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Some days ago, I was surprised by a message that I am the new chat room owner of The frying pan.

Nobody, not even the moderators here, knew why, or what I am supposed to do with that, or what privileges I have. I just happened to have made a slightly verbose conversation in chat a few days ago. As it is ridiculously simple to do so, I hadn't read the faq before using (or known that there is one) and I doubt that most other users read it. It isn't all that interesting if all one wants is synchronous communication.

Now some intricated mechanism for orphaned chat rooms had logged my activity and selected me as the new owner. I don't mind that. But it came very sudden, and I was really confused. I tried out what my new privileges are (and not thinking to revert my nonsense until it was so late I had to ask a moderator to bail me out), combed the meta here, then the meta on SO (where I learned about the orphanded room mechanism), then finally found the faq for chat.

My proposal is that a message is created, which should in some way be shown to new chat room owners. This message should contain:

  • An explanation of the "new owner for orphaned rooms" rule
  • An explanation of what the community expects of a chat room owner. I still don't know much on this point, but with the slowgoing chat here, it doesn't seem to bother anyone that I'm doing nothing.
  • A short list of all tools now available to the owner, and maybe an explanation of their intended use. I found pinning hard to understand? What it is supposed to be used for?
  • A link to the Chat faq.

It would be best if the owner was able to access this information at later points too (so not just a message in chat).

Credit for this proposal should go to @Sobachatina, who expressed this as "You'd think they'd mail you an instruction manual when you were appointed leader." (original message)

If you want to know exactly how much confusion such a new appointment creates, you can read the transcript.

  • To be fair, I think I was the only mod that didn't know anything about it. Hobodave and Aaronut weren't involved. – yossarian Apr 20 '11 at 17:24
  • @yossarian, I didn't want to imply that any of you three hadn't done his homework - sorry if it sounded like that. I wanted to point out that this knowledge is so obscure that not even a moderator can be expected to have it. And anyway, your job isn't to teach every newbie how everything works, just to point their errors out to them, after they've made them. – rumtscho Apr 20 '11 at 17:43
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A room owner isn't really that big of a deal. In most cases, it's just the person who happens to be the one who created the room, and besides changing the room name and RSS feeds, there's really not much they'd usually do.

In particular, there's not much I'd expect from a room owner, except for not being a jerk; but I expect that from everyone :) I especially wouldn't go so far to call this "appointing a leader".

The reason the auto-owner thing was added was just that it's nice to have someone around who knows their way around in the room and can add or remove the occasional RSS feed etc.

You're right in so far that there's not much explanation happening; we'll at least add this to the FAQ and link the relevant part from the "has been appointed" message. Another good point is that you in particular haven't really been active for long, you've just been very active within a short period of time, so we may make the criteria a little more granular as well.

Also, if you (or someone in the same situation) doesn't want this "job", feel free to remove ownership from yourself; possibly after making someone else owner who feels more like being one (you can do that one the room's access control tab).

And lastly, congratulations :)

  • Thank you. A separate section in the faq will be enough for what I imagined, if it is, as you proposed, linked in the informing message. It is OK that it isn't a big deal, it's just that it sounds like one once it hits the unprepared, so such info would be very useful. And please include the list from the third point in the explanation; while the availability to an owner is spelled out for every tool in the appropriate faq part, seeing everything at once would be nice for the (new) owners. – rumtscho Apr 20 '11 at 17:48
  • As for changing the rule, I can see the point in that. But when a chat is as empty as The Frying Pan, you probably can't create a perfect rule. So please expect the awarding of room ownership to newbies to happen again in the future, and ease the shock for them :) – rumtscho Apr 20 '11 at 17:53
  • @rumtscho: That's fine -- just take a look at chat.stackoverflow.com: Many of the highly active rooms just have some random owner, because user XYZ just happened to be the one who created the C# room (just picking an example, didn't check who's the owner there). – balpha Apr 20 '11 at 18:16

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