It's not uncommon for me to post an answer that ends up being below the highest-voted answer. To some extent, I can assume we all relate.

I've noticed that when I have such a post, high-reputation users tend to use my lower, less-visible answer as a chatroom of sorts. An example occurred on the notorious "What does covfefe exactly mean" question.

Honestly, I have no problem with having my answers host a discussion, even if it's unrelated to my answer. Please don't change your behavior based on this curiosity-based question -- but it's happened to me before as well.

That high-rep users are doing this suggests to me that there ought to be an easier way for users to ping each other for conversational debate. Is this a common practice employed as a work-around for the lack of private-messaging on the site? Or have I just happened to see this on multiple occasions on my own posts?

What is the best way to reach someone for this kind of discussion? Will they hear you if you ping them on the chatroom? Is there a best practice for trying to reach a user for conversation without drawing public attention?

Also, someone recently flagged my attention by tagging me in a similar manner on meta (on someone else's answer, because I had deleted my own). Then I found those comments (including my own) deleted. How does that process work? Who decided to delete those comments and how did it happen?


EDIT: I may not have been clear about my actual question. My ultimate core question is, What is the best way to get in touch with someone for a brief discourse not intended to be permanent? I've seen (mostly high-reputation) users commenting at each other for attention, and then deleting all their own comments shortly thereafter. People have sometimes commented on very old questions I've posted to get my attention, and then deleted those comments (and I followed suit diligently). Is there any clear-cut way to get someone's attention outright, apart from commenting at them on something that might not be related to the discussion at hand?

  • The discussion will just continue in chat. A long trail of comments will attract users who are likely to post their own comments.
    – user66974
    Jun 2, 2017 at 13:37
  • @Josh sorry if this is a lot of questions, but is this common? Is it annoying to experienced users? Jun 2, 2017 at 13:42
  • No, it is a common practice. The comments will remain visible and active but not under your post.
    – user66974
    Jun 2, 2017 at 13:46
  • @Josh thank you, appreciated. Jun 2, 2017 at 13:48
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    This is an example: "Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat". – tchrist♦ Feb 12 at 15:26 - english.stackexchange.com/questions/372062/…
    – user66974
    Jun 2, 2017 at 13:52
  • I wouldn't say there is a "lack of private messaging". There's no DMing but you can private message anyone you want in a chat room, just don't invite anyone except the two people who want to discuss something.
    – Hank
    Jun 2, 2017 at 13:54
  • @Hank but they will receive a notification no matter what when tagged in a chatroom? Jun 2, 2017 at 13:55
  • @RaceYouAnytime I believe so, yes. I have not used chat rooms very much so someone else may be able to answer that more confidently :)
    – Hank
    Jun 2, 2017 at 13:56
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    The problem is that comments will always be posted under the questions and answers which generate them.
    – user66974
    Jun 2, 2017 at 14:01
  • 3
    @Josh Mod-move of comments is done in response to a system-generated flag, and can only be done once. We can't move comments to chat until the system has generated its flag; user flags don't help. The ability to move comments is useful, but not nearly useful enough!
    – Andrew Leach Mod
    Jun 2, 2017 at 15:45
  • 1
    @AndrewLeach - ok thanks for clarifying this point.
    – user66974
    Jun 2, 2017 at 15:50
  • To your edits, the answer is "no, there is no clear cut way other than this workaround that we currently do"
    – NVZ Mod
    Jun 3, 2017 at 13:38
  • It seems that the core of your question has been addressed. About starting chats in comments under answers that aren't the highest-voted of that question - I haven't noticed this practice. Chat trails do occasionally meander away from the matter at hand, though.
    – Lawrence
    Jun 3, 2017 at 15:30
  • You could have left a comment telling "us" to stop posting comments under your answer. You were absolutely silent the whole time. I deleted most of mine only when I saw this meta post. I should have known better, and posted my comments about VTC under the OP and not under your answer. Apologies. The irony of posting yet another comment has not escaped me...
    – Mari-Lou A
    Jun 4, 2017 at 6:05
  • @AndrewLeach - "Mod-move of comments is done in response to a system-generated flag, and can only be done once. We can't move comments to chat until the system has generated its flag; user flags don't help." I don't understand. I don't remember if I did it here or at Academia, but somewhere I flagged the first in a big series of comments below a post of mine, and requested that the whole thing be moved to chat, and hey presto, that occurred. "Can only be done once" -- again, I don't remember where, but I have seen it happen more than once below the same post. Jun 4, 2017 at 16:09

2 Answers 2


Extended discussions under any post is discouraged, and the right place for such discussions is the chatroom.

