I'm considering myself a chat regular and as such, I've witnessed a small but growing trend of on-topic (wrt the main site) questions of varying quality being asked in chat rather than on the main site. While the general sentiment appears to be to answer those whenever any one or more chatters feel like it, I'm dissatisfied with this trend for several reasons:
- Asking in chat seems like a short cut, or a way to cheat the community for quick answers, while depriving other aid-seekers of those answers.
- Answers and Questions are not indexed and categorized and are thus less accessible to others than Q&A on the main site.
- Quality rules etc. are much more relaxed in chat. This invites questions that will be penalised on the main site, i.e. questions that are easily solved by general references or search engines, which might be a symptom of help vampires.
- While distinct from the main site in user interaction paradigm, the quality and timeliness of answers might reflect on the main site. However, chat gives no guarantees regarding availability or willingness to answer questions quickly. This disparity might lead to aid-seeker dissatisfaction, which is not something we want in general.
- In fact, over the last day, four questions have amassed and remained unanswered, drawing a comment as to an unusual quietness already.
- Posting on the main site will expose a question to many more problem solvers at many more times of the day, which is something we want in general, because it ensures some kind of service level assertion which the chat regulars cannot provide. This is what our core competence is on the main site.
- Chat doesn't have obvious boundaries about what's on-topic. While the contents of the main site in general could be named as its obvious mission, small talk and topics outside the realm of the german language appear to be welcome and heartily discussed, as per live consensus among the chatters at the time the topic is posed.
- That said, I feel like "contents of the main site is its obvious mission" is actively being misunderstood. It is my own understanding that the main intention of chat is to help users with the contents on the main site, not to be a substitute for the main site - fixing closed answers, improving low rated answers etc., instead of just moving these contributions to chat.
- In that, I think regarding its mission, chat should serve rather like the extension of meta.glSE, instead of the "sewers" or "backyard" of glSE.
What I'd like the community to discuss in this thread is
- a) What is your opinion about what the mission of our main chat room shall be? What are the topic boundaries?
- b) Am I wrong in my reception that chat is partly misused to place questions as a short cut instead of at the main site?
- c) If you see this, too, do you feel that's a problem?
The individual answer is obvious: Don't answer those questions if you feel they're inappropriate. However, I fear that this might be interpreted as indifference, which it is not. I'd rather there be a consