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I feel chat is somewhat hidden & I need to dig inside to join a chat session. Isn't it? Current form of SE chat looks like group-restricted real-time discussion forum. Its chat of 90s.

Please, make chat like Facebook Group Chat. Some highlights:

  • Allow users to get real-time alerts of chosen rooms.
  • Allow users to chat over all pages with chat box at bottom.
  • Keep current form (full-page view) as back-end & -- of course -- with switching facility.

If anyone has problem with Facebook, replace it with Google Talk. Its integrated with Gmail & many companies allow it in Google Apps. So, its productive..

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NOMNMNOM NOM ... wait what? ? ? Sachin, we are anti-Facebook-chatness here. Chat is supposed to be hidden, in fact, I overheard an admin saying they want to MD5-Hide it in a Pseudononce, but I don't know what it means. – Adel Mar 17 '12 at 21:55
Please, not more Facebook. Besides, Stack Overflow is mainly questions and answers, not chat. – Ryan O'Hara Mar 17 '12 at 21:56
@Adel k.. its supposed to be hidden, but if someone wants to opt-in for modern-style chat, what's the problem.. It'll still be hidden to all others. That's why I added chosen rooms.. – Evil Angel Mar 17 '12 at 22:03
@minitech SO is of course QnA site, but still it has chat. It brings community closer. On SFF.SE, I don't like when I miss a chat session while I am online.. – Evil Angel Mar 17 '12 at 22:06
@SachinShekhar - Well, Facebook already won in that area(pic-uploading too). SO has little interest in competing with FB. I do think the real-time alerts of chosen rooms idea has potential. But even so, the title itself here is the main issue. – Adel Mar 17 '12 at 22:07
Is it me or has the edit changed the scope of the question? – Benny Mar 17 '12 at 22:10
@Adel Its not a competition with FB, but borrowing a tech idea from it is not a bad thing.. – Evil Angel Mar 17 '12 at 22:16
How is having real time chat taking up a portion of every page while you're trying to ask and answer questions productive? – user149432 Mar 17 '12 at 22:20
@MarkTrapp Consider two situations: Normally surfing questions under a tag or leaving the site open – Evil Angel Mar 17 '12 at 22:26
@SachinShekhar That's not the primary user story of Stack Exchange (which is to ask and answer questions, then go do stuff with the knowledge). You're trying to optimize for an edge case (leaving SE open all the time) that's already sufficiently handled (if you're leaving SE open all the time, why not leave chat open all the time, too?). – user149432 Mar 17 '12 at 22:27
@MarkTrapp Thanks for the comment.. It has brewed something new: Mute Feature.. – Evil Angel Mar 17 '12 at 22:27
@MarkTrapp have you checked this new feature (real-time update):… According to you, its not useful at all.. Am I right? – Evil Angel Mar 17 '12 at 22:31
@Sachin: unfortunate choice of examples... That feature is quite tame compared to what you're suggesting, and yet already somewhat controversial, as some folks see it as being intrusive. – Shog9 Mar 17 '12 at 22:34
Hey, I have an idea: How about if we got rid of chat and replaced it with a Q&A system? ...ohwait – Cody Gray Mar 18 '12 at 7:41
up vote 17 down vote accepted


There are many ways chat could be better integrated into the main site, and a few of them are probably worth considering... For instance, active discussions are exposed on the main sites in a very limited fashion:

That active chatroom box that appears in the right-hand sidebar

Note the distinction between this and what you're asking for though: this gives you a heads-up that there's some chatting going on, but doesn't jump out and try to drag you into it. You're free to ignore it if you don't care, and most folks do just that.

Remember: the goal of these sites' design is explicitly that of discouraging conversational problem-solving, where questions are ill-defined and answers are spread out over lengthy back-and-forth discussions. That format was widely available prior to Stack Overflow, and while quite effective at getting problems solved, it was hell to actually get something re-usable out of it. A lot of folks hang out on these sites so that they don't have to answer the same question 10,000 times, a situation hardly unusual in traditional chat and message-board formats.

Anything that encourages discussion over straight-up questions and answers is a bad thing in the context of Stack Exchange.

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Why do you always manage to say it so much better and more politely then I can? Although I think working for SE has made you a bit tame on the latter part :) – BinaryMisfit Mar 17 '12 at 22:26
It's much easier to be polite when you know the feature you're arguing against has a showball's chance in hell of actually being implemented... I was considerably more abrasive in the early days, because it wasn't clear that some of these common suggestions wouldn't end up fundamentally changing the system that I loved. – Shog9 Mar 17 '12 at 22:29
The last part is probably the explanation for my addiction to SE, and my complete inability to leave. – BinaryMisfit Mar 17 '12 at 22:35
"...the goal of these sites' design is explicitly that of discouraging conversational problem-solving, where questions are ill-defined and answers are spread out over lengthy back-and-forth discussions." In that case, why were comments implemented? Why do the chat rooms exist? – raven Mar 17 '12 at 22:37
@raven For the edge cases, and the 10% of questions that do require it. However, a lot of questions have been answered, and in some cases, without a single comment. It might not be always be obvious, but take a sample of about 200 questions from the top and you'll be surprised how few really need extensive comments etc. – BinaryMisfit Mar 17 '12 at 22:40
@raven Yes.. perhaps, to move lengthy comment-based discussion to a separate page.. – Evil Angel Mar 17 '12 at 22:44
Also note, @raven, that comments were made rather intentionally unfriendly toward extended discussion or really anything that needs to be found again later. Once you get past five messages (outside of Meta), your comments aren't even visible to the casual reader. (given some of the comment threads I've seen lately, it's possible they need to be made even more unfriendly...) – Shog9 Mar 17 '12 at 22:44


The chat system was built to be a separate entity and an extremely opt in option. The developers also spent a considerable amount of time developing, testing, breaking, re-testing, breaking, disabling, re-enabling and finally getting it right. Right for SE that is.

Unlike other websites, SE learned quickly that user options are complicated and painful to implement, and 90% of the time not worth the trade off. If an option can't work for everyone, then it shouldn't be there. Giving a user a list of options to complete before they can functionality use it is not worth the tradeoff.

Lastly, SE is not a social network. It's not a chat site. It's a Q&A system. Let's keep it that way. Those that want to be involved in chat, well, they can click on the link and spend their days there.

Disclaimer: Personally I despise any type of online chatting system. Facebook chat and Google chat is two applications I dislike with a passion, and would rather reinstall MSN messenger before using them.

Seriously people, stop trying to turn SE into another social network. Hell stop comparing it to any other website, it's unique, with a unique goal. The solid believe in doing stuff the SE way is why it is such a bloody successful platform

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The idea would promote chat to an equal with Q&A--perhaps even more than equal--so, not just "No", but "Hell, no!".

Chat is, by design, a "third place". Promoting would be exactly equivalent to installing a PM system which has been repeatedly and decisively shot down.

Nor does "Make it opt-it" cut the mustard...these features would require considerable developer and moderator time and energy. Time and energy which is needed to continue improving the core mission of the sites.

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That's a very good point, about .these features would require considerable developer and moderator time and energy. , great response thanks. – Adel Mar 17 '12 at 22:24
There's no extra time & energy involved for moderation because back-end system is still same... – Evil Angel Mar 17 '12 at 22:43
@SachinShekhar Since the whole point of the request is to create more interaction, it would require more moderation. – dmckee Mar 17 '12 at 23:09

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