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edit and tl;dr: this answer, along with the comment that chat rooms actually have owners, puts house rules in a historical context and also explains their workings and purpose a bit. Also my post may have deserved the downvotes since albeit my best attempts it seems to contain many points that can potentially ignite flame unnecessarily, for which I apologize.

As a side note, still I would find considerable for chat rooms (as they technically stand now) to be very clear and very explicit on their intended purpose in their topics, if they can.


original question

In stackexchange chat, where I admit I rarely enter, although with the greater affection that time, so far I always visited rooms that were free to read and write.

Today I've tried Android, and was quite surprised that I have to request access; even more surprised to find out that there are house rules.

I could understand the requirements for write access. But I was actually shocked to see the very first of the actual rules:

Please do not ask a question unless you have first thoroughly researched it yourself.

I was previously under the impression that the chat rooms are exactly where casual chatting should take place, and I identified that with questions that are often exile to Stackexchange, like asking for resources, or asking for opinions.

Many of the usual Stackexchanges rules are a bit strict, albeit for good reasons to keep the site useful. This is where questions are closed or downvoted when the asker did her/his best but just couldn't get it through for the first time, or was voted off-topic.

Now I saw previously chat a place for these casual talks. But the android room's first rule can actually be seen even more strict than that of Stackexchange - therefore I don't understand, what's the point of keeping chat rooms at all? If I have to 'research' my 'questions' just like that, why should I not as it on Stackexchange main sites right away?! Is it a good idea even to ask it on chat, if even after research I could not find an answer for it?!

This is personal, but it also adds to my confusion that this kind of chat culture starts to remind me of an era/behavior what I call op-wars. Here is my tale: in the old days back in the 90s when I visited chat rooms more often, the operator rights were many times assigned to a few selected who tried to justify their use for it but I've always had the feeling that their personality just took over and they ended up sharing it among those who were most friendly to them. After that the rooms started to slowly turn into the personal playground of the power bearers and everything they didn't like ended up as some kind of ever-growing house rules. This usually was most strange when people were banned for things that were actually not on the house rules but the admins told them they are rules nevertheless.

I think the Stackexchange reputation-based culture is a better idea, and also that the main sites should be where people focus on asking the good questions, and chat should be more casual and secondary.

Stackexchange was always the site what encouraged asking questions. This is a QA site after all. Not every question is allowed, but there is a very specific faq with practical help to make you ask a question that can be answered, and there is a whole meta site for asking questions that help you improve your questions... A rule out in the blue like 'research it thoroughly' is very ambiguous and I don't see why these house rules are even a step forward.

Could you point me to any resources what helps me understand why are these kind of house-ruling on chat are there, how it works, or why is it a good idea even?

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Chat rooms have owners that create them, and they are allowed to configure the room however they want, so long as they don't conflict with Stack Exchange's rules. Aside from providing the chat mechanism, Stack Exchange doesn't play much of a part in running the rooms themselves. –  animuson Sep 11 '13 at 17:17
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Oh darn, you need to do some work and can't find a place to get others to do all of your work for you. This is me being sad. –  Servy Sep 11 '13 at 17:18
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Just being reasonably well researched does not make a question necessarily appropriate for the main site. I would not be surprised if those chat rules are put in place to avoid those questions where everybody goes "oh come on, please at least read the documentation". –  Bart Sep 11 '13 at 17:19
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@Servy I'm just expressing my concerns here. Sorry if it seems too opinionated, I've tried not to be so. I'm not against researching, but you can ask questions on SE what are researched to a level - why bother with chat, then? Also, I don't want to give anyone work, but there are situations where others just know out of their heads because they know what you mean. I feel a conflict between SE and house-rule kind of chatting in their purpose. Is chatting casual? Is the chat room off? Is it elitist? Is it a replacement to SE functionality? What is the chat-room about? –  naxa Sep 11 '13 at 17:22
    
@Bart hehe, after all these years the topic is always RTFM. Seems to me: newbees not trying hard enough, oldies not willing to give up anything that doesn't amuse them. There will always be RTFM wars. As this is food for flame: only opinion/impression here, and no harm intended. –  naxa Sep 11 '13 at 17:25
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@naxa As per Bart's comment, just because a question is well researched doesn't mean it's appropriate for the site. SO demands a lot of real questions, beyond just that they be well researched. Much of that isn't there (by design) in chat. When you're requesting the time of an expert, and asking them to help you, free of charge, for nothing in return, they have every right to put whatever constraints they want on you. If you want people to do your work for you and prevent you from having to RTFM, then you can pay for the privilege. –  Servy Sep 11 '13 at 17:25
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You can set up your own alternate room for Android where all questions are accepted, but I'm guessing the existing room started out like that and quickly learned why that's a bad idea. –  Wooble Sep 11 '13 at 17:32
    
