7

What's with the new

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

message?

There were literally 6 comments on a post, and this comment came up. It's rather annoying -- is there a reason why it's popping up so early?

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    Nope, you guys shouldn't be leaving so many pointless comments :-) – Ivo Flipse Jun 26 '11 at 19:15
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    @Ivo: I can't tell if you're being serious or sarcastic... – user541686 Jun 26 '11 at 19:16
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    That's because they're one and the same. You guys should stop adding all this noise to questions. – Ivo Flipse Jun 26 '11 at 19:23
  • @Ivo: 6 comments is two much? Do you even have any idea what question I'm referring to when you say "this"? – user541686 Jun 26 '11 at 19:25
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    What you're doing is following up on your question in comments under just one answer. Had you done it in your actual question, it would have been visible to everyone, not just those reading the comments. You simply do yourself a disservice by leaving out this information out of your question. – Ivo Flipse Jun 26 '11 at 19:37
  • @Ivo: (1) Did you really look that link up in ~30 seconds, or did you just look it up now? (rhetorical question.) (2) How does moving my comments into chat make the situation better? – user541686 Jun 26 '11 at 19:43
  • @Mehrdad: 1) I think that moderators check out recent activity of users when it is related by default, those are three clicks away (or one click away with an user script or a more specific mod implementation). I remember some moderator reminding me to update my profile, where he checked that on routine because of a meta question I asked. 2) It basically removes non-useful clutter from the site, which can either be edited into Q&A or is completely off-topic. See my answer for more information... – Tamara Wijsman Jun 26 '11 at 20:02
  • @Tom: The issue is that it's not clutter. Whether it belongs in the question itself, that's a different story -- but it doesn't help the problem to write it in chat. – user541686 Jun 26 '11 at 20:08
  • @Mehrdad: What problem are you exactly referring to? Your conversation with Ivo Flipse is a good example of a comments that start to get off-topic. Even this response can lead into a discussion which will further clutter the comment thread on your answer, the comment threads aren't designed for back-and-forth discussing as that's what the chat is for but they are solely meant for comments on your answer so that you can improve it (hence, the word comment). Well, I'm even going to include this last part about the word comment in my answer... :) – Tamara Wijsman Jun 26 '11 at 21:01
  • @Tom: This conversation is irrelevant to my NVIDIA question. The "problem" I'm referring to is the problem posed in that question -- the message tells me Would you like to automatically move this discussion to chat?, which makes no sense with the reasoning presented here -- you guys are saying it should be in the question itself, whereas the message says otherwise. That's why I don't like the message, especially when it's not an "extended" discussion in any way. I'm trying to clarify what the answer means in my situation, and the message gets annoying. – user541686 Jun 26 '11 at 21:10
  • @Mehrdad: If you still have a problem the question should be improved or a new question should be posed, you can then your answerer now that you've updated the question. The Q&A system helps efficiently solve problems, where as using a comments for this either a conversation of discussion is not what the comments are meant for. Maybe the message would benefit from having the word conversation added in, because it's indeed not always a discussion. As for the last part, I agree with you that the current message doesn't handle a on-topic conversation case... – Tamara Wijsman Jun 26 '11 at 21:20
  • Started a meta discussion: Can we improve "automatically move this discussion to chat"? – Tamara Wijsman Jun 26 '11 at 22:30
  • Move this to the chat? :| – Blub Jul 7 '11 at 14:36
5

To resolve the issue you point out in your comment, I've made a proposal:

The "problem" I'm referring to is the problem posed in that question -- the message tells me Would you like to automatically move this discussion to chat?, which makes no sense with the reasoning presented here -- you guys are saying it should be in the question itself, whereas the message says otherwise. That's why I don't like the message, especially when it's not an "extended" discussion in any way. I'm trying to clarify what the answer means in my situation, and the message gets annoying

Comment by Mehrdad

PROPOSAL: Can we improve "automatically move this discussion to chat"?


As for any other confusion about the message, refer to my previous answer:

RELATED: Why must we avoid discussions in comments?

I'm going to assume that it's the comment thread on Custom NVIDIA Resolutions?.

Which falls under the one of the two reasons outlined in the related question:

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.

The comment thread could be turned into useful edits so that other people will benefit and don't have to read a reply-like comment thread to find more details. If there in no benefit in terms of questions and answers, your comments can be considered noisy as they show up between the answers. Even though they are limited, some people still expand and read the comments. We should assure they are useful...

