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11 days ago, I put forward a proposal to the moderators for a Help Desk chatroom, which we would link to the Stack Overflow comments Duga posts, and to the potentially off-topic questions on Code Review.

An example comment was simply the comments from the 3 Questions meta with If you have any questions or concerns, join us at our [CR Help Desk](http://chat.stackexchange.com/rooms/34045) added on the end.

This may be a good question for [codereview.se], so long as: (A) the code works, and (B) it's not hypothetical or incomplete in any way. Please read the on-topic guide before posting, if you choose to go to Code Review. If you have any questions or concerns, join us at our CR Help Desk.

My main reasoning for such a proposal were that an arguable amount of questions are getting closed with very little understanding by the author, and that a chat room to discuss the close reason would be valid.

While The 2nd Monitor currently does this, sometimes these discussions are over-saturated by everyone trying to be part of the conversation:

Curly: why is my post "closed as off-topic"?
Grumpy: @Curly: your code is broken. go to Stack Overflow instead.
Bashful: @Curly: please read the help center: (link)
Sleepy: @Curly: link??
Curly: @Grumpy: why??
Curly: @Sleepy: [post]
Doc: @Curly: Broken Code is off-topic on Code Review, we only review working code. As @Bashful pointed out, you should read the [Help Center].
Grumpy: @Curly and then take it to Stack Overflow.
Doc: @Curly, but make sure to read their [Help Center]

While it's good that users are trying to help out, over-saturation is not fun.

I would not enjoy going to the Apple Store with a broken iPhone, only to be shouted at by five Apple Geniuses. I would prefer one, two if necessary, understand and helped me out.

That above conversation could've be simplified to the following, if limited:

Curly: why is my post "closed as off-topic"?
Doc: Broken Code is off-topic on Code Review, we only review working code. For more information, you should read the [Help Center]. You may consider taking this to Stack Overflow, however you should read their [Help Center] before posting.
Curly: oh okay

So the obvious issue to this was: The helpdesk would just turn into The 2nd Monitor, however, it was thought that only those genuinely interested in helping out would stick around in the Helpdesk. But that's everyone in The 2nd Monitor anyway, isn't it?

The benefits of the proposal looked like this:

  • "Newer" users that are still trying to grasp the rules, guidelines and ways of the reviewer could stick around (quietly) and take notes.
  • Clean up the SNR (Sonic-To-Noise) ratio of The 2nd Monitor.

The negatives:

  • We'd be sticking our necks out... for the help vampires with a name like "helpdesk"
  • We cannot guarantee that when you come to resolve your comment eight hours later, that anyone is online in the room.

11 day wrapup:

We found that during the period, people did the following different things:

  • Came much later after the comment was posted. The comment is sound asleep, and another, less-clued in user helps out.
  • Does not have the reputation to talk in Chat.SE (>20 reputation globally) and a moderator has to manually give them privileges.

We did have successful cases, however. Two of Three.


So, some feedback is needed on this proposal. Should we keep the room, or let it burn?


You can find a transcript of said 11 days in these rooms:

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    \$\begingroup\$ "Help Desk" is a dangerous name for the room. I suggest "Code Review Triage", "Code Review Ambassadors", or something similar. \$\endgroup\$ – 200_success Jan 20 '16 at 1:19
  • \$\begingroup\$ Yeah, a better name would be great. \$\endgroup\$ – Quill Jan 20 '16 at 1:35
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    \$\begingroup\$ I deeply enjoy the fact that us regulars of 2nd monitors are being compared to the 7 dwarves. \$\endgroup\$ – Dan Pantry Jan 20 '16 at 7:31
  • \$\begingroup\$ @DanPantry then I would be sleepy ;) \$\endgroup\$ – chillworld Jan 20 '16 at 11:49
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Wait a bit longer.

11 days is not enough time to start evaluating a long-term experiment. Wait 2 more weeks and let's see if we have more cases at that time.

It could be a fluke, after all the newest of new users may not even realize what post comments are for, or how chat works, let alone the intricacies of what is on or off-topic on Code Review.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ I agree and spread the word more around the regulars so if there could be always an "active" guy there. Maybe a global ping for all users in chat could be implemented. \$\endgroup\$ – chillworld Jan 20 '16 at 11:51
  • \$\begingroup\$ @chillworld How would a global ping for all users in chat solve the problem of too many users commenting? \$\endgroup\$ – Simon Forsberg Jan 20 '16 at 17:35
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    \$\begingroup\$ @SimonForsberg not in the global chat => in the help desk room, so that people don't have to wait 8 hours till someone see's it. \$\endgroup\$ – chillworld Jan 20 '16 at 18:15
  • \$\begingroup\$ I would also add that 20 reputation is not that much. With a couple of upvotes any user is able to chat. Leaving users with less 20 reputation a edge case, but of course we also need to care about those users. A link to the on-topic guide, while not being totally enough, might be relevant for them. \$\endgroup\$ – Bruno Costa Jan 31 '16 at 17:46
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No, burn away.

While cases were successful, moderators had to intervene to apply chat privileges to users without the required reputation.

What happens when the moderators are off-line? We're supposed to sit around twiddling our thumbs? No.

We can conduct the same conversation in the comments of the post even when the author has 1 reputation.

Over the course of 11 days, 5 users came to visit, despite the nearly hourly feed posted by Duga.

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Have one user reply to the comments on Stack Overflow, not five users.

This answer is not intended to address whether or not you should keep the chatroom or not. What is important is that we shouldn't "gang up" on SO users. Even though we don't intend to do that, here is what I often see happen:

  • Duga posts a comment to The 2nd Monitor
  • Some regular responds to comment (with or without Duga catching it)
  • SO user reponds to CR regular with a new comment, with Duga posting comment
  • Another CR regular responds to most recent comment. Sometimes maybe two or three CR regulars.

This is something that I would like to avoid. There is actually even a github issue for Duga about this.

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    \$\begingroup\$ You should make this a separate meta post. \$\endgroup\$ – Hosch250 Jan 20 '16 at 22:58
  • \$\begingroup\$ I agree with Hosch250 about making this a separate post. I'm not sure implementing said issue would be a good idea, but that would be something to discuss on said separate post. \$\endgroup\$ – Mast Jan 21 '16 at 20:56
  • \$\begingroup\$ For the github issue, you ought to put a delay in there, so that if people recommend moving it to CR, say, a 2 full hours later, it does pop into chat. \$\endgroup\$ – Pimgd Jan 23 '16 at 0:10
  • \$\begingroup\$ While I agree with this, it has nothing to do with this specific meta post. \$\endgroup\$ – Der Kommissar Jan 27 '16 at 21:42
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Keep it.

You think it is a good idea, and you might hop in there and use it for education or helping new users on occasion.

If you are a moderator, you may need to intervene sometimes if a person who joins does not have enough (20) reputation to chat.

You feel it is better to have such conversations in less crowded rooms where only 1-2 regulars focus on helping someone, and help vampires are kept away from The 2nd Monitor if it can be helped.

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