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I'm a moderator and I don't know how to send a private message? Really?! (Perhaps there's no such thing as private messages here?)

@quid, I have two things I want to discuss with you.

One is a point made two years ago that seems wrong to me (I just noticed it), and no one has pointed it out. (If I'm wrong, I don't want to say anything publicly.)

The other is the too many comments on the definitions post. I'd love to move all of anomaly's questions and mine into an answer. The site is suggesting a chat. What does that mean?

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  • $\begingroup$ Moderators generally use private chat rooms to talk about stuff like that. You might try pinging quid in the Teacher's Lounge. For directions, please see the moderator section of the help center. If you need any more help, please email me at jericson@stackexchange.com. (And I'm sorry I did a poor job of onboarding you with this sort of thing.) $\endgroup$ – Jon Ericson Sep 17 '16 at 1:06
  • $\begingroup$ You might have done a fine job. It has been so long since I've wanted to do anything other than comment, vote, and close questions that I have probably forgotten anything else. $\endgroup$ – Sue VanHattum Sep 17 '16 at 1:11
  • $\begingroup$ Also, who else is moderating here? $\endgroup$ – Sue VanHattum Sep 17 '16 at 1:12
  • $\begingroup$ @JonEricson, are you one of the moderators on this site? Perhaps you could answer question 2 above, about converting those "too many comments" into something better. $\endgroup$ – Sue VanHattum Sep 17 '16 at 1:16
  • $\begingroup$ Just you two right now. I've been meaning to add another, but I've been having a hard time finding volunteers. $\endgroup$ – Jon Ericson Sep 17 '16 at 1:16
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The other is the too many comments on the definitions post. I'd love to move all of anomaly's questions and mine into an answer. The site is suggesting a chat. What does that mean?

The abstract idea is that too many comments on a post should rather be avoided and thus once there are many comments the site proposes to move the comments "to chat." Doing this would copy the comments to a dedicated chat room that will be linked to the post. The comments then could be deleted on the main site.

There is no feature to convert comments to an answer. (There is a mod-feature to convert an answer to a comment.) You would need to copy them manually. If there is MathJax inside, likely one-by-one and copying the source via starting 'edit' (as a moderator you can edit comments) will work better than just selecting the text and doing a copy-paste.

For the specific case this moving to chat could make sense. Anomaly and you could then continue to discuss there, and eventually you could write an answer based on this. But, the moving to chat is just a proposal by the site. One can also just ignore it and continue to use the comment section.

A potential drawback of this would be that the author of the post gets notified of every comment. Thus if you plan to write many comments over an extended period of time it might be better to avoid to use the comment section, especially when it is not your post.


On the private messages. There is not much of a private message system by design. But this is what there is:

  • as a moderator you can in principle message a user on the site (on a user's page select 'Mod' (not Mod Dashboard, it is further to the right) and 'contact user'), but this is intended for important moderation-related communication. Think of a "If you do not stop doing {this}, you will be banned." type of messages. This feature also should rather be limited to this use-case as such a message would be cc-ed to all other moderators and some SE staff and stay attached to the record of the user.

  • to contact a user for more low-key things I'd proposed chat. As a moderator this is possible (see the page given by Jon towards the end for details). As a moderator you can also turn the chat private (in this case you'd need to give access to the user in question too.)

    Also for users in general it is possible to contact users via chat, if the user they want to contact has a chat profile: one visits the chat profile and "invites" the user to a room. This will create an inbox notification. (Absent this one can 'abuse' comments: comment-notify the user on some post and propose the chat. Once successful one might consider removing the comment.) When not overused and done in a courteous way I think both are fine.

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