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Background

Math.SE has an associated chat functionality. This can be useful for lots of things - there's a general mathematical chatroom which handles lots of quick little questions; there's a moderator office chatroom which facilitates informal conversation with the moderators; there are various themed rooms focused on specific areas of math; and there's a general socialization chatroom.

Chat's moderation is somewhat different than the main site. For one, flags in chat can alert all mods from any site in the network who are currently active in chat (and some non-moderators too). Individual users who set up or maintain rooms can limit participation in those rooms to a select group if they desire using "gallery mode" unlike the main site where there is no feature that behaves exactly the same way.

There also seem to be less in the way of meta discussions around chat. For instance, the chat tag currently contains 98 questions (99 once this is posted).

Question

How far off-topic can a chatroom go before it is considered too off-topic to be associated with MSE? Let's define on-topic as primarily or secondarily mathematical in nature or related to the functioning of MSE, and off-topic as things that are not on-topic. Some level of general socialization about non-mathematical stuff between MSE members is expected in chat - things like the weather, pictures of pets, interesting puzzle games, etc. have all been fairly successful topics in the general socialization chatroom. But sometimes chatrooms become highly focused on essentially non-mathematical subjects, like geopolitics, sport, or religion. How do we feel about this as a community?

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    $\begingroup$ Good point, I've added a line about that. (No need to ask for my reply here on another post in such a short time span.) $\endgroup$
    – KReiser
    Jan 19, 2023 at 19:56
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    $\begingroup$ Yes. And it's a crucial point, which, thanks to you, you addressed. There really has been no "Bible" of "on-topic math.se chatrooms", so your guess is as good as any. But, nonetheless, a guess. Generally, the operational definition has been: Accept the chat, unless and until the chatroom is the source of drama and conflict. When interactions remain civil, there's no need to intervene. It's when conflict, with flags flying, and such occur, that mods intervene to freeze a chatroom. That has happened relatively rarely over my eleven years here. So please explain your sudden curiosity? $\endgroup$
    – amWhy
    Jan 19, 2023 at 20:04
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    $\begingroup$ You seem to be reading a lot in to the post. At this point I am simply trying to gauge community opinions. From your comments so far, it sounds to me like your answer is that there should be no level of on-topic requirement. If this is what you believe, I'd encourage you to write it as an answer. $\endgroup$
    – KReiser
    Jan 19, 2023 at 20:25
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    $\begingroup$ The Internet has been a constant source of "there's no way someone would do X." --> "oh my God someone is doing X - and now they're doing $X^2$!" for me. So while i know there's a preference for keeping discussions away from specific instances, it would certainly help me if I knew of any specific instances that raised this question. $\endgroup$
    – JonathanZ
    Jan 19, 2023 at 21:00
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    $\begingroup$ Is there a way to send a muffin basket + sympathy card to the moderators? $\endgroup$
    – JonathanZ
    Jan 19, 2023 at 21:15
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    $\begingroup$ @Goku Is it by design or accident that your math chatroom is devoted to religion and devoid of math? It seems to bother some users that one of the most highly active math chat rooms listed concerns contentious religious discussion. $\endgroup$ Jan 19, 2023 at 21:17
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    $\begingroup$ If you (and anyone else) think that its not really acceptable then sure, you may delete the room or have a mod delete it, whatever the process is. I don't have the energy to debate/defend myself any further @BillDubuque $\endgroup$ Jan 19, 2023 at 21:31
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    $\begingroup$ @JonathanZsupportsMonicaC, KReiser, BillDubuque flag offensive posts in the specific chatroom for mod attention. This runs the risk of non-site mods running interference. Else, ask to speak to a math moderator privately, if posting in the mods' office is not possible. $\endgroup$
    – amWhy
    Jan 19, 2023 at 21:37
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    $\begingroup$ Indeed, I was replying to @JonathanZsupportsMonicaC request above, and suggesting, requesting, that anyone finding out-of-line comments or discussions to "flag offensive posts...." It was not reporting. only suggesting the more promising avenues of action. $\endgroup$
    – amWhy
    Jan 19, 2023 at 21:42
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    $\begingroup$ @Goku If you are interested in discussion religion then why not do so in a chatroom in christianity.SE? $\endgroup$ Jan 19, 2023 at 21:45
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    $\begingroup$ @BillDubuque With all due respect, I've had this conversation with Xander before and, I really do not wish to repeat myself and debate all over again. As I said, you may request room deletion, I won't argue against it at this point. All I ask is to be left alone please and thank you. $\endgroup$ Jan 19, 2023 at 21:47
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    $\begingroup$ @Goku But you invited those you blame in terms of your not behaving well as not being directly your fault? You, in a gallery room, controlled who could participate, and who could not, and you could have changed that permission at any point. But didn't. So I'd consider that as your direct permission to behave as such. $\endgroup$
    – amWhy
    Jan 19, 2023 at 21:48
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    $\begingroup$ @Gokuカカロット- If you wish to be left alone, then you should probably close the room. Any action you take on a stack exchange site is taken in the context of the community. This isn't like a Discord server, where people can set up their own individual communities, and only interact with those they choose. If you post here, or set up a chat room, you should expect responses and many eyes on your actions. $\endgroup$
    – JonathanZ
    Jan 19, 2023 at 22:41
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    $\begingroup$ But I too admit to being mystified as to why you don't open a chat room on Christianity.SE. it seems like a perfect place to have those discussions, and I'm guessing it could come to the attention of even more people who are interested in those subjects. $\endgroup$
    – JonathanZ
    Jan 19, 2023 at 22:47
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    $\begingroup$ The sub-issue of my room has been completely resolved. I've asked Xander to delete it, and he has just done so. Now, as I said before, I just ask to be left alone, thank you. $\endgroup$ Jan 20, 2023 at 15:40

