I’ve been a member of the SF chat room for quite some time. Whilst it was never the most learned place to be, at one time it was at least safe for work. Right now it’s an open to google sewer where swearing is becoming the norm rather than the exception and rallying the pack to pile on the clueless noobs is commonplace. The 'chat pack' is running amok.

It’s a sad thing to see, it’s gone too far, and it needs to stop before it starts to harm SF and the great work that is does by association.


  • Can you tell me the hrs and the timezone this happens in? If its the same time of day I'm moderating I will keep an eye on it tomorrow. – Mark Henderson Dec 15 '11 at 11:57
  • Check the transcript - but be warned it may not be safe for your work. – user9517 Dec 15 '11 at 12:00
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    Maybe I'm missing something, but besides a handful of F bombs, what's the problem in that transcript? (not disagreeing with your overall principle, but that transcript is pretty benign compared to what I was expecting). – MDMarra Dec 15 '11 at 12:43
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    I admit to staying out of the Comms Room due to an increasingly hostile culture and not having time to deal with it appropriately (new job: not nearly as boring as my last one, this has consequences.). Looking at the starred posts list (chat.stackexchange.com/rooms/info/127/the-comms-room?tab=stars) is the image laden highlight-reel. – sysadmin1138 Dec 15 '11 at 12:47
  • @sysadmin1138 What's wrong with images on the star wall, assuming they aren't offensive? Surely the 406 cat error made you chuckle? :) – MDMarra Dec 15 '11 at 12:49
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    As a tip for the lurkers, you can mod-flag Chat comments. All in-chat SE mods get those so you'll get a pretty quick response to the flag regardless of time of day. – sysadmin1138 Dec 15 '11 at 12:50
  • @MarkM The star-wall is a good short-hand for the funny stuff that goes through. By increasing awareness of it, we get more debate on community standards and what's acceptable. 406-unacceptable is darned funny (as is internal-error). Others skirt the boundaries. – sysadmin1138 Dec 15 '11 at 12:52
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    Just to balance things out, I think chat.stackexchange.com/transcript/127/2011/12/14/11-13 is an example of the room being helpful and so-on with a non-reg asking off topic questions. It's not as if the room is a total sinkhole. – Rob Moir Dec 15 '11 at 13:37
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    I'm pretty sure it's all my fault... – Holocryptic Dec 15 '11 at 13:48
  • @holocryptic Too many ponies man, too many ponies <3 – Tablemaker Dec 15 '11 at 13:53
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    It's gotten out of hand for reasons other than what Iain posted about... – Holocryptic Dec 15 '11 at 14:08
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    I noticed that you're not in chat. I hope it's because you're busy in the real world and not because you feel alienated because of asking this question. If it's the latter, come back. We already lost Chop today :( – MDMarra Dec 15 '11 at 16:13
  • @Holocryptic Negative. Blame the kitty. That's what I do... – Wesley Dec 15 '11 at 18:54
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    @Iain can you please come to the chat room and talk to us ASAP - we honestly had no idea and this makes us feel really (REALLY) bad. Come back. Pleeeeees. – pauska Dec 15 '11 at 20:48
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    @Iain, thank you for confirming my decision not to take part in chat. – John Gardeniers Dec 15 '11 at 21:18

Right now it’s an open to google sewer where swearing is becoming the norm rather than the exception

I'm one of the biggest offenders as far as profanity goes. I've never been in an environment where there are NSFW rules, so I don't know if f-bombs are considered NSFW. If they are where you work, then I apologize.

That said, I don't use any language in chat that I don't use in the workplace to co workers. Obviously, I keep my "s's" and "f's" to myself when the CIO is floating around, but afaik, my CIO doesn't read the Comms Room :) Swearing just to swear is stupid. I do it from time to time. I'm stupid just like everyone else. Asking people not to swear when it's warranted or in the flow of conversation is a bit much though. We're all adults.

and rallying the pack to pile on the clueless noobs is commonplace. The 'chat pack' is running amok.