Top voted posts tend to have a lot of viewers and their flagging of comments will ensure that mods purge such comment threads much sooner.

You can ping a user in a chatroom, if they have already been to that room recently, otherwise you may only invite them to it by other ways.

Moderators, however, can ping any user to any chat room any time.

I personally flag all comments as obsolete when I'm done discussing something with someone under some post, and I'd also remove mine myself. Or, I custom flag the post and request a moderator to purge the comment thread.


To your edits, the answer is "no", there is no clear cut way other than this workaround that we currently do, that is, comment under a user's old post which has no other existing comments. That surely gets their attention, and goes unnoticed by the community, and you can delete those comments later on. Again, comments are not meant for extended discussion.

  • "otherwise you may only invite them to it by other ways." I think this is to some degree what prompted my question. What are the ways to invite someone to chat with you? It seems like the only option is to tag them in a comment, which is what leads to the phenomenon I've observed wherein users start an unrelated conversational thread on my answers. I guess I'm wondering if there is any clear-cut way to get someone's attention apart from commenting? Jun 3, 2017 at 0:41
  • I think you can ping someone to chat simply by opening a new chatroom and posting a (chat) comment addressed to that person. They would then be notified of that comment and can post a response in chat. This may of course be delayed till the person actually logs online and sees the notification, which is why you are informed that 'you can ping a user in a chatroom, if they have already been to that room recently' -- because chat is supposed to be a real-time discussion -- but maybe it also work like a delayed response discussion? I AM NOT SURE IT WORKS THAT WAY but you can try it out sometime! Jun 3, 2017 at 1:14
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    @EnglishStudent tested this by pinging me on the general chatroom. For the record, I DID receive a notfiication. Jun 3, 2017 at 1:48
  • So that is the way to do it! It will usually be the common room but I saw somebody open a special chat room for limited number of members. The only problem, as I said is that both or all concerned members may not be online at the same time - so it becomes in effect a delayed chat anyway! Jun 3, 2017 at 2:04
  • @EnglishStudent - Glad the test worked. // I don't think Chat here at SE can be taken to mean an actual real time conversation in writing. I think Chat here means, let's take it offlist, let's have a tangential or extended back-and-forth, and let's do it off to the side, where it won't clutter things up. Jun 4, 2017 at 16:12
  • @aparente 001 thank you, I realized that just a minute back. At the same time there is often a great deal of real time interaction going on at the main ELU chat room as I saw for myself when I 'dropped in' for a chat yesterday (or is it dropped by?) -- do you know that our highly rated mutual friend has left ELU in protest because of some pertinent points of disagreement with the responses of certain members to her recent questions? I FEEL SAD that the overall grimness of certain constituents has driven away an excellent contributor who (like you) has been a great encouragement for new users. Jun 4, 2017 at 16:21
  • @EnglishStudent Fear not, no one leaves forever unless they die, or get suspended for a lifetime. The user you refer to, is a very seasoned one, and the point of that i'm leaving meta was not to actually leave, but to bring our attention onto a serious issue of rude behavior from certain members, and I have seen that user active several times since that meta, even posted new comments, which may have been later removed.
    – NVZ Mod
    Jun 4, 2017 at 16:30
  • @NVZ I get your point. WHEN THE ENGLISH BUG BITES... It is love of language that keeps us (coming and) going! Jun 4, 2017 at 17:58
  • @EnglishStudent - Sorry, I'm not with you. Who is our highly rated mutual friend? Jun 4, 2017 at 18:25
  • @aparente001 I did suppose you had not noticed it. Mari-lou A has left ELU. Please see this recent meta post for the full details. english.meta.stackexchange.com/questions/10278/… Jun 4, 2017 at 18:42
  • @EnglishStudent she has not left ELU.
    – NVZ Mod
    Jun 5, 2017 at 11:54

You would have noted that the whole discussion in question was (more or less) on topic as a debate on whether the OP's question was off-topic or not. Yours being a low-vote answer has nothing to do with it because I have seen the same type of discussion in the comments section under top-voted answers and even under the question itself. Members will discuss a very interesting topic anywhere and anytime, and it is usually a lively and very useful discussion!

