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After Mos Eisley was nuked from orbit, I've created a new room with a new name:

The Restaurant at the End of the Universe

  • The Name
    The name comes from The Hitch Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy, which features a restaurant of the same name.
    An earlier name came from William Gibson's The Bridge trilogy, but had some unfortunate connotations.

    I'm open to a change of name; I don't own it. But that is (now) a separate question.

Thinking Twice

Shog9 told us to think twice about creating a new chat room, which I did. I think a chat room is essential to the community. Both for discussing issues on topic on the Stack, and for shooting the breeze to build the community.

Rules

  • Be nice
    This goes without saying. Also, see this post about chat.
  • What happened in Mos Eisley, stays in Mos Eisley.
    Let's not discuss Mos Eisley; we have meta for that. Let's move on.

Room settings

  • Owners
    I became a room owner through creating the room. I've added the old room owners, except the mods who don't need to be room owners to do their thing.
  • Feeds
    The usual feeds (new questions on main site and meta) apply.
    I've also added feeds for xkcd and At Wit's End (a comic by regular Jack. B. Nimble) to a add a bit of levity. These are infrequent enough (xkcd is updated thrice a week, At Wit's End less frequently) to not be disruptive.
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    Although I'm grateful that you went ahead and created a room, I'd suggest you put the name of the room up for discussion. – Möoz May 12 '17 at 11:11
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    I'd also venture so far as to say that we should give it a little while until we know what we're even supposed to learn. – Möoz May 12 '17 at 11:13
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    I'm with Mooz; this doesn't feel like the community took the time to think twice. At best, SQB did, and even on their best days SQB is only a fraction of the community. We need to think not just about whether to have a new chat room, but how. – BESW May 12 '17 at 11:19
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    I would suggest any new primary chat room that is created also have the blog feed. – Jack B Nimble May 12 '17 at 14:26
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    I'm especially for leaving the creation or at least active usage of a new chat, mainly so that at least in the minds of those who see Mos as "a wretched hive of scum and villainy" to cool off a little bit, so that they don't associate the new chat with just another poisoned tomato in a blighted garden. Up to you guys! – Möoz May 13 '17 at 8:31
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    We had a vote for a new name long ago and it was rejected in favor of keeping the name and "culture". But we could look at those names again – user31178 May 14 '17 at 21:38
  • @CreationEdge I agree. – Möoz May 14 '17 at 21:48
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I hope the new chat room succeeds. It's a great way for users to discuss the site or just have a relaxing chat with each other.

In order for the new chat room to succeed, though, users will have to learn lessons from the failure of Mos Eisley and be mindful of the existing guidelines regarding chat etiquette. Some of those guidelines to keep in mind include:

  • The Be Nice policy applies to chat. It also applies to people who are not SE users.
  • You can talk about contentious issues (like politics), but if you do make sure you respect those who disagree with you.
  • If you're not sure that what you are about to post is appropriate then don't post it. That goes for whether you are posting your own words, an image, a link, etc.
  • Flag messages you think are inappropriate. If the message is truly inappropriate then it will probably be deleted; if not then the flag will probably be dismissed. Validated flags help teach the room's users what isn't appropriate so that they can avoid posting flag-worthy content in the future. In the long run it will help the room avoid a bad reputation like Mos Eisley's.
  • Assume flags are raised in good faith. Non-regulars of Mos Eisley have expressed a reluctance to flag messages (e.g. here) out of fear of the regulars. An us-versus-them mentality against non-regulars can allow a room's culture to become unwelcoming and inappropriate.
  • Also accept the actions of moderators as done in good faith. Failure to do so is a large part of why Mos Eisley was deleted:

    When yesterday's little episode crossed my desk, what dismayed me wasn't the off-color jokes - it was the fact that they continued after flags were raised, continued after a moderator stepped in to handle the flags, continued after the moderator attempted to reason with those who remained in the room.

    Shog9 ♦

    You are welcome to question a moderator's decision, ask for a second opinion, etc., but you must do so respectfully and with a genuine desire to avoid further problems.

