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Recently, I've found that more and more people have been posting questions just in the chat rooms instead of on the main site. It's like, OK, I get that you have a problem, but the chatroom is not the appropriate place. There is an entire Q&A site out there, and this is the chat part, not the Q&A part. I understand that there are some questions where it's probably easier to get an answer in the chat, for very small/simple questions, or questions which are duplicates of existing questions the answers to which were unhelpful or where the asker may require additional information, or if they wanted to ask a specific person, or somesuch. But people should not be posting questions in the chat that fulfill the requirements of being a primary question, and especially not just dumping their code into the chat, as I've seen today. I come to the chat to be social and discuss with fellow programmers, not duplicate the functionality of the rest of the site.

Not that I have any ideas as to what systems could be introduced to reduce this. But it sure is starting to tick me off.

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2 Answers 2

up vote 5 down vote accepted

I'd say it is entirely up to the audience.

If people are okay with answering questions, fine. I think chat is a great place to handle small, trivial syntax questions like this one, especially in the language specific rooms. It is a great service to the whole site, because it creates considerably less noise.

Anything that seems to extend into a Q&A or debugging session, or is otherwise disruptive to normal communication in the chat room, should be pointed politely but firmly to SO.

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I tried politely but firmly. I think that the other person's grasp of English was insufficient. –  DeadMG Mar 16 '11 at 16:28
    
@DeadMG that sucks. What room was that in? –  Pëkka Mar 16 '11 at 16:30
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@DeadMG if all else fails, maybe (politely) write PLEASE GO TO STACKOVERFLOW.COM and if that fails, write PLEASE GO AWAY. –  Pëkka Mar 16 '11 at 16:41

Do not use chat rooms for questions that would be on-topic on a Stack Exchange site. Post them on the site instead. If someone asks a question on the chat, don't answer, refer them to the appropriate Stack Exchange site.

This does not apply to questions that are genuinely trivial, or questions that don't have any appropriate Stack Exchange site (e.g. shopping recommendations or other “too localized” questions).

What makes Stack Exchange better than discussion sites is that you can search questions that have already been asked, find all the answers in one place, and see how people have rated the answers. These features are not available in the chat. If you answer in chat, you're only helping one person, and you're not giving other people a chance to provide a better answer.

There are things for which chat is useful, such as interactive troubleshooting (“try this command, what's the output? Now try that command, does it work? And now?”). Chat is more appropriate for this than comments on a question. But please summarize and link to the chat conversation in a question or answer afterwards, so that future viewers can see the methodology that brought the solution to light.

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