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SAH
6:35 AM
Hi, I have no idea how to use chat. But want to discuss what has happened over here: judaism.stackexchange.com/questions/65685/… . After frequent, and I mean frequent, moderator exhortations that comments worthy of saving need to be merged into answers, I finally took mods up on this frankly bizarre request and posted valuable (but deleted) comments as an answer. Of course, this answer was promptly deleted...by a mod. Someone help. Happy Chanukah
 
 
3 hours later…
9:53 AM
@SAH "Merging into answers" doesn't just mean posting an answer with a screenshot of all the comments. It means actually cherry-picking useful information from the comments and making it into a complete post that answers the question.
 
 
2 hours later…
11:59 AM
@SAH other than in Chat, Stack Exchange does not offer the service you're looking for: archiving open-ended conversations. Question posts are for questions, answer posts are for answers, and comments are for discussing possible improvements to question and answer posts.
 
 
3 hours later…
3:27 PM
@SAH hi, and welcome to chat! As @Scimonster said, this means using the information in useful comments to improve a post. Sometimes that doesn't work, e.g. if the comments are a tangential conversation that doesn't belong in the post at all, but in that case, we're back to "that's not what comments are for". People should expect those to be deleted.
I provided the screen shot -- which was an exceptional action that we don't normally do -- so that you could mine it for information to improve the post, not so you could post it wholesale. If a dump of the comments were valuable for the site we wouldn't have deleted the comments.
 
 
3 hours later…
6:11 PM
 
@DoubleAA "It's quite similar to the CR." -- What's the CR?
 
@msh210 thanks. ("Coffee Room" wasn't in the set of "C" and "R" words I was considering. :-) )
 
6:31 PM
@DoubleAA You call that creepy?
May 23 '14 at 20:53, by Isaac Moses
Anyone with an account on YWN want to go visit this chat and explain what MY is and isn't?
 
The moral is: Don't try to compete with @IsaacMoses in creepiness.
 
@msh210 Oh, please do. The more, the merrier. Just realize that you're going to have to bring your creepiness "A" game.
Like, here's one way: If you work at the NSA, and can provide transcripts of private phone conversations that mention Mi Yodeya.
2
 
@IsaacMoses I always bring double that.
3
 
@DoubleAA Don't you bring double that?
3
 
7:19 PM
@TRiG, hi, happy Chanu-- um.
 
@msh210 Is it? ;)
 
@TRiG Second day of 8, in my time zone. Third, in yours, if you're in Eire.
 
Celebrating the Maccabees?
 
@TRiG No. Celebrating God. He worked through His agents, the Maccabees, is all. :-)
 
I probably should read about them. They weren't in my Bible.
 
7:23 PM
@TRiG Nor mine, as you note in that question.
 
Though, the modern Christmas was almost single-handedly invented by Charles Dickens. It's not exactly an ancient connection with the past.
 
@TRiG (Responding to your Reddit post ("Perhaps if I'd been brought up following a liturgical calendar, I would"), not to your chat comment.) So Witnesses don't have any sacred time? No time, e.g., that they go to Kingdom Hall specifically then not because it's convenient but because it's then?
 
@msh210 One. The memorial of Christ's death, which is held on (their calculation of) the actual date, according to the Jewish calendar (with some inaccuracies, I think), rather than the following Sunday, as is the norm in other churches. It's an odd meeting: Witnesses have very little ritual generally.
The meeting is basically one sermon, followed by a ritual of passing a plate of bread and a glass of wine around the congregation, so everyone gets an opportunity to partake if they wish. The vast majority (in my experience, none) do not partake. It must look really odd to visitors. They are accurate enough about the calendar to always schedule the meeting such that the ritual element occurs after sunset.
 
7:40 PM
@TRiG You'd think they'd do away with the passing if no one partakes anyway. (I kid.) Do they call it Good Friday? No, dumb question -- it's always on the same Jewish date, so it's not always Friday. Better question -- what do they call it?
 