As it related to SF noobs in general, I think a lot of that is addressed here and isn't chat-specific: Worse than usenet? Our image to prospective new users. I don't think that chat moderation will help us be gentler to dumb users, we'll see the question whether someone oneboxes it in chat or not.

We certainly don't pile on to chat noobs. There are a lot of newer chat users in the last 6mo or so, including Basil, AdrianK, Bart De Vos, Dan and 84104. When they were new, we explained the purpose of the room and encouraged them to hang out. The only people that we tend to get short with in chat are people that ignore the "This is not a live support room" banner.

It’s a sad thing to see, it’s gone too far, and it needs to stop before it starts to harm SF and the great work that is does by association.

There are, maybe two dozen users in chat on a busy day out of tens of thousands on the main site. Couple that with the disclaimer that the room isn't for support and I don't see how it's hurting anyone. If you see something that offends you, flag it. AFAIK, no one that's a regular has been chat-banned which leads me to assume 1 of 2 things. 1) People are flagging and those reviewing don't think that it's offensive. 2) People aren't flagging. Either way, that must mean that the great bulk of people that actually participate in chat are not offended.

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    Unexpectedly you have misinterpreted moderation as requiring a moderator. There is personal moderation too. – user9517 Dec 15 '11 at 15:17
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    Either way my points still stand. IMO, we may cross a line from time to time as a group, but I hardly think that it's a problem. To paraphrase @pauska in chat "if this ends up with us talking like Flanders, I'm out." – MDMarra Dec 15 '11 at 15:24
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    I think "Personal moderation" is the key, much as it is with comment snark. We will inevitably cross our own lines, and police ourselves accordingly. – voretaq7 Dec 15 '11 at 18:08
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    Ive never been in an environment where there are NSFW rules - as a teenager I learned very, very creative methods of swearing whilst doing work experience in an IT office. Never in my life had I heard such filth. Fast forward 8 years to 2 years ago and we hired the most polite, petite, and politicially correct 25-year-old indian woman. The other day I heard her say to herself "G----- m------f---- piece of s--- c--- a-- f---ing thing won't compile". I was proud but also dissapointed in myself. Perhaps some self moderation isn't a bad thing... – Mark Henderson Dec 15 '11 at 19:34
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    @MarkHenderson I understand what you're saying, but many of the things said in chat are no different that many of us hear daily at our workplaces. We have a rather constructive discussion(once off-site mods stopped trying to bully) and realized that some of the things that happen in chat are unacceptable. That said, the use of profanity was one of the things that we vehemently defended. As long as it's not directed at someone in an attempt to be hurtful I think that it is wholly OK. If it's meant to be hurtful then it's unacceptable. That goes for everything, not just profanity. – MDMarra Dec 15 '11 at 22:29
  • @MarkHenderson does bring up an interesting point though - I've noticed that even the most delicate flowers tend to start cussing like sailors after prolonged exposure to the IT field (Sysadmin, Programming, and especially Datacenter Operations). I'm not exactly sure what that means, but it probably means something... – voretaq7 Dec 16 '11 at 15:12
  • @voretaq7 Seems that there's a clear winner in Nature v Nurture here. – MDMarra Dec 16 '11 at 16:57
  • @MDMarra YOU TAKE THAT BACK! Darwin will seriously $!@# your #@$ up! – voretaq7 Dec 16 '11 at 17:01

I'm the dude from the referenced link, so I guess I should weigh in, huh? Apologies in advance as this is gonna be long.

I'm definitely another profanity offender (NSFW aggregation of F-Bombs in The Comms Room), and I do work in an office where NSFW rules apply - The caveat being that the tech team here is known for locking ourselves in an office and cursing the ever-loving Cthulhu out of our users, business partners, vendors, etc.

To me that's very much what SF Chat has become - An "office" of sorts where the regulars lock themselves in and blow off steam. I don't know if that's a good thing or a bad thing, but it's a thing. My experience is that when you get a bunch of sysadmins together and we're going to kibitz and kvetch and probably cuss, probably because it's not something that our normal work allows. When you've got Cisco TAC keeping you in a never-ending-hellish-hold-world-of-holding, or IBM refusing to send you a field engineer even though your AS/400 won't IPL because its RAID battery is dead, or your crazy business partners screaming "Just put untested software into production! We want it NAO!" there's certainly plenty of steam to blow off.

