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Can you guess which of these is the official, general discussion chatroom for Gaming.stackexchange?

enter image description here

This is the view new users have the first time they click the "Chat" button from the main site.


There have been issues raised that new users have a hard time finding their way to The Bridge. When the chat button isn't being replaced by the blog, they still are greeted by this dizzying array of seemingly random rooms.

I don't think it's safe to assume that they will gravitate towards The Bridge. We may have more active chatters than most other rooms on the network, but if someone's unfamiliar with stackexchange's chat system in the first place, the fact that The Bridge has the most users might simply go unnoticed amidst the deluge of colors and gravatars.

The principle problem seems to be that neither "The Bridge" or its description are particularly intuitive in a way that announces "I'm the general discussion chatroom on Gaming.SE".

Since we can't poll the confused users themselves (unless they're browsing Meta as well, in which case, Hi!), I figured it couldn't hurt to poll everyone

Here's the current description of the room, for reference:

The Bridge

of the SEI AskQuestion Mothership, wherein we compare and contrast the relative merits of LASERs and LAZERS and their patented applications in diamond making and cat exercising.

And here's the outstanding question:

You're tasked with improving the description and/or name of The Bridge so-as to reduce new user confusion and make it more obvious it's the general-purpose gaming chatroom. What would you do? (Or would you feel the need to not do anything at all?)

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    The correct answer really does stand out, does it not? It's the one with all the people in it. Which is why the Bridge is the main room in the first place :) – badp Feb 21 '12 at 21:42
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    I think this should be solved on a higher level, the main chat of a site should be highlighted in some way automatically. This means changing the software, but I think this is an issue more sites face, though probably to a lesser degree than Gaming. – Mad Scientist Feb 21 '12 at 21:44
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    @badp but I don't think we can assume a new user knows how to read the interface. – Raven Dreamer Feb 21 '12 at 21:45
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    This is a UI issue, even if an obvious name would help. If sites are intended to be coupled with a primary chat room then that needs to be appropriately represented. – Matthew Read Feb 21 '12 at 21:52
  • All hands reporting to the bridge sounds like a bad idea...who will man the rest of the ship? And most bridges I've seen on TV wouldn't even accommodate the hundreds or thousands of people that are on the entire vessel. – Nick T Mar 2 '12 at 14:30
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I'm not sure it's necessary (frankly, I agree with badp that it's incredibly obvious which room has all the activity) but perhaps a very simple change to make it even more obvious:

The Bridge

General gaming chat room, wherein we compare and contrast the relative merits of LASERs and LAZERS and their patented applications in diamond making and cat exercising.

It would be nice if the SE network had some way to designate a primary to always show up in some special manner, but that's a request for meta.SE of course.

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    You can note it here, honestly, and "request acknowledged". – Grace Note Feb 21 '12 at 21:47
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    The issue with that, Shinrai, is that when I try to change the description to include that, I get angry looks from @Badp. (And then he changes it back) :/ – Raven Dreamer Feb 21 '12 at 21:48
  • It lacks punch, and/or character, and/or awesomeness for a problem that doesn't exist in my eyes. :( – badp Feb 21 '12 at 21:55
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    @badp It can't be denied that the problem exists. Not for you, not for me, but definitely for new users. – user56 Feb 21 '12 at 22:07
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    @badp And is the in-joke/character of the room description good enough to be worth confusing new users who are legitimately having a problem? – Sterno Feb 21 '12 at 22:11
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    @badp - I agree that it adds character but I personally think it's too "inside baseball". It should be obvious and welcoming to newcomers. – Shinrai Feb 21 '12 at 22:23
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    Just remember that @badp can't take criticism and generally bans people for no reason whatsoever </insidejoke> – Nick T Feb 21 '12 at 22:25
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    +1 Perfect solution. It puts the most important piece of information at the front in a very clear and concise manner, while still allowing us to clog the rest of the description up with witty in-jokes from @badp – Wipqozn Feb 22 '12 at 0:57
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    I've implemented this suggestion. Let's keep the first 5 words reserved. Everything else is open for @Badp to go crazy! – Raven Dreamer Feb 23 '12 at 22:32
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The very first time I tried to chat, I had exactly this problem. The chat interface was unfamiliar and despite the description of "The Bridge" making no sense to me, it had the most people so I ended up there. And I think my very first chat comment was to the effect of "What's this room for?" With most of the people in it being high-reputation users, and the name being "The Bridge", which implied to me a sort of "command center" idea, it made me think maybe it was a chat room just for the mods and other high-reputation users. So despite the activity, I didn't know if it was somewhere I was really supposed to be.