@msh210 "The Memorial", usually. Officially, "The Lord's Evening Meal". And for some reason, they go out of their way to invite people to that meeting, even though it's completely unlike all their other meetings. I'm not sure what the logic behind that is (whether I look at it from the perspective that the Governing Body are true believers or from the perspective that they're cynical marketers at the top of a shady pyramid scheme).
(Actually, you've just inspired a post on /r/exjw.)
 
@TRiG The usership of this room doesn't consider him to be the christ (=messiah) and many of us look askance at calling him that. You may want to avoid it in Jewish company. (Frankly, I'm surprised you call him that yourself, since IINM you're an atheist. But that's not my business.)
 
@msh210 Bleurgh.
I do know that. Linguistic habits are hard to break.
 
@TRiG Interesting.
 
@msh210 A few thousand worldwide do "partake of the emblems". None in my ex-congregation. Not at the time I was there, anyway.
@msh210 That comment is too old for me to edit. (If I did edit it, it would not be to change the name, but to put the entire phrase into quotation marks.)
 
7:47 PM
@TRiG No biggie (AFAICT). I just meant for your future reference.
 
@msh210 Accurate overview.
JW meetings are, generally speaking, structured more like mini seminars than anything else. The "public talk" is basically a lecture. A different "elder" or "ministerial servant" gives it each week. Often an elder from another congregation visits, for variety. My dad often did this: we'd quite often get up early on a Sunday and drive to a neighbouring congregation. I think he still does, sometimes.
The talks are delivered from outlines laid out by the society, but the outline is one and a half pages of well spaced text: basically a set of bullet points, which the speaker should turn into a 40-min speech. The decision of which one to give is up to a local elder, who'll avoid having too much repetition. And each speaker will have a set of talks they've given before, and can give again easily. And talks about marriage cannot be given by an unmarried or newly married man.
So working out which talk to give involves a bit of work. My dad used to have that job.
And the other JW meetings are also "educational". Worship, per se, was not emphasized.
 
@IsaacMoses I've thought so too. (That that song is subtly antireligious.)
 
@msh210 Too bad it's so catchy, especially sung in a round.
 
@TRiG Interesting. I could have guessed that education is important to the Witnesses from the knocks at my door and attractive booklets.
@IsaacMoses Perhaps we can emend it a bit. Perhaps someone has.
 
8:02 PM
@msh210 No doubt. There are lots of strident religious Zionists out there with guitars.
 
@msh210 I would say that the Witnesses value more the form of education than any actual substance. But perhaps I'm being uncharitable.
 
@TRiG Shame on you. In the Holiday Season no less. :-)
 
@msh210 Why should I feel charitable? I'm sitting late in work again in a very cold office. (We moved out of here on Sunday. Then found that the new office still doesn't have Internet, even though we were assured it would have. So I'm on my own with a makeshift desk in the old office. Everyone else is in the warm new office.)
 
@msh210 "assertive," then
 
This is wonderful during the day (it's a joy to not be trying to work in a sauna), but in the evenings it becomes a little too cold even for me.
 
8:10 PM
@IsaacMoses Yeah... I actually thought "strident" also meant "vehement". (And maybe it does: Wiktionary certainly doesn't have every sense of even common words.) But it also means "shrill", so in the context of guitar playing....
 
New office is bigger, and I might get a room to myself and be able to regulate the temperature in a way that suits me: cold (but not quite as cold as it is here now).
 
> I might get a room to myself
Not if you're sitting in the old office while everyone's grabbing the rooms in the new one. :-)
 
;) None of this is in any way relevant to anything. I'm merely taking the opportunity to gripe.
Well, the guy who really liked living in a sauna is leaving at the end of the week, so even if I don't get a room to myself, I should get a more comfortable temperature. I'm a warm-blooded person, and have no sympathy with cold-blooded people unless they're actually ill: if you're too cold, put another jumper on; if I'm too warm I get headaches.
 
@TRiG "... and these apparitions keep visiting the old office, trying to share educational materials about the past, present, and future."
 