  • The previous point applies for actions taken by moderators from other sites on the network -- the system gives them just as much authority to act in a scifi chat room as a scifi moderator, since a scifi moderator may not be available. Failure to do this also contributed to Mos Eisley's deletion because the moderator who responded to the flags yesterday was not a scifi mod (none of the scifi mods were online at the time). The scifi moderators will support the actions of moderators from other sites, except in the rare case in which they have genuinely made a mistake.

Additional useful reading: toward a philosophy of chat.

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    Great advice and a good set of criteria for us users to use. Can we agree on some sort of criteria for the protection of the users against harsh moderation, especially since this is supposed to be seen as a fresh start? – Möoz Jun 5 '17 at 2:32
  • And I don't just mean moderator moderation, but CM moderation too. – Möoz Jun 5 '17 at 9:15
  • @Mooz I can't guarantee "protection of the users against harsh moderation" since the system is designed so that any moderator on the network (or CM) can take action, and what one mod may deem "harsh" another might deem necessary. The guidelines I've given were developed with some feedback from other moderators on the network, though, so if you abide by them you should not be subject to any moderator action (harsh or otherwise). And if you do think a moderator has acted too harshly you are welcome to ask for a second opinion -- we'll do what we can to make sure the proper action is taken. – Null Jun 5 '17 at 16:01
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I wasn't in Mos Eisley at the time of it being frozen so I may be wrong about this but I feel a big problem with Mos was its attitude towards flagging. Many users insulted flaggers as cowards and had an us-and-them mentality about flaggers. This led to me (and possibly other users) seeing content that possibly should have been flagged but not flagging because through worry that flagging would make me not a proper member of the rooms community. I suspect this led to many users pushing the boundaries of what was acceptable and people being afraid to complain when these users went too far leading to a spiral of ever worsening behaviour.

If we start a new chat room, which I am in favour of, I think we need to stop seeing flaggers as anonymous users trying to cause trouble and start seeing flags as an essential safety net to keep the site on the right side of good because if we don't then soon users will begin going too far again and next time we might not be allowed a new site chat room.

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    Thanks for sharing this. I think that this is definitely an issue that needs to be addressed. No one should feel bullied into allowing content they think is inappropriate. Flags are an essential part of the SE ecosystem and when users are pressured into not using them by people protecting the content flagged and vilifying the anonymous flaggers things start to fall apart. – Catija May 12 '17 at 14:37
  • I agree with this and have seen the behavior after flagging things myself. (oddly, this included some flagged users who are now defending the room deletion) However also disagree with a suggestion implied elsewhere that everyone has to be responsible for flagging potentially offensive content. That's not how it works. People should not be pressured to flag or not to flag something because someone else does or doesn't find it offensive. – Z. Cochrane May 12 '17 at 16:02
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    @zabeus I vehemently disagree with that statement. If one allows harassment and objectification to go un-reported, they are tacitly approving of it. You may not be directly punished - as through a chat ban - but you will be indirectly affected... in this case, with the freezing of Mos. By allowing that to go without curbing it, this site has lost its primary chat space. – Catija May 12 '17 at 16:11
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    @zabeus It's worth remembering that there are multiple safety nets, not just flagging. Ideally, a chat room has a culture that encourages good behavior and discourages bad, so that people think twice before doing something silly, and so that if something silly does happen, people are comfortable calling it out and fixing it. Sometimes people end up flagging because they want to be anonymous, because they're afraid of the reaction if they say something themselves. So even if you don't like flags, being open to criticism is still part of the solution. – Cascabel May 12 '17 at 16:41
  • @Jefromi I agree with that completely, but I feel that if someone chooses to be silent, they are not adding anything negative to the culture nor approving bad behavior. That said, actually harassing someone is quite different, and I fully support the idea that people need to do a better job of following the rules, and offending comments should be quickly removed. – Z. Cochrane May 12 '17 at 16:41
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    @zabeus If everyone is silent in the face of Be Nice violations, and especially if those who are hurt aren't comfortable speaking up, that's a problem. Sure, any given individual doesn't have to deal with every single issue - I don't think anyone's saying that's the case. But the members of the room as a whole do need to, one way or another. – Cascabel May 12 '17 at 16:46
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    With all due respect, IMHO this is mainly on SE and CMs. NOT Mos or individual Mos users. CMs were pretty hands-off when flaggers were publicly insulted and belittled, repeatedly, in different venues - including a highly voted answer on Shog's main Meta post about Be Nice rule and politics (Some moderators to their credit tried to oppose that attitude, like AoC). The culture of yelling at flaggers was very tolerated, especially in 2016. – DVK-on-Ahch-To May 14 '17 at 20:38
  • The anti-flagging sentiment exists for obvious reasons. <points at Mos now> Every flag is a risk of a crackdown, and every flagger who doesn't bother to try to talk things through first is complicit in that. One proponent of your point of view consistently tries to talk people out of potentially damaging discussions. This is the correct behavior, but it is completely at odds with the flag-if-you-feel-like-it mentality, given the inevitable, overboard, end result. We never had a case for too little moderation; we have had cases of too much moderation, and cases of too little discussion. – Slacklord the Terrible May 17 '17 at 22:28
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    Flagging and talking things through aren't mutually exclusive. Lack of flagging and strong desire for things to not get moderated often means that when things eventually do get flagged or moderated, they're huge and severe and handling it requires significant moderation effort and disruption. Work on smaller things, including flagging for rule-breaking offense, helps keep things from getting that bad in the first place. When the users present take seriously the rules and the need to remove rule-breaking content there's also less friction and fighting when things need to get moderated. – doppelgreener May 18 '17 at 10:13
  • @doppelgreener <Points to Mos now> My counter. I rest my case. Flags are bad, guys. Talk things through instead. Unless absolutely necessary. – Slacklord the Terrible May 18 '17 at 18:52
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    @Terriblefan But if we had a less negative culture towards flaggers and moderation then the issues might have been sorted out before they reached the point where the extreme action taken against Mos was necessary. – Bellerophon May 19 '17 at 14:20
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TBH, I'd give it a while. Emotions are heated, people are mad - I'd recommend at the very least, to wait and see what your moderators say (those lovely folks you elected) before starting a new room.

