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Get a Room, a Chat Room!

Did you know it only takes 100 reputation to create a chat room on Workplace SE? It's not a moderator-only privilege, nor is it reserved only for the highest reputation users. Virtually anyone can create their own room for a certain topic, whether it be career advice, interpersonal issues, management issues, resume writing, workplace education, and so forth.

There are two things that we'd like to tackle as a community:

Chat is an underused tool on The Workplace, yet we have users in our community with over 300 comments posted in just a 30 day period. The evidence speaks for itself; people like to chat. Yet, comments on the Q&A site leads to a lot of unnecessary cleanup, not just for moderators but for all of our diligent community flaggers who work tirelessly to help keep the clutter under control.

To reduce the distractions caused by comments, we're going to take a much more active role in removing them, yet we don't want to stifle the social nature of our community. So let's instead redirect it.

Here's how you can help:

  • If you see a comment thread starting to get long, drop a link to a chat room, and encourage the commenters to use it.
  • If you're one of our chattier, social butterflies, make your new challenge one of utilizing chat more as a tool. Keep a link to your chat room in your back pocket1 as a go-to place for all your longer discussions, and drop the link in the comments whenever your discussions get longer than a few comments.
  • Make it a point to clean up your comments once they've served their purpose. For instance, if you've edited a post to include information from the comments, flag those comments as obsolete and/or delete them if they're your own.

Currently, we only have The Water Cooler, our site's main chat room, but there's a potential for a whole lot more places to hold discussions and constructive, friendly debates. These are great places for all of the things that aren't on-topic on the main Q&A site.

Get My Chat Room Now.


1 You can mark any chat room as a favorite by clicking on the star in the top right area of the screen, near the name (while in the room) or on the info page. The star will turn yellow when you do. On the main chat page, if you go to "rooms" you can then go to "favorites" and see all your starred rooms -- handy!

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    To reduce the distractions caused by comments, we're going to take a much more active role in removing them - this renews my faith in modmanity :) – IDrinkandIKnowThings Jun 12 '14 at 13:47
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    Comments are self-limiting. They auto-collapse when there are more than a few. Removing them is uncalled for. – aroth Jul 8 '14 at 3:49
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    Still, @aroth, comments have a specific purpose as outlined in What comments are not.... Discussion-oriented comments drown out all of the helpful comments and make it harder to find them. Check out that post for more details on what comments are intended for. Hope this helps. – jmort253 Jul 8 '14 at 15:14
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    In practical terms I think any effort to put a box around comments while still calling them "comments" is ill advised. As long as they're called "comments" in the interface, that's exactly what people are going to use them for...making comments. If that's not their intended purposes, then the first task is to fix the interface so that it stops giving people the wrong impression by calling these whatever-they-are's "comments". Otherwise you've got a neverending road of manual deletions ahead of you. – aroth Jul 8 '14 at 23:03
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    Or the short version: You can't call a reservoir a swimming hole and then expect people not to swim in your drinking water. The word "comment" already has a definition (which is consistent with how people use comments, I might add). Instead of trying to change it, pick a different word. – aroth Jul 8 '14 at 23:13
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    I find this policy incredibly annoying, I've noticed insightful + useful comments on response which add to the original answer in a way that doesn't justify a new answer, being removed at a later date. And you can't find them again to link someone to them! Why not just post saying "please stay on topic" rather than removing them, and deleting as a last resort? – Michael Thorpe Jul 10 '14 at 9:53
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    @MichaelThorpe, I tend to personally give comments on answers more leeway, but comments as answers on questions detract from the real answers in a way where they can't be voted on or properly ranked by the community. They also can't be found in Google searches. Lots of negatives to comments used improperly... – jmort253 Jul 10 '14 at 16:06
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    I agree with @aroth. Instead of the label "Comments", perhaps "Suggestion for improving Question/Answer" or something along those lines would better drive the expected behavior. Otherwise, people will continue leave their "comments" just as they do at every other site. – Joe Strazzere Jul 11 '14 at 10:43
  • I've never seen comments deleted on another SE site... very concerning – Mike M Jul 11 '14 at 19:52
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    @MikeM sounds like there's some variance on that. On some other sites hundreds of comments get deleted each month. It's not just Workplace, not by a long shot. – Monica Cellio Jul 13 '14 at 17:53
  • I much rather show than tell... can we provide actual examples? – Mike M Jul 14 '14 at 12:32
  • Stack Overflow is a good example, @MikeM. Although there is so much traffic the moderators and community can't keep up with it all. But also, each site is different. On a site like ours, it's easy for folks to get the wrong idea and try to treat it like a discussion forum. We don't want that to happen, so we keep the focus on the Q&A. Good Subjective, Bad Subjective does cover the forum problem and why we don't want those problems to occur here. Hope this helps. – jmort253 Jul 14 '14 at 16:15
  • @MikeM They're regularly deleted on Skeptics.SE too. Sometimes a new user might complains ... generally you don't see it happening, because the comments destroys the evidence that deleting happened i.e. that there ever were any comments. – ChrisW Jan 13 '15 at 11:45

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