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This question has engendered a good few comments, ranging from the merely patronising to the frankly abusive.

Do we have a policy/protocol on such "conversations"?

  • Apparently it's throw the baby out with the bathwater (link is 404). Musta been an ugly baby. Ill-phrase a question and I take the kid gloves off. So the comments did what they were supposed to do imo; draw enough attention to either get it fixed or tossed to the wind. – Mazura Jul 27 at 20:57
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Flag the comments.

On every comment, you have the ability to flag it as "abusive" or "rude". This will bring it to the attention of the moderators of the site, who can then delete the comments and take further action (such as warning users) if necessary. If a comment accrues enough pending flags, it will also automatically delete itself.

If a conversation has turned toxic, it's also a good idea to disengage. Leave it alone, flag it, and wait for it to be taken care of. There's no need to continue leaving comments once it's clear that things are not going to turn out well.

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    Thanks for that. I'm on a mobile, which doesn't show the "flag" option, so got confused ;-) Found it now, thanks. – TheHonRose Jul 17 at 9:53
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As a followup to Mith's answer and the ensuing comments, it looks like the mod response to the flags (not me, I was frolicking through the Land of Nod at the time), was to delete some of the worse examples and then move the whole rest of the mess to chat.

That's about what you can expect for a flagging in this situation. In theory of course, chat is supposed to have the exact same niceness standards as the rest of the site. In practice though, we are a hair looser there (but still don't condone outright abuse, of course) because moving things there has a distinct tendency to cool down the discussion.

I personally believe this is because its not as public, so egos aren't quite as involved. Also, there's a barrier to participation that casual readers aren't very likely to cross. Thirdly, the more interactive (and real-time) nature of the chat just makes everything said much more like a personal discussion, which seems to tamper down all but the worst actors. So what I tend to see happen in chats is either the whole thing gets dropped, or the two main parties eventually come to some kind of an agreement (even if its an agreement to disagree).

Don't think that every move to chat is being put in the penalty box though. Sometimes we will also use it for a really interesting discussion that it seems a shame not to save (remember that comments are our barn cats).


Followup to the followup - In this case the user appears to have been one of those not "tampered down" by a discussion being moved to chat. Chat comments were flagged and deleted (which comes with an automatic chat suspension, as well as getting site-wide moderator attention). I generally don't know that its appropriate to publicly discuss moderator actions wrt. specific users, so I will end the story there.

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    Lest the implication gets missed, yes, you can flag unkind chat messages for removal as well. – T.E.D. Jul 17 at 14:32
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    Thanks for the very full explanation. Quite apart from any other consideration, it was frankly getting silly - little point in talking to someone who is determined not to listen. – TheHonRose Jul 17 at 15:29
  • I wonder if there were pending comment-flags when the chat was created, that caused them to blossom Network-wide (as chat flags) all at once...? That would explain the "quick" flagging of 5 chat messages that many of us noticed this morning. – nitsua60 Jul 18 at 3:00
  • @nitsua60 - Do comment flags get converted to chat message flags when a conversation is moved to chat? That doesn't seem like a good idea. – T.E.D. Jul 18 at 4:01
  • I'm not sure; that's what I'm wondering (aloud). – nitsua60 Jul 18 at 12:13
  • IIRC, I flagged at least one comment before it was moved to chat. – TheHonRose Jul 18 at 20:28
  • @TheHonRose - Presumably a flag of some kind on the comments were what induced a previous mod to move all the comments to chat. IIRC, 5 comments in the chat got flagged by the same user, and one of them also by another user. I'm guessing that happened in chat itself. They were certainly all flaggable comments. – T.E.D. Jul 18 at 20:37
  • I wouldn't know how to flag a comment in Chat, particularly as I'm currently mainly dependent on my mob, which has limited functions, and I definitely flagged one comment - I could have flagged more. I'm obviously not sure what attracted mod attention initially. – TheHonRose Jul 18 at 20:50
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    Not sure if this will help clear anything up, but I was the one who raised 5 flags in a short period of time (3 or 4 minutes). I did this before it was moved to chat. I've never flagged more than once at a time before but, in this case, it seemed things were really getting out of hand. – Lars Bosteen Jul 18 at 23:13
  • Unless your chat name is very different, it wasn't you. It was a user here, but not an active participant (and again, no shade on them. They were imminently flaggable comments) – T.E.D. Jul 19 at 2:58
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    I haven't used chat but...hmm, I flagged five comments (but not in chat) and they were all accepted as 'helpful' (I just checked my 'Flags raised' section). Maybe two of us flagged the same comments around the same time? – Lars Bosteen Jul 19 at 3:55

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