Comment threads aren't designed for back-and-forth discussing as that's what the chat is for but they are solely meant for comments on your answer so that you can improve it (hence, the word comment).

Furthermore, this algorithm doesn't necessarily kick in after each 6 comments:

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.

If you have multiple people commenting, it will take a lot more comments total before this would trigger. However, we could tell that if two people respond thrice in half an hour of time it does trigger...

Mod flags could be triggered automatically to handle more off-topic:

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.

Although this is purely speculation, someone should verify (or even implement) this...

Last, it's meant as a prevention (and is only shown to you both I belief):

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.

Just imagine what would happen with a preventive message that triggers much later.

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4

When six comments by just two people are posted in quick succession, that's a strong indicator that they are using the comments for chatting, and we don't want that; for chatting, there's the chat.

We've been playing with the threshold numbers that qualify a comment thread as a discussion, and so far the current values seem to be quite good. I'd take your particular case as a good example that they are – you and Mokubai clearly are having a back-and-forth discussion in the comments.

Note that this currently is just discouraging comment-chit-chat, and encouraging using the actual chat for that. In the long run, if we see this feature works out well, we might actually prevent further commenting, thus force the users to go to chat.

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    @balpha: Sure, do whatever you want. Hell, turn off comments altogether; why bother with them? After all, it's a Q/A site, not a Q/A/C site. Just make sure you're not surprised if people stop using the site when they get tired of these. – user541686 Jun 27 '11 at 7:33
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    @mehr swimming upstream is difficult for a reason. If you want to have that much back-and-forth in the comments with another user, take it to chat. This isn't just for the health of our overall Q&A system, but also for your own sanity as well. – Jeff Atwood Jun 27 '11 at 7:47
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    @Jeff: Er... if you take a conversation to chat, then the next person who comes on the page will likely repeat the same mistakes/issues/questions/etc. that the discussion was all about, forcing you to (1) repeat yourself, (2) ignore them, or (3) give up altogether. Doesn't make much sense, does it? – user541686 Jun 27 '11 at 7:53
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    @mehr if that's so, then the conversation should be edited into the post itself. Point being, nobody wants to read a bunch of back and forth bickering between two users. And I say that as someone who has been drawn into it myself more than once, and I've regretted it every time. – Jeff Atwood Jun 27 '11 at 8:08
  • @Jeff: I guess my English isn't so great... do you mind if I ask what parts of those comments constitute "bickering"? – user541686 Jun 27 '11 at 8:13
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    @Jeff While I agree that too many back and forth comments actively harm an answer in the long run I believe that in the short term it is useful to "get a grip" with what is actually being asked in order tailor your answer better and avoid an excessive number of edits. As my comments were effectively additions to my answer I have merged them in and deleted the comments. Not being a regular asker I do not know if the OP gets informed of edits to answers so as far as I know comments are a reasonable method to attract attention. Mea culpa. :) – Mokubai Jun 27 '11 at 12:24
  • @Mokubai, if both users are online to post comments, they can solve that in chat as well. Like Jeff said, anything that would add to the question/answer should be edited in after the discussion to improve the post, rather than requiring everyone to read a string of comments. – Ivo Flipse Jun 28 '11 at 9:22
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    @balpha: Agreed however when the comments pertain to solving a problem for the user (ie, what os? how much ram? etc) bringing it to chat removes information from the post, exactly counter what we're trying to do (information for all) – n0pe Jun 28 '11 at 11:45
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    "Hell no" on the suggestion that you might REQUIRE it going to chat. There are often clarifications on answers that are good and valid and should be visible outside the chat that sometimes require a little back and forth. Maybe it's just that I think the 6 comment threshold is too low - it's rare that there's legitimate discussion that goes beyond, say, 10 or 12 comments. I'm with @MaxMackie here though - some of the comments maybe should get edited back in to the questions or answers, but you have to have the discussion first. – Shinrai Jul 12 '11 at 14:49
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    Also, what if the parties in question aren't even online simultaneously? – Shinrai Jul 12 '11 at 14:49
  • @Shinrai - good call on the possibility of them not being online. Until StackExchange becomes a live/one-on-one type of help system, I don't think it should be put in chat. The threshold is low (10 would be better) and there should be an option to dismiss the message – n0pe Jul 12 '11 at 14:56

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