MetaFilter Chat Update September 26, 2013 3:20 PM   Subscribe

MetaFilter Chat has been running continuously for 10 months now. Today we're making some behind the scenes updates that should help keep it running longer.

When we initially set up the chat server it was supposed to be for discussing US election results in real time. We didn't have any plans for it after that so it's never really had its own dedicated home behind the scenes. We're setting up that home today. We'll be switching off the current chat server in a few minutes, updating the DNS record for, and you should be able to reach the new server once your local DNS gets the update. It usually takes 15-20 minutes.

Behind the scenes we have a new version of Openfire and better secure connections. We're no longer using self-signed SSL/TLS certificates for desktop chat clients, so you shouldn't get that annoying certificate warning when you connect to the new server.

The web chat client has not changed. So if you connect by going to in a browser, you won't see anything new. But we're hoping the new version of Openfire will help fix some of the issues people have had with the web client.

This move should also give us the ability to add more capacity when needed. We've had a few times that the chat server has been overwhelmed with people (especially that first election night) and this move will help us host large conversations more reliably.

There will be bugs! It won't be perfect right out of the gate so there will be some bumpiness while we get the chat server settled into its new home. Please report any problems here or via the Contact Form.
posted by pb (staff) to Uptime at 3:20 PM (90 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite

Whoa that was fast. We shut down the old server, moved the domain to the new one, and it looks like it took just a minute to start working on my end.
posted by mathowie (staff) at 3:30 PM on September 26, 2013

Yay! Thank you for working on this and keeping it awesome, it has been a great resource.

posted by Blasdelb at 3:47 PM on September 26, 2013 [9 favorites]

Browser chat works for me but I don't have the magic to get it working with xchat from my work. I is sad.
posted by Hairy Lobster at 3:48 PM on September 26, 2013

I logged in and it auto-opened an uncloseable private chat with evilspork.

I can't believe I actually typed that as a real sentence.
posted by KathrynT at 3:52 PM on September 26, 2013 [6 favorites]


Chat 2.0: Now loads dicks twice as fast!

dicks dicks dicks dicks
posted by Conspire at 3:52 PM on September 26, 2013 [7 favorites]

I logged in and it auto-opened an uncloseable private chat with evilspork.

I explained this, this is a feature not a bug. Mechat 2.0 automatically matches you with eligible dating partners and refuses to let you not talk with them until you go on a damned date already.
posted by Conspire at 3:53 PM on September 26, 2013 [5 favorites]

Changing spaces in usernames to \20 is pretty ugly. I'm not sure what specifically causes this to happen, but it's definitely not an issue on the other jabber servers I frequent.
posted by ryanrs at 3:54 PM on September 26, 2013

ryanrs, yeah the \20 is an artifact that folks who use 3rd party clients run into. The chat server doesn't change usernames to \20. It's showing you the Jabber ID. I'm guessing other services show you the user nickname rather than the Jabber ID.

We decided to show Jabber IDs so they would be the same as your MetaFilter username. That way we don't have someone who is known as "jane" on MetaFilter end up as "janet" in chat. By forcing the auth credentials we have a consistent ID in chat and MetaFilter.

The jabber server we use doesn't allow us to set up a rule where the nickname must be similar to the Jabber ID (eg. the front part of the Jabber ID with a space instead of \20) so it's something we have to live with.
posted by pb (staff) at 3:59 PM on September 26, 2013

I'm not sure what happened with the evilspork bug. Try shutting down your browser and re-joining. I think it was a one-time issue related to the DNS change somehow. But I'll keep an eye on it.
posted by pb (staff) at 4:00 PM on September 26, 2013

well, it's what one would expect from an evil spork...
posted by Hairy Lobster at 4:01 PM on September 26, 2013 [1 favorite]

The relentless noise in the channel is also pretty offputting. Spamming stuff like "DICKS DICKS DICKS" crowds out any real conversation that might happen. It's one of the main reasons I don't hang out there much.
posted by ryanrs at 4:10 PM on September 26, 2013 [1 favorite]

Yeah this is something we'd like people to maybe work on in chat on their own first and if it becomes a real "We've talked about this and it's not getting any better" sort of problem, talk to us and we can see if we can help sort it out. The space is sort of unmoderated by design but we do understand that people can sometimes use up all the air in there.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 4:51 PM on September 26, 2013 [1 favorite]

MetaChat 2.0: Now with less dickspam.

