# What should we use chat stars for?

In the chat, messages can be starred by clicking the little star icon to the right of each message. The tooltip for this star is "star this message as useful / interest for the transcript." Messages thus starred appear in the right panel of the chat room UI, beneath the room and user information sections, sorted by some combination of the number of stars, message timestamp, and whether or not the star was a regular-user star or a room-owner's "pin" type of star.

Recently, I've noticed a significant increase in the number of starred messages that have little or no value to the room as a whole or to its transcript. In my opinion, one should only star a message that is broadly applicable to the topical interest of the chat room. For example, this message, this message, or this one.

Conversely, messages like this, or this, or this or this are messages that have little or no topical value whatsoever. Or they don't mean much taken out of context. Here is the full list of stars in our chat.

So, per a discussion in chat earlier today, I'd like to get the thoughts of the rest of the community on this particular subject? The consensus on MSO seems to be that since high-starred posts push low-starred posts off, the problem will be corrected via community moderation, but that doesn't appear to be the case given our relatively low chat population (or my opinion is in the minority).

• You should move your opinion about it out of the question and into an answer. – MichaelHouse Jul 3 '13 at 17:12
• Good idea. Done. – Josh Jul 3 '13 at 17:15

I use the star board as a shared bookmark list. I like to see:

• Interesting/funny one-liners that can be read out of context, preferably gamedev or related to programming (eg. this, this, and this)
• Links to gamedev articles/pages ranging from kickstarter to postmortems to pathfinding papers (eg. this, this, and this)
• Links to videos about gamedev (eg. this, this, and this)
• Notable content from/links to your own game (I don't star them all, but once in a while). Screenshots, videos, release, kickstarter, steam greenlight, etc. (eg. this, this, and this)

Informative or funny gamedev related content that is useful to the community. Note that a number of my example stars aren't serious, and I don't think they need to be, BUT they should be readable out of context. If it's a case of "you had to be there", don't star it. Stars like #thatshowiroll don't help anyone and push useful stars off the board (thanks for unstaring that @Josh).

• While I basically feel the same exact way, I don't know a good way to objectively determine what would fall under the interesting/funny one liner category and its basically the only reason I haven't written my own answer - I don't have a solution. I guess that's technically where the "higher voted stars get more visibility" comes in but it doesn't really prevent users from starring bad stuff. I guess that I would hope adding the "that can be read out of context" stipulation would help weed out most of the garbage. – SpartanDonut Jul 3 '13 at 19:15
• Yeah, I'd say the ability to read a star out-of-context is more important than keeping the stars on-topic, within reason. – John McDonald Jul 3 '13 at 20:32

It's my opinion that stars (because they are public) should be reserved for broadly-applicable, topical messages about games, game development, or software in general. They don't have to be serious (humor is fun), but they shouldn't be generic fluff, links to typical internet meme images, or music videos. If you want to save an interesting message for your own use, that's what a bookmark to the message permalink is for.

Note that I'm not opposed to the messages themselves; I'm not advocating that our chat become a straight-laced police state where only on-topic discussion is permissible. I quite like the mix of casual banter and serious conversation we have. I am opposed to spamming stars on every single message that is remotely amusing or funny in the context of the current conversation, and thus plastering our starred message panel with what I perceive to be junk that is detrimental to the view of the community.

As a callback to one of the election discussions, I've been thinking that a possible approach to getting more experience professional developers on this site would be to actually introduce them to the chat first, since the more subjective, general discussion-oriented nature might allow them to talk in a fashion that did not stress them so much about violating NDAs. But I don't think having the star panel filled with silliness sets a great first impression of the room.

• +1.... So True. Even if we keep the sillyness (as right now... @AlexM. 's My Little Pony fix...) we should at least put some EFFORT into not appearing stupid/knowledgeable. – Pip Jul 3 '13 at 17:34
• As a suggestion, maybe we can introduce another room where it is strictly about on topic subjects, so we can introduce professional game dev. there. But generally speaking I don't find stars of much important (IMO) and I usually enter the room to communicate with other people with the same interest and strictly to talk about game dev. – concept3d Jan 7 '14 at 6:56

When I come into chat rooms here, I check the star board. Heh. Starboard. It's on the right. :D Anyway, I often click links that are starred, and am disappointed with how many go to meme images. I don't mind the chat quips so much since they can be easily disregarded without clicking.

