One issue we have on Programmers.SE is that people like to have extended discussions in comments on answers and questions. Try as we might to delete long comment chains and educate them about chat (example 1, example 2, example 3, example 4, MSO example), our chat room sits relatively empty and long comment chains still occur with great frequency.

Presumably, this problem also occurs on any Stack Exchange question that invites differing schools of thought about a problem.

Rather than continue to fight a losing battle, can we get a "migrate to chat" option for comments? This would allow people to have their extended discussions in the correct place and expose chat a little more to the people who would most benefit from it.

The artifact that could be left behind to let people know that the discussion has been moved to chat could be a comment from Community:

The extended discussion in the comments has been moved to chat.

Where the word chat links to the permalink where the comments were migrated.

There's a case where this resolution would make continued discussion inaccessible—when a user is participating in an extended discussion on his own question but does not have 20 rep—but perhaps a warning or disclaimer could be added:

The extended discussion in the comments has been moved to chat. To continue participating, you need 20 reputation.

Or some logic (like perhaps a special-cased chat room) to allow the user to continue participating in the migrated discussion.


  • 15
    I like this idea a lot, but I want to request one additional feature. On SO I notice a lot of the extended comment discussions involve new users who can't get in to chat. I'd like to see a warning if I'm about to migrate a comment thread to chat if any of the comments are from users with less than 20 rep. Commented Jun 1, 2011 at 19:22
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    @Bill Although there's still the edge case of a new user commenting on their own questions, generally you need more rep to comment than you need to chat. I wonder if there's a way to build the it's-my-discussion-so-the-rep-rules-are-more-lax logic into chat, but absent that I agree a warning should be added.
    – user149432
    Commented Jun 1, 2011 at 19:27
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    @Mark: That might be a better idea. Create a room specifically for that conversation, then let all the users involved in to that chat room, regardless of rep. Commented Jun 1, 2011 at 19:34
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    @Bill @Mark Would we potentially end up with a lot of zombie rooms, never to be used again, as a result?
    – Adam Lear StaffMod
    Commented Jun 1, 2011 at 20:54
  • @Anna Because of that, I would prefer the disclaimer option rather than catering to the edge case of a user with less than 20 rep participating in an extended discussion on his own question.
    – user149432
    Commented Jun 1, 2011 at 21:14
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    -1, what about those of us who never will use chat? (not saying I try and participate in long comment chains outside of meta, but still)
    – user7116
    Commented Jun 1, 2011 at 21:55
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    @sixlettervariables you don't have to participate in chat. Right now, comment chains are deleted if a moderator catches it. This is providing an avenue for those comments to remain, but in the most appropriate location. Not willing to go to the chat room to have an extended discussion doesn't give anyone license to treat comments as a chat room.
    – user149432
    Commented Jun 1, 2011 at 22:01
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    @Mark: just delete them. If they are worth saying on chat somebody will say them. I'd wager the majority of these chains are by users who have no desire to visit chat (which is a SE gray area at best).
    – user7116
    Commented Jun 1, 2011 at 22:13
  • @Chris if I remember correctly, it was deleted in favor of this proposal. Removed the reference from the question.
    – user149432
    Commented Sep 14, 2011 at 22:25
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    @sixlettervariables I disagree. Parenting in particular leads to discussions that would be better moved to chat.
    – deworde
    Commented Feb 16, 2012 at 10:53
  • I think it is BS that this is set to "status completed", as there is only a single option to move all comments to chat, which is rather different than supplying a tool to select comments that have to be moved to chat. Also see this feature request. Commented Jan 8, 2019 at 20:49

3 Answers 3


Agreed. I've done this at least once, and IIRC twice, by copying the text of the messages into chat, adding attributions, and deleting the comments. It was extremely tedious, but it was the right thing to do at the time.

So yes, please give us a tool do do that!

This feature should give a choice of creating a chat room (when you want to take users to a place where they won't bother anyone else, but not silence them) or using an existing room (when it's just a conversation that's been drifting away from the topic of the question).

Since August 2015, moderators can now move comments to chat on any post. The tool “move comments to chat” is available in the “mod” menu on any question or answer with at least comment. It creates a new chat room and posts all the (non-deleted) comments that were under that post. The comments are not deleted; you may delete individual comments, or all of them, as you see fit.