1 Answer 1

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I think that anything that creates community is good for the community.

It strengthens the community to have community activities and discussions, even when they aren't about mathematics. Just like how, in life, we as individuals are all more than just mathematics.

By way of example, suppose we want to have a book club. Why would you want to have a book club here instead of on literature.se? Because you're having it with math.se people. The character of the discussion will be different.

The only exception is when a room consistently generates conflict. Those are bad for the community. We delete those rooms.

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    $\begingroup$ I had wished that deletions could be based on content, but I understand that it can be very difficult to make a good, clean statement about what those content standards would be, and (hopefully) it's a problem that won't arise too often, so that'd be mostly wasted effort. So I thank you for your clarification. And I also want to point out that, as generating conflict is what drives deletion, if people see something objectionable, they might, despite personal preference, have to generate some conflict at that location. $\endgroup$
    – JonathanZ
    Jan 20, 2023 at 19:07
  • $\begingroup$ @JonathanZsupportsMonicaC Sure. The key word there is consistency. We don't get rid of rooms based on one argument, only when there is a pattern of discord (in practice, when a ton of flags keep coming in from the same place). $\endgroup$
    – Alexander Gruber Mod
    Jan 20, 2023 at 22:24
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    $\begingroup$ "Why would you want to have a book club here instead of on literature.se? Because you're having it with math.se people. The character of the discussion will be different." That reasoning is precisely why I had a room of my own here instead of just going into anime.SE, Christian.SE, Gaming.SE or programming.SE to talk about this stuff $\endgroup$ Jan 22, 2023 at 22:50
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    $\begingroup$ @ペガサスSeiya the folks who were talking the most in that room weren't math.se people, though - your most frequent chat partner in there doesn't even have a math.se account, and the next most frequent partner after that last logged in to math.se 9 months ago. So even if you accept Alexander Gruber's opinion above, there's still a gap between that and what was happening. $\endgroup$
    – KReiser
    Jan 23, 2023 at 22:09
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    $\begingroup$ Any and all people (except for a few) were welcome in there. You're indirectly suggesting that I should've restricted anyone who wasn't from MathSE. Your logic doesn't hold up, nor do you provide an actual solution. That said, this debate is irrelevant now. I had the room deleted by Xander, I do not possess the strength to debate an entire community even if I genuinely believe I did nothing wrong @KReiser $\endgroup$ Jan 24, 2023 at 0:16
  • $\begingroup$ @KReiser: Ironically, there is a pattern of discord users bringing their buddies and favourite topics into SE chat. $\endgroup$
    – user21820
    Feb 1, 2023 at 1:43

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