All: Installing stackapps.com/q/6704 will let you see when others in SE chat are typing. (Well, only such others as have also installed it.)
 
8:23 PM
@msh210 Interesting. Have you? I just did, and I see a little thingamabob showing that I'm typing now.
 
@IsaacMoses Nope. I don't plan to.
 
 
1 hour later…
9:36 PM
@IsaacMoses All the catchy ones are Kefiradic :( youtube.com/watch?v=-1V3SUGkYoc
 
@IsaacMoses Of course.
 
SAH
9:59 PM
@MonicaCello Thanks for your answer to my post above. Here's the thing. I was in no way qualified to provide a standalone answer based on the very useful information in those deleted comments to my question. All of that content was news to me. I was able to judge, however, that this was highly pertinent information to those genuinely seeking all perspectives on the question. As a user of the site, what exactly should I have done?
@MonicaCello It seems to me that if answers aren't an OK place and comments aren't OK place, then there is no OK place. Just stashing info in Chat seems like as much an abuse of chat as anything else is an abuse of the other forms. Should I have begged the poster of the comments to make a complete answer of them? Should I have spent a couple hours researching to try to make an answer of them myself? Maybe, but at the end of the day, no one will have the time or inclination to do these reliably.
@MonicaCellio Oy vey! The 2 posts above were for you.
 
@SAH You could comment, pinging the authors of the comments with particularly relevant, particularly missing information, asking them to post answers.
 
SAH
@MonicaCellio fyi none of this is a challenge to your authority as a moderator or to your answers to my questions here...I just think there is a significant hole in site policy.
 
@SAH If no one has the time or inclination to write up an answer properly, then Mi Yodeya won't have that material in an answer.
 
SAH
@IsaacMoses That's a shame.
 
@SAH understood (and I didn't see it as a challenge anyway). When in your situation I usually do what @IsaacMoses suggested: ask the person posting the comments to flesh them out (if needed) and post them as an answer. It's also kosher for somebody else to turn comments into an answer (the commenter should have done that).
 
SAH
10:04 PM
@MonicaCellio -- Re: your pinging suggestion -- I will try to do this since I have screenshots of the comments for my question. But, generally speaking, one can't ask someone to make an answer of comments that were deleted, because they won't have their record anymore
 
I'm not sure a discussion of Sefardi handling of electricity answers the question, but maybe it does.
(Nor is a discussion of kashrut.)
 
SAH
@MonicaCellio I think it answers it in the same sense that long and seemingly-arbitrary discussions in Gemora tend to contain their store of answers...although this seems far less arbitrary.
@MonicaCellio Yes, I agree about the kashrut part, although I think he was trying to point out the degree to which minhagim may have some freedom of motion, IIRC--which is relevant
@IsaacMoses ?
@MonicaCellio, Others, I'm still curious about how to recommend an answer be created from comments that were deleted.
 
I just skimmed through all the comments and I don't actually see much of an answer there. I see a lot of tangential discussion. If you're interested in some of those topics you might consider asking a new question.
 
@SAH There's a universe of knowledge that's not yet in Mi Yodeya Q&A form. That which people here have the knowledge, time, and inclination to write up properly will be.
 
SAH
@IsaacMoses Something seems profoundly off to me about having good, useful, and relevant information at hand and just throwing it in the trash, though.
 
10:09 PM
@SAH the people who made the comments still have the knowledge they had when they made them. I don't see any hard-to-find links in deleted comments, for example.
 
@SAH If it was sufficiently good, useful, and relevant, it would be either already in an answer or readily paste-able into one.
 
SAH
@MonicaCellio I don't know what to say except that people's time and energy isn't infinite; I don't know that I would feel comfortable asking anyone to do that
 
But Mi Yodeya doesn't contain all knowledge, only the subset that (a) people asked about and (b) other people provided answers to. We want to grow that, of course, but it will never contain everything.
 
