner) as they have now become chat messages, which are by design only editable (or be removed) in the first 2 minutes after posting. After that you can't touch them anymore, or you must fancy to flag for a moderator, asking them to delete the comments from the chat.

Unfortunately there is no option to opt-out or to prevent comments from being moved to chat. The best thing I can think of is a userscript that watches your posts for the dreaded Let's continue in chat comment and once it appears deletes all your comments. When done quick enough the damage might be minor. This doesn't solve the Move to chat option that moderators can use. You'll only notice after the fact.

If you feel strong enough about this you might consider posting a feature request that ask for the remove option on your own messages in a chatroom that is linked to a post. Alternatively the OP of the post could be made room owner of such rooms so that at least they have an option to moderate it. Seeing how the move to chat impacts your own ability to moderate your comments I would support such feature request, if worded in a neutral tone of voice.

In the 6 to 8 weeks that are needed to implement the feature you have keep in mind that your comments can be moved to chat. Keeping your comments cleaned-up is the only way to prevent any surprises that you can't easy undo.


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    Thank you. Originally, when I first encountered chat, I figured that it was transitory, after a month, things would roll off. No one expects that they are going to be tape-recorded and have all of their words searchable by anyone forever, right? That is just not done. Except, it is done, on SE! Huh? Why? To what purpose? How can comments be in any way useful after a short period of time? So why do they stick around? It is not a normal expectation that something called 'chat', which is a word for an informal, unscripted, unrecorded conversation, should be permanent and searchable.
    – user291305
    Apr 11, 2018 at 19:52
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    @OOO I believe chat messages are permanent in case of legal issues, to provide a record of any illegal behaviour that may go on in the chat rooms (such as online grooming or cyber bullying). Not that I'd ever expect a SE user to do such a thing, but it's most likely used as a contingency plan. Apr 11, 2018 at 22:50
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    Came back to see the "end" and discovered that the OP's question got 19 DVs and 6 UVs while your answer got 16 UVs, and this is interesting, only 1 DV. Your statement that the request is a fair is met with 16 users agreeing, whereas 19 users disagree with the OP's stance. Is that based on him mocking the lines from "Green Eggs and Ham"? (I jest, but I do find the voting nevertheless odd) Apr 15, 2018 at 10:26
  • To be clear, I never "demanded" anything. I expressed perplexity that (ephemeral) comments are deletable but those same comments become permanent once they are transferred to chat. I also sustain that chat is significantly different from posting or answering questions, but if one is informed then it's their choice whether to participate or not. Apr 15, 2018 at 10:36
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    @Mari-LouA: I suspect it has to do with tone and contents; OP started with paranoia and feeeeelings, rene is more accustomed to Meta and made facts and details prominent and took a somewhat detached tone. Had those same details ("I can delete my comments but not chat messages") made it into the original, the score would likely have been considerably better. Apr 15, 2018 at 21:21
  • @Mari-LouA FYI My feature request to allow those chat messages to be deleted was declined. May 2, 2018 at 1:04

I hate to break this to you but...

Very little on SE is really deleted.

Those deleted posts? Well, you can see for yourselves
Those deleted comments? Merely hidden away.

The only way to redact something is in a post proper involves 2 mods and a slightly complicated process we complain a lot in private.

Considering everything you post is in the open and could be indexed by a search engine - where you can't even trivially remove their cache.... this seems a little odd.

In theory if its something you really really really shouldn't have said, you could probably custom flag it - with a very good reason included. Misusing this simply cause "I don't want to accidentally engage in chat" is a bad idea however.

  • 2
    The boolean of whether something is "really" deleted or not is less important than the ease of it being intentionallly or incidentally discovered, and users' control of that is significantly altered by moving things to chat. It's a fair concern.
    – Jeremy
    Apr 11, 2018 at 23:36
  • I don't think the Senators questioning Zuck today would accept your perspective. ;)
    – Jeremy
    Apr 11, 2018 at 23:43
  • I'll wait for the great SO election/data breach scandal first Apr 11, 2018 at 23:45
  • 1
    There actually was a sort-of election voter identity leak vulnerability in the past, but I caught and fixed it. Probably not at the level of government interest, though.
    – Jeremy
    Apr 11, 2018 at 23:46
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    Those self-deleted comments (not redacted) are not easily accessible to someone who merely googles your username though, are they? The FBI or MI5 may find these comments/posts easily enough, but Joe Blogs or Auntie Madge from next door won't. And even a computer savvy person won't be able to view deleted comments w/o hacking into SE. Is that correct? Apr 12, 2018 at 1:18
  • Yup. Unless it was indexed before it was deleted Apr 12, 2018 at 4:07
  • I'd add this is no different from how a polite flag to delete would work, other than needing moderator intervention Apr 12, 2018 at 4:09

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