Seriously though, I can see how it could be offputting and I personally will cut that out. Everyone should feel welcome on MetaChat 2.0, not just people who think dickspam is funny. Sorry, ryanrs, for making Chat uncomfortable for you.
posted by Scientist at 4:56 PM on September 26, 2013 [5 favorites]

I have been wondering whether a multiple room system is actually possible given how the chat runs. I imagine some people find the spam offputting, and other chats I've been on seem to do okay with a moderated/unmoderated two room split that doesn't dump people immediately into nonsense.
posted by solarion at 6:54 PM on September 26, 2013 [1 favorite]


seriously, guys, it's just a benign in-joke greeting/catchphrase amongst the chat room regulars. lighten up.
posted by Jacqueline at 7:00 PM on September 26, 2013

lighten up.

With respect, it's a space for everyone on MetaFilter and if people are openly talking about a thing they find offputting there, we'd really prefer to have people try to find compromises and not treat it like it's a clubhouse only for certain folks.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 7:03 PM on September 26, 2013 [16 favorites]

"if people are openly talking about a thing they find offputting there"

So it's okay for the heterosexuals to come into the chat room and complain about their dating woes but not okay for the homosexuals to do the same thing because homosexuality is "offputting" to some people?
posted by Jacqueline at 7:21 PM on September 26, 2013

because homosexuality is "offputting" to some people?

Huh? She didn't say anything about sexuality, it's the noisiness of seeing "dicks dicks dicks" repeated. I'm sure if it was any other description of genetalia male or female it'd still be offputting to some people.
posted by mathowie (staff) at 7:26 PM on September 26, 2013

So it's okay for the heterosexuals to come into the chat room and complain about their dating woes but not okay for the homosexuals to do the same thing because homosexuality is "offputting" to some people?

Seriously? I work for everyone on this site. Some people in this thread and also privately over email have told us that the repetitive "dicks dicks dicks!" stuff is offputting. I have no idea where you're getting that presumption from, but it's not from anything I've ever said on this website.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 7:33 PM on September 26, 2013 [1 favorite]

The "dicks dicks dicks" catchphrase originated from some of the gay regulars discussing their own dating woes.
posted by Jacqueline at 7:38 PM on September 26, 2013

I don't spend a ton of time in chat, and when I have, the "dicks dicks dicks" thing comes across as super in-joke-y. It's fine to have in-jokes, but it's also important to remember that Chat is not a private space and in-jokes usually don't translate, so you do need to be considerate.

Also it has nothing to do with homophobia, give me a fucking break.
posted by restless_nomad (staff) at 7:56 PM on September 26, 2013 [4 favorites]

Okay, to give some context as to what Jacqueline is getting all fighty about. We just had a discussion about this in chat, and I'm one of the people who are often doing the "dicks dicks dicks dicks" in-joke. I think of the reasons I riff on the in-joke frequently is because I'm aware that there's some people in chat who make homophobic/ageist comments about me in particular in PMs with others, and it's been brought to my attention that this negative gossip is happening. That being said, since it's occurring in PMs and not in main chat or directly to my face, it's perfectly within their bounds to do so. Since it's all hearsay and the details are fuzzy to the point that I don't even know the extent to which this happens or who even is specifically involved or if it's even a reoccurring thing, I didn't want to bring it up because there would be literally nothing I, or others could do about it and it would just be a completely divisive topic.

So while we were discussing the topic, I mentioned this for the first time, and mentioned that yes, one of the reasons why I played off the in-joke so often was because I was doing so in a reactionary way to annoy people who might hold these biases against me.