SAH
@MonicaCellio I guess one thing I'm trying to demonstrate that neither of you agree with is that the deleted comments fell under both a and b in this situation. Maybe my question wasn't clear enough about what I was looking for, but as the asker, I can say 100% that it was exactly the sort of thing I was looking for
 
@SAH yes, people will prioritize their time. Sometimes people don't know that their comment was valuable and are happy to develop it into an answer; other times they won't do it.
 
SAH
10:11 PM
*the deleted comments were, that is
Just wondering, did SE actually get on our case about having too many comments? Or did someone just notice that we have more than other sites and decided to make a thing of it?
Someone from here, I mean
 
Nobody made a thing of it. The SE message about what comments are (and aren't) for is pretty strong, in the help center and on MSE, but each site handles it on their own.
Most long comment discussions are more forum-like; they're discussions, arguments, tangents, chit-chat... and that gets in the way of the primary function, which is Q&A.
 
@SAH Don't forget that the time and energy of readers is not infinite, either. The vast majority of people who will read a post here are not the people who post the question, answers, or comments. It's our responsibility to make it as likely as we can that if they come here looking for particular information, they find the information they're looking for, in the accessible format they expect, and not some discussion logs they need to sift through.
3
 
SAH
@MonicaCellio I just know that there was a time not too long ago when comments weren't being deleted so zealously; wondering what changed...
 
@MonicaCellio @SAH And we delete loads of comments, and most are uncontroversially deletionworthy. We've collectively (the three mods) deleted more than 900 comments in the last 30 days. That's 10 a day per mod -- and we read each one and the post it's on before deleting to make sure it's worth deleting.
 
Have you ever searched for the answer to something and wound up at some noisy forum where what you're looking for is ten page-scrolls down (and probably still incomplete and hard to understand)? We don't want to be that.
 
10:16 PM
@SAH I'm not sure that's true. Maybe you didn't notice it. Lemme see if we have stats on that....
 
@SAH I don't think zeal has increased, but I'll take a look at the historical data we have.
There are a lot of comments that most people never see. We mods don't see most of them either; after the initial round when a post is active, unless we're involved we probably won't notice a comment pile-up until somebody flags it. Maybe flagging has increased?
 
SAH
@MonicaCellio Got it. Just puzzled that the solution seems to be to delete potentially useful information. (I definitely understand the case for deleting truly random chitchat, which is usually a large part of the fodder people go through on forums...)
Hmm maybe
I noticed something change several months ago, when I posted on Meta about it, but maybe it was only a small uptick
 
@SAH it looks like we don't have good historical data on comment deletions -- we can see how many have been deleted for the history of the (2.0) site, but not a breakdown by time. We'd also need to know the number of comments posted over time, which can probably be gotten, to talk about ratios.
 
SAH
@MonicaCellio Don't worry about it, it's not important to me
This may have always been policy (at least .SE policy) but only recently has it become a real limitation to the usefulness of this site, at least for me. Not sure that there's anything I can do about it. But want to put it out there.
 
@SAH Oh, good, thanks, that saves us some trouble. :-)
@SAH Is there another post (besides the Sephardic electricity one) where it's adversely affected the site's usefulness?
 
10:40 PM
@Fred, hiya
@DoubleAA, hiya
 
@msh210 Hi
 
Happy Chanuka to y'all.
 
While any limitation can limit positive content in some ways, having them (and sticking to them) ensures that users can count on our site maintaining a certain standard of content. This dependability is a primary contributor to user-retention. I'd rather have a site with regular contributing users than one that happens to have a few extra spare bits of useful info in some corners. TLDR: deleting those comments is an unfortunate cost of business.
4
 
Hey @Fred, good to see you again! Happy Chanukah!
 
@MonicaCellio Same to you, Happy Chanukah!
Just wondering: In a chatty thread, how easy is it for a mod to batch delete comments while deselecting several valuable comments interspersed throughout the thread?
 
10:52 PM
@Fred Not. The mod 'move comments to chat' moves 'em all. We could then go back and undelete the ones that shouldnt be moved and delete all the unnecessary chat posts, if it was really important. So it's doable. But not straighforward.
Oops
I misread your question
The same applies though essentially. We can either delete individual comments, or delete all and then go back and undelete a few if they are important.
 