Similarly when we see truly awful questions come to the site we post them in the comms room and they attract a healthy share of ridicule -- I call these the PLEEZ HALP! type questions - and I take full blame for introducing the regulars to the word HALP! (probably SFW search for HALP).

  • Some of these questions get blasted out of existence with close votes.
  • Some of them get comments asking for clarification (or explaining why we need more info).
  • Some of them actually get answers
    (Just because it made no sense to me doesn't mean someone else doesn't get it).

A lot of that probably comes from the fact that those of us in The Comms Room have the time throughout the day to look at the site, and we see a lot of bad questions. It's the inevitable result of the site getting more popular, and I'm still not sure what's the best way to combat "lousy question fatigue".

Now having thoroughly defended us in our adolescent antics, I'm going to excoriate us just as thoroughly.

For better or worse Chat is indexed by Google, and the transcripts are kept around for posterity.
My own conduct, as I noted, is certainly not something I'd put on my resume. I'm proud of some of the difficult and quirky questions I've answered on SF, but I wouldn't want an employer judging me based on the chat any more than I would with my twitter feed or blog (both with varying degrees of NSFW-ness).

Similarly I can see how the current atmosphere may be intimidating -- While I feel we do try to be welcoming wandering in to a wall of memes and us grousing about lousy questions may be scaring some people off. We certainly don't want to be doing that.

Unfortunately I don't really have any solutions to offer -- We could ask that chat transcripts not be google-indexed, or any number of other stopgaps, but ultimately I think we as a community need to decide what our "community standards" are (Chat regulars will note that the standards in SF chat are a little different than the rest of the SE network), and then enforce those standards on ourselves as we have with comment snark (meta search).

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    The idea of making the chat room un-indexable is great. Either that or we start or own IRC channel. – Wesley Dec 15 '11 at 19:20
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    I think making the chat room un-indexed is an extremely poor idea. One of the ideals of the stackexchange sites was to be better then forums/irc/usenet. If we have to hide part of the activity because it is too offensive, then I think we are seriously failing. – Zoredache Dec 15 '11 at 19:52
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    I happen to think making the chat room unindexed is a lousy solution Much like putting wallpaper over a crack, it hides the problem. Personally I don't put anything in chat I wouldn't put on twitter, or in a blog, or anywhere else publicly viewable. My standards may not match up with other people's standards though... – voretaq7 Dec 15 '11 at 20:16
  • @voretaq7 Doesn't seem to be the way I view it. There is no problem. It's just that a few seem to be good at convincing themselves there is. Anecdote: CxO walks into server room. "I don't like the color of your servers." So you buy new faceplates. There was no problem - just someone's bizarre impression. You do your best to facilitate them within reason, but you're not melting your own plastics, molding new faceplates and lobbying Congress to demand that Dell never makes that color again. (Yes, that analogy is weird) – Wesley Dec 16 '11 at 17:46
  • @WesleyDavid I think there is a "problem" (perception by outsiders), I just don't think it's a problem (we're horrible trolls who want to eat everyone's babies). Perception can be fixed by toning down some of the stuff we discussed in chat, and I think it leaves our unique culture intact. Were we truly a horde of baby-eating trolls I'd have less sympathy for us) – voretaq7 Dec 16 '11 at 19:00
  • @voretaq7 Less raids on daycares. Got it. Will report back with results. – Wesley Dec 16 '11 at 19:38
  • @WesleyDavid The raids are fine, just catch-and-release hunting though, no eating. Pretend you're fishing in New York waterways. – voretaq7 Dec 16 '11 at 19:42

I missed most of the chat fireworks today, and it's been super busy so I haven't gone through the transcript yet, but...

I didn't see anything too terrible in there, although some might've been deleted by thetime I woke up. I don't think the amount of profanity has been out of line, nor were any of the "oh yeah, top this" type of discussions (eg kittens "sleeping") offensive to me. (OTOH, I was one of the "crazy" off-topic guys who led to Joel shutting down most of his Joel on Software forums, so I guess my standards are suspect...)