  • 4
    Wish I could +1 twice for the suggestion to use an existing chat room.
    – David Z
    Commented Jan 14, 2012 at 0:43
  • Of course, what we need now is a button to move comments at any time, not just once the magic number of 20 has been reached. And the opportunity to continue to move further comments into the post's chatroom... Commented Sep 17, 2015 at 15:02
  • @AndrewLeach The button now exists, but only for moderators. You should usually delete at the most recent comments when you use it, so that the conversation in the comments is disrupted and can only go on in chat. Commented Sep 17, 2015 at 15:22
  • Yes, "we" in that comment was "we moderators". Usually I end up blatting the entire conversation to Chat, but comments still get added. Commented Sep 17, 2015 at 15:25
  • Yes, we can move all comments to chat now. If there are any comments that should not move to chat then the current solution does not work. Unfortunately, chats are still auto-deleted as well. Commented Jan 8, 2019 at 20:47

This is something we're putting thought to; the "mod pushing it" scenario is a bit more complex than the existing setup, as the current mechanism is designed to spot and migrate an ongoing conversation between two individuals. We've played with some experimental code to see how the existing mechanism works, and it looks like to be useful we'd have to relax the rules a fair bit on what conversations we let it transfer. Not a problem - just something to be done.

We also have some ... reservations about when it is appropriate vs. not, and (for example) whether we should check which participants are chat users before dragging it over (since in this scenario neither/none of the participants is the one pushing the button).

But: it is something we are actively now thinking about, in terms of what is/isn't appropriate.

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    This is good to know, thanks. I look forward to the conclusions :P
    – user154510
    Commented Jan 23, 2012 at 14:53
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    Sorry to bug you, but any update on this? Commented Jun 1, 2012 at 16:54
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    Marc, the stats site is desperate for this kind of feature. If it would simplify things, we might be well enough off if you always provided the "move to chat" option to all future commenters (of sufficient rep) as soon as (say) one individual posted more than 50% of 5 or more comments to a question or answer. Although this might seem like nagging (it would be), the "monopoly" criterion I suggested would limit this behavior to just a few threads and would help users understand the reason for the nagging.
    – whuber
    Commented Jul 16, 2012 at 18:17
  • A nudge on this: security.stackexchange.com/a/25600/836 is a mess that I'd love to migrate and preserve. My options are quite limited without this feature. Commented Dec 18, 2012 at 23:10
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    Marc - have there been any more progress on this? Thanks!
    – DVK
    Commented Feb 1, 2013 at 0:40
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    Politics could actually be resurrected by this! Commented Jul 9, 2013 at 20:39
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    I don't see how allowing mods to move chatty comments to a room could be less appropriate than the current situation where we are forced to summarily delete them (and lock the post so they don't just regenerate).
    – T.E.D.
    Commented Aug 14, 2013 at 14:39
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    ...aaaand, just got a complaint from a user about me doing just that. Please, please give us some better tool for dealing with this than the delete button.
    – T.E.D.
    Commented Aug 15, 2013 at 2:55
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    I second @T.E.D.'s request. Please for the love of mods this would help so much.
    – ihtkwot
    Commented Aug 20, 2013 at 0:48
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    Any news on this? Moving discussions to chat would be so useful.
    – Raphael
    Commented Jan 7, 2014 at 11:34
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    Four months after the last request for news, two years after the initial "it's on the to-do list," can we get some update here? This feature is literally the one I most desire from SE.
    – KRyan
    Commented Apr 9, 2014 at 17:41
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    This would make a big difference on Workplace. Commented May 4, 2014 at 3:09
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    Another plea for this feature! Over at skeptics we get some.... interesting... discussions in comments which we mods unfortunately have to clean up. Sometimes it feels right to migrate the whole comment thread to its own chat room and leave just a link saying (extended discussion moved to chat).
    – Jamiec
    Commented Jun 20, 2014 at 23:34
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    It sounds like you're looking for ways to adjust the existing mechanism to auto-identify comments to move. You should totally ditch that and <strike>use jQuery instead</strike> consider letting mods select -- a selection interface + a migrate button that then calls the same code that the auto one does (to create a new room and move stuff) would be a huge win. Could it be better than that? Sure, but even that would be a major step. Commented Jun 23, 2014 at 16:17

This has now been implemented, in the following form:

On posts that have been automatically flagged as having too many comments (defined as over 20 comments in 3 days, by default - these values can be tweaked per site), moderators will see in the moderator dashboard section a button - "Move comments to chat".