That being said, I agreed that it could alienate people who weren't familiar with the in-joke, that yes, people could have a legitimate good-faith issue against what they viewed as spam, and that for me personally, it was honestly a really childish way of dealing with my frustrations - I mean, really, it was just me trying to annoy people who might have had a beef with me for bigoted reasons because there was no way for me to directly confront these people without making just random accusations shot into the fog. So because of that, I'm going to cut back on it.

Finally, note that this is the absolute first thing anyone has brought up that they have had issues with the whole in-joke to our face other than through snide passive-aggressive comments, which understandably fueled the fire a little more. I appreciate that it's actually been brought up in a straight-forward way such that the chat community was actually able to address it.

I'm kind of frustrated that I brought up my motivations for excessively playing off the joke in the first place, because while in the moment I was feeling a little ranty about this issue that I'd had to deal with for a while, I absolutely did not want to cause any divisiveness in chat. So if we could drop any idle speculation on who was saying what to who, assume that the requests to cut back on the "dicks dicks dicks dicks" was made entirely in good faith even if I personally have suspicions that it wasn't, and if we could just stop being fighty over it in general, that would very much be appreciated. I mean, really, it was just a childish thing, and I'm very irritated at myself that I didn't have the sensibilities to just suck up the criticisms and let myself act out like that - I think the grown-up thing to do would have been for me to acknowledge, yes, some people were saying nasty, sexually and age-related comments about me privately to others, and yes, there would be nothing I could actually do against that, and just take the higher road. So that's what I'll do now, and I'm honestly saying that without any bitterness or spite.
posted by Conspire at 7:58 PM on September 26, 2013 [8 favorites]

It was me! It was me all along! MUAAAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!
posted by Evilspork at 8:07 PM on September 26, 2013 [2 favorites]

This is a pretty good example of why we're not interested in moderating chat.
posted by restless_nomad (staff) at 8:10 PM on September 26, 2013 [12 favorites]

Hmm, mine opened an uncloseable chat with someone too; incidentally, it's someone I have muted and isn't currently in the room. Logged out and in, same thing. So that's weird.
posted by cobaltnine at 8:13 PM on September 26, 2013

The new chat makes us all chat, in an uncloseable window, with Michell from California. Chat thinks she has wisdom to share.
posted by bswinburn at 8:43 PM on September 26, 2013 [2 favorites]

Yeah, that's a bug pb is working on. Earlier today it was another user that everyone was being attached to. We never saw this in testing with the latest version of the chat software (the old chat server was using an older version).
posted by mathowie (staff) at 8:47 PM on September 26, 2013

Ok, as we're working on bugs, we're switching back to the old chat server. I just swapped the DNS, pb will kill the new server and the old server should start working again in 10-15min if not sooner.
posted by mathowie (staff) at 8:55 PM on September 26, 2013

Damn, metafilter chat sounds crazy.
posted by Ad hominem at 9:34 PM on September 26, 2013 [4 favorites]

It be cray.
posted by Evilspork at 9:35 PM on September 26, 2013

Very cray indeed.
posted by Ad hominem at 10:01 PM on September 26, 2013

So the great thing about chat is that you can sign on with pidgin or whatever and just ignore people who annoy you.
posted by empath at 11:43 PM on September 26, 2013 [1 favorite]

One comment removed. Seriously, let's not do the chat clique thing in Metatalk. It's something for everyone here to enjoy if they want to participate, and if you are talking about "fighting" people (hopefully joking) you aren't doing it right. The only reason we eventually elected to leave it open was because that sort of thing wasn't happening, and we'd like not to regret that decision. Just be cool, act decent, don't flood the chat, don't ramp up the drama, and relax and enjoy the feature.
posted by taz (staff) at 2:08 AM on September 27, 2013 [1 favorite]

Whoa, it seemed super friendly back when it opened. I guess any thing that exists for more than a week can grow drama on it. Someone do some studies on that!
posted by ignignokt at 5:32 AM on September 27, 2013

As far as I can tell, it's still super friendly and still precious little drama; we're asking that people do the best they can to maintain that and keep it fun for everyone.
posted by taz (staff) at 5:40 AM on September 27, 2013 [1 favorite]

