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Updates: Apparently I've missed the boat and indeed chat rooms are a more open concept than the standard Q&A forum style.

Initially I've had a tough time transitioning my mindset away from the disciplined "programming related" motto that is religiously applied within the main forums. It will take a while for me to get used to the StackOverflow logo being associated with a more relaxed style. Loving the chat rooms though.

Further Update: This standard Third Place definition provided by Aarobot helped to clear up the intention of the new chat area for me. This was the missing piece in my puzzle: The chat area has always been referred to as "Third Place" for this reason. Excellent.

Example

While wandering around the new chat feature I happened upon the Female Developers room. In this case does it make sense to organize chats rooms by gender or by grouping people in various ways? I can foresee, for example, various groups of people creating rooms to hang out in instead of necessarily having programming related content.

Maybe, in the above example, I'm misunderstanding the room name and there's actually a programming language called Female! ;)

While I understand there are issues specific to females in the workplace, is it considered programming related; should it be? Asked another way, from a programming perspective does being female matter?

Currently there is no description of what the room is about. Maybe they just haven't built it up yet.

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It is this kind of complete overreaction that indeed do give female programmers something to talk about. –  Uphill Luge Oct 26 '10 at 6:27
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@Hans Passant: I'm unsure what you're referring to as "complete overreaction". Can you explain? I thought I was more wondering about something and adding in some humour along the way. Maybe you sense a political correctness angle; however that's not what the core of the question is about. Mainly I'm wondering if "programming related" is as stringently applied to the new chat as the forums. –  John K Oct 26 '10 at 6:29
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-1 for snarkiness. –  Andrew Grimm Oct 26 '10 at 7:25
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The interesting question is whether that room was actually created by a female developer... :) –  Benjol Oct 28 '10 at 5:13

3 Answers 3

Relax.

Everybody can create a chat room, and unless it's really blatantly off-topic or beyond good taste, I would personally be fine with it.

I think it's okay if the rules are a little looser than on the main site, or sooner or later we'll start deleting chat messages because they don't pass the six good-subjective-questions tests.

Side story: Yesterday, the mentioning of spray cheese in the PHP room was flagged for moderator attention as being "not PHP related".

So, bottom line: That room is fine for me. If it gets traction -- fine. If it doesn't -- fine.

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Indeed my mind is still strongly conditioned to watch out for "programming related" whenever I see the StackOverlow logo associated with anything. Will take a bit of time for it to transition to a looser chat style. –  John K Oct 26 '10 at 7:35

Correct me if I'm wrong, but I thought the whole idea of the chat system was to give people the opportunity to discuss things that aren't really appropriate for the Q&A or meta sites, to joke around and veer off-topic as much (or as little) as they please.

The chats are supposed to address the members' collective desire to "socialize", while still maintaining a little of the original atmosphere but without turning the entire system into a social network.

Now, OK, if a group of members has created a chat room to share torrents or plan suicide bombings, maybe that's a bit of a problem. But really, female programmers? I don't think that's hurting anyone. Whether or not they can get more than six people to join, is another question.

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Interesting idea about the chat system. Is there a thread with original intentions of the chat feature? Maybe the creators are letting it self assemble to see what comes of it, or maybe it is just as open you as suggested. –  John K Oct 28 '10 at 0:45
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@John: Considering that the team has always called it the "third place", I think it's pretty clear what the intentions are. –  Aarobot Oct 28 '10 at 2:15
    
+1 Thanks for the link - that clears things up greatly. I had seen the term 'Third Place' bandied about , but this is the first time I've realized there's a standard definition. That's a great link; updating the question with it. –  John K Oct 28 '10 at 2:25

Its possibly a gray area.

I have no problem (and I can even understand the need of) a female programmer chatroom. But what if somebody started an all white programmer chatroom or a muslim programmer chatroom. That probably won't be allowed.

So I think that to be on the safe side, chatroom subjects should be limited to programming related subjects.

By the way, because we are all (more or less) anonymous, if you are really bothered with the female chatroom, why not create a female alter ego...

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You mean an alter ego like Robert Downey Jr's character in Tropic Thunder? youtube.com/watch?v=xerMz8aqTn4 –  John K Oct 26 '10 at 6:16

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