As some of you might know about the "argument" which took place between me and another long-time user of the hBar about discussion of "JEE related stuff". As far as those discussions are concerned, they are mostly related to Physics, Math or Chemistry at the high school/ Olympiad level (you can check the transcript).

However, it seems some people were disturbed by those discussions and told us to stop (or create a new chat room). Even one of the moderators warned me that he would kick-mute me if I kept discussing those topics with some other members of the chat. What disturbed me most were comments like:

0celo7: "I don't hate JEE, I hate when this chat is invaded by JEE people"

0celo7: Because it's uninteresting, annoying, and I was here first

0celo7:It's natural law

ACuriousMind: Let me phrase it like this: If you do not respond to friendly suggestion I will kick you from this room if you continue to discuss things when other regulars have expressed a preference for you to take it somewhere else. I would much prefer not to but this room is not yours to hijack against the express wishes of others.

So my query is:

Does the stack exchange system have any documented rule which bars discussions which might disturb one or two long-time users of the room?

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    $\begingroup$ "Never argue with a fool, onlookers may not be able to tell the difference." - Mark Twain. $\endgroup$ – ZeroTheHero Mar 20 '17 at 23:56
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    $\begingroup$ @ZeroTheHero I don't know whom your comment was aimed at. But it is certain that I've done the mistake of arguing with Shog9 who simply exercised his mod powers without trying to understand my pov. $\endgroup$ – 2017 Mar 21 '17 at 0:04
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    $\begingroup$ Shog's a community manager. In fact, he's probably one of the folks who best understands how things work here. $\endgroup$ – Journeyman Geek Mar 21 '17 at 0:07

You left out a lot of context; I'm tempted to think you're just cherry-picking bits of that conversation to make others look bad while ignoring your own behavior and how it contributed to the situation.

Here's something I would consider a really critical bit of context:

a 7-part conversation in which the OP here flatly refused to break a tangential conversation into a different room

(for casual readers: "anonymous" in this thread is the OP here, the user now calling themselves "2017")

A summary of this conversation:

  1. You were asked, by multiple people, to take a tangential conversation into a different room.

  2. They explained - politely and at length - why this was the most efficient way to deal with the situation.

  3. You flatly refused.

Social situations fall apart very quickly when participants cannot respect each other, and this is no exception: you're going out of your way to disrespect others, at very least refusing to give any credence whatsoever to their concerns; in return, you garnered a fair bit of disrespect from 0celo7 and, eventually, ACuriousMind. Thus, the situation broke down.

The least-painful way to handle situations like this is for all participants to stop and consider the needs and desires of others before insisting upon their own, then work with each other to achieve compromise. As ACM suggests,

It's a chat room, talk to each other, figure out a way to coexist.

...but if someone is unwilling to do that, it is imperative that the room owners and moderators step in to remove them from the situation before social order breaks down. You should've been kicked out of the room the minute you flatly refused to consider anyone else's point of view; please keep this in mind for the future.