I show up on Friday mornings to troll for listeners to my radio show. Everyone is super nice when I am there, but granted many are asleep at 07:00 Eastern.
posted by terrapin at 5:42 AM on September 27, 2013

I'm not sure what happened with the evilspork bug

I'm going to have bad dreams about vicious beetles with tines at the rear of their carapaces like, forever from now on.
posted by ambrosen at 6:07 AM on September 27, 2013

Is chat logged?
posted by inigo2 at 6:08 AM on September 27, 2013

posted by terrapin at 6:11 AM on September 27, 2013

posted by inigo2 at 6:29 AM on September 27, 2013

My thought upon first seeing this thread: "hey, maybe I'll go hang out in chat today, try that out!"

My thought upon getting to this point in this thread: "nope."
posted by phunniemee at 7:01 AM on September 27, 2013 [11 favorites]

Folks, calm down everyone knows the real purpose of chat is so asperity can discreetly send me links to Yes Minister/Harry Potter crossover fanfic without anyone else on the site knowing I read it--- aww crud.
posted by Wretch729 at 7:04 AM on September 27, 2013 [1 favorite]

Yes Minister/Harry Potter crossover fanfic

Wait, really? Where might one find such a thing? Er, a friend of mine might be interested. Yes.
posted by metaBugs at 7:31 AM on September 27, 2013 [1 favorite]

phunniemee, it's really fun. Seriously. I just started getting on there in the past couple of weeks and it's been great. It takes a little while to get to know everyone's personalities but so far I haven't seen any drama and I've really enjoyed the interaction. I have seen people have differences of opinions and talk them through like adults but that's pretty cool too.
posted by dawkins_7 at 7:43 AM on September 27, 2013

Folks on chat convinced me to apply for a new job (and I got an email that my app has passed the first HR-bit!). And yesterday I got a bunch if great travel links for a fantasy trip to Japan.

And love life talk on chat has been mood lifting for me.
posted by vespabelle at 8:33 AM on September 27, 2013 [4 favorites]

Maybe it's because I'm on the east coast, and the chat gets busier in what is the middle of the night for me, but I have almost never seen it busy enough that anyone's attempt to bring up an interesting subject really gets lost among all the dicksdicksdicks or other tomfoolery. Chat is for chatters; entertaining or not offending the lurkers doesn't enter into it, in my view. I'd sincerely ask people who are complaining about chat silliness in this thread, or who have brought it up with the mods, if they've tried to steer the chat in a better direction. Be the chat you want to see, is what I'm saying. That's not to say that the silly stuff doesn't get old sometimes and couldn't be kept a bit more in check, but I think mostly the chat is going great.
posted by in278s at 8:35 AM on September 27, 2013 [4 favorites]

Yeah, chat's been a nice time in my experience; I wouldn't read too much into drama reportage, it's more than anything I think a natural side effect of any group dynamic that some of that will pop through at least now and then. And as the folks who've been watching for trouble, I'm pretty happy overall with the low level of that stuff that's actually arisen.

Go forth and chat it up, it's a good time. Try and be a good citizen, if you're a regular try and keep in mind that it's supposed to be for everyone and try and modulate your approach accordingly to make space for others where possible, and things should pretty much work out okay.
posted by cortex (staff) at 8:38 AM on September 27, 2013 [1 favorite]

When I ditched my netbook for a tablet I had to give up chat...maybe I'll give it another try. Is anyone able to make it work on an iPad?
posted by JoanArkham at 8:47 AM on September 27, 2013

I think Michele in California logs in via tablet of some sort, but depending on what sort of service she uses, it constantly bumps her in and out of the chat room.
posted by LionIndex at 8:53 AM on September 27, 2013

My thought upon first seeing this thread: "hey, maybe I'll go hang out in chat today, try that out!"

My thought upon getting to this point in this thread: "nope."

The way the whole thing ended up playing out on Chat was this: conspire vented about the things he heard people said about him (he didn't even say what things or what people), everyone was shocked and agreed that sucked, he asked we all drop it, and it got dropped. That took about 10 minutes, and then everyone was back to talking about comics, and how it sucks that you can't get Northern Exposure DVDs with the original music. That is the most (and really only) drama I've seen in the few times I've been.
posted by Gygesringtone at 8:59 AM on September 27, 2013 [2 favorites]

Very cray indeed.

