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I'd like to see chat integrated a little more into the site for those who actively use it. Stealing the concept from Facebook, I believe it would be a nice addition to show a "chat bar" on the side of the page.

The chat bar would only show up if the following conditions are met:

  • You have favorited one or more chat rooms.

  • Your browser viewport is over a specific width.
    You would always have the ability to toggle the side bar, which would be remembered on subsequent visits.

The chat bar would contain a summary of your favorite rooms, who is currently active, and a summary of the starred topics. An indicator would also appear to let you know if there are any unread messages targeting you in the chat room.

In addition, you would hear the sound notification if you are mentioned in any of your favorited chat rooms, even when they are not open.

This idea could be further improved on. Perhaps you could expand certain rooms and be able to chat from within the sidebar without having to actually enter the room, for example.

Here's a quick mockup of the idea, looking at the front Stack Overflow page:
Please excuse the same content copy and pasted a few times, this is just a conceptual mockup. enter image description here

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I don't see how this improves Stack Exchange as a whole. If comments are second-class citizens, what does that make chat?

Our goal is to accumulate quality questions and answers. If people want to keep up with activity in their favorite chat rooms, all they have to do is keep a single chat tab open constantly (which I do). If you're pinged in any room, you'll get a notification that's pretty easy to spot (there's a sound effect, the title of the tab gets an * added to it, and if you visit any room a little ping thingy shows up on the right hand sidebar) .

Basically: I think you can keep up-to-date with chat easily with tools already available, and since chat isn't the main focus I think this would be a waste of dev time. My $0.02, anyway!

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  • You make a good point comparing answers to comments to chats. That surely puts a good perspective on the value of content. Aug 25, 2013 at 18:22

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