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    $\begingroup$ I didn't flatly refuse to consider anyone else's point of view. I found that their reasoning was not good enough and therefore decided not to agree. Although, it is true that mods have the power to kick-mute in case the situation escalates and give some time to cool down. I would support that. $\endgroup$ – 2017 Mar 20 '17 at 20:07
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    $\begingroup$ You did. I posted a screenshot of you doing exactly that. Folks explained why the conversation was problematic, and you shrugged and refused to offer any form of compromise. Frankly, it is kinda shocking to me that this was tolerated at all; try dropping into any of the top rooms on chat.stackoverflow, starting a conversation about your schoolwork, and telling the folks already in the room to leave if they don't like it - you'll very quickly find yourself suspended and unable to chat anywhere. You were incredibly rude, and the good folks here... tried to reason with you. $\endgroup$ – Shog9 Mar 20 '17 at 20:11
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    $\begingroup$ " starting a conversation about your schoolwork, and telling the folks already in the room to leave if they don't like it"...first of all I didn't wasn't holding a conversation about schoolwork and secondly I gave them the option of ignoring me. And why should I compromise when I am talking of something totally on topic like Science in a Physics chat room ? $\endgroup$ – 2017 Mar 20 '17 at 20:14
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    $\begingroup$ The Stack Exchange chat system seems to boggle me. Stuff like discussing about cooking and music is on topic in a Physics chat. However, discussing about Science in science chat room is off topic. That's hilarious. The chat seems to have turned into a place meant for "hanging out" rather than talking about Physics. $\endgroup$ – 2017 Mar 20 '17 at 20:16
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    $\begingroup$ No one needs your permission to ignore you; again, suggesting this is the height of arrogance. They were finding it problematic to do so, and tried to explain why... And you ignored them. And now you're ignoring me. This is a pattern. I've given you a month away from chat (all rooms) to think about it. $\endgroup$ – Shog9 Mar 20 '17 at 20:16
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    $\begingroup$ Personally I'm so fed up with this site that I have already requested for account deletion. So your suspension makes no sense at all. You are just misusing your powers. Period. $\endgroup$ – 2017 Mar 20 '17 at 20:19
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    $\begingroup$ Plenty of other places on the 'Net where you can ignore people. Godspeed. $\endgroup$ – Shog9 Mar 20 '17 at 20:19
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    $\begingroup$ I have just stumbled upon this exchange. I am totally impartial here, but to me this is a storm in a teacup. However, @Shog9, this excerpt from the above is telling "And now you're ignoring me. This is a pattern. I've given you a month away from chat (all rooms) to think about it.". Firstly, he is not ignoring you, he is reasoning his case which he is more than entitled to do. Then the line "I have given you a month away...to think about it", how massively patronizing. At least in this discussion, it is you that is being rude... Moderation is about being moderate, not totalitarian. $\endgroup$ – MoonKnight Mar 24 '17 at 12:03
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    $\begingroup$ Hi @MoonKnight. Anyone is more than welcome to reason their case, but that ends when they resort to blatant lies. This was already a dodgy situation due to the omissions in the original post, hence my inclusion of a screenshot to ensure that impartial readers such as yourself were presented with an unadulterated record of the exchange. As for being patronizing... Chat is a privilege; if you misuse it, that privilege can and will be revoked. As I said above, 2017's behavior was already far beyond what would be tolerated in most rooms; if he's not willing to temper that behavior, he needs to go. $\endgroup$ – Shog9 Mar 24 '17 at 18:15

As background to my message cited in the question, I said this earlier in the same conversation:

No one has a monopoly on this room but when multiple people ask if you not perhaps want to take your conversations about a specific topic to another room I'd kindly ask you to consider that.

This already answers the question posed here: No one has a monopoly on the main chat room, or the absolute right to restrict the topics discussed there as long as they do not inherently run afoul of the Be Nice policy. We had a rather lengthy discussion about this related to this meta post, where in the end we decided that the moderators also will not restrict the topics discussed for any other reason.

Nevertheless, the point I wanted to make in those messages is different: Because of the shared nature of the room, not only does a single person not get to restrict the topic, but also the people present should try to work out a way in which they all can use the room. This, of course, requires compromise - if a lengthy conversation between a small subset of users disturbs the others, and they express their wish those users take it elsewhere, then the courteous thing to do is to take it elsewhere. Creating a new room costs you nothing (provided you have 100 reputation) and clearly resolves all the tension instantly. I'm not saying one is obligated to do that, but I expect that there will at least be a reasonable and civil conversation about the refusal to do so.

If there are good reasons to keep the conversation in the room (e.g. it's of potential interest to a large set of other users or directly related to site policy or other matters of relevance to the physics.SE community as such), then one should talk about that and ideally the users disturbed by the conservation should show some insight and acquiesce. If it seems that some users are frivolously or one-sidedly requesting conversations to be moved on spurious grounds, one may also talk about that.

None of this happened in this instance. The main response was "just ignore us if you don't like the topic", which clearly ignores the shared nature of the room, and the conversation, instead of trying to find a consensus or compromise, quickly degenerated into mutual attacks and unconstructive comments. This is not desirable behaviour and basically spoils the room's atmosphere for everyone, which is in no one's interest.

It's a chat room, talk to each other, figure out a way to coexist. Merely insisting on others keeping their conversation out of a room without compromise or explanation is not constructive, and neither is insisting others just have to live with whatever you decide to fill the room with. This is not an issue hard-coded rules could satisfactorily resolve, so there are none.