I don't see anything wrong with chat being a place for some SF regulars to hang out and be themselves and apparently "being ourselves" includes thinking some highly innappropriate thoughts. But so what? Most of face the challenge day to day of dealing with people doing stupid things and usually not saying how stupid they are, compartmentalizing our serious side (on SF) from our hang out with our buddies side (on chat) is nothing new.

OTOOH, I guess there IS that precedent of Joel shutting down a forum that he thoughtgot outof hand, so maybe SE Inc. would do the same thing and we should be careful.

But then where will we talk about boobs?!?!?

EDIT: I wanted to comment on one of @Zoredache's thoughts:

Similarly I can see how the current atmosphere may be intimidating - While I feel we do try to be welcoming wandering in to a wall of memes and us grousing about lousy questions may be scaring some people off.

Although I can't think of any examples to cite, I feel that anyone new to SF who has wandered into chat - no matter what the reason - has largely been welcomed. Maybe some of the problem here is that the person who was ticked off was thought to be enough of a "regular" and treated accordingly.

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    In addition to Wesley speaking for me, so does Ward. – Holocryptic Dec 16 '11 at 18:13
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    I'm also pretty squarely in this camp from a personal perspective: I've been a bit creeped out by some of the stuff posted in SF Chat (Rebecca Black is a scary broad!), but never offended. But my threshold of offense is also pretty high, so the standard I'm really applying is "as long as we're not driving away users who come to SF, answer some questions & click on Chat we're OK". – voretaq7 Dec 16 '11 at 19:10

I feel the need to speak up as I'm one of the worst offenders (if indeed any offense has been given) and was front and center in the given link. I've worked in environments that were very conscientious of being prim and proper and also where there were virtually no rules.

Perhaps some personal background is in order? Perhaps not. I'll over-share anyway. =)

It's not my habit to be offended by words or phrases in and of themselves. The company I've kept since childhood has typically been rather free with words (sometimes profanity, other times just rather blunt opinions, etc.). That's a large over simplification, but all that to say that I have always tended to be a bit lenient with verbal communication. I sometimes don't even know when someone has said a word that society has chosen to bleep out. It's just... another choice in the communication bag that some people use. I'm rather agnostic about the topic of propriety in language.

at one time it was at least safe for work. Right now it’s an open to google sewer where swearing is becoming the norm rather than the exception [...]

I suppose that since no rules were initially made for the room's culture, I approached it as an IRC channel. Nearly every IRC channel I've been on, regardless of the topic or room sponsor has been jealously free from restrictions. It was my poor decision to transpose the culture from one medium to another.

I do believe that there does need to be some stated expectations. I had nary a clue that anyone was upset over the subject matter, language or attitudes. We'll need to set our goals explicitly, rather than just use nebulous terms like "professional" or "safe" since those terms have wildly different interpretations based on a person's own point of reference.

and rallying the pack to pile on the clueless noobs is commonplace. The 'chat pack' is running amok.

Now this tendency does indeed bother me. Bothers me a lot. I've seen an increase in vitriol - once again, even in myself. Although, the best that can be done is external behavior modification since the core issue is with a person's inner self choosing to demean another human and that can only be changed from within.

It’s a sad thing to see, it’s gone too far, and it needs to stop before it starts to harm SF and the great work that is does by association.

Which aspect do you think is most harmful? For myself, if I simply saw the great contributions to the site and then walked into the chat room for the first time and saw colorful language, idioms and/or metaphors I wouldn't recoil in any amount of disgust and think "INSUFFERABLE HORROR!! I'LL NEVER COME BACK AGAIN!!" I'd simply think "Oh hey, people are here."

However, I would have a bad response if I saw the acidic tendencies toward new or less seasoned people asking simplistic questions.


I say bad words. I'll stop if people want me to.