@DoubleAA That's an answer to another interesting question, too.
 
@Fred So there's just individual actions, and the "delete all" action.
 
@DoubleAA So essentially, the mod powers are structured in such a way as to encourage more aggressive deletion of somewhat valuable or borderline valuable comments in a chatty thread.
 
@Fred yeah, as DoubleAA said, our choices are "one at a time" and "all". If you ever see comments disappearing before your eyes, it's probably a mod doing the former to selectively clean up a thread.
 
@DoubleAA But the latter isn't hard. I've done it a number of times. @Fred
 
10:56 PM
When I move comments to chat (which is one case of "delete all the comments"), I: move to chat, delete all, and then undelete the last comment, which is the auto-generated one with the chat link. 'Cause the tools aren't quite smart enough to do that right.
 
@msh210 Would it be reasonable to posit that the structure of the mod powers creates some degree of de facto bias against comments in a chatty thread (independent of whether those comments are themselves chatty)?
 
@Fred I think it's more reasonable to posit that the explicit SE policy does.
(But that doesn't answer your question.)
 
@MonicaCellio I think this is less of a concern to people than outright deletion. The comments remain available in chat.
 
@Fred It's a reasonable position, yes, but I don't know whether it's correct. I tend to think not -- or at least that the bias is minimal. I read and evaluate every comment before even a batch deletion of all the comments on a post, and I assume that the other mods do the same.
 
@msh210 I do too (read all the comments before mass-deleting).
Should we be moving more chatty comment threads to chat? Do people use those chat rooms?
 
11:06 PM
@MonicaCellio It may placate the commenters, and I seem to recall official word from SE that people should feel free to open as many chat rooms as they reasonably want and use them as much as they want. ... But neither of those answer your questions. :-) (And my "seem to recall" may be mistaken, anyway.)
 
@MonicaCellio Sometimes they do; sometimes they don't. But I always prefer when that sort of thing ends up in a (linked) chat, where I can actually read it later even if I don't continue the discussion there.
 
Ooh wait, I asked an MSE question about this -- let me find some actual data.
 
@MonicaCellio I sometimes find that the comments have value to the question, even if the sheer mass of the thread makes it too chatty to be suitable to remain posted on the OP.
 
21
Q: How has "move comments to chat" affected users' behavior?

Monica CellioFor a while now, moderators have had the ability to move long comment threads to new chat rooms. "Out of the box", this is only possible when an automatic flag is raised after a certain number of comments are posted in a short time, though there exists a workaround that moderators can use to for...

An implicit contract of a move to chat is that discussion should continue there. On another site I moderate, we delete a lot of comments where people kept commenting on the post instead of going to the chat room.
At the time of the answer with the data there, we moved nearly half of the flagged long comment threads to chat, and about a third of the time people continued there -- but two-thirds of the time the post got new comments.
Now some comments should be posted as comments, if they're requests for clarification etc. There's no way to assess that without looking at individual cases.
 
I wonder what fraction of moved-to-chat comments got an addition chat post, and what fraction got more than one additional chat post.
 
11:15 PM
@msh210 the second answer has some of that.
 
@MonicaCellio I thought discussion should continue there only if additional comments are relevant to that discussion (or otherwise flagrantly chatty). But I do sort of feel deterred from addressing any controversial element of a post once I see that notice (should I?), unless there is a specific fact that I can refute or support briefly and definitively with an uncontroversial and uncomplicated proof.
 
@Fred usually (I think), when comments get bulk-moved to chat it's not just one thread; it might be a couple entwined threads, plus some other miscellaneous comments. The auto-generated room is named "discussion on post by (name)", not "discussion between X and Y", so I think it's fine to continue (or start) any discussion related to the post in that room.
 
@MonicaCellio ...and not fine to do so in the comments?
 
