Some people seem to have an opinion that a meta thread is not a suitable place for discussion as the comments of this thread show. Hence my title question.

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    The tag set is not exactly well-defined. Somebody had an idea once, and it got added to a tag. What it's for is essentially whatever anybody uses it for; there really are no systematic definitions of anything. Commented Apr 6, 2014 at 0:14
  • @JohnLawler Do you mean that anybody can add whatever tag to the meta threads? Commented Apr 6, 2014 at 0:19
  • I don't know. All I know is that there's no system there, and every idea or term that anybody uses seems to be included. Commented Apr 6, 2014 at 0:50
  • Meta is a good place for opinion polling, which is what the discussion tag indicates. But it's a poor place for interactive discussion (which Stack Exchange developers deliberately discourage throughout the network). Commented Apr 10, 2014 at 0:15
  • @BraddSzonye Could you explain why you think so? Commented Apr 10, 2014 at 2:48
  • It’s a fundamental part of the site design. I recommend familiarizing yourself with it. It's documented in depth in Jeff Atwood’s Coding Horror blog, probably also at Meta Stack Overflow. Commented Apr 10, 2014 at 2:54
  • @BraddSzonye Would you please tell me the link to the article? Commented Apr 10, 2014 at 6:23
  • Could you please use the site archive, or Google, to find the information yourself? Atwood has posted many articles about the site philosophy, and it would probably do you some good to research it yourself. I am not a tour guide, and I will not answer you again unless you demonstrate at least some effort to do your own research. Commented Apr 10, 2014 at 7:39
  • @BraddSzonye I can google about it, but I'm not sure if I'd be searching for the right article you are talking about. I guess he wrote many articles in his blog. Commented Apr 10, 2014 at 7:44
  • Please make your best effort with the information you have now. If it doesn't help you, them come back and explain what you did learn and what you still don't understand. At SE we expect you to do that for all questions. While you're looking at Atwood's blog, also look up the rubber duck article. (And if you ask me another question before even making an attempt to learn this, I will assume that you are trolling and ignore you.) Commented Apr 10, 2014 at 7:51
  • @BraddSzonye His blog has many entries. I cannot read all of them. Could you tell me the title and the date of his blog article you are talking about? Commented Apr 10, 2014 at 8:11
  • You can use Google as well as I can. I told you what to look for. Start with the rubber duck. Commented Apr 10, 2014 at 8:14
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    One of our moderators gave you a link to just such an article below. I tried to help you out by pointing you at additional resources along those lines, specifically the founders' rationales for all this. It's fascinating reading, and the sort of people who fit in well here would be eager to read it. The people who fit in well here would also be eager to find it themselves. In contrast, you keep pestering people for more and more help even when they ask you to stop. Repeatedly. Please make more of an effort to fit in. We are not tour guides. Commented Apr 10, 2014 at 8:27
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    @ivanhoescott: What's the deal with the strong attitude? You're new here, don't you think you should hang out a while to figure out what the culture is like? Also read some of the FAQs? This all feels like an argument for argument's sake. Discuss a little, but not much; more is tolerable on meta. that's SO's intent.
    – Mitch
    Commented Apr 10, 2014 at 11:52
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    @ivanhoescott: Oh...then I don't understand what your problem is. Is it with ELU or the entire SE system? I'd expect that since you are an old member of another SE site the culture must be different there. If not then you should have no complaint here (or you should complain on SO.meta. If so, then hey follow the different culture here now that you know what it is.
    – Mitch
    Commented Apr 10, 2014 at 22:04

3 Answers 3


Discussion is appropriate on meta, based on MSO precedent [1] [2], as well as FAQ guidance. It is true that the Stack Exchange platform is not well-suited for discussions, but chat is often not an appropriate place for site discussions, for several reasons in the aforelinked post.

As to the specific case: Your question has been closed as a duplicate of your earlier question, and I do not see good reason to reopen it. I think your previous question received good answers, and as it has not been closed, I do not think there is anything further to be done in this instance.

  • My point in the earlier post is that meta is still not a good place to chat, and that the OP really needs to do more of his own homework and ask fewer chatty questions. So I think this question is rather missing the point, but +1 anyway for a reasonable answer to it. Commented Apr 10, 2014 at 8:08

It seems to me the "difference of opinion" on the linked earlier question is about exactly what kind of "discussions" should be conducted on SO sites.

So far as I'm aware, most ELU users agree with me (and with those arguing against OP on the earlier post). We think the "discussion" tag on meta questions just means people are encouraged to post what they think in respect of the issue being raised. An example of that being the "answer" I'm currently posting right here and now.