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    How are you "one of the worst offenders"? You're a freaking cat. – MDMarra Dec 15 '11 at 20:22
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    While @WesleyDavid may be a participant, I think all (save maybe a very small handful) of chat regulars have at one time or another uttered words, phrases, images, memes, idioms, jokes, etc. that some people may be offended by. It's incumbent on all of us to make sure the room is a welcoming place, while retaining the openness (and yes, some of the snark) that makes it somewhere sysadmins want to hang out. – voretaq7 Dec 15 '11 at 21:30
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    Wesley pretty much speaks for me on this – Holocryptic Dec 16 '11 at 16:40

While I do agree that The Comms Room isn't the most sophisticated and mature place to be on this site; it in no way reflects the amount of knowledge on this site. Our appeal to new users reflects more upon the knowledge presented in our Q/A (the actual site content).

If there is any problem with this site, the problem lies where it always has; the ridicule of the users that post "PLZ HALP MAI SRVRZ ON FYRE LULZ" questions or easily googleable (that really needs to be a word now) questions.

While we do seem to have developed a bit of a chat 'clique'; more often than not, when a newbie pops into chat, we take our time with them. We either point them to ask their question on the site, or provide some type of help to what they are asking. Obviously depending upon what they're asking whether it be advice on how to form a question into an answerable thing or whether a question is OT or not, etc.

Also, I have seen plenty of times serious technical discussion going on or mild debate over what vendor/product is better (all friendly, as in no one taking cheap shots on a person debating).

The chat simply is that, chat. A water cooler is a good analogy here. People coming into a common forum to either blow some steam, crack some jokes, and try to have something brighten their day if it is crappy/boring. Maybe some toning down might be necessary, but even then I disagree, that is why the 'flag for mod' button is there with a full transcript to see the context of the statement. I don't think we need to moderate it all to hell and then drive away the humor of the chat.


..should need to be done; make a new chat room that is, essentially, labeled NSFW or SFBS Room to let people know what they are getting into, and which chat is the place to go for some genuine help. The way SE's chat works, it is not a big deal for people to be in multiple rooms so, I for one, would not care so much about having a SF chat for serious discussions and one where I can post ponies, memes, images, etc and have a good laugh.

tl dr; Chat is fine, if not, make a new BS chat room, in addition to Comms, but don't mod the crap out of it.

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    I dislike two chats idea. – MDMarra Dec 15 '11 at 14:13
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    I do too, honestly. But I'd rather that than modding things to the point where nothing is funny anymore. – Tablemaker Dec 15 '11 at 14:16
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    Unexpectedly you have misinterpreted moderation as requiring a moderator. There is personal moderation too – user9517 Dec 15 '11 at 15:33
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    @Iain Indeed. The mod-hammer is there to remind you that I shouldn't have to do it for you. – sysadmin1138 Dec 15 '11 at 15:54
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    Failing to see a difference whether we personally censor items vs someone doing it for us. The fact still stands that there is no set in stone rules at chat aside from unspoken ones (No flame wars, no personal attacks, no racial/sexual/religious slurs, etc). – Tablemaker Dec 15 '11 at 15:55
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    I'm definitely against a two-chats idea. The "official Ned Flanders-ized totally-safe-for-work-here-let-me-wipe-your-fanny-for-you chat will inevitably become a ghost town, and if that's the "official" chat room for the site we'd wind up with newbies going there, looking around at the crickets, and assuming we're all dead... – voretaq7 Dec 15 '11 at 18:10
  • @voretaq7 +1 for using the word 'fanny' – Wesley Dec 15 '11 at 19:18

I read through a few days of transcripts and thought about this issue a bit. It seems to me that there is much confusion about some basic chat room governance issues, the clarification of which (from On High?) would probably help move this question towards resolution.

I'll list a few fundamental questions.

  • Is there an overall set of rules/guidelines for all chat rooms?
    • If yes, where is it? EDIT: oops, found the FAQ. And it does say we all have to be nice. But beyond that, it seems to be a howto.
  • Do chat rooms associated with specific SE sites have the same rules/FAQ/standards as their "parent" sites? (EG: should everyone in The Comms Room follow all rules listed in the SF FAQ?)
  • Can/should chat rooms create their own local rules/FAQ/standards?
    • If yes, what process should they use for this?
    • What if a certain "local" chat room wants to allow behaviors discouraged in the "national" Stack Exchange standards? EG: suppose the "all chat rooms" FAQ said 'no rudeness', but the regulars in a specific chat room wanted to have their own 'rude & crude' culture?