Meanwhile, comments that are about improving the post -- requests for clarification, "how do you address the problem of X?", pointers to sources, etc -- still make sense as comments. They're what comments are for.
@Fred if you're anticipating a discussion, it's best to go to the chat room, especially as it's very hard to add comments to that room. ("Move to chat" is a one-time operation, though there's a labor-intensive way around it.)
When I move comments to chat, BTW, if there are comments that are "what comments are for", I generally don't delete them. They're in two places now; oh well. The idea is to divide the activity between "stuff about improving the post" (comments) and "other discussion" (chat). Does that help?
Also, this is my interpretation; if other mods disagree with any of what I've said, do speak up.
 
@MonicaCellio 318/861 rooms, it seems. (But of course there's lots more info in that post.) Thanks for the link.
 
11:23 PM
@MonicaCellio So if I see that notice, and I'm looking to start or continue a debate, go to chat. If I have some salient point to make on the post, and the point should not be subject to extended debate (so far as I can anticipate), comment. Is that about right?
 
@msh210 (That was not meant to count as "speak[ing] up".)
 
@Fred yes.
And if it turns out to generate debate after all, we'll tell the debaters to go to chat.
 
@Fred Yes, roughly. Except that "salient point to make on the post, and the point should not be subject to extended debate" is not the criterion: "Request clarification...; Leave constructive criticism that guides the author in improving the post; [or] Add relevant but minor or transient information to a post (e.g. a link to a related question, or an alert to the author that the question has been updated)" is. (From here, q.v.)
 
What msh210 said.
If you're trying to improve the post (in those ways) and somebody else turns it into a debate, we're not going to hold you responsible for that. Please do continue to help make Mi Yodeya better!
 
@msh210 I see. Generally, if I think a point is salient, I think it can help the author improve the post. The author may not see it that way, though, in which case I'd probably still think the information in the comment is worthwhile towards theoretically improving the post.
 
11:34 PM
@Fred Right, I frequently see a comment that's meant to improve the post but that the author doesn't use to improve the post, instead debating the content of the comment, and debate ensues. Sometimes when I see that, the comments are so structured as to allow deletion of all but the one or two or three, and I do so. Sometimes, they're not structured that well, but there's a workaround (editing the post or adding a summary comment or something) and I can delete the comments. [continued]
Sometimes they're not structured well, but the debate is whether a certain edit would improve the post, and the OP doesn't think so, so the comments are obsolete (they offered an improvement, it was rejected, move on) and I delete them anyway (if they're many). [continued]
And then sometimes they're not structured well, and they're not obsolete, and they can't be summarized in a single comment or edited into the post... and I'm stuck. Usually what I've done then is leave them be; but with the (relatively new) ability of moderators to move comments to chat in many cases we couldn't previously, I will probably start doing so in such cases.
 
@msh210 New abilities? What's different now?
 
@Fred No, I'm confused. (Obviously, I haven't tried this yet! Had I done so, I'd 'a' realized there's no such thing.) There is the mod ability to move comments to chat whenever they're too many. But I was thinking there's also the ability to do so even if there aren't too many -- but there is no such.
 
@msh210 Ok. Maybe a feature request is in order?
 
@Fred Perhaps so. I can't write it now. It may exist already.
 
Btw, I just saw a blue circle over the upper left of my avatar. Does that mean I made comments that have been flagged in chat?
...Or is that because I'm a 10k user? (The circle disappeared before I could click on it).
 
11:50 PM
@Fred It means someone did.
 
@msh210 Got it, thanks.
 
Gtg. Tzt.
 
Thanks to all you mods for explaining comment policy. Happy Chanukah, and tzt!
 
SAH
@msh210 @msh210 Yes, this (some diminishment of user experience related to comment deletion) happens approximately once every two times I use Mi.Yodeya these days. I've given up trying to keep track, or speak up.
@DoubleAA @DoubleAA I'm wondering how you or anyone knows this is a primary contributor to user-retention on this site? Although in theory I follow the "long comments threads are bad" point, in practice, I don't think users feel obliged to read long comments threads, and thus I don't think they drive most users away. Just a hypothesis.
 

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