Rather disappointed Hairy Lobster didn't make this comment.
posted by Celsius1414 at 9:16 AM on September 27, 2013 [1 favorite]

Does it stick in your craw?
posted by cortex (staff) at 9:37 AM on September 27, 2013 [2 favorites]

PONY! Well, I want a pony in my time zone can be kinda slow. Any chance the underlying client has an option to go "ding" or "boop" or something to indicate that someone has actually typed something in and hit enter?
posted by digitalprimate at 10:52 AM on September 27, 2013

The default web client we provide isn't particularly featured, so there may not be any way to do that natively. That said:

1. There's a ton of standalone chat clients, many of which are deeply featured and scriptable to boot, so in principle you could probably find one that does whatever sort of notification mojo you'd like.

2. It's possible that a simple greasemonkey script could be made that would interact with the web client in such a way as to provide some kind of context-sensitive booping, though I wouldn't know where to start there.
posted by cortex (staff) at 11:09 AM on September 27, 2013 [1 favorite]

I've been on ChatFilter on my iPad and it's definitely do-able. The biggest problem is that it logs you out if you try to switch tabs or apps. Perhaps that's different with the changed multitasking in iOS7, but I doubt it. I haven't tried one of the Jabber-friendly apps or whatever, they might work better.
posted by Rock Steady at 11:20 AM on September 27, 2013 [1 favorite]

It's not a subsite about cats, then?
posted by Grangousier at 12:12 PM on September 27, 2013 [3 favorites]

I never could get it to work on my Android phone, so if someone could help walk me through it via gchat or something I would be really, really grateful.
posted by jeather at 1:21 PM on September 27, 2013 [1 favorite]

jeather, what app are you using to try to connect?
posted by pb (staff) at 1:42 PM on September 27, 2013

Xabber. I've tried the how to instructions someone had here at some point, but it never worked.
posted by jeather at 1:51 PM on September 27, 2013

Here's what worked for me. I started up Xabber and it said there were no accounts. I clicked Add Account. Then entered these values:

Account Type: XMPP
Username: (my MetaFilter Jabber ID,
Password: (my standard MetaFilter password)

I clicked ok, it connected, and showed me a blank page which said, "Nobody online".

Then I clicked the menu button in the lower-right corner on my phone. That brings up options like 'Add contact', 'Close all chats', 'Settings', etc. I clicked 'More' and then 'Join conference'.

On the Join conference form I entered these values:

Multi User Chat Server:
Conference: mefi
Nick: (my MetaFilter username, pb)

I checked "Join conference" and then clicked the "Save conference" button. Then I saw the conference listed on the page, I clicked it, and then saw everyone chatting.
posted by pb (staff) at 2:10 PM on September 27, 2013 [6 favorites]

1) You should see me logging in and out less.
2) If you know a viable alternative to xabber, I am open to suggestions.
3) Thanks mods and other chatsters for amicably resolving the dicks issue.
4) Come join us. The more the merrier. ((((hugs))))

My long rambly thoughts, written before the tldr:

Oh, since I have been mentioned a few times: I am on an android. I use xabber these days. I finally figured out how to turn off auto log-in for the program. I think it is the library wi-fi that bumps me in and out a gazillion times. I have less trouble with it when on mobile data. With disabling auto log-in, I am able to now choose to log the fuck out, so people should be seeing less of me sign in, out, in, out ad infinitum these (past few) days.

I have also been actively looking for another chat client for Android. With solving some of my issues, it has become a lower priority for me but I continue to piddle around with it. If anyone knows of an alternate chat client for Android that works for mefi chat (and how to make it work), I would be thrilled to have options.

My experience with chat is that there is some interpersonal friction there but most people seem to choose to just avoid each other if they don't get on well. I personally prefer to hash things out if I can, resolve differences with people, and give the world a hug but I am 48 and I realize that isn't going to happen with every single person I meet. I am personally not fond of the dicks meme and I am happy to see it toned down so the moderators don't have reason to go all Big Brother Is Watching You in chat. The freedom to discuss whatever is valuable and I have seen a lot of people helped with thorny problems.

