I've just started getting these messages:

Please avoid extended discussions in comments. Would you like to automatically move this discussion to chat?

Why should one avoid doing this? I think it adds to the site...

(Tagged in more ways than one!)

  • 29
    That's a good question. I think we should discuss it at length right here in the comments, along with the current meteorological phenomena at your place of residence and the expected outlay to purchase grains in Beijing.
    – mmyers
    Jun 21, 2011 at 16:26
  • 1
    @mmyers: (+1) Of course the comments/discussion need to be on topic :) (And that comment is hilarious...) Jun 21, 2011 at 16:30
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    Does anyone have a link to more info on this? Is it new? Does it block you from posting your comment? Chat is a completely different type of communication than comments, and a large number of comments on a nuanced answer can be completely legit. Jun 21, 2011 at 16:32
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    @Justin: It doesn't prevent you, it just "suggests strongly". Personally, I'd much rather see the discussion in comments -- I don't want to have to leave the question page to see what's going on. (I therefore have ignored it's advice so far....) Jun 21, 2011 at 16:33
  • 1
    @Justin It is new. It does not block you (currently). It only triggers when you've got two users rapid-firing at each other over a short period of time (i.e. an extended discussion).
    – Grace Note StaffMod
    Jun 21, 2011 at 16:33
  • @jcole Yes, yes we do. It is indeed time sensitive. I had that one confirmed yesterday by balpha himself.
    – Grace Note StaffMod
    Jun 21, 2011 at 16:35
  • 1
    @billy, Chat works better because of synchronicity. Comments don't work so well when they're tripping over each other, chat is more fluid an better suited for conversation. The main purpose of comments is to let people know some detail about the post or topic that may need to be pointed out. Jun 21, 2011 at 19:06
  • @Lance: This seems to be working just fine for me. I don't see why the discussion would need to be moved somewhere else. I don't think "Because it isn't pretty" is a good reason, but then again I'm not the site owner. Jun 21, 2011 at 19:08
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    @billy, no, it's not about pretty, it's about a) useful for the site and b) functionality for those in a conversation. Jun 21, 2011 at 19:10
  • @Lance - why not improve the comments functionality to make it more chat-like then? Maybe have comments appear in real-time even if i'm writing one of my own? Honestly, this would be a great feature for answers as well... I hate answering only to find 3 other identical answers appeared in the time it took me to write mine. If I saw theirs I would have given up early and saved my own time. (yes, i know there is a "new answers added" alert... but it's not fast enough)
    – Steve
    Jun 29, 2011 at 9:20
  • @LanceRoberts a) Whether the threads are useful is subjective but to me they generally are, if not they should be cleaned up b) functionality for those in the conversation is a preference and thus the message should be a suggestion not a request (see meta.stackexchange.com/questions/19756/how-do-comments-work) Dec 15, 2011 at 14:54

2 Answers 2


RELATED: Deleting Comments After A Fix

Extended discussions are not what this network was created for. This is a Q&A Site. If you have a need for extended discussions, then either a set of question/answer edits is due (thus negating the usefulness of the comments that were indicative of the need for change) or the comment thread is off topic.

Off topic comment threads are garbage and clutter up the screen, and detract from everyone's getting to the root of the situation quickly. It's why we fold comments in the first place.

Having said that, the message is only triggered when it detects a repeated back and forth between two people in a short period of time. So if it's just two people going back and forth, that's either a thread-war, or it's just a conversation between two blokes. The chat rooms were created expressly for having just a general conversation. FWIW, We've been asking for some feature like this where we can tie a chat to a given Q/A for later lookup. Because sometimes things that get fleshed out in chat (where there's a more permisssive atmosphere) can create a good update to a Q/A.

Also, sometimes a person needs guidance on rewording their question instead of it getting locked and them getting frustrated. I know I've had that a few times where I and a post author have gone back and forth in the comments on how to get it right.