Please note this was by no means the sort of discussion where one user would 'ping' another on a chat page and start discussing some topic. In my recent experience here, such discussions develop organically from some highly interesting Q & A and are facilitated by the presence of many (especially senior) members online at the same time. Such discussions do not develop under a particular answer by design, or even for want of a better page, but mainly because it was either that answer or a comment to that answer or a response to a comment that generated the discussion in the furst place. Naturally it would continue there till it is automatically moved to chat by a moderator!

Thus the fact that your answer became an impromptu chat room was solely related to the topic on hand and the responses of certain members. I have known some discussions to continue for quite some time after being moved to chat as well. However, and with due respect to the stated objectives of comments, I think the main question's page is a better place for such discussion than a chat page, as long as the discussion remains on-topic!

  • Thank you, this is a good point. But in this case (the covfefe question) the discussion started with the OP messaging a user who close-voted the question. I'm curious why they would have that discussion on my answer instead of in the comments section of the question itself? Jun 3, 2017 at 0:45
  • I've also seen high-rep users use my answers to ping each other, have a short back-and-forth, and then they both delete all their comments, within a period of less than an hour! I guess I'm partially curious if this is something veterans of the site do because there's no fool-proof alternative, and they're savvy enough to know that they can delete their own comments when they're finished? Jun 3, 2017 at 0:51
  • One reason is that the user whom OP wanted to address had just posted a comment under your answer. The other and more important reason is revealed by OP's statement "How can you be sure this is typo, thus my quetion be closed, when another user says "it's too soon to tell for sure," and other users provide different intrerpretations?" -- it was a direct reference to your answer "it's too soon to tell for sure" as a supporting evidence for OP's argument that this question is on-topic! Jun 3, 2017 at 0:52
  • Regarding your point "I've also seen high-rep users use my answers to ping each other, have a short back-and-forth, and then they both delete all their comments, within a period of less than an hour! I guess I'm partially curious if this is something veterans of the site do because there's no fool-proof alternative" -- I would have reason to think so only if the ensuing comments and dicussion were found to be on some unrelated topic irrelevant to OP's question and your answer. Jun 3, 2017 at 0:55
  • Good point about the OP's statement having some connection to my answer, that does explain why they may have chosen to comment on my answer instead of on the question. Jun 3, 2017 at 1:00
  • I would guess that it's not the intention of Stack Exchange to have many private discussions running at any given time in multiple chat rooms not readily accessible to the general user. No PM is also in the spirit of being a Q & A site that encourages open and public discussion, which is what members are doing on an ad hoc basis in various informal comments sections.That might explain why it's not possible to ping a user who has not been recently engaged in chat. The other reason is that chat requires real-time interaction whereas comments section allows delayed response as in a message board! Jun 3, 2017 at 1:05
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    Special thanks for testing this concept by pinging me on chat, which worked. Jun 3, 2017 at 1:47
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    You are most welcome. This is called experimental method! Jun 3, 2017 at 2:05
  • @EnglishStudent next thing you could try is creating a new room, and inviting users to it, who clearly have never been to it. There must be an option to invite users within the room creation wizard or maybe within the room somewhere.
    – NVZ Mod
    Jun 3, 2017 at 2:53
  • Also see if you can ping me to ELU main chatroom, which I think I've not visited recently.
    – NVZ Mod
    Jun 3, 2017 at 2:57
  • @NVZ thanks a lot for the suggestion: that will be my next project here! Jun 3, 2017 at 3:33

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