@Servy you have right points, both about well-researchedness and about RTFM. I'd argue though, that by asking questions noone expresses a 'want' for others to do his/her work. A question is not a contract. The whole thing can be casual, and don't forget that being there is always voluntary not only for newcomers but also for experts. Of course it is understandable that they've already built a community on a room... but I also can see a tendency that this ever-grows the barrier for any newcomer. Maybe because by their common title the attract people who find something territorial there. –  naxa Sep 11 '13 at 17:32
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@naxa Even you taking the time to ask a bunch of poor quality questions is consuming a lot of the communities time and effort, even if they don't give you an answer. Lots of people are reading it, they need to figure out that it's a crap question, etc. If you want to post crap and have it sit there unanswered, go to another site. There are lots of them with no quality filters at all; the catch is they have much poorer quality answers. If you want to post quality content and get quality responses, come to this site; that's what it's here for. –  Servy Sep 11 '13 at 17:35
    
@Wooble you are right. The whole chatting system was unclear to me, but these tendencies I try to describe pop up in most owners+rest architecture, and I didn't see how this plays with stackexchange. –  naxa Sep 11 '13 at 17:35
    
@Servy you are right with your points and thanks for your time answering my concerns. :) I don't think I would have any better solution to that yet, albeit I like Stackexchange's (sites) reputation-based mechanism very much. –  naxa Sep 11 '13 at 17:36
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I'm sorry, but when users argue that there is a barrier for newcomers, I always have to chuckle. I'm still one of those programmers who started by checking out the horribly out of date books in the library of my small town. Information has become so much more accessible that any "barrier" argument really does not make a lot of sense any more. Put a bit of effort into anything you want to ask, and you'll hardly have any problem participating anywhere on the site. Reading through their house rules, they seem entirely reasonable, and that room's history justifies them completely. –  Bart Sep 11 '13 at 17:37
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@Bart Similar situation here. Wasn't awesome at Google, just had a couple of books which were three years out of date. :D –  Manishearth Sep 11 '13 at 17:49
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I remember when I had to walk to the library in order to get this information. In the snow. Uphill. Both ways. Barefoot. –  Johnny Bones Sep 11 '13 at 18:05
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2 Answers 2

Not a duplicate, but this answers your question completely: http://meta.stackexchange.com/a/110688.

Generally speaking, chat rooms are the "third place;" they are there for folks to blow off steam and relax a bit. That can't happen if users of Stack Overflow are merely trying to circumvent the rules we've imposed there by posting their questions in the chat room instead.

Chat rooms are not a catchall for all of the vague, ill-defined, underspecified questions from those Android developers who want to write the next Angry Birds without bothering to crack a Java book.

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@naxa - In addition to what Robert said, and what the linked answer describes, there was a more fundamental problem. New visitors to that chat room had little respect for the members there, and would use direct pings to every visible user, spam the chat room with their questions, and demand answers to them. As with other restrictions on new user access here, a lack of consideration for other people is what led to this restricted access. –  Brad Larson Sep 11 '13 at 17:52
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Thanks, it is the question I should have found were I focused specifically on the Android chat room. It gives the reasons for their rules. There is something in the linked answer that would may be informational to incorporate into the rules, though: Also, chat is not tech support. We try to use the Android room to discuss higher level concepts. There are other Android rooms that may help you. That said, we do help out new guys, provided that they respect the rules. This makes the room's purpose and workings more clear. –  naxa Sep 11 '13 at 17:52
    
@BradLarson I can imagine those pings were indeed discouraging. The sites have a very good mechanism avoiding these problems, with the fundamental difference that they don't attract an air of instantness. –  naxa Sep 11 '13 at 17:55
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FWIW, the C++ chat room also has a similar set of rules, although, in the grand tradition of C++ development, their rules are more complicated. –  Robert Harvey Sep 11 '13 at 19:45
    
I think that the C# chat room also has a set of rules –  Travis J Sep 12 '13 at 16:39

When you speak about "my confusion that this kind of chat culture starts to remind me of ... op-wars." I believe your confusion stems from a misunderstanding of the chat implementation.

Your main question addresses this confusion, "[help] me understand why are these kind of house-ruling on chat are there, [and] how it works, or why is it a good idea even?".

The rooms are supposed to be considered "on topic" to the exchange they are on. "House rules", as you call them, are usually referred to as a wiki for the chat room. These guidelines in the wiki are put in place by people who are vested in the room in one way or another.

Furthermore, the wikis serve as a way for users who are new to the room to be able to understand the context of the conversation. Often users who do not frequent chat will simply paste the link to their question which creates a one-box, and then leave, or spam the one-box. Worse, some users will enter chat because they think it is casual enough to troll or provoke. Part of the wiki's goal is also to maintain a safe for work environment in the chat rooms and to keep the conversation on topic to the site it is relevant to.

I disagree that "chat rooms are exactly where casual chatting should take place", because the conversation topic should still be related to the exchange for the most part. There are times where casual comments are made, but the majority of the conversations tend to attempt to be constructive. I do not believe that chat was implemented here to serve as some sort of social networking separated from the relative exchange.

When that specific wiki for android indicates that you should do some research before asking a question, it is because they have probably experienced a large amount of questions by various users about how to make a complete app, and where to find the exact code for their app. These types of attempts are known as being a help vampire, and as a result they tend to be explicitly called out in chat wikis. Each room will vary depending on the micro community involved.

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