I know this is generally a network-wide policy, but I do not quite understand it.

Often discussion of an answer, especially about controversial parts, will help improve it. And, when such a discussion is then ultimately moved to chat (before or after it has reached a conclusion), it seems to inevitably die there as there appears to be a large subsection of site users who don't or won't use the chat system (which, to be fair, is horribly organised for discussing disparate topics such as comment migrations--being on the surface but one long thread, and all). I have rarely seen anything migrated to chat that had anything substantial added to it afterwards.

All that said, why are comments not for discussion and, by extension, why does the policy to move to chat exist?

  • 6
    Drives me crazy too but I don't know if the system ever forces a move to chat. It just suggests it and all it takes is one participant to trigger the move. Because the system can't tell the difference between off topic chatter, flame wars/arguments, and comments that are important to keep to understand the question. When there is a move to chat, it does create a separate room at least; it doesn't go to the main chat room (The Overlook Hotel).
    – Cyn
    Commented Aug 3, 2019 at 16:03
  • Related MSE thread: How do comments work?
    – V2Blast
    Commented Aug 6, 2019 at 7:35
  • 3
    It's ridiculous because TBH sometimes I'm just there for the comments. Also, it's a perfect example of the conflict between User Design and User Experience.
    – elrobis
    Commented Aug 6, 2019 at 15:35

3 Answers 3


Not quite answering your question, but I'd like to point out another alternative to chat: Meta.

There's no reason you can't open a meta question in this situation, it's actually encouraged. It'll keep the discussion a little more organized, and can be referred to in similar situations in the future.

  • 5
    There's also a specific-question tag here on meta. Commented Aug 4, 2019 at 15:47
  • ooh, that's great! I didn't know "specific-question" was a meta tag! So now a new question: is that "would you like to move this to chat" language customizable? Could we add "or to meta" to encourage people to come here instead? I can certainly do it by hand, but it would be awesome if there was an automated suggestion also. Commented Aug 8, 2019 at 10:15
  • @LaurenIpsum I think this is a system-level setting but I'm not sure; I've asked about it. Commented Aug 8, 2019 at 13:07

The purpose of the site as a whole is to curate good answers to good questions. Having a discussion in the comments is only very rarely related to curating good answers to good questions.

Chat only even exists because people are more willing to accept it than the alternative of deleting those comments altogether. In this manner, it is akin to the "off-topic" section of many web forums - it's not an integral part of the site, it's a quarantine zone for content that isn't relevant to the site's primary purpose. When comments get too far off their intended purpose of critiquing and suggesting improvements to questions and answers, it is entirely appropriate to quarantine them in this fashion.


I agree with Kevin, the purpose is to curate good answers to good questions.

Personally I have engaged in long chats, but they are somebody trying to convince me to change my answer to agree with their philosophy, which I don't share. I have frequently told them to express their philosophy in their own answer, but that doesn't seem to help. I reject the notion that the goal is to find one and only one best answer, there can be many good answers. And though the OP can only select one, that is the one that helps them the most, it is worth producing other answers that may be more suited to other readers of the same question. In any case, I consider philosophical debates off-topic; even if they are interesting to the correspondents, they aren't helping authors answer their question.

Other long chats are basically from amateur writers or non-writers that do not understand the difference between writing fiction and writing an academic fact-checked paper, and wish to argue with my construction, or the details of historical fact, or point out rare exceptions to my claims, or dispute what I consider (fictional human) psychology. To me, also off-topic.

IMO we are here to help writers, and primarily writers early in their writing career or even just in their hobby. It is something of a judgement call when a non-abusive conversation or dispute is no longer helping anyone in any meaningful sense, and that is the reason to move it to chat.

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