I don't think it's fair to say that it's "obvious" where all the activity is. Again, it's an unfamiliar chat interface. And even if you deduce it has the highest activity, it still doesn't tell you that you're in the right room. As it currently stands, the name and description are not clear or inviting.

I'd try something like this:

Gaming General Chat

General discussion for Gaming.SE. Come in and to discuss gaming or questions about the site!

For what it's worth, I care about a newbie-friendly description far more than I care about the room name. What's important is that a newbie can read the description and know "Okay, that's the place to go". This is not currently the case.

  • Pst! Please do Sterno the courtesy of explaining why you are giving downvotes. – Raven Dreamer Feb 21 '12 at 22:22
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    Yeah, why is this getting downvoted? This post is legit. – Shinrai Feb 21 '12 at 22:24
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    -1 A clearer description is nice, but I don't see any reason to also change the name from "The Bridge". – Wipqozn Feb 22 '12 at 0:56
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    +1 - It's confusing unless you're already in the know. The only chat room description that makes any sense is the Minecraft one. Unless you want to keep new users out, the descriptions should change plain-talking, informative, (yes, boring!) descriptions - like on a good Tag Wiki. – KatieK Feb 22 '12 at 16:16
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Just want to throw my 2-cents in here.

While I'm all making it clearer to new users that The Bridge is Gaming's Main chat room, we also need to consider the other users. To completely rework the entire name/description of The Bridge for new users isn't fair to the older users, you would be making the same mistake we are already making: Only appealing to one group of users. Whereas now we only appeal to veteran users with our name/description, turning The Bridge name/description into a generic name/description would only appeal to new users.

I think the best way to appeal to both newer and older users is to keep the name of The Bridge as The Bridge, and use a description similar to the one suggested by @Shinrai which starts off with a clear and concise sentence so new users know The Bridge is gamings main chat room.

I'd also like to point out that there are many other sites that do this already.

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    Just because I didn't say so explictly, I'll agree with you - I don't see any compelling reason to change the NAME of the room, just the first bit of the description. – Shinrai Feb 22 '12 at 1:14
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    I question whether or not there are actually that many veteran users who would get bent of out of shape about a name change. I find that notion rather odd. – Sterno Feb 22 '12 at 1:27
  • @Sterno: I didn't mean to imply users would get all "bent out fo shape", I just mean that we have to consider all of the users, not just a subset of them. As an older user I would be annoyed if we went to a really generic chat name/description just becauase its better for new users, without accounting for older users at all. Like I said, modifying the description to make it more clear is a great idea, but turning both the name and description into something really generic is not. – Wipqozn Feb 22 '12 at 2:39
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I honestly do not see a reason to change the name completely. Perhaps, like others have mentioned, adding a little something to the beginning of The Bridge's description to indicate that it is indeed a general chat might do the trick - I don't think we need to change the whole description.

If you look at the rest of the rooms, either the name or the description makes it clear what they are about. The Bridge doesn't, so I would (and did, when I first started chatting) assume since a) it has the most people and looks relatively active and b) none of the other rooms are remotely generalized in their purpose/description, that The Bridge is the place to go.

I think taking the name away would be silly, because other SE sites have non-specific names for their rooms - I don't see why Gaming has to be any different.

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