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I've recently started hanging around gaming.se's chat room (mostly The Bridge), and have enjoyed the laid back and friendly atmosphere. Last night, LessPop and I were by ourselves, so we were going back and forth exchanging youtube videos. I posted one that I thought may have strong language, so I noted that it was potentially NSFW. Suddenly someone else comes in and says that they don't like NSFW videos. I then get my account suspended without warning and the post is deleted.

At the time, I accepted and understood that the video was not appropriate for chat. I then went to search for a list of what is suitable for chat. In my searching, I found this in the chat FAQ:

This site is an extension of The Stack Exchange Network, so discussion should more or less revolve around the same topics you'd find at The Stack Exchange Network — but in an interactive, less strictly Q&A focused way. Do have fun, but please keep it professional and always be respectful of your fellow community members.

I have seen some (light) profanity in the chat, which I feel is more in violation of the above rule than posting a link. Someone can't choose to not have NSFW text appear, while they can choose to pass over NSFW links.

I don't feel the SE chat FAQ provides detailed enough guidelines for users to draw adequate conclusions of what is and isn't appropriate for chat rooms, especially on a more relaxed site like gaming.

With that, I ask, what is and is not allowed in gaming chat? Does it change based on the room you are in?

  • For the record, I'm not trying to contest my suspension, just get a more rigid set of guidelines for what is suspension-worthy – Dave McClelland Aug 19 '11 at 2:39
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    It's important to note, beyond what Fabian and Oak have mentioned, that public chat rooms are fully indexed by Google. It's very hard to consider any specific chat room even a semi-private space. – user3389 Aug 19 '11 at 7:11
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The 30 minute suspension is an automatic consequence of a spam/offensive flag in chat being declared valid. Those flags are shown to 10k users (cumulative reputation on all SE sites) and moderators on the whole chat.stackexchange.com. The flag is shown without further context, though you can access the transcript to take a closer look.

A large number of users that get shown the chat flags don't even know that they carry a short suspension with them, even some among moderators who have a binding vote on chat.

The fact that flags are shown without context to a lot of users across all of chat.stackexchange.com means that room-specific policies are very hard to enforce, as the people judging the flags are unlikely to even know about those. I think the rules should be different for different rooms, but at the moment I don't see how we can enforce that sensibly.

In the case of light profanity, I personally don't mind it, but I understand if someone doesn't want to see it on the Bridge. I don't see that a suspension would be necessary in those cases, so I would personally not flag them and declare any flags invalid, but ask the users to refrain from posting profanity and edit it out of the older posts.

One thing you should take into account is that the Bridge is the main chat room for Gaming, so newbies are most likely to enter this room. It also has a very small, representational role. I would move topics out of the room if they are still within the rules, but someone complains about them for some reason. Room owners and mods can move the whole conversation to a different room.

I've written more about my opinion of chat flags a while ago on meta.SO:

Offensive posts are a bit more difficult, I would consider flags for direct insults at other users to be valid. The 30 minute suspension would give the offending user some time to cool off and it might be enough to deal with the situation.

I don't think the offensive flag should be used for removing the occasional expletive, strictly speaking those are offensive, but the suspension side-effect of the flag is not wanted in these cases. Telling the user that he should tone down the language and asking him to self-delete should be enough in many cases.

More complicated cases should not be handled via these flags, but via moderator flags. The spam/offensive flags work on a per-post basis, if there is a problematic user moderators have more tools available to deal with those.

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    I wasn't even suspended for 30 minutes, I was suspended for an hour. It seemed as though saying the word "NSFW" in chat got automatically flagged and an admin came in from an unrelated channel. Is that how it actually works? – Dave McClelland Aug 19 '11 at 11:13
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    @Dave a SE-wide 10k user or mod from another room will only ever see the post if a user who was in the room flags it first, then they see "this has been flagged somewhere on chat - agree/disagree". AFAIK there is no automatic flagging on chat, only those by users. – DMA57361 Aug 19 '11 at 16:04
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    @Dave How many messages of yours were flagged? The default chat suspension is only 30 minutes, but additional flagged messages will increase the length by that amount. – Grace Note Aug 19 '11 at 16:09
  • @Grace Only one message was flagged - it appeared between this post and this post – Dave McClelland Aug 19 '11 at 19:05
  • ...and if you have the rights, this was the post with the video.. I can't really view videos from here however, so I can't judge. – badp Aug 20 '11 at 11:00
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I think NSFW content is a big no-no, simply because people may indeed be viewing the chat at work; and similarly, NSFW links should either not be posted, or at least be clearly marked with the NSFW abbreviation.

Now, what determines whether a content is NSFW? I don't know. As you might have noticed, the occasional profanity does not bother me* :) though I realize that in some places (the US?) profanity is more frowned upon. Nudity or extreme violence should be always marked NSFW. Sexuality... I guess, I don't know. I really feel as though this needs to be some general chat policy, not something specific to gaming's rooms, so this question probably belongs in http://meta.stackoverflow.com.

Regarding your specific question, I don't think flagging is justified if you included something like "warning: profanity" after the link. It was probably not even justified if you didn't :) but I agree with Fabian that flagging in chat is a bit problematic and the process of flagging too easily leads to the 30 minute suspension thing.


*unless it's personally directed against someone

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