For one of my teams at work, a key metrics we goal against is something called “Creator Comment Deletes.” This is what it says on the tin: how many comments do creators (per our creator classifier) delete each day. On one hand, this is a reasonable metric, because it keys in to something that is a real pain point among creators. However, like every metric at Meta, once you dig in deeper, it’s not quite what it seems.
To wit, “When comments become chat.” There is a small, but meaningful number of people who use comments as a chat thread. Once their chat is done, the creator goes through and deletes all the comments. This is not the intended use of the product, and particularly the deletes we use as an integrity signal. So, it’s all very confusing for us, and, as mentioned, it also tanks one of our key metrics.
Stepping back though, it seems like that any tool that can be used to chat, will be used to chat. There is a story from early CHI/CSCW work, looking at an airline reservation system (I think?). The agents had the ability to put notes on a reservation. So, within one office, they created a secret reservation which they all knew about. They used the notes functionality as a way to chat.
In the end, everything turns into chat.