The Teacher's Lounge--the Network-wide chat room for elected moderators--used to have a whois bot. Its functionality was pretty simple:

nitsua60> whois meta mods

Feed> I am aware of 3 moderators on meta.stackexchange.com: ChrisF, JourneymanGeek, Tinkeringbell. JourneymanGeek is currently in this room.


nitsua60> whois rpg mods

Feed> I am aware of 4 moderators on rpg.stackexchange.com: doppelgreener, nitsua60, Rubiksmoose, V2Blast. None of them are currently in this room.

We moderators used that a lot. A lotta-lot. It dramatically reduced friction in the "I wonder if this question would be good there" or "does this user give you trouble like they're giving me?" conversations that happen daily. And I live in the hopes that the bot will be restored.

I request that while working on the bot, SE staff consider pushing a version of that to all chat rooms. It would have two commands--whois owners and whois mods--which identify either the room's owners or the elected moderators of the room's parent-site, and indicate whether they're pingable. Again in the hopes that this will reduce friction in communication about site- and chat-matters.

I strongly believe in chat functioning best when we use our words, kindly and compassionately and clearly and firmly, well before resorting to the clumsy mechanical tools of kicks and flags and freezes. (Even when words fail, I prefer asking others for help with words before the tools.) Let's make it easier for everyone to use words well and ask for help when needed.

  • 4
    A list of room owners, sorted by most recently active in the room, can be trivially obtained by just going to the chat room's info page, which is directly linked from the main chat page of every room. The link is located just below the tags for the room. If a user isn't going to remember, or know, that such a list is a single click away, are they really going to remember that there's a command which will show them such information?
    – Makyen
    Commented Apr 8, 2020 at 21:21
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    You've exactly, correctly, described what I'm shorthanding as "friction." I'm saying that in my experience yes, people will use this command and yes, having less friction in this way leads to more/better communication. As a moderator I want as many signals going to my site's users that we are approachable. It's not just the tool, it's seeing people use the tool.
    – nitsua60
    Commented Apr 9, 2020 at 0:45
  • 3
    I regret that without voting fraud that I have but one upvote to give Commented Apr 9, 2020 at 12:04
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    As a side effect compared to "check the link", the bot lets everyone know that someone is looking for some other folks, which lets both them and bystanders know about a potential issue. This fact also becomes part of the chat's backlog. Commented Oct 20, 2021 at 13:42
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    @nitsua60 How is having to type some command, that you don't necessarily know, in order to get a response from a bot, less "friction" than just a single click on a link or button to have the information displayed to you? I'm not saying things couldn't be improved, or there are no features in this area which would be beneficial. It's just that what's described in the question doesn't seem that beneficial in contexts other than the Teachers' Lounge, where the info people want is about moderators on other sites and isn't trivially available, rather than about ROs, which is trivially available.
    – Makyen
    Commented May 5, 2022 at 2:25
  • Just curious how whois mods would work for rooms that are parented to The Stack Exchange Network. Not sure if it should list all 100+ mods. Commented May 5, 2022 at 5:05
  • Nevertheless, I still can see there's a benefit of this feature on rooms with active ROs and/or mods. Though, they could never be pingable if they never joined/posted a single message (as a reply) on that room (unlike mods who can superping). Commented May 5, 2022 at 5:18
  • @MetaAndrewT. The info on who's a mod on any give site would quite simply be retrieved from /users?tab=moderators I think.
    – Luuklag
    Commented May 5, 2022 at 7:38
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    @Luuklag that's true for rooms that are parented to a specific SE site. But "The Stack Exchange Network" is not a specific SE site; it points to stackexchange.com. Commented May 5, 2022 at 8:02
  • But if you program a bot to specify the mods for a given site, you can surely program it to use the individual links to the sites. Yes, all mods on any give site on the network have a mod diamond in all chat rooms, but that isn't exactly the same, right?
    – Luuklag
    Commented May 5, 2022 at 8:04
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    @Luuklag there are chatrooms that are not parented to any specific site. Charcoal HQ is one, I believe.
    – Ryan M
    Commented May 6, 2022 at 22:36
  • @MetaAndrewT. good point. I have no idea how it would work on siteless rooms. I definitely didn't have those in mind when writing this up.
    – nitsua60
    Commented May 6, 2022 at 23:01
  • tbh, failing an official solution, quite a few of the common bots could cover this if someone would host it - showing who is active is 'trickier' but other than that, its just pulling up a 'fixed', rarely changing list of users? Commented May 9, 2022 at 15:46


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