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.

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    Chat users seem to generally be pretty happy with their rooms. Are you looking for a specific kind of room and having trouble finding it? Perhaps we can point you in the right direction. – Pekka supports GoFundMonica Oct 4 '13 at 0:19
  • Kill the current ones? I'll go and warn them. – Jamal Oct 4 '13 at 0:20
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    I don't know where you hang out, but those rooms suck. – Etienne de Martel Oct 4 '13 at 0:23
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    A great deal of the chatroom is just "hello" messages. - Which chatroom? – doppelgreener Oct 4 '13 at 0:24
  • "chat.stackoverflow.com/rooms/29004/adobe-scripting-languages" – user2617804 Oct 4 '13 at 1:01
  • When I say hello message- I mean a noncontent message like I did because there is not a specific discuss StackOverflow chat room so I came here. – user2617804 Oct 4 '13 at 1:13
  • @user are you aware of the "active" sort view in the chat rooms list? Yes, there are inactive chatrooms, but they are extremely easy to filter out. What is the problem you are trying to solve here? – Pekka supports GoFundMonica Oct 4 '13 at 1:32
  • Yes I am aware of the sort but it leads to no better active ones aren't that active- chatrooms lead to no discussion because the topic is undefined so supposing lots of people are in it- they will end up talking about two or more topics- just a mess or one useful topic will be abandoned. The display list of the chat rooms also take up far too much screen space so you can only see 6 at time. – user2617804 Oct 4 '13 at 1:40
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    Stack Overflow isn't a forum. It actually started out as an antithesis to forums. What need (within the scope of SO) would be served by creating forums that isn't appropriately served right now? – Pekka supports GoFundMonica Oct 4 '13 at 1:58
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    Forums are for non-solution orientated coherent directed open discussion but that's explicitly outside Stack Overflow's scope and mission. That doesn't mean open discussion is a bad thing, but it's not what these sites exist for. – Pekka supports GoFundMonica Oct 4 '13 at 2:22
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    So you think chat is inefficient and hold up forums as a beacon of efficiency? – Flexo Oct 4 '13 at 7:41
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    Then chat rooms are outside Stack Overflow's scope and mission- you have to remove them haha. Yeah. Right. Chat on ServerFault and Arquade (OMG NON-SO SITES?) can be a very productive, useful, part of the StackExchange network. – tombull89 Oct 4 '13 at 13:33
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    LOL, OP is like, 14 amiright? – Tom O'Connor Oct 4 '13 at 13:35
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    Arqade chat is best chat. – Sterno Oct 4 '13 at 14:27
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    possible duplicate of Everything Should Be Different – Pekka supports GoFundMonica Oct 4 '13 at 19:52

A great deal of the chatroom is just "hello" messages.

Every room I'm in:

  • Discusses new questions which appear on the site
  • Helps clean up posts needing deletion
  • Helps discuss site policy
  • Frequently has activity
  • Positively contribute to my Stack Exchange experience

Also don't make SE more like forums. Please. Please. PLEASE.

  • I am not talking SE main except you probably keep asking the same questions because the search is a little limited- its the chatroom part that is hopeless- Your arguments are exactly same as for a forum structure except we stop pretending that most of the time there is going to be some mass-interaction and its makes the discussions about a topic rather who last wrote something there last. Just parse through StackOverFlow chatrooms to see how inactive they are- they could just have one forum for all programming SE -but that's a different issue. – user2617804 Oct 4 '13 at 1:10
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    @user2617804 Arqade's main chat rooms want a word with you. We discuss lots of different things, and to avoid cluttering up our main site discussion chat room, we split off other rooms. Even there, though, the discussions range far afield of the main topic. And I kinda sorta like that. – fbueckert Oct 4 '13 at 13:42
  • So use a forum structure and chat rooms and SE. – user2617804 Oct 4 '13 at 14:09
  • @user2617804 forums are @#%#@ for question/answer sites. There's a million reasons why. – enderland Oct 4 '13 at 14:17
  • @user2617804 Why should we use a forum structure? What advantages does it provide to us? I'm still not seeing why you think forums are the greatest thing since sliced bread. – fbueckert Oct 4 '13 at 14:19

Chatrooms were never meant to be strictly on-topic and only a place to ask questions. SE is not and never will be live support for all your needs. Everyone here volunteers their time and knowledge to people who are stuck on a problem and post here for assistance.

To me, the chatrooms are a good way to get to learn the community. Think of it as a watercooler.

People use the main sites to ask questions and the chats to chill out or possibly ask one-off questions that don't need their own question on the site itself. For example, ServerFault has a very active chatroom and we're hardly a live support (our message specifically mentions that we're not) but a place for like-minded people to mingle.

Also, forums...efficient? Okay...


Furthermore, they help to build a community, which is equally important. I can say that I probably would have long given up on Stack Exchange, except for the first few chat rooms I met in, I started to get to know some of the personalities behind the people there. You get to know things better. They help you to understand what's really happening with everything, and overall are a huge asset to Stack Exchange, in addition to what @enderland has said.

Bottom line, they are a huge part of making Stack Exchange a community, which is what keeps Stack Exchange apart from some of the other similar sites out there. They also give you a place where you can bring up a subject that isn't so important that it merits a meta discussion, but is worth discussing. For instance, I had a question that was closed wrongly, by discussing it in chat, we were able to get it re-opened quite quickly. It helps when you feel like you know them as well.