I'd like to start by saying I'm an avid user of chat. There's only one organic user who chats more than me (and of course, Smokey, but Smokey essentially shouldn't count). I understand how important chat is to the social fabric of the site - I help run a main site chatroom that's considered by some to be pretty well behaved.

I also spent two days in your chatroom. And while a handful of folk are the most noticeable, I got the impression the room was going to be extremely difficult to moderate. Yeah, there's a few specific toxic folks, occasionally moderators coming in and being mad at you guys, but at the end of the day, its the room-wide culture. Things went too far because no one went "Hey, this isn't fine", or if they did, they weren't listened to. I mean, with multiple flag events over time, there had to be a tipping point.

And I've found that even minor incidents on chat are pretty messy for moderators to handle. This is... huge.

So guys, please spare a moment for your moderators. They'll likely be looking into it, and trying to contain the damage and working out how best to balance the interests of the folk involved.

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    "listen to what your moderators say" - they weren't there, and only 3 of them have been in chat in last month or so. "room-wide culture" - I beg to differ; apart from PG-13-allowed 1 f-bomb per transcript, I can't point to anyone who'd share the so-called culture. – Gallifreyan May 12 '17 at 16:59
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    @Gallifreyan I believe this answer was suggesting listening to the scifi mods after the fact, here, not suggesting that they were there in chat all the time. But if you're worried about having someone to listen to in chat, all mods are mods in chat (see Null's answer), and there were frequently non-scifi mods around in Mos Eisley, including at least one at the time of this most recent incident. For room-wide culture... obviously everyone's their own person, but again see for example 'Null's answer for some culture issues to watch out for. – Cascabel May 12 '17 at 22:03
  • Instructions unclear, chat-room created. – Möoz Jun 5 '17 at 2:34
  • On the contrary, your mods are engaged, and set expectations. Room seems trouble free so far. And these arn't instructions in any way – Journeyman Geek Jun 5 '17 at 5:23
  • @JourneymanGeek -- As someone who chatted avidly in Mos Eisley (since 2012 I should add) I couldn't disagree more with your assertion. More often we would find moderators from other rooms coming into Mos, without knowing the chat room users or the vibe of the chatroom, and randomly moderating, often in aggressive and/or belligerent manners, which, of course, upset the chat community in Mos. The SFF mods that were engaged were Randal'thor and Null and we appreciated their presence; however, they couldn't be there all the time (neither could I, as a Room Owner). – Slytherincess Jun 17 '17 at 23:35
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I think that SFF can survive without a primary chat room for a week without significant negative repercussions.... it hasn't even been 12 hours. I strongly recommend that this room be closed in deference to Shog's edict and that a new one should not be opened until this community has a discussion regarding how to moderate their chat community more effectively.