Though I think Josh has a point about us not having enough traffic for the best lines to push out the trivial ones. So I'll adjust my starring behavior accordingly, and hope others follow suit.

Chat is supposed to be the place where we can let our hair down, where we don't have to keep to all the strict requirements imposed on the Q&A side of the site.

I think it's okay for chat to just be fun and helpful and less structured. I don't see a need to make rules about how and when users should assign stars. Just do it for comments that you think other users might like to see, and don't stress about it too much. :)

At the end of the day, stars really don't matter.

• +1 I agree that stars don't really matter. And I like the non-strict nature of our chat. – concept3d Jan 7 '14 at 6:57
• Oddly enough, over the past few months I've come around @JoshPetrie's point of view, and no longer hold this opinion. (I'm not going to delete it, since it's carrying votes cast by others. And it did accurately reflect my feelings at the time I posted it.) – Trevor Powell Jan 7 '14 at 18:49

Call me the devil's advocate, but I feel that we should use stars for interesting topics of discussion. I'm one of the biggest abusers of chat stars that I see on this site, and I star anything that I find funny, interesting, or worth coming back to. I don't feel that stars should be a sacred token, because I don't ever bother looking at the starboard anyway after I've starred something. My main reason for using them is to show my appreciation to the person who posted the message I've starred.

Also, while I understand that the starred message board indicates to visitors what the members of the chat appreciate, and reflects upon the chat room and its users, I also feel that the chat rooms are off-topic often enough that whatever gets starred really is an accurate representation of the chat and its users. If a room is prone to serious debate about anything and everything (Lounge<C++> on SO comes to mind), then the starboard should reflect that. What I'm saying is that the starboard reflects what the room is, not what the room ought to be. Maybe the problem isn't with what should be starred, it's with what should be discussed in chat.

• "I don't ever bother looking at the starboard anyway after I've starred something." is exactly the opposite of the point of starring in my opinion. If you want to give recognition to someone for saying something you like, just tell them maybe? That being said your second paragraph does make some sense... but there is some REALLY pointless stuff that gets starred. Such as "and/or valve" - which has two stars. What does this even mean? I feel like I shouldn't have to go back and view the context of the message for it to make sense. – SpartanDonut Jul 3 '13 at 16:28
• There was some proposal to adopt "++" as a means of offering appreciation or agreement inline, as I recall. I feel that would be a better way to do this than starring things. – Josh Jul 3 '13 at 16:45
• I agree @JoshPetrie . Along with Shotgun, i am one of those people who can abuse stars, although i dont as much. ++ is a much better way to express that appreciation. Possible solution: redact the chatroom topic to include a mention about the situation, including something about the new ++ style. – Pip Jul 3 '13 at 17:25

Well I think some of the sticked stars kinda set the tone. Anyways I really like the idea of splitting starring into two actions expressing approval and promoting visibility.

I do not like the idea of ++ and star though because there are 0 affordances to indicate the difference or purpose of either. Something like a thumbs up and thumbtack would be better imo. Basically something indicative of the two mentalities "lol nice" and "you need to see this because it will improve your life".

• yeah, "++" came from "+1" which came from Google's "Like/Thumbs up" system (I could go on, but I'll stop here) : Source: chat.stackexchange.com/transcript/19?m=4866992#4866992 – John McDonald Jul 3 '13 at 17:55
• We can ask on MSO for actual changes to the chat (although they are notoriously low-priority usually, so nothing may happen; there have been outstanding requests to improve star moderation for a while) if we want. "++" is completely informal, it's true. – Josh Jul 3 '13 at 18:11
• Yeah ++ came about when we had less active number of members who would actually say +1 on occasion. Since then +1 and ++ have kind of disappeared and people have just started starring everything. The point it has been brought up again recently isn't because we feel you must say ++, the point is that you can acknowledge how funny or interesting someone's post was without having to star it. – SpartanDonut Jul 3 '13 at 19:02
• @JoshPetrie My bad I didn't realize that this would be a as self imposed community rule basically. I think the current situation is because of some of the more talkative members who have been very active recently. Encouraging it as a cultural thing is a good idea though I don't think it should actually be a rule considering how unofficial and difficult to enforce it would be. – ClassicThunder Jul 3 '13 at 21:35

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