I understand that Stack Exchange sites are not discussion forums. However, a discussion taking place in comments (which will eventually be deleted, as I understand it) is still useful for clarification of the question long after "This discussion has been automatically moved to chat." Yet the chat link invariably results in the discussion ending before the clarification is resolved or extra information understood (and hopefully edited into an answer or question).

For users who can't keep a question open indefinitely, but want to participate in a meaningful way, it's easy enough to quickly reopen a question when a comment is posted, question or answer edited (we get a notification, after all) -- but once it goes to chat, there's no notification unless we just keep the chat open. Hence, with all parties no longer notified of replies, the discussion dies and whatever was in dispute or in need of clarification is never resolved.

I must be wrong about this, since Stack Exchange has seemingly always done it this way -- but I don't get how this is an advantage, in terms of improving questions or answers.

BTW, this really applies to all the Stack Exchange sites (at least, that I'm on). I put it here rather than going to the top Meta because I'm not sure how much traffic there is on the top Meta.

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    $\begingroup$ There's a lot of traffic on the top Meta, but also a lot less friendly voters, who'll very rapidly downvote into the basement any suggestion that goes against the status quo. If you'd posted this on Meta Stack Exchange, by now it would probably have a score of -15 and maybe be closed as a duplicate of something from 10 years ago. $\endgroup$ Mar 18, 2020 at 17:18
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    $\begingroup$ @Randal'Thor So, in other words, "This is how we've always done it" still rules at Stack Exchange. Even after the Monica situation and all the "new, improved Stack Exchange" policy changes that followed it. $\endgroup$
    – Zeiss Ikon
    Mar 18, 2020 at 17:28
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    $\begingroup$ That's a problem with the Meta.SE community, not company management, to be fair. Even when the company itself makes new changes/improvements/'improvements' to the site, that community is still largely railing against them, or demanding things be changed back to how they were before. Now imagine being a new user (or new to Meta.SE, at least) suggesting changes. $\endgroup$ Mar 18, 2020 at 17:33
  • $\begingroup$ @Randal'Thor That wasn't new even when I started on various SE sites (originally, looking for a C language hint on StackOverflow while trying to relearn C). Makes me wonder how common autism is among SE users, though -- "preference for sameness" is one of the defining features of ASD (I know, I have one). $\endgroup$
    – Zeiss Ikon
    Mar 18, 2020 at 17:57
  • $\begingroup$ @ZeissIkon Ummm... seniors (in age) will do the same (I know, I'm one - dam' I can't even smile about it) $\endgroup$ Mar 18, 2020 at 20:38
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    $\begingroup$ "This is how we've always done it" is not the rule of SO. If a proposal gets closed as a dupe of something from ten years ago, you'd better see the arguments in the original 10-year-old post and refute them instead of just asking again for something that has already been denied. $\endgroup$ Mar 18, 2020 at 22:27
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    $\begingroup$ I do agree with the idea here. The thing is people are too attached to chat rooms. My problem with those is that they are a noisier place than comments, so when comments are moved to chat we have less signal per amount of noise. $\endgroup$ Mar 18, 2020 at 22:28
  • $\begingroup$ And then the discussion is automatically closed after 30 days before you remember to check it again. $\endgroup$ Mar 19, 2020 at 16:33
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    $\begingroup$ Hey, guess what, SE meta has caught-on. $\endgroup$ Mar 20, 2020 at 18:59
  • $\begingroup$ so cant modderator just not direct long comment into chat instead ? at least specifically for worldbuilding site. $\endgroup$
    – Li Jun
    Mar 21, 2020 at 16:04
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    $\begingroup$ I think that's the point. Mods don't want users to discuss anything, so they do this to stop conversations. It's all business on SE, unfortunately. $\endgroup$
    – user91988
    Mar 23, 2020 at 15:23
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    $\begingroup$ Careful; With the way this is going, y'all are about to find that "This discussion has been moved to chat." $\endgroup$ Mar 23, 2020 at 18:17

2 Answers 2


Actually you are in the right place because while this happens in all of SE, Worldbuilding is only one where it is an actual issue.