  • There is absolutely no reason you can't have both chat rooms and a secondary forums and GE - just a lot less chat rooms. The ridiculous downvoting just shows how immature and stick the mud MetaStackExchange participants are. Did they in response to this thread go roaring into the Adobe Scripting languages forum or the new one New Zealand- nope both are still dead. Eng-tips has no chat rooms and we have a great community in the major engineering areas. – user2617804 Oct 4 '13 at 13:41
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    The ridiculous downvoting just shows how immature and stick the mud MetaStackExchange participants are downvotes in meta are used to express disagreement with a point. If you think that people who disagree with you are "immature" and/or "stick in the mud" then it's not really worth trying to have a sensible discussion with you. – Rob Moir Oct 4 '13 at 14:00
  • A lot of comments didn't read what I wrote- why don't you downvote them. – user2617804 Oct 4 '13 at 14:56
  • @user2617804 You can't downvote comments – Lamak Oct 4 '13 at 14:56
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    @user2617804 huh?, no, because there is not a way to downvote comments, only answers – Lamak Oct 4 '13 at 14:59
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    @user2617804 your argument is invalid, my hair is a bird. – swasheck Oct 4 '13 at 15:09
  • @RobM Meta's voting mechanism is explicitly for tracking whether the community agrees with a suggestion or not. And are you seriously suggesting that we are not making very sensible, carefully worked out arguments why there shouldn't be a Stack Overflow forum? – Pekka supports GoFundMonica Oct 4 '13 at 15:48
  • Oh, we're at -30 now. I agree that is a bit excessive. Still - if you walk into an ice cream shop, and insist they should be selling boots along with the ice cream (without ever having even talked to the owners of the ice cream shop before), what response do you expect you will be getting? – Pekka supports GoFundMonica Oct 4 '13 at 19:29
  • I got downvoted on a totally valid question. What the noise- you have over a thousand posts on what the is difference between these two lines. How can I insist- you think I am a powerful US government or simply the admin- I am just a guy making a suggestion based on my experience in Stack Overflow. You are registration required unstructured forum, most forums require some proof that you aren't a malicious entity- some are as difficult to satisfy as SE- I have not had one reply that actually says how SE is magically different from anything else. boots- sub yoghurt. This is talking to owners. – user2617804 Oct 5 '13 at 2:37
  • Uh @perhapsPekka I was replying to the comment I quoted from user2617804 and making the exact same point to them that you appear to be trying to make to me. – Rob Moir Oct 5 '13 at 21:27
  • I got downvoted on a totally valid question. Yes @user2617804 you did. And downvotes in meta mean that people disagree with you. You essentially said "please please please let me get what I want" and the downvoters are saying "No, we don't agree with that". If you can't accept that is the case here then its hard to know what else to suggest except that, respectfully, If you want to insist that Stack Exchange/Stack Overflow has to redefine itself in order to fit your vision then Stack Exchange may not be the place for you. – Rob Moir Oct 5 '13 at 21:30
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    @RobM ah, I got confused by the bolded quote. Re redefine itself, this feature request is a duplicate of meta.stackexchange.com/questions/70702/… – Pekka supports GoFundMonica Oct 5 '13 at 21:56

SE explicitly is also not a forum - the structure, and rules of the site are designed to minimise the noise in the signal, something a forum with subforums would have. To quote Jeff Atwood (who, amusingly enough, is currently working on a neat new forum software)

At Stack Exchange, one of the tricky things we learned about Q&A is that if your goal is to have an excellent signal to noise ratio, you must suppress discussion. Stack Exchange only supports the absolute minimum amount of discussion necessary to produce great questions and great answers.

Forums and subforums, as such, are the antithesis of SE as a whole.

On the other hand, there's some things that need noise. We might need a quick clarification of best practices, or share advice on how best to do things. We might talk about proto-questions, bouncing off ideas to convert it from something unworthy of being a question, into something deep, and useful.

In short, chat is the social side of an antisocial construct. If you don't need it, fine. Some of us do use it regularly and would miss it. We'd lose something thats in effect our social club and the main way to have discussions with people. Mods use it to superping folk. We use root access for stuff that won't fit on the main site sometimes, and I've learnt a lot hanging around on the comms room. Simply, SE would be a much poorer place without it.

And on meta sites, a downvote means they disagree with what you said - I for one, do not agree with you. I feel you misunderstand the utility of chatrooms, and that if you don't like them, you don't have to go there.

  • What load of nonsense- you are a forum even more like Yahoo answers - with some pretentiousness and some really bad help areas- you obviously missed the part where I said mostly in regard to Stack Overflow there is a lot of dying chat rooms. Keep the living ones but for discussable questions- have a forum as well. – user2617804 Oct 4 '13 at 14:08
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    This is not a forum. If you want people to take you seriously, do not call it a forum. I'm not even going to touch your equating this with yahoo answers - since thats a morass of stupidity. I tend to think of the chat system here as IRC-like, where you can create rooms as needed, and they get frozen due to disuse. How do dying chat rooms impede the utility of the ones we have? Do we really need to throw out the baby with the dog's bathwater? – Journeyman Geek Oct 4 '13 at 14:10
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    @JourneymanGeek Well, we're technically a forum in the definition of "a meeting or assembly for the open discussion of subjects of public interest". We're certainly not a forum in the generally accepted internet usage, though. – fbueckert Oct 4 '13 at 14:22
  • I'm not convinced the OP is meaning it in that sense from his comment, and seems to have missed the whole social aspect of real time chat. I do believe that the main + meta system works well for most of us, and further splitting wouldn't help in any way. – Journeyman Geek Oct 4 '13 at 14:34

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