This event was not just two bad eggs. It was the culmination of months of struggle to keep Mos in line with the "be nice" mantra. The very fact that no one in Mos at the time thought that posting NSFW content was flag worthy until it devolved into a will you/won't you discussion of physically assaulting an actress (though gender is irrelevant) - and even then, it was flagged by moderators from other sites - shows that the users in Mos at the time, more numerous than only two, are not consistently capable of judging when content crosses the line.

Closing the room is a signal to this site that there is an infection. If you can't treat it with medicine, it needs to be cut off entirely.

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    It seems to me that Shog took the scalpel and treated "the infection" very thoroughly... And then incinerated the body, just in case. I don't see how a discussion by other users, who weren't there, and didn't contribute to suspension, will change anything. – Gallifreyan May 12 '17 at 16:58
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    On the face of it the sentiment is valid. In reality, the discussion of physically assaulting people seem perfectly fine in certain rooms on certain topic - repeatedly, with zero reprecussion to rooms or topics. (Not linking to avoid getting chastized by CMs; but I have a link to chat search, and specific links to specific messages). So, I can understand why some people think its an OK behavior. – DVK-on-Ahch-To May 14 '17 at 20:52
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Just my 2 knuts.

People posting here might not necessarily know me, but I think I can call myself a Mos regular of the past few (~6) months - apparently, to a point where people were even willing to elect me a room owner.

I've been in Mos every day (including weekends and national holidays) for some months now, from approximately 8:30 to 0:00 UTC +3 - meaning I was there when a good portion of messages was posted.

I've also been in the new room, and SQB was very kind to carry over our RO-ship from Mos, along with all the feeds (and some new ones).

The discussion so far has been peaceful, with an occasional person asking "what happened to M#s?", at which point they were redirected to meta.

No sign of heated emotions, and certainly no one is getting mad; I, however, agree that certain changes should be made. Setting the whole be nice thing aside, I'm willing to paraphrase something I saw on a main meta post regarding chat:

When taken out of context and displayed away from Stack Exchange, a chatroom transcript should not compromise the community.

Which, as I see it, means that a chatroom conversation should not be dependent on context to verify whether it is offensive or not. I should disclaim that I have been a proponent of context-aware flagging - here and here - so I'm going to change my own view right now and say that a message must not rely on context to be non-offensive.

  • It's a simple litmus test to implement - if you think your message may be deemed offensive by a person who knows nothing of the room, or the site, or even Stack Exchange - consider again if you wish to post it in its current state.

    • That would also solve the problem of anonymous flagging which prompted my defense of context-based flag review.

I don't think waiting a weekend or a week is going to solve anything - I'm going to guess now that some if not most of the users were not here when the storm broke, and are just as baffled at this as I was this morning. Telling people to "stay put" for some time as the dust settles down is not a viable solution - I appreciate the openness and input from everyone here, but I support the opinion that this site needs a third place. There may be some Stacks that haven't got one, but we're not those stacks.

For me, it's been very pleasant to be in Mos - whatever "pattern" or "tendency" there was, I must have missed it. Either way, I think having a fresh start with this room is the best we can do.

Shutting it down now, and waiting for an officially sanctioned reboot is only going to make us - us, as in the people who were moderating Mos - more incompetent. Given the quality of the talk so far, I think we're in for a good start.

-12

On Thinking Twice

I am of course, only a fraction of the community. Also, I didn't consult the community nor did I take long to think twice, instead deciding on a name and creating the chat room.

The reason for this is that I view a chat room essential to the community of a stack. So I feel that in order to think twice and to consult the community, we need a chat room first.
Yes, we might have used a discussion on meta. Some posts are up there concerning the freeze of Mos Eisley and I expect some more — both questions and answers. But in my opinion, we need the informal channel of a chat room as well.

