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Sometimes I see somebody is active on Area 51 that it might be interesting to chat with, but it seems Area 51 doesn't have its own chat room.

It also seems there is no mechanism to leave messages on a user's profile page to say "Hey, come join chat room XYZ to talk about proposal ABC".

Are my observations right? What is a good way to initiate a chat with a user on Area 51 (assuming it's not somebody you already know)?

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If you want to do it publicly, create a room and add it to the announcements (or make a Discuss question about it, linking to the proposal). There's really no way to communicate with an individual user. You could check to see if they have contact info on their profile, or leave contact info on your profile and an announcement to mail you if they are interested in chatting. It would work to leave a comment on one of their proposed questions, preferably deleting it after it was read, but this is less desirable. – jonsca Jul 25 '11 at 13:39
@jonsca: Yes I felt the same way about leaving then deleting such a comment when I instead decided to post this question. Well I might create a Languages and Linguistics chat room for all the XYZ Language & Usage proposals plus the Languages proposal and the Linguistics proposal. But what are these "announcements" of which you speak? – hippietrail Jul 25 '11 at 13:46
Incidentally, I had found this, which says that each proposal in Commitment phase will get a chat room, but I don't know if that came to fruition. For the announcements, go to any proposal, and underneath the title and scope is a "Flag proposal" link, any announcements, and an "Add announcements" link. – jonsca Jul 25 '11 at 13:53
@jonsca: Thanks. I had not fully noticed that Announcements and Discussions were separate things. I don't find Area51 very intuitive I suppose. – hippietrail Jul 25 '11 at 13:57
Yes, it's got its own brand. – jonsca Jul 25 '11 at 14:42
up vote 5 down vote accepted

There was an Area 51 chat room, but it was inactive long enough that the chat system froze it. I've re-opened it.

However, if it's not used for some time, it will get re-frozen.

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StackExchange in general does not encourage personal interaction between members. SE is not a social network, and one of the reasons it manages to be so effective at topical QnA is it side-steps many of the complicating human factors.

They are not strictly opposed to it, they just go out of their way to make sure it happens off the network and not on it. Users do have profile spaces where they can choose to give up personal contact details or not as they see fit. My profile links to personal contact info, but many high-reputation users choose not to be contactable outside SE.

That said, if some discussion thread or comment was what got your interest, you can get the attention of that users by at-replying to them. If you comment on a users post or question (or if in a set of comments that they have participated in) with @username that user will be notified via the global inbox system. You could easily make a suggestion to chat in an existing room or have them contact you off network.

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