Is seems like the mods here might be getting a bit frustrated with all the extended discussion going on in the comments. Is this accurate?
This post is mostly going by the assumption that this is a problem.
I think there's also a bigger problem here in terms of how people think of comments as a whole - often useful clarification will take place there by the author with no intention of that ever making its way to the post (which is supposed to be the intention, no?), which often causes it to get lost in the other hundred comments in the case of some popular posts. Comments as a whole also often aren't focused around making the post more useful, but possibly just adding some tangential information. The below proposals could help with this too.
The way I see it, there are, broadly speaking, a few areas that can be improved:
Improve "move to chat" functionality (and/or the chat UI)
Proposals to improve "move to chat"
Add a "chat" button on every post (next to "add comment", right above the comments or next to edit, flag, etc.), which would take you to chat.
Add a "move to chat" checkbox below or next to every comment box.
Proposals to improve chat UI
I think for the above to be successful, a fundamental part of it needs to be integrating chat into the page itself. When using one of the above, one of these needs to happen:
- A new light-weight dialog pops up where the chat takes place.
- There are 2 tabs (below each post): one for comments, one for chat. Chat uses a scrollbar and would hopefully be about the same height as the unexpanded comments.
More extreme proposal: Remove comments entirely, use only chat, the idea being to greatly encourage people to actually edit useful information into chat instead of relying on the comments staying easily visible. Maybe we should start with one of the above and aim for this if it that works out really well.
All of the above assumes persistent chat - I think currently chat rooms get locked after some period of inactivity.
Change how we describe comments
I saw a proposal about this on Meta Stack Overflow some time ago, I think (it might've been an answer to something else).
The basic idea is to stop calling them "comments" and call them "clarifications" or "requests" (as in "request for edit to post"). Those are perhaps not ideal, but that's the basic idea.
I think something like this might be necessary to not confuse people with the chat improvements suggested above.
Building on this, we might have different "sections" of comments, one for clarifications, one for meta (e.g. discussion on-topic-ness), etc.
Change requirements for posting comments
Higher reputation requirement?
Some other activity requirement?
Rate limiting comments (severely)?
This is probably a bit too extreme and overall not a good way to address the problem, as the requirements would presumably be way too high or strict for it to actually work.
Proposal: Ignore the 100 reputation association bonus when determining commenting privileges. This does actually seem like it might do the site good, although that perhaps defeats the point of the association bonus and it probably won't help nearly enough (as chatty users often seem to have a few hundred or thousand reputation).
Improve flagging experience
I assume the flagging experience here is the same as on Stack Overflow, as in plenty of "you can only flag every 5 seconds" and "you can only load the flag dialog every 3 seconds" madness. This generally makes it a huge pain for me to flag more than one comment (but maybe I'm just weird like that).
Yes, you can use a custom flag on the post itself or any comment, but this makes it more work for the moderators to remove individual comments as opposed to just scrapping all the comments.
Would one of these proposals in itself fix all the problems? Probably not.
Proposal P(referred): Allow multi-comment flagging without needing to open the dialog every time. My initial ideas are:
- Add a "flag comments" button to every post or
- Add a "also flag other comments" checkbox to the comment flag dialog.
After selecting the reason and click "Submit" or "Flag Comments" or whatever, these would both proceed to allow you to select any number of comments, which will all be flagged for the same reason, with a submit button somewhere (fixed at the bottom of the screen, presumably).
It might be good to allow multi-comment flagging with different reasons, but I can't think of an elegant way to implement this visually currently.
Proposal M(oderate alternative): Rework the comment flag limits, e.g.:
- 10 flags every 60 seconds (and also show time remaining in error message), or no limit once you get to some reputation.
- No limit on the flag dialog, presumably also making a dialog open a local operation (I assume it needing to talk to the server is currently the reason for the limit).
Proposal C(an also help): Allow mods to keep individual comments while scrapping the rest in one go - if I'm not mistaken, currently mods can only delete individual comments or all comments, which might make it a lot of work to keep 1 or 2 comments and delete 100.
Notify users when they've been flagged too much
I don't have an exact proposal here, but some sort of "maybe stop posting so many non-constructive comments" message should be sent to individual users, either automatically or by moderators, when a lot of their comments are deleted.
Actively discouraging comments
When a user posts a comment, show a message anywhere from:
There are already X comments on this post, are you sure your comment is necessary and wasn't already mentioned?
Yes, post it No, cancel
Does this comment ask for clarification or add some other vital information?
Yes No, post it to chat Cancel
This might be fairly irritating, but that might be justified as users are way too easy-going with comments currently.
The former suggestion is much like what currently happens when trying to post an answer when there are already a few answers.
If you have any other proposals for how to improve any given part or other parts that could be improved, feel free to post a
I can add mockups if necessary, but this post is already seems too long.