In other words, maybe there needs to be a FAQ for all chat rooms, and then maybe each specific chat room needs a FAQ to explain its local culture? I looked for this kind of thing and failed to find it. In the absence of such things, people seem to be choosing and defending their own unspoken answers to these questions. And that seems to be creating conflict - some of the hardest disagreements to resolve are those which arise from unspoken assumptions.

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    It is not about written-down rules, it is about common sense. If a mere expression of opinion triggers an instant response to "get off your f***ing high horse" and insults are thrown around shortly thereafter, following a rainstorm of moderator flags, the chat does not look like the place to be. I am the last one to be offended, but I share the concern about the message this chat room is sending out since it is associated with the site. If the participants really want to behave like self-sufficient ops on an IRC channel, they should simply open one and run their riot there. – the-wabbit Dec 16 '11 at 9:48
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    Personally, I don't believe sense is all that common, or that everyone has the same internal definitions for the words "nice" or "respect." As for people taking offense ... in this post I'm taking no stance on whether that's right or wrong. I'm mostly noting that this rift seems to be centered around how different people have clearly different expectations from the chat rooms, and it isn't clear how to resolve them. – quux Dec 16 '11 at 10:00
  • As I see it, the rift is not about expectations but about whether a chat room where people repeatedly, explicitly and, according to their statements, deliberately violate the social consensus on the communication protocol (which they might do as much as they please if all of the participants agree on it) really needs to be linked to Serverfault. – the-wabbit Dec 16 '11 at 10:13
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    I wish I could downvote comments – pauska Dec 16 '11 at 14:40
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    Apparently "Let he without sin throw the first stone" has been reinterpreted to "Let he with sin keep throwing stones until he finds a sympathetic ear and finally gets his way"... – Chris S Dec 16 '11 at 14:53
  • This is not even close to getting "my way", because I have no "way" in regards to the chat. I have an opinion based on yesterday's events and I am certainly not afraid to express it. Other than that, I do not care. But the excessive moderation in the channel should be a hint nonetheless - no one would ask a police officer to "understand the culture" of a pub brawl before acting and hitting offenders with the club. – the-wabbit Dec 16 '11 at 15:07
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    @syneticon-dj you have failed to define the social consensus on the communication protocol -- From where I sit the "social consensus" seems to be "Obscenity bad. Some memes overdone and perhaps not the most welcoming, tone those down. Profanity OK as long as it's not just for profanity's sake. Keep the obscenity and profanity off the main site." That consensus may evolve over time, but neither you nor I nor any single person can dictate "social consensus". The community needs to arrive at a consensus. (1/2) – voretaq7 Dec 16 '11 at 15:18
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    Now of course, if one of the community management folks, or Joel, or Jeff, or anyone else from the Stack Exchange network wants to weigh in and say that what we're doing explicitly contravenes their intentions for the chat environment their word trumps our community consensus -- It's their environment, and we're just invited guests. If it comes down to it we can move our BSing into IRC or similar. Personally I'd rather see regulars hanging out in chat and BSing -- It lets us actually help users when they pop up with questions. (2/2 - EOT EOM) – voretaq7 Dec 16 '11 at 15:26
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    @syneticon-dj Re: your pub brawl analogy, I was a bartender before I was a sysadmin. When there's a brawl my patrons and bouncers usually break it up and deal with it themselves - I can count on one hand the number of times I've actually had to call the cops to deal with patrons. The same holds true for chat: The denizens of SF chat (and SF at large) deal with our own problems. This is as it should be in my opinion (and if you read all of yesterday's transcripts there are at least a few mods and StackExchange employees who seem to agree). – voretaq7 Dec 16 '11 at 15:29
  • The cops were called by someone else. Whoever it was, whatever the reasoning for his actions, once the cops are there, they act. I cannot see any way to argue against that. The social consensus is defined by the broader society, not just the serverfault crowd and certainly not just the chat crowd - since the visibility is net-wide it would be the entirety of potential readers or at least the likely readers. If people otherwise unrelated are coming by and telling "guys, you really should behave", they are probably not doing so for their personal pleasure. – the-wabbit Dec 16 '11 at 15:42
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    @syneticon-dj We'll have to agree to disagree. This is the internet: Home of Goatse, Tubgirl, NgirlsMcups, Lemon Party, etc. If we are judging community standards by the entirety of potential readers we're not just tame, we're a trip to Disney. If we're judging by likely readers (People from SF who may click the chat link) I think we're approaching a line, and we will regulate ourselves accordingly. – voretaq7 Dec 16 '11 at 15:48
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    Generally speaking, whenever someone trots out the "common sense" cannon, I tend to tune them out as their arguments are fluffy feel good hand holding non-sense based on emotion and woulda, coulda, shoulda – Holocryptic Dec 16 '11 at 16:33
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    Let me simplify. A lot of The Comms Room regulars seem to be saying "let our local Sherriffs sort out our local issues, mods from other communities please butt out" ... while the moderator-at-large setup of all SE chatrooms suggests that all moderators are Feds who should go anywhere in the chatverse and enforce national standards as they see fit. There is a seeming conflict between 'local' and 'national' standards, and it would probably be very helpful to understand what if any provision is or should be made for 'local laws', especially if they conflict with 'national laws.' – quux Dec 16 '11 at 23:29

