On highly visited posts, one often finds a comment:

Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat.

or a post notice:

Controversial Post — You may use comments ONLY to suggest improvements. You may use answers ONLY to provide a solution to the specific question asked above. Moderators will remove debates, arguments or opinions without notice.

What’s the reason for this, and how should I deal with this as a user?

This is a FAQ that primarily exists to be linked in moved-to-chat comments and on the controversial post notice.

1 Answer 1


The mechanics of moving comments to chat

  • If a post received twenty comments in three days, an automatic moderator flag is raised.
  • Moderators can move comments to chat only once. After this, they can only delete comments.
  • Comments moved to chat are not deleted, just less visible. Chat is public and permanent¹. Information is not lost there.
  • Chat allows for everything that comments do and more. In particular chat allows for replying to specific posts – which comments don’t.

¹ There is an automatic deletion of chatrooms, but moved-to-chat chatrooms are almost never affected by it.

What are the advantages of moving comments to chat?

The vast majority of comment threads moved to chat fall into one of the following categories or a combination of them:

  • A collection of unrelated things comments are not for, like expressing agreement or sympathy, answers in comments, etc.
  • A discussion that began with addressing problems with the post and slowly digressed to another topic.
  • An long and intensive discussion about an answer, which clearly will not lead to the answer’s author changing their opinion and where the dissenting opinion could be summarised in a valid answer to the question.
  • A long discussion, which has mostly been addressed by edits to the question, but only mostly.

While such comment threads are often not completely without value, single comments with high value for future readers may drown in them (even despite comment voting), e.g.:

  • Pointing out errors that cannot be addressed in an answer, e.g.: “What you suggest in your answer is illegal in the asker’s country.” (Note that this may very well be the starting point of a lengthy discussion.)
  • Linking relevant material, e.g.: “You may also want to take a look at at this question.” or “I summarised my disagreement with this answer in another answer.”
  • Comments arising from (community) moderations, such as: “Possible duplicate of …”, “This question should be closed because …”, “Comments moved to chat.”
  • Really good jokes, e.g.: “28.7 kiloGhandis.”

Moving comments to chat while keeping the important ones solves this issue: Most viewers can digest the remaining comments within a short time. If they have a strong interest in the post, they can read the entire discussion in chat. This in particular applies to the author of a post or the asker of the respective question.

Should I comment after comments have been moved to chat or the post notice has been added?

Moving comments to chat can only happen once. Therefore new comments that would deserve being moved to chat will instead be deleted without warning. On the other hand, your comment could be one of the relevant ones for which moving comments to chat made room.

First of all, read the moderator’s notice when moving comments to chat. While it is a canned comment, it is often modified to include a specific guideline.

As a rule of thumb, you can post as a comment if at least one of the following applies:

  • There is a realistic chance that your comment will become obsolete with a valid edit to the post or a (community) moderation action, such as closing or deleting. Note that authors fundamentally changing the direction of their answer does not qualify as realistic (or a valid edit).

  • Your comment highlights a major problem with an answer that was not remarked upon in a previous comment (including those moved to chat).

  • You do not expect anybody to reply to your comment, e.g., because you were posting a relevant link.

  • The chatroom for the post has frozen.

Do not post a comment if:

  • You reply to another comment. Instead post the reply in chat. To alert the author of that comment and to direct the discussion, you may post a comment along the lines of (do not even hint at the content of your chat message):

    I posted a reply to your comment in chat. Let’s continue the dicussion there.

  • You are posting along the lines of a discussion that has already been moved to chat.

  • Your comment on an answer or question would be a valid answer to the question.

Why has my important comment been moved to chat?

Moderators face two difficulties when moving comments to chat:

  • They have to assess a lot of stuff: certainly the post and all the comments; possibly the question, other answers, the revision history, etc. It is easy to miss some important comment hidden in the middle of a lengthy discussion due to this (which is why we move comments to chat in the first place).

  • They have to draw a line somewhere. There is a huge grey area when it comes to moving to chat, in particular when a discussion slowly digresses.

If you have reason to believe that there was an error when moving comments to chat, you can raise a flag (please do not post a comment), but before you do, please consider:

  • Does having a comment instead of a chat message significantly increase the chance that you reach those who need to read your comment?

  • If somebody visits the post in a month, will your comment be amongst the first things that they want to read?

  • Is this a worthwhile use of the moderator’s time?

  • 20
    Chat allows for everything that comments do and more. No it doesn’t - there is no upvoting of chat comments, which makes them (considerably, IMO) less useful.
    – Dan Romik
    Commented Jun 26, 2018 at 7:40
  • 14
    @DanRomik: there is no upvoting of chat comments – there is starring, which is essentially the same. Also, given the way comments are voted upon for HNQs, it’s not a feature I would miss very much.
    – Wrzlprmft Mod
    Commented Jun 26, 2018 at 8:33
  • 2
    interesting, thanks - that’s the first time I’ve heard of starring of chat comments. It’s a very well-hidden feature, and quite difficult to access from within the app (I had to login a second time from within the chat modal view to be able to access it). I’m guessing if I wasn’t aware of its existence, the same is true for many other people. Of course, if you don’t miss it then maybe you see that as a feature rather than a bug.
    – Dan Romik
    Commented Jun 26, 2018 at 8:38
  • 6
    @DanRomik. It's news to me that chat is accessible from the app at all.
    – TRiG
    Commented Jun 28, 2018 at 3:09
  • 3
    @DanRomik Which app is that? AFAIK the Android app has no chat - chat links open a mobile browser.
    – Qsigma
    Commented Jul 9, 2018 at 10:01
  • 1
    @Qsigma the iPhone app.
    – Dan Romik
    Commented Jul 9, 2018 at 11:51
  • Shame that a second block of comments can't be migrated to the same chat as an earlier block.
    – Criggie
    Commented Jan 24, 2019 at 19:09
  • 4
    @Criggie: I am not so sure about that. It increases (possibly relevantly) the incentive for some people to stop commenting and go to chat.
    – Wrzlprmft Mod
    Commented Jan 24, 2019 at 19:11
  • @Wrzlprmft I thought that was part of the goal? Or is this just a way to de-clutter the question page ?
    – Criggie
    Commented Jan 24, 2019 at 19:20
  • 5
    @Criggie: Maybe that was unclear: The fact that comments can be moved to chat only once may be a good thing, because it increases the incentive for people to actually stop commenting and go to chat. If this weren’t the case, some people would just continue commenting because moderators can move to chat again and then their creation is not deleted.
    – Wrzlprmft Mod
    Commented Jan 24, 2019 at 19:30
  • 1
    How does one recover the upvote patterns on comments once the comments have been moved to chat? Commented Jan 25, 2019 at 5:23
  • 2
    @goblin: It’s not possible, but then again, see my first comment.
    – Wrzlprmft Mod
    Commented Jan 25, 2019 at 8:48
  • A comment section where replies are kept in their own separate thread (e.g. Reddit) would likely solve many of these issues.
    – yeah22
    Commented May 23, 2021 at 21:12

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