The atmosphere varies a lot depending on who happens to be there. No controlling that. I encourage folks to check it out. I always try to say "hi" to new people so they feel comfortable joining the discussion. I think discussion is generally healthier and more robust when it is not overly dominated by a few strong personalities. (Yes, I am aware I am one of the people capable of dominating the conversation -- it is part of why I say "hi" to new folks, so people don't feel as if me running my mouth is some attempt to dominate it or crowd them out. I just sometimes have a lot to say, which in no way prevents you from commenting. It isn't quite the same as live irl convo. You can be heard without having to shout over me.)
posted by Michele in California at 4:02 PM on September 27, 2013

Yeah, as a Chat regular, more or less, I'd like to say the atmosphere really is welcoming, and I'd be happy to see new people join in and stay on.
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 4:32 PM on September 27, 2013 [1 favorite]

It really is a lot less drama-llama than this post would lead you to believe.
posted by double block and bleed at 6:00 PM on September 27, 2013

Also it was I ( me?) that started on about Northern Exposure and the original music. It truly is a sad day when I am done with Season 1 and go on to overdubbed Season 2-5 ( Season 6 man, it hurts because Joel was gone and Maggie was with Chris.) As an aside I'm going to start watching again in order, so if anyone on chat wants to discuss themes ( always 3 stories per episode ) hit me up.
posted by 922257033c4a0f3cecdbd819a46d626999d1af4a at 6:27 PM on September 27, 2013

Damn, I put my copies of seasons 1-3 in storage.
posted by LionIndex at 6:59 PM on September 27, 2013

Chat has always been pretty damn drama-free and welcoming, for me. In fact, it's easily the least dramatic chat-based community I've ever been a part of. The one or two times that I've gotten het up with somebody about something we've been able to cool down, apologize like grown-ups, hug it out, and remain on good terms. It's been a really rewarding place, I highly recommend it, and it's always excellent to see new faces.
posted by Scientist at 7:51 PM on September 27, 2013 [4 favorites]

I'm a bit baffled at the drama stuff; been in chat many a time, day and night, and somehow missed any drama that was happening (if it was).

It's always seemed like Statler and Waldorf's box, a small but changing group of people often lightly/gently mocking things they see - often including the larger actual dramas on, well, MetaTalk. And it's a relaxed, friendly and often funny, place. And I hope it stays that way.
posted by Wordshore at 3:04 AM on September 28, 2013 [1 favorite]

Thanks, pb, that got it to work. I cannot figure out what I did wrong before.
posted by jeather at 6:52 AM on September 28, 2013

I really like the analogy to Statler and Waldorf. Chat is definitely a bit of a peanut gallery at times. It's also a good place to get feedback on an FPP idea, ask a question that's not worth burning your one-a-week limit on the Green for, vent about your boss/coworkers, or get your OKCupid profile critiqued. Also I learned that, statistically speaking, I am almost certainly a Boltzmann brain.
posted by Scientist at 1:33 PM on September 28, 2013 [2 favorites]

Perhaps it's too late for this question, but why XMPP instead of IRC? XMPP seems kind of feature-less.
posted by Purposeful Grimace at 3:58 PM on September 28, 2013

We wanted to set up a place to chat and it seemed to work ok. Matt had used Openfire several years ago and it worked fine so we tried it out again and it worked fine. What would you like to do with IRC that you can't do with XMPP?
posted by pb (staff) at 10:34 PM on September 28, 2013

You know, all my crazy rainbow font scripts (j/k but of course I'd still do it occasionally), ability to invite multiple chatters in side chans, tab complete, etc. I guess you'd have to kill /nick and other things that aren't kosher for MeFi but wouldn't IRC be even easier for the mods for timeouts/bans/etc than XMPP?
posted by Purposeful Grimace at 2:02 AM on September 29, 2013

Having a unified chat space is similar to the way MetaFilter threads are organized. Everyone shares a single space. If you need to have a side conversation with an individual you can (a la MeFi Mail), but the main discussion doesn't fragment into various side groups. You could always invite folks to jump ship and go to an IRC server somewhere if a small-group conversation is required for some reason.