I'm not expecting to engage in a protracted back-and-forth interchange of ideas through comments here. We have our main chat room for general-purpose discussions, and if anyone wants an interactive discussion focussing on a specific issue, they can always create a chatroom just for that.

Obviously there will always be a certain amount of comment -> response -> counter-response ->... Plus people often post multiple clarification, supporting evidence comments under their own actual question or answer, even when they should more properly edit the original post.

But in general we don't really want the main/meta Q&A sites to be used to "kick ideas around" interactively. If you don't already know exactly what you think, and you want to explore an issue interactively to help firm up your ideas, do that in a chat broom, then post whatever you eventually decide is your contribution to the "question" - so people can vote on whether they agree or not.

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    I think that for new users going to chat to discuss their English query could be intimidating, that is my subjective view. For me it feels like I'm butting in on a private conversation between established friends. I realize I am in the minority (or am I?) feeling like this, and what's more the chat layout/design is confusing for people (like myself) who have never used chat before. Private messages would be so much nicer sigh...
    – Mari-Lou A
    Commented Apr 7, 2014 at 6:36
  • @FumblerFingers Can a chatroom discussion be visible for everybody? Commented Apr 9, 2014 at 7:12
  • @ivanhoescott: Normally, chat rooms are "public", meaning anyone (with at least 20 rep) can enter, view, and post. But to create a chat room you need 100 rep. Users with 1000+ can create "private" rooms where they specifically "invite" others in, but I've never done this (I've created several public rooms though). Commented Apr 9, 2014 at 12:11
  • @FumbleFingers Can anyone read all chat in any chat room? Can they read old chat? Commented Apr 9, 2014 at 15:22
  • @ivanhoescott: I believe so - unless it's one of those "private" rooms (which I've never created or used, so I don't really know about). I assume you can follow this link if you fancy a game of "Hangman" (assuming someone else also wants to play, but obviously someone must start each game). You can also go to the ELU General Chat room, and even though you don't currently have the rep to create your own room, I'm sure most people there could and would do it for you. Commented Apr 9, 2014 at 15:30
  • @FumbleFingers If the chat rooms are suitable for discussions, then what are the meta threads for? Commented Apr 9, 2014 at 16:34
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    @ivanhoescott: "meta threads" is your terminology, not mine. Strictly speaking I should probably have just kept extending my answer to address these questions you keep asking. I personally rarely use the chat facilities here, and I'd rather not post something in an answer when I don't really know it. It's possible future visitors might be enlightened by reading these comments, but I'm sure TPTB would rather see the relevant information in the actual answer text. Since two people have downvoted my answer (and only one upvoted), I assume they're fighting something of a losing battle. Commented Apr 9, 2014 at 16:52
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    For what it's worth, I agree with you 100%, FF. Commented Apr 10, 2014 at 0:11
  • @FumbleFingers ["meta threads" is your terminology, not mine.] Does it matter if it is my terminology or yours? Commented Apr 25, 2014 at 12:35
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    @ivanhoescott: It might well matter in this specific context, since "threads" (often explicitly identified as "discussion threads") strongly implies the very activity I'm saying should not be encouraged on SO Q&A sites. Commented Apr 25, 2014 at 13:53

Meta sites do permit some discussion. However, even here, the developers discourage extended discussion in comments. Please note the bold warning above the comment box in the image below. Also see this MSO post.

enter image description here

  • How many comments does it need to show that message? Commented Apr 10, 2014 at 10:16
  • That shows when two people post several comments in a short span of time. I've added a link to an MSO post from when the feature was new. It does not give hard numbers but otherwise explains it well. (The exact numbers shouldn't matter anyway. Follow the spirit, not the letter.) Commented Apr 10, 2014 at 10:24
  • Let us worry about it when it happens. Commented Apr 10, 2014 at 10:52
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    @ivan It did happen. That's how I got the screenshot. And it should answer your questions above: Even on meta, extended discussions are strongly discouraged. Commented Apr 10, 2014 at 11:06
  • Could you give us a supporting evidence of this claim? Commented Apr 10, 2014 at 22:49
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    See the picture above, which shows an extended discussion in comments on meta, followed by an automated warning from the developers not to have extended discussions in comments. I should not have to explain this! Commented Apr 10, 2014 at 22:54
  • I don't think it is necessarily an extended discussion in comments on meta. However, the time span does matter. [That shows when two people post several comments in a short span of time.] Commented Apr 10, 2014 at 23:21
  • @ivanhoescott Is there some reason you do not believe regular users when they try to tell you about do's and don'ts? Is there some reason you still do not believe us even when there are pictures and FAQs and dev blogs backing it all up? (And is there some reason you keep quoting comments like they are email messages, even when you are only replying to one person? Even though you've been politely asked to stop?) Commented Apr 11, 2014 at 2:48

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