I've been looking around trying to find an answer to this question, but I haven't actually found a resource that gives a good answer. It continues to surprise me that chat is as separated as it is.

I ask because I can see the possibility for a couple good arguments as to why this should be the case, but they aren't immediately obvious to me. Still, I have to acknowledge the possibility that this configuration was intentional, since it seems too weird to be unintentional.

Is there a good reason why Stack Overflow chat is still on its network? If not, what is the historical reason/how did this come about?

  • 2
    Are you asking why chat (regardless of platform) exists in the first place, why we aren't using a third-party chat system, or something else?
    – Adam Lear StaffMod
    Commented Dec 2, 2015 at 22:53
  • 1
    You are aware there are 3 production chatservers, right? chat.so, chat.se and chat.mse. Or what Adam says...
    – rene
    Commented Dec 2, 2015 at 22:54
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    @AdamLear I'm wondering why there are separate servers; i.e., why moderation, privileges, etc. don't carry over between Stack Overflow chat and Stack Exchange chat (and, indirectly, if they can be unified).
    – user206222
    Commented Dec 2, 2015 at 22:54
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    @Emrakul Ahh, gotcha. Thanks.
    – Adam Lear StaffMod
    Commented Dec 2, 2015 at 23:02
  • 3
    Related: Assimilate chat.MSE into chat.SE.
    – Doorknob
    Commented Dec 2, 2015 at 23:14
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    If chats and sites were merged, what would be the consequences? I know websites privileges but I don't see how they would apply on chatrooms. Commented Dec 3, 2015 at 0:07
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    I suspect it's just for historical reasons, no deep thought or planning behind it. Commented Dec 3, 2015 at 7:24
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    If merging chat.so with chat.se means I'll get mod privileges on chat.so then... please let's keep them separate.
    – yannis
    Commented Dec 3, 2015 at 9:55
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    @Yannis If that ever happened, it doesn't mean you'd have to use the privileges.
    – Taryn
    Commented Dec 3, 2015 at 15:34

2 Answers 2


Originally the idea was for each Stack Exchange site to have its own associated chat site. There was chat.stackoverflow.com, chat.superuser.com, chat.askubuntu.com, chat.webapps.stackexchange.com (there was also chat.nothingtoinstall.com, but that's a whole other story).

But we soon realized that for most sites, the chat sites ended up being pretty sad and lonely places, with just one or two chat rooms each. And so in January 2011 we decided to create a single chat.stackexchange.com instead, with chat rooms for all the different sites. The only exception (other than then-MSO, now-MSE, which is always a special case) was the Stack Overflow chat, which had (and has) enough rooms and activity to warrant having its own site.

Rooms on chat.stackoverflow.com tend to be organized around tags (or related technology groupings), whereas for most other Stack Exchange sites the discussion concentrates in a single general chat rooms for the whole site (imagine such a room for Stack Overflow!).

Chat.SO and chat.SE have similar amounts of activity (on the order of 600k messages per month these days), so if chat.SE were to assimilate chat.SO, half of the mega chat site's activity would be from Stack Overflow, drowning everything else.

So, like so often when the question is "Why is X different about Stack Overflow?", the answer is "Because of volume."

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    "other than then-MSO, now-MSE, which is always a special case" Would you be able to elaborate? I'm not sure I understand why MSE has a separate chat server
    – Stevoisiak
    Commented Jun 18, 2017 at 0:36
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    Even though MSE and SO are on separate servers due to the size, why do the reputation requirements for privileges on the separate chat servers have to be site-specific? Commented Jun 18, 2017 at 0:39

It's on its own network for historical reasons.

It's still on its own network because there is a cost to migrating everything to chat.SE, and so far the benefits have not been worth that cost.

Pretty normal software development stuff.

  • If we are widely guessing why don't you add scaling/performance or even staging? That is also pretty normal software development and deployment stuff.
    – rene
    Commented Dec 11, 2015 at 11:18
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    I'm glad I made at least someone smile today ....
    – rene
    Commented Dec 11, 2015 at 11:21

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