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    $\begingroup$ There is a difference between politely asking to create a new room and saying "this room is not yours to hijack" or "If you do not respond to friendly suggestion I will kick you from this room if you continue to discuss things when other regulars have expressed a preference for you to take it somewhere else" Firstly, there was no friendly suggestion. It was more forcing and less requesting. Secondly, being a moderator doesn't give you any right to kick mute users if they want to discuss topics which are suitable for polite discussion (as dmckee said). $\endgroup$ – 2017 Mar 20 '17 at 17:17
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    $\begingroup$ @2017 Wrong. You were asked nicely here. $\endgroup$ – Ryan Unger Mar 20 '17 at 17:20
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    $\begingroup$ @0celo7 Sorry, I don't consider that nice. Saying "JEE people please make a separate chat" without giving any good reason isn't a nice way to request someone. $\endgroup$ – 2017 Mar 20 '17 at 17:23
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    $\begingroup$ @0celo7 And just after that you said: "chat.stackexchange.com/transcript/message/35635470#35635470". "I was here first"...that is a hilarious reason. $\endgroup$ – 2017 Mar 20 '17 at 17:23
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    $\begingroup$ Arguments about who was or wasn't nice to whom in the past are almost never productive; please don't get drawn down that path. $\endgroup$ – rob Mar 20 '17 at 17:53
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    $\begingroup$ I agree with @2017's comment here. Next time, please just kick - no need to threaten a 1-minute cool-off period when you could actually provide a 1-minute cool-off period. $\endgroup$ – Shog9 Mar 20 '17 at 19:38
  • $\begingroup$ @Shog9 I'm confused by your comment because your first sentence does not seem to be consistent with the second. 2017 is saying I shouldn't have kicked/threatened to kick in the first place. $\endgroup$ – ACuriousMind Mar 20 '17 at 19:50
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    $\begingroup$ Heh, well... It may be that 2017 doesn't think you should kick at all, but he's completely wrong about that. He's right in that you shouldn't have threatened though; that just escalated the situation. Kick-muting - as hinted by the name - is intended to de-escalate situations where disrespect is rampant before it consumes the entire room; this would've been a prime opportunity to use it. $\endgroup$ – Shog9 Mar 20 '17 at 19:51

Let me be very, very clear about a couple of things.

  • First, every chat makes a permanent record of everything typed there.

  • Second the main chat for the site is a public resource for all the users. No one owns it, and time on the site does not convey any kind of priority.

Because of the public nature we insist on a grown-up approach to delicate or controversial subjects.

Because the the shared nature, no particular user is not entitled to insist that some topics suitable for polite company not be discussed.

On the flip size, if you are engaged in a long-running discussion that many other users of the chat find distracting, disturbing, or inappropriate it is only polite to take your discussion to a place where you won't 'scare the horses' (that is, cause a ruckus). That's because you don't own the room any more than anyone else does.

The point is that the h bar is a shared resource and you should be sharing it. Bring your sensible manners and your good will.

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    $\begingroup$ Thank you for your answer! ACuriousMind said almost opposite what you are saying now. I suppose that "JEE questions" are suitable for polite discussion =P. I don't know how the other moderators feel about this. Anyhow, thanks. $\endgroup$ – 2017 Mar 20 '17 at 15:51
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    $\begingroup$ This doesn't answer the question. $\endgroup$ – DanielSank Mar 20 '17 at 15:57
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    $\begingroup$ Could you clarify what you mean by long running in "number of words" or "percentage of total posts in a day" ? What might be long running to one might not seem long running to another. I don't think any of the discussions related to that topic as "long runnning". All of them were far less than 250 words a day (approx). $\endgroup$ – 2017 Mar 21 '17 at 2:07
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    $\begingroup$ I could try, but I'm not going to. This is a situation where you should be using your good sense. If the topic comes up day after day, a side room might be in order. If you bang out thousands of messages while other users are simultaneously using the chat, the same. If you find yourself engaged in a conversation with so much history and assumed state that passers by can't be expected to take part, and so on. And when multiple people complain that's a big hint. $\endgroup$ – dmckee --- ex-moderator kitten Mar 21 '17 at 2:10
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    $\begingroup$ "thousands of messages"...I don't even think I crossed a hundred. And passer bys could and did take part in their own conversation if you check the transcript. As for people complaining I only remember 0celo7 and mostafa complaining. $\endgroup$ – 2017 Mar 21 '17 at 2:14

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