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I've asked a question in the main forum that got one answer, and it's been followed up and improved via the comments section (there was an initial downgrade due to a poor title which was my fault and a subsequent upvote). In short it has now reached 11 comments after the initial question and answer (in part to avoid answering my own question which I figured was inappropriate). I have now been given the option to take this to chat, and my question is; is this the correct/polite thing to do for this site (I'm very mindful to try and obey the etiquette of the site but I don't have the appropriate background so I am not always getting things right).

As the other person that is commenting is contributing more (as they have a far superior knowledge of the subject than me) and is in a different timezone (US to UK) I'm not sure if this is the best way forward and I wouldn't want to burden the other person. I would greatly appreciate any advice.

Many thanks,

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  • $\begingroup$ It is appropriate to answer your own question, and often you are in the best position to do so. $\endgroup$ May 19, 2012 at 4:04

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Take the offer as a suggestion rather than an obligation. Some things to note:

  • You can continue to post more comments, but the system may automatically do some nasty things once 20 or more comments appear. (I believe the thread will automatically become "community wiki," for instance.)

  • If you want to take advantage of the chat room offer, please do so at the first opportunity. The option will not always be repeated and (so far) mods do not have the capability to migrate a comment thread into chat. The automated offer is the only way to accomplish this. (Mods and high-rep users can create chat rooms any time, but the comments will not be migrated into the chat thread when they do that.)

  • Be aware that some people are behind firewalls that inhibit chatting.

  • The site does prefer to limit the amount of commenting, so you should favor the chat mechanism if an extended discussion looks likely.

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  • $\begingroup$ Re: "the system may automatically do some nasty things once 20 or more comments appear. (I believe the thread will automatically become "community wiki," for instance.)" - I never knew this. Does this happen even if the comments are occurring on an answer to the question? That's the case with the original poster's situation. $\endgroup$
    – Macro
    May 18, 2012 at 21:50
  • $\begingroup$ @Macro, I'm not sure. This happens rarely enough that I haven't noticed whether it matters whether the comments are to a Q or A. Perhaps a search on meta SO would yield an answer if you're curious. $\endgroup$
    – whuber Mod
    May 18, 2012 at 22:05
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It seems to me there is no hard rule about when you should move something to chat (e.g. after the 11 comment mark) but I can tell you my perspective as someone who enters a question to see a long thread of comments--

The common sense approach would tell me that you should move it to chat if you don't see the back-and-forth ending in the very near future, since this would end up leading to potentially dozens of comments. In that situation a new person entering the question would need to read through a long list of comments before they can figure out what is going on. To me personally, that is off-putting and will make me less likely to participate in the question at all.

Another thing to note: if the thread of comments/chat ends up leading to a useful conclusion and/or a significant change to the question at hand, you should consider making corresponding edits to the question, so new people entering don't have to read through the entire discussion.

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  • $\begingroup$ Thanks to the pair of you (sorry I haven't figured out if it is appropriate to answer my own question yet so I commented instead). I might take the chat option, unless there is a way to leave a message for someone because I need to go away and figure out how to do things to take this forward (my background is a touch lacking) - he picked up on a comment I made yesterday a couple of days after my last comment. The question I think will be somewhat buried so I feel it's unlikely anyone else will become involved but thanks for the advice. $\endgroup$
    – user8812
    May 18, 2012 at 21:38
  • $\begingroup$ @user8812, as far as I know there is no way to send private messages. Also, if someone answers your question it will be "bumped" to the top of the list, where more activity may follow. $\endgroup$
    – Macro
    May 18, 2012 at 21:42
  • $\begingroup$ @Marco, thanks for the information, I didn't think there was the PM option but thought I may have missed it. I've just realised that I can't take the chat option anyhow as my reputation is below the lowest required level, so I will be commenting for a while but I will stop well short of 20 to avoid the community wiki issue. Thanks again. $\endgroup$
    – user8812
    May 18, 2012 at 21:47
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I have been in this situation on several other SE sites, usually not meta (the meta seem to be more tolerant of many comments, as they are often discussions anyway).

The only system initiated action that I am certain of is that the comments will be collapsed at a certain point, for brevity. In other words, the first n are displayed, and the remainder are visible only after clicking a system generated "more" or similar. Then these are uncollapsed and visible.

I have been prompted by the system to move to chat, for comments on answers, but that was a very long time ago, and I haven't found an FAQ on meta SO for details. Etiquette seems to be for someone to suggest a transition to chat, particularly if each comment is multiple lines and there are five or more comments. So many comments on questions truly is to be avoided, as it makes it confusing and tiresome to read all of them before answering, sifting through the relevant and the less so. For comments on answers, it is less of a problem, but still should be limited.

Consider this option, if possible: Delete any of your prior comments, if they were truly extraneous or mistakes, e.g. ooops, I mean this, and replaced by a second comment that corrects and replaces the earlier one. That can happen easily enough due to the five minute time limit on comment edits. Just as long as the flow of the thread is not broken by the comment deletion (you can delete using the little x at the end of your comment), that may be helpful for preventing a trail of comment debris.

It also helps avoid the need to move to chat. Nothing wrong with chat, but as someone else mentioned, that is not always possible for every user, depending on firewall status, possibly other factors.

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    $\begingroup$ thanks this is very helpful and exactly identifies some of the problems that I have had, e.g. hit return by accident (or force of habit) and add a comment (and then run in to the 5 minute limit when trying to edit your mistake and then you add a second message to carry on where the mistake finished). I think there are some comments I can delete without breaking the flow so I may tidy it up. Thanks for the advice. $\endgroup$
    – user8812
    May 24, 2012 at 17:34

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