Clicking this button will copy all current comments to a new chat room, with explicit read/write permissions to all comment authors. A link to this room will come up and will also be added in a new comment - the flag will not be dismissed, nor will any comments be deleted.

At this point, it is up to the moderator to clean up the remaining comments and clearing up the flag with the other options.

The button will show up so long as the flag has not been dismissed, but if the post has already had its comments moved to chat via this mechanism, a new room will not be created but a link will pop up for the moderator, informing them that this has already occurred and will contain a link to the chat room.

If there are any comments on the post by users without an account (such as deleted users, or the post was migrated with comments and some users do not have an account on the target site), the move will fail with a message indicating the issue. (it makes little sense to move comments to chat if some of the participants of the discussion can't join in).

See also: When should moderators move comments to chat?

  • Will the comment about the chatroom be associated with a mod, meaning that another user won't be able to delete the comment about the chat room? Does the 20 rep restriction still apply?
    – Taryn
    Commented Aug 12, 2014 at 20:22
  • 1
    @bluefeet: "Clicking this buton will copy all current comments to a new chat room, with explicit read/write permissions to all comment authors." The explicit write permission means that a user can chat even if he hasn't 20 rep yet. Commented Aug 12, 2014 at 20:25
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    @bluefeet - the comment will be attributed to the mod that pressed the button. The rep restriction will not apply, thanks to the explicit read/write permission.
    – Oded
    Commented Aug 12, 2014 at 20:26
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    Can there please be a way to do this from the "mod" menu on a post itself, not only from the flag queue? Just because there's less than 20 comments doesn't mean an extended discussion isn't clearly happening.
    – Doorknob
    Commented Aug 14, 2014 at 13:48
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    @Doorknob: Obviously that's why they removed the comment rate limits for moderators. If there aren't enough comments yet... make it so.
    – mmyers
    Commented Aug 14, 2014 at 15:22
  • Previous month I asked for this feature and its up, thanks ...
    – Mr. Alien
    Commented Aug 14, 2014 at 18:07
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    What are prerequisites and process to have the threshold lowered? My instinct is five; any post (on Computer Science) with five or more posts probably needs attention. (Is the concern that a lower threshold creates more flags? That may be a non-issue on most sites, plus it's probably better anyway to have a "Many Comments" review queue in which more users could have a look and flag away.)
    – Raphael
    Commented Aug 14, 2014 at 18:44
  • Try a meta post on meta.cs with specific examples of conversations you'd like to be notified of / that you're unable to move, @Raphael.
    – Shog9
    Commented Aug 14, 2014 at 18:47
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    @Shog9 Done. But I really don't think it's about the numbers, it's about content. 30 comments that discuss the technicalities of an answer can be fine (until the answer is fixed) whereas meta or personal discussions with three comments should go to chat. I don't see where the problem is with letting mods always move (!) select comments to chat, and providing a new flag "does belong to chat" for users to use. We could even use "too chatty" for that.
    – Raphael
    Commented Aug 14, 2014 at 19:35
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    Also, being able to decide between "new chatroom" and "main site room" would be nice. Some general discussions could liven up otherwise silent chats.
    – Raphael
    Commented Aug 14, 2014 at 20:02
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    One point could use a bit of streamlining: after moving an extended discussion to chat, I deleted all the comments, then undeleted the automatically-posted comment containing a link to the chatroom. I think this delete-undelete action will be the most common cast, it would be nice to exclude the automatically-posted comment refering to the chatroom from the “delete all comments” tool. Commented Aug 20, 2014 at 11:58
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    @Shog9 An example from B&CG: boardgames.stackexchange.com/a/19056/409 - it was clear even at 10 comments or so that the discussion was going to go on, and didn't all need to be on the answer, and a mod decided it definitely needed cleaning up, but couldn't migrate it. (I'm not a mod there, just an observer.)
    – Cascabel
    Commented Sep 23, 2014 at 22:10
  • Good example, thanks @Jefromi.
    – Shog9
    Commented Sep 23, 2014 at 23:40

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