The assumption behind "move it to the chat" is that the relevant information to the topic is in the question and the answer and comments either lack direct relevance to the topic or result in a change to the question or answer after discussion.

This means that keeping the comments generally has low value and if there is a need for longer discussion there is no loss in hiding it in the chat. In fact there is a benefit as less comments increases the legibility of the site.

The problem is that there is a hidden assumption in this model that is true for most sites but almost always not true for Worldbuilding.

That assumption is that the relevance of the comment to what is commented can be evaluated non-ambiguously. That a comment either is directly and imminently relevant or has no permanent general relevance at all.

Unfortunately this in turn relies on the hidden assumption that the context in which questions, answers and comments are evaluated is defined in some manner that all agree on.

On most sites this is no issue. The questions are defined on the context of the real world we live in or the fictional world they are related to or the works or beliefs they relate to. It varies but there is some clearly defined real world entity that provides the context you interpret everything in. Step outside it and people will instantly snap at you to get back in line.

Here in Worldbuilding this is simply not true despite the best attempts of various people to apply the general SE model as if it might be. Apart from questions with few specific tags, all questions and answers, and comments, are evaluated in the context of a world that is still Work In Progress and not fully defined by definition.

This means that for most questions in Worldbuilding there is simply no way to evaluate relevance of comment non-ambiguously. Comment not being relevant to how I see my answer and me choosing not to edit my answer, tells absolutely nothing about how relevant that comment is to some other person reading my answer and associated comments. They might and almost certainly will understand the question and the answer in some other context than I do.

So in summary, the reason for the comments policy is because for most sites it does work. Killing or hiding the discussion loses nothing because reading the question and answer is all that is needed. It just happens to be nonsense for the particular site we are on because the hidden assumptions it is based on are not true here.

Enforcement of various rules about allowed questions does hide the issue somewhat but it is fundamental mismatch between the SE model and what we do here and cannot be really solved other than just conceding that we really should have different set of rules and then somehow agreeing on those rules and getting SE to accept them.

Not holding my breath and neither should you.

That said, comments in Worldbuilding really should not be considered ephemeral since they often contain lots of information that is relevant to the topic without being relevant to the question or the answer. Something that on other SE sites is pretty much impossible and thus not supported by the rules and guidelines. Or the comment system. We really should have longer comments on answers than other sites.


In general, I agree. This is not a forum, but often further clarification / commentary is needed beyond the comment section.

That being said, when this happens on Main, I think meta posts provide a great place to continue discussion - after all, Meta has the tag. Often when the comment section gets too long, a meta post can be helpful.

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    $\begingroup$ Perhaps, then, it would make more sense, system wide, to "automatically move this dicussion to Worldbuilding Meta" or equivalent, rather than to "chat". $\endgroup$
    – Zeiss Ikon
    Mar 17, 2020 at 19:15
  • $\begingroup$ @ZeissIkon disadvantage: and now we have info relevant to a single question split in two places. A great way to miss the context ;). (don't get me wrong, I'm not saying that the current situation is better and neither I'm refusing anything else but Nirvana. Just pointing one of the downsides - maybe there's something we can do just a bit better before falling onto the politician's syllogism ) $\endgroup$ Mar 18, 2020 at 20:45
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    $\begingroup$ Isn't Meta supposed to be used to discuss the site, not specific questions on Main unless they illustrate widespread behaviour? $\endgroup$
    – CJ Dennis
    Mar 20, 2020 at 3:38
  • $\begingroup$ @CJDennis So, basically, no matter how relevant to the question or its answers, we aren't allowed to hash it out to obtain full clarity? Who came up with that as a design goal? $\endgroup$
    – Zeiss Ikon
    Mar 20, 2020 at 19:19
  • $\begingroup$ @ZeissIkon "X has benefits A, B, and C, but it doesn't have D." "I know, let's use Y instead of X! It doesn't have A, B, or C, but it does have benefit D!" $\endgroup$
    – CJ Dennis
    Mar 20, 2020 at 23:24
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    $\begingroup$ @CJDennis "Then should we blend X and Y to achie..." This conversation has been moved to chat. $\endgroup$
    – IT Alex
    Mar 26, 2020 at 12:34

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