We do have the ability to ban folks from chat if we have to, and stuff like rainbow fonts and tab complete is more of a feature of the client you're using. The fact that you can't change how the text displays too much for other people is a feature rather than a drawback to me. Sometimes lack of features is a positive feature.
posted by pb (staff) at 7:20 AM on September 29, 2013 [3 favorites]

Has anyone ever been banned from chat before?
posted by Blasdelb at 9:04 AM on September 29, 2013

If people are banned from MetaFilter, they are also banned from chat. That is, they are the same mechanism. We've had one user whose behavior in chat was such a problem that they were banned from chat-and-MetaFilter. They did not interact on MetaFilter nearly at all if I remember correctly. Banning processes go through the same warning-time off-banning progression that regular site-based-bans do. It is, except for this one user and a few random and non-repeating incidents, something we haven't had to deal with very much.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 9:08 AM on September 29, 2013 [1 favorite]

Thanks for the answers, pb and jessamyn.
posted by Purposeful Grimace at 4:04 PM on September 29, 2013

things i have seen happen in chat (off the top of my head and in no way exhaustive): helping people with their personal problems including dating, family, people dying, moving. helping people with computer problems including how to log into chat, excel pro-tip shit, programming questions. helping people figure out what car to buy. helping someone find their cell phone by calling it (and this was someone who has pretty much never stopped by before). critiquing people's projects from projects. making appropriate sympathetic noises when people are sick or feeling bad or had a car accident or lost a job or had a break up or are depressed or have a spouse in the hospital. in my experience this help was not remotely restricted to regulars.

i also didn't like the dicks that had taken over chat, even while guilty of making dick jokes myself (only the funniest ones obvs), but characterizing it as the only thing that happens in chat to the exclusion of anything else is so far off the mark.

it would've worked a lot better if this was brought up in the contact form so that mods could stop by and have the conversation in chat with the regulars, since that is where the problem was. i get that meta is for all things mefi related but just the fact that there is no public log of chat and to have people who don't know chat draw conclusions based on partial comments in here. but don't listen to the regulars, listen to the mods

-Yeah, chat's been a nice time in my experience; I wouldn't read too much into drama reportage

-As far as I can tell, it's still super friendly and still precious little drama

also consider that chat has been there for 10 months and this problem is about 2 months old or so... yeah ok. and speaking for myself only, part of the reason i didn't use the contact form and after silently getting irritated for awhile before just kind of jumping into the dick fray was b/c i didn't feel like i needed to tell other people how to be in there. wasn't a good decision but people tend to have to figure out how they're going to deal with things that annoy them in there regardless. getting in fights always leaves me feeling shitty for days if not weeks and that's how i dealt with it that time.

ps. it's been stated repeatedly and since day 1 that chat talk is separate from any mefi site and i think this is a good lesson that even if chat gets metatalked to leave chat in chat, no matter how excited people might be to get name-checked. which is what i think happened in this thread initially. aside from dicks i honestly can't think of any in-joke that isn't specific to maybe joshing with specific personalities.
posted by twist my arm at 3:48 PM on September 30, 2013 [2 favorites]

We're trying out the new servers again this morning. Please contact us or post here if you have problems today.
posted by pb (staff) at 11:01 AM on October 2, 2013

A public service message: if you log into chat via the web client and don't see a MetaFilter logo at the top right, you're still using the old chat client. Try loading in your browser and then click the refresh button. If you still don't see a MetaFilter logo, you might need to clear your cache to get the most recent version.
posted by pb (staff) at 3:29 PM on October 2, 2013 [1 favorite]

(Hopefully minor) feature request: would it be possible to make the right-hand pane of the browser chat resizeable? I love the browser chat for its simplicity and the fact that it doesn't put /20s in people's names, but the right-hand pane (the one that shows the list of users) is a bit wider than it needs to be, at least on my computer, and when I have the chat window running at less than full screen (on a 1920x1080 display) the actual space where people's text comes out is sort of uncomfortably cramped. If I could click and drag to make that pane smaller, browser chat would be friggin' perfect as far as I'm concerned. Is this something that would be easy to do?
posted by Scientist at 10:00 AM on October 3, 2013

Unfortunately that's not an easy request. The sidebar isn't a frame within the browser, it's more like the sidebar here on MetaFilter. It's not something you can click and drag to change its size.