So I created a new chat room in order to preserve the community we already have.

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    Outside opinion: There would be absolutely no existential threat to the community if y'all took a few days without chat to reflect on what happened. However, moving to a new place too early could easily hamper discussion and possible growth. – Aza May 12 '17 at 11:31
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    Note that many, many SE sites don't have an active chat room and yet have an active and healthy community. Also, even on those sites that do have an active chat room, the chat regulars are in no way representative of the community nor even in any way a significant percentage of the community. They're just the 0.005% or so who want to be chatting. So while I agree that chat can be a part of what makes the community a community, we should not overstate its importance. And when a chat room has been as consistently problematic as Mos, I am really not sure it helps community building. – terdon May 12 '17 at 11:37
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    In short, SE site community != SE site chat community. – terdon May 12 '17 at 11:38
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    A community dependent on a completely uninterrupted chat room dialog is not a scifi.se community; it's a chat community, & the chat community just got smacked upside the head w/t clue bat. A community can't just weed out some bad apples & switch barrels, there's something at the community level which permitted such problems to flourish until extreme measures were needed. A bit of discontinuity would probably do the chat good at this point; that's what I think "taking time" means. Meta discussion can help us return to being a scifi.se community & prioritize that over the fetish of chat culture – BESW May 12 '17 at 11:38
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    @Emrakul no one is allowed to talk about what happened; no one "knows" what the problem is other than two specific known-troublesome users who are (finally?) removed from the situation; no one will tell us anything specific that we(the rest of the room that was happily chatting along trouble-free) supposedly did wrong or should do better. I don't see how a few days to stew on our lack of information and our impotence in fixing the problem will help. – KutuluMike May 12 '17 at 12:03
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    @KutuluMike This is a dilemma which has been raised and hopefully something productive will come of it; "nobody will tell us" is kind of hyperbolic after only giving 3 hours for a response. Hopefully "a few days" will see more constructive feedback and also allow time to cool off. There's no hours-not-days urgency here. – BESW May 12 '17 at 12:11
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    @KutuluMike don't forget that this isn't an isolated incident. Mos has been problematic for years. If the chat regulars still don't understand why this happened and why things need to change, then it seems obvious that the whole "think twice" thing hasn't happened. – terdon May 12 '17 at 12:26
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    @terdon we have been told we were "problematic" for years but no one can/will tell us what that means. We had one period, for a few months... 3 (?) years ago... where the room went completely off the rails. and we were shut down and told to get our act together. And since then, as far as we all believe, we got our act together. Since then, I don't see Mos as any better or worse than any other random chatroom. So either there's lots of things happening that we don't see, or people have just decided that we'll always be a problem no matter what we do to fix it. – KutuluMike May 12 '17 at 12:28
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    @terdon I was typing an answer when Mike worded it better than I could. – SQB May 12 '17 at 12:29
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    In that case, that's something you really need to discuss,. Frankly, I find this hard to believe seeing as I'm not a regular in Mos (largely because I found it so unpleasant) and I nevertheless know exactly what the problems are. They have been discussed in the room, on your meta and all over the place. Still, if you honestly don't know, you can ask for a clear explanation I guess. – terdon May 12 '17 at 12:31
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    @terdon we did. Check meta for chat. We still got little less than "flags were raised". – SQB May 12 '17 at 12:32
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    @SQB again, this isn't an isolated incident. Granted, this is my assumption since I was in no way involved in any of this, but it certainly looks like a continuation of exactly the same issues Mos has been having for years. I'm sure you did indeed try to change but, apparently, not enough. The only answer you will receive for this one will almost certainly be the classic: "Some users were posting offensive things and the rest of the room seemed to just ignore it or take it in stride". That's what usually happened in Mos, and I guess that's what happened this time. – terdon May 12 '17 at 12:37
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    @Mike that brings me to my point I've been trying to make, our reputation seems to have gone sour mainly with Shog, which is why he's taken this action, out of sheer being fed up. – Möoz May 12 '17 at 12:57
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    @Mooz Mos Eisley's reputation was sour across a lot of the network with regular users, not just with one individual. (Many ordinary users across the network who were unassociated with Mos got views into its activity via flags raised from it.) – doppelgreener May 15 '17 at 10:08

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