This seems to be about the right place to post a response to what happened in the chat room today, and in the past 6 weeks or so.
Since various names have come up, and people have posted here too, I won't make it all anonymous, but will use concrete examples instead.
I also want to stress that this is my perception of things, mine, personally, so if you disagree with what I say, you can blame me, not the site, the community, the other mods, or the "regulars".
So, The 2nd Monitor, for the past 2 years, has been a core part of the Code Review community. It is where "the regulars" (and lurkers) congregate, coordinate, and participate in the site. Zombies, missions, and plenty of JAVA and LOLCODE has passed through. It is the site's "conference room" of sorts. Anyone who participates in the site (or is just visiting) is free to come to the table and chat about site-related things.
Taking a step back, the strength of the Code Review community is the people. The people who take their time to review questions, discuss, and improve the site as a whole. The community needs to be protected in a sense, because it is the heart of the site. The majority of the community is "silent", people who just get along with their thing. A significant part of the community, though, is to be regularly found in The 2nd Monitor - the conference room of the site.
Recently, though, that conference room has become uncomfortable, and noisy, and generally "not nice". As a result, the core community has been spreading out, or going quiet. The 2nd Monitor has been losing its value as the community meeting place. More importantly, it is as if some individuals have converted The 2nd Monitor in to their own office, and are "camped out" in there... filling the room with noise, and chatter.
Time for some evidence (picking on QPaysTaxes and Ethan, because that's easy and topical, but there are others too (Mast, at times, and even Quill, and perhaps even me....).
Here are links in to the transcript where the conversations just don't belong, and are just noise. I use the word "noise" because it is stuff that could be put in any other room without impacting the running or participation in the site. It does not even need to be on Stack Exchange. It could be Skype, or IRC, or something else. It is not related to building the community, and it is not related to the site.
Note that, in part, some of it is tangentially relevant, but the sheer volume makes that hard to see.
Let's go back to.... May 30th
I was reviewing codereview.stackexchange.com/questions/92171/… and black is insisting that this just a simulation. could you take a peak at it and tell me if I am mistaken or he is? - hildred
That's a user new to the site, who had a specific question, and came to chat. That's "official business". QPaysTaxes and EthanBierlein continued with idle chatter:
@EthanBierlein Is that from the cold? Because I have two nice, long, thick appendages that can warm you up. They're called arms
This was interfering with "site business", and it just kept going and going. So I kicked them:
Hang on, let me just kick @QPaysTaxes and @EthanBierlein ....
and kept working on the site issues.
Later I explained to them that they have to let site business come first:
Right, serious things befor eidle chatter
Not long after, QPaysTaxes and Ethan again got in to a long discussion which a different room owner moved over to a separate room:
→ 34 messages moved to Adventure Engine
→ 19 messages moved to Adventure Engine
→ 23 messages moved to Adventure Engine
I again warned these people here:
@Mast / @QPaysTaxes / @EthanBierlein - just a head's up (official business....) - a couple of times recently, when there's been "official" chat happening in here, you folk have continued with idle chatter. The purpose of this room is to support the Code Review official business, and while idle chatter is fine when there's nothing else happening... you need to put your stuff on "mute".
Look, I am trying to strike the right balance here between telling yuou guys to have fun, but also to be mindful that this is the main chat room for the site.
Really, I think the best thing from a community perspective will be the regular "have fun in the 2nd monitor"....
but be prepared to let the official stuff take priority on the (few) occasions that's needed.
Then, I concluded with:
There's a few things that I moderate heavily in this chat room, just
to be clear....
I am heavy-handed with people who just come in here to ask for help, etc. This is not a help-desk
I encourage people to take tutoring sessions to other rooms
I get people to mute themselves when interrupting official stuff.
I really don't like being the ogre, but someone has to be for those
things. Otherwise the value of this room will be eroded And really,
this is, without doubt, the best chat room on the exchange
So, it is clear that these folk have had plenty of warning, and they have specifically indicated that they understand "the rules".
Over time, the general banter has been increasing, and increasing, and overwhelming the useful threshold of background idle chatter.
Core community members have been noticing, and complaining:
Phrancis: On another note, I think (don't quote me) that The Tavern room is mostly for general chatter
Quill: Thanks @rolfl, the SNR was getting a bit out of hand
When I suggested to QPaysTaxes that he should improve the quality vs. quantity of his chat some regulars agreed (@nhgrif ), and no-one disagreed.
Since then there have been a number of remarks (to me, and others) about the poor quality in the chat room:
So, the value of the 2nd monitor has been diluted/polluted by excessive off-topic discussion. I tried today to remind people that this is a site-specific chat room:
At this point it becomes complicated. I was asked what had happened, and I explained it like:
@skiwi QPaysTaxes and Ethan were prattling on like a couple of seagulls squabbling over some french fries. It was annoying and inconsiderate, so they were moved over to there.
OK, probably not the best choice of words, but that was what it was like watching their banter go past. My subsequent analogy was better?:
They were like two people talking loudly to each other on cell phones on the same bus.... that's about as close as I can get to an analogy .... and, they now have their own bus
Others agreed with me (multiple stars, and this from @nhgrif):
@Mast That's the problem. When there was only one teenager in the room, there was never 3 or more people interested in talking about teenager things. Now there are 3 or more teenager regulars.
There are far more non-teenager regulars that don't want to hear about teenager non-sense and silliness.
@skiwi: For the record, I think it was a good decision
Then, somewhere along the line, I was asked to explain what was allowed, and what was not allowed..... and here is where the regulars got upset.....
I agree on moving those two out, yes, but I'm completely confused by what you're saying...
So, this is what I am saying:
- The 2nd Monitor is the main chat room for the site.
- Official business always takes priority over anything else.
- General chat about Code Review is always welcome.
- Idle chat is allowed as long as it is not a distraction to the purpose of the room - which is for maintaining the Code Review site and its community.
The chat had gotten to the point where the community was dispersing to other rooms, or just going completely quiet.
I stand by my assessment that the idle chat has to be cut right back. If it does not, then the community is disadvantaged.
I cannot define what is too idle, or what is OK idle. There just is no way to do that, but I know when the overall volume is too much. It is not about a single chat post, it is about the combination.
So, to all those people freaking out and saying @rolfl has gone off his rocker and is doing crazy things - no, I am not. I am responding to the needs of the community, as the community has expressed, and I am ensuring the chat room is able to function the way it is supposed to.
If you want to treat The 2nd Monitor like IRC, facebook, twitter, or instagram, then go and use those sites. If you want to be part of the code review community, then go to the 2nd monitor. There is some overlap, but the overlap was too much, for too long, and needs to be adjusted.