The room has been full of snarky comments all day today about people flagging things that aren't inappropriate and non-regulars not "respecting the room's culture". You guys should read the star list and try to pretend you're not a regular for a minute, and decide what impression you get. I'm not active in the room (or on SF in general), so I read the first 30 messages or so for the first time and couldn't believe the whole room hadn't been shut down yet. It's the kind of stuff I expect on 4chan, not Stack Exchange. It's actually kind of embarrassing seeing it in an SE chat room; I would quote stuff here but I'm not willing to post it on the site. I desperately hope nobody ever stumbles into that room and gets the impression any of Stack Exchange is actually like that, because if that room had been my first impression of chat I would've never come back

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    "and non-regulars not "respecting the room's culture"." I assume that you're referring to my comments, so I'll reply. I was talking about a specific incident involving a diamond from a different SE putting one of our regulars in a chat time-out without knowing the whole situation and letting the user that actually started the whole shebang go untouched. That is unacceptable to us. If you are going to give someone a chatban at least know enough about the room and history to give it to the right person. – MDMarra Dec 15 '11 at 19:04
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    Not to make light of the fact that some may take varying degrees of offense to the contents of SF Chat, but the fact is sysadmins do (at least in my experience) have a different culture. We see the business side of the net all day, and we enjoy cutting loose with slightly twisted memes & jokes at the expense of our expen$ive vendors. I think if anyone in chat actually spoke up and said "not cool guys, that's offensive" (and what offended them actually DID cross a line) they'd get an instant apology. – voretaq7 Dec 15 '11 at 19:06
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    +1, I agree. It is a mess. – studiohack Dec 15 '11 at 19:07
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    Also Specifically re: the "snarky comments" about flagging, @MarkM hit the nail on the head. Chat flagging calls people into rooms with no context and asks them to judge the goings-on, with their only option being "ignore it" or a chat time-out (rather than say, rational discussion of any real or perceived offense). I feel that we as chat regulars are right to take some level of offense at that: To me it's as if SF mods went onto English.SE and mod-hammered questions they felt were controversial. (1/2 -- Continued) – voretaq7 Dec 15 '11 at 19:11
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    (2/2) Frankly chat regulars have offended both ourselves and new users before, and we've traditionally handled it ourselves (apologies and understanding all around, and what I feel are generally good results). Things definitely got out of hand this morning, but at least in my opinion "justice" wasn't served - two people were wrong, and only one got walloped (granted the one who "should have known better" and "had the cooler head", but I still think we as a community could have handled that better...) – voretaq7 Dec 15 '11 at 19:13

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