I also suspect (altho I've no proof) that it triggers a mod flag once that occurs so a mod can make sure that the discussion doesn't need to be cleaned up. As that is one of the responsibilities of the mod team (to clean up the garbage aka the things which just clutter the site) then I suspect this is also happening.


Long comment threads's are not good for the site. Chat is for fluid discussions. Use it.

  • 2
    Amen, we're not Reddit or Hacker News. If you want to discuss: go elsewhere.
    – Ivo Flipse
    Jun 21, 2011 at 16:32
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    I don't agree with this. There are plenty of relatively long conversations which conceptually belong to the answer, because they are discussion about the content of the answer. Chat is imperfect for this because it is not associated with that specific answer. Even if you post a link in the comment to a particular chat discussion, that is imperfect because it forces someone to switch to another page. As for "cluttering up the screen" -- isn't that what comment folding is for? The engine has already taken care of that problem. Jul 2, 2011 at 23:45
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    Yes, you seem to think that we are talking about the same thing, and we are not. The next time I come across a discussion that matches this and I remember it I will let you know. What you said is what I said, except I believe those comments should be folded into the answer and then deleted. Clarification is clarification, but a complete answer is a complete answer.
    – jcolebrand
    Jul 4, 2011 at 3:10
  • Mr. ONeal states it quite well. Information which needs to be seen beside an answer should be kept with it, not hidden in meta or chat. But the real key is to realize that one must get into the habit of filtering out and ignoring what is not of personal interest, rather than in the trying to remove information which can be quite important to someone actually interested in (or trying to solve an actual problem in) a topic. Upvotes on comments sometimes aid in presenting the most important ones in the brief view. Aug 6, 2012 at 15:57
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    The alternative of editing information into an answer is not really appropriate in the case of a critical response; except in extreme circumstances, the original answer author deserves the chance to present their technical view unaltered and with unclouded attribution, and the same goes for the responses. Editing information into the answer is fine for the author of that answer, but when others do it, it tends to migrate from the Q&A paradigm to the mechanics of collaboratively composing a wiki; some who would prefer the latter model might want to consider moving to an actual wiki platform. Aug 6, 2012 at 16:00
  • Well, three thoughts: You don't have to participate in the collaborative wiki aspect of SE, but that's what most of us want at the end of the day; you don't edit in critical responses that present alternative viewpoints, but you do edit in constructive code updates or explanations; I think you've got the hang of what I'm after, yes.
    – jcolebrand
    Aug 6, 2012 at 16:45
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    quote: So if it's just two people going back and forth, that's either a thread-war, or it's just a conversation between two blokes. The chat rooms were created expressly for having just a general conversation. -- This assumes 3 or more people can't have a 'general conversation'. Obviously, they can, since chat rooms accomodate more than 2 people. Conversely, 2 people can discuss a problem or answer without either flaming or having general conversation. That's why 'avoid extended conversation' ought to be changed to 'extended off-topic conversation'
    – yitwail
    Aug 11, 2012 at 20:36
  • don't look too hard at it @yitwail and keep in mind my experience with the network. I wasn't saying in any way that two people can't converse on a topic in the comments, but rather that the comments aren't the place for a conversation. You can either answer/improve the scope, or you can talk about things that aren't related. The second half of that is "don't do" on questions. The first half is acceptable.
    – jcolebrand
    Aug 11, 2012 at 21:03

It's just a message to let you know that chat might work better for your discussion. Comments don't work as well for long discussions, but they are for discussion, so you can use them that way. Try and keep the discussion about the post.

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    Then would not "Extended discussions work better on chat. Would you like to move this discussion there?" work better? Jun 21, 2011 at 16:27
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    @billy, no, I like the "avoid" language, at some points most extended discussions go off-post, so it'd be good to have people keep that in their mindset on comments. But if you think the language could be better, you can propose a feature request on that. Jun 21, 2011 at 16:29
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    Many seem to forget the "might" part of that, and blindly assume that chat is always the better venue. When a discussion is still technical, it generally is not, since it's hard for future visitors to find the relevant chat history, but easy for them to expand the comments. Aug 6, 2012 at 16:04

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