Chat rooms are so inefficient- Stack Overflow has a ridiculous number of chat rooms. I'd create a simple forum/subforum category (chat rooms can become threads or subsubforums) structure, kill the current ones and transfer their content to individual threads (I assume some people want that stuff). Chat rooms rarely if ever reach critical mass for interactions- it takes a secondary event to get such interaction (such as make a game in a real short time with webcast). Bridgebase online has chat (kibitz) for bridge events and that rarely gets to significant interaction. A great deal of the chat rooms are just "hello" messages. -
To modify this I mean lets reduce the number of chat rooms in Stack Overflow- I can't speak in regard to other SE sites- keep the most active chat rooms- the ones people passionately want to be involved with.
Have a secondary forum system (in addition to SE main thingy)- you can direct people to stage threads for consideration for main SE posting (say give them extra reputation for doing so). It can also be an excellent source of links to commonly asked questions/ good tutorials etc. in particular subareas (programming languages) of the main SE sites- saving a whole lot of fruitless question asking when your search fails or simply you don't try too hard to search. It can allow discussable questions like this one- though truly answerable questions are not common in MetaStack Exchange. You can bring up issues about posting. Allow people to share actual site usage help much quicker than trawling through help FAQ (which won't ever be changed quickly) or trawling through the other areas. It will also be a means for people who want to form a community even it base is weak like the New Zealand forum- when people go to chat room and its empty- they are so discouraged (I was)- posting on a thread that was updated yesterday- much less discouraging- people encouraged to be actually involved.