We could look at making it a bit smaller, but we've had complaints about names being truncated. And making that sidebar smaller would mean more truncation. So we're getting complaints on both sides of the sidebar.
posted by pb (staff) at 10:03 AM on October 3, 2013

Well, fair enough. Thanks for coming back so quickly with a real answer. I suppose you could make its size proportional to the window perhaps (maybe?) but that would probably still leave you in a position where it was sub-optimal for a lot of people, just a slightly different set of people.

I don't suppose it would be possible for it to be hideable/unhideable via a link or button of some kind?
posted by Scientist at 10:28 AM on October 3, 2013

If the customizeability of it is a big concern for you (and I am picky about my interfaces, so I totally understand) I'd really suggest getting a chat client that can connect to the MeFi Chat. This way you can make it look however you want and we can leave the web client bare bones so that it works for everyone.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 10:35 AM on October 3, 2013

If you want to test out a smaller sidebar and have access to Stylish in your browser, I whipped up this style to set it smaller:

.message-pane-wrapper {margin-right:160px;}
.roster-pane {width:160px;}

Yeah, I can look into making a show/hide option. If you want to try out hiding the sidebar completely, you can use this:

.message-pane-wrapper {margin-right: 0px;}
posted by pb (staff) at 10:35 AM on October 3, 2013

Wow, thanks pb! I've been running dedicated clients some of the time but I really prefer the web client in most ways. I really haven't found a dedicated client that I particularly like, whereas I do quite like the web interface, minus a couple of niggles. This was my biggest niggle, and now it looks like I have a solution! A Stylish script seems like a very appropriate way to deal with the issue. If you feel like putting in a show/hide button pb then so much the better, but you've already made me a very happy user.
posted by Scientist at 12:39 PM on October 3, 2013

A very minor quibble. When I PM somebody and the chat isn't sure that they're connected, I get this notice: "Notice: This user might be offline. We can't track his presence". For one, it sometimes happens with people who *are* online and when they reply they pop up in another tab so that I have two PM tabs for that person, one working and one not. That's weird, but not a big deal. Also, it seems to assume that the gender of the chatter I am PMing is male, even when I know for a fact that that's not the case. Is there anything simple that can be done about that?
posted by Scientist at 10:08 AM on October 7, 2013 [1 favorite]

I can definitely change the error message to be gender neutral. (I can't detect the gender of the chatter.)

I can understand the annoyance, but fixing little presence issues like that is going to require larger systemic changes. Both the web client and chat server are off-the-shelf software that we plug in and try to make work together as best we can. I've done some modification to both, but I'm not going to be able fix this one without spending some serious time on it. Since Chat is supposed to be a fun side option, we're not likely to invest much more time into it. As mentioned, if you're really annoyed by the web client you might look into a desktop client.
posted by pb (staff) at 10:40 AM on October 7, 2013

ok, if you reload the web client you should get the latest version that has an updated error message. It says, "This user might be offline. We can't track their presence."

That's the only specifically-gendered message I spotted in the code.
posted by pb (staff) at 10:51 AM on October 7, 2013 [1 favorite]

Oh sure, I didn't really expect that little bug to be fixed I just thought I would mention it. It's hardly a major bug anyway, just an odd behavior. The gender thing was more important to me, though neither of them were big deals. It just seemed like assuming maleness wasn't a very MetaFilter thing. Thank you for adjusting the message!
posted by Scientist at 12:17 PM on October 7, 2013

"This thundersweater might be offline. We can't track this thundersweater's presence."
posted by Scientist at 12:18 PM on October 7, 2013

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