Currently, when a mod moves a comment thread to chat, the system enters a very curt and borderline rude message that seems to be chastising users for doing something wrong instead of attempting to educate them. As a mod, I have often felt bad for leaving this comment so I need to go and edit and rephrase it. Since there has been a lot of effort over the past several months to make the site more welcoming, could we please change the wording of this so it's less aggressive?

The current version reads:

Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat.

I would instead suggest something like this (or, much better, the version suggested by Tinkeringbell)

Please don't engage in extended discussions in the comments. This conversation has been moved to [a chat room][2] where it can be continued.

The first link should point to the help/privileges/comment (e.g. https://meta.stackexchange.com/help/privileges/comment) of the local site and the second will be a link to the chat room, same as now.

I am not tied to this particular wording, of course. Whatever wording we chose should fulfill the following criteria:

  1. It should educate the users on how and when comments should be used by linking to the relevant help page.
  2. It should be polite and welcoming, not curt and aggressive like the current one.
  3. It shouldn't come across as though the moderator is chastising the users. Our objective is to keep the site clean, not to point fingers at users for commenting too much.
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    I also believe that the current wording can lead to pedantic arguments that "my comment thread was a different topic/conversation from the one moved to chat". Mar 17, 2021 at 18:04

2 Answers 2



This is now live:

Updated text as recommended previously (read below) - "Comments have been moved to chat; please do not continue the discussion here. Before posting a comment below this one, please review the purposes of comments. Comments that do not request clarification or suggest improvements usually belong as an answer, on Meta Stack Overflow, or in Stack Overflow Chat. Comments continuing discussion may be removed. – Catija♦"

In general, we like the idea of changing the text to be a bit more informative. There's a lot of good ideas between the question and Tinkeringbell's answer. I poked at it a bit to try and find something that met the key points in the question while also being informative and firm.

One thing I ran into often on Interpersonal Skills is that moving the comments to chat doesn't always (or even often) cause the discussion to end. As a mod there, I often added big bold headings to make them stand out and be clear - don't keep posting comments here!

While I didn't want to do that since it's not usually needed, I did want to make it a bit more clear that continuing the existing comment discussion should not be an option without making any clear threats - at least y'all have comment locks, which I didn't as a mod.

To that end, I came up with this:

The comments have been [moved to a chat room] because they were being used outside their [intended purpose]. Often when there are lots of comments, they should be taken to [chat], become a [meta] discussion, or may be better served as an answer. Please consider whether one of these is a better option for this discussion but do not continue it here.

  • "Moved to a chat room" links to the room
  • "intended purpose" links to the comment privilege page
  • "[chat]" is a magic link that will turn into "[sitename] Chat"
  • "[meta]" is a magic link that will turn into "[sitename] Meta"

In this variant I'm leading with the action (comments were removed) rather than citing broken rules. This often can lessen the harshness of a statement... and then I explain generally why along with linking to the chat privilege page. I then answer the inevitable "so what do I do instead?" question and give three options. Finally, I politely ask them to go elsewhere to continue the discussion.

I tried to avoid any specific statements about whether or not to use the chat room - it feels odd to move comments to chat and then tell someone "but don't use this room I just created". This variation leaves that somewhat open ended.

This is not finalized - yet. I'm going to give it until the end of the week for feedback before I send it off to get the text changed - if you have any recommendations, I'm open to them.


This one got put on a shelf for a bit, which I apologise for. After reviewing the recommendations in the comments and discussing a bit with JNat, we've decided to go with the following text, which is based off a recommendation from terdon:

Comments have been [moved to chat]; please do not continue the discussion here. Before posting a comment below this one, please review the purposes of comments. Comments that do not request clarification or suggest improvements usually belong as an answer, on [Sitename Meta], or in [Sitename Chat]. Comments continuing discussion may be removed.

The markdown will look like this:

**Comments have been [moved to chat](URL of chat room); please do not continue the discussion here.** Before posting a comment below this one, please review the [purposes of comments](/help/privileges/comment). Comments that do not request clarification or suggest improvements usually belong as an [answer](/help/how-to-answer), on [meta], or in [chat]. Comments continuing discussion may be removed.

I'll post another update once the changes are live.

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    Comments have been moved to chat; please do not continue the discussion here. Before posting a comment below this one, please review the purposes of comments. Comments that do not request clarification or suggest improvements usually belong as an answer, or in Meta Stack Exchange Chat. Comments continuing discussion may be removed.
    – Catija
    Jan 30 at 21:11
  • Shouldn't the sentence: "Comments continuing discussion may be removed." have the definite article "the", thus being: "Comments continuing the discussion may be removed."..? Maybe rephrase to avoid the definite article altogether, since several intertwined discussions are also conceivable..?!
    – bad_coder
    Jan 30 at 21:35
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    @bad_coder Wouldn’t that mean comments continuing a different discussion may continue uninhibited? Jan 30 at 23:59
  • The second last sentence in the updated text ('Comments that do not request clarification or suggest improvements usually belong as an answer, on [Sitename Meta], or in [Sitename Chat].') is confusing IMO. Jan 31 at 1:17
  • @ThomasMarkov I'm not a native English speaker so I honestly don't know, but the syntax of the last sentence somehow just doesn't seem to capture the potential plural and being in the singular it leaves me wondering...
    – bad_coder
    Jan 31 at 6:36
  • Although I applaud this initiative to be more informative, I'm not too happy with this text. I don't like that it is uses bold, especially since bold is, imho too bold. I do think it overstates the problem. I don't like the fact that it points to chat - many chatrooms are basically underused and posting there will not likely get you a good response on many sites. On our Cryptography site it is often the people that are discussing that request the move to chat, and it is unnecessarily harsh text for that. That all said, I can adjust with relative ease, and it is easier to remove than add. Oct 14 at 17:20

My suggestion for a generic comment would read something like this:

[Comments][1] are not to be used for extended discussion. The comments here have been [moved to a chatroom][2] for future reference. If you have anything to say that doesn't fit the purpose of comments on this site, consider writing your own answer, a meta post, or joining the main site chat.

I agree the current message is failing to educate users on the proper use of comments due to a lack of linking to the privilege page. And like you, I'm not tied to this particular wording. But besides just educating users on what comments are for, I think the auto-comment should also educate users on where (if at all) they should've posted instead. As such, I also don't want it to focus too much on continuing in the chat room, but rather on going to the right place instead. Even if that right place is 'nowhere on the SE network'.

Comments are either useful and in line with the purpose comments have, which means they should stay under the post where everyone can easily see them... or they shouldn't have been posted (as comments) in the first place. As such, I personally really dislike using the 'move comments to chat' function for anything but "archiving" purposes: Cleaning them up so there's one less broken window on main, while keeping them available for reference, without particularly wanting to encourage users to continue in that room.

Consider a new user asking general questions about the site, or two people having a meta discussion in comments. I don't want this new user to continue in a different chat room. I want them to know the right places to go for help: meta and the main site chat. Same for the two users that are getting into a meta discussion on main: I don't want them to continue in the chatroom, I want them to post on meta where the entire community can chime in. Other comments should be gone because they should've been answers, then I want people to post answers instead of continuing an argument in a chatroom, where things are hidden behind a link and can't be voted on.

In 99.9% of cases, just moving everything to chat and having things continue there is basically not the preferred option. I feel the auto-comment should address that somehow. I'm not too worried about chastising; I prefer sending a clear 'don't do this again, this isn't what comments are for' message over enabling comment abuse.

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    YESH! Much better, absolutely. I much prefer this wording. I don't quite agree with not continuing (I have often continued discussions in chat that were very useful to clarify the question/answer), but I completely agree that saying something about posting answers instead is a very good idea.
    – terdon
    Mar 18, 2021 at 11:05
  • @terdon about continued discussion in chat to clarify a question/answer: That's one of those cases where I would likely edit the auto-comment anyways, to point out that I'm moving to chat because that allows for replying to specific messages, and reminding people to eventually edit the post with the results of their conversation. It's very rare for me to do so though, as it hides perfectly fine comments behind a link. I'm not sure how to capture all of that adequately as well in a single auto-comment, so that's why it fell out of focus here.
    – Tinkeringbell Mod
    Mar 18, 2021 at 11:17
  • @Tinkeringbell Why not multiple choice? Or one canned comment and one "other" box to put in a custom comment and eliminate the edit step. I think for all the different situations where comments get moved to chat, it's going to be difficult to come up with one comment that usually doesn't have to be edited. If we want to get crazy, we could allow site mods to customize the default comment for their site. All it really needs is a marker where the link to the created chat room gets substituted.
    – ColleenV
    Mar 18, 2021 at 12:08
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    @ColleenV There's one downside to multiple choice or free style text that made me hesitate to mention it as an option. I'm thinking it may be too vulnerable to mistakes like accidentally not posting the link to the chat. Not saying it shouldn't be considered, but yeah, there should be a fool-proof way to avoid not posting an actual link to chat :)
    – Tinkeringbell Mod
    Mar 18, 2021 at 12:11
  • Yeah, I think it would have to automatically tack on the link, or use some sort of template marker like the moderator messages do.
    – ColleenV
    Mar 18, 2021 at 12:12
  • It would also make this considerably more complicated to implement. I say let's stick to making the thing less aggressive to start with.
    – terdon
    Mar 18, 2021 at 18:14
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    "[Comments][1] are not to be used for extended discussion. " has exactly the same problem as "Comments are not for extended discussion; " It's condescending and unwelcoming. "This discussion has been moved to [chatroom] by a moderator" says everything of importance to the user.
    – JeffUK
    Jan 19, 2022 at 17:51
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    @JeffUK Well if you have better ideas of saying Comments are not to be used for extended discussion, feel free to actually provide an idea. The rule is the rule, and having the comment succinctly state it makes that clear to any users that were involved in an extended discussion and thus likely unaware of the rule. It is just factually stating this is unwelcome behavior, and if users don't like that, well... Good riddance, I guess.
    – Tinkeringbell Mod
    Jan 19, 2022 at 17:58
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    " if users don't like that, well... Good riddance, I guess." Welcome to stackoverflow... stackoverflow.blog/2018/04/26/….
    – JeffUK
    Jan 19, 2022 at 18:00
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    @JeffUK yes, I'm aware of that blog post, it has one of my favorite ideas: that these sites don't give new users enough guidance so they know to avoid mistakes in the first place. As much as I'd love new users to know they should never get into an extended discussion in comments and go to right places immediately, the sites at the moment don't facilitate that. So all this comment can do is react to unwelcome behavior, factually state the rule and tell users the right place. If they don't like that there's this rule, yes.Good riddance, as they're not likely to turn out to be useful contributors
    – Tinkeringbell Mod
    Jan 19, 2022 at 18:08
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    Again, it's important to state the rule. I see you updated your first comment to say it should only state that the discussion was moved to chat, but that doesn't teach unwelcome behavior to avoid or the welcome behavior to engage in instead. It only teaches that sometimes, a moderator comes along and moves stuff.
    – Tinkeringbell Mod
    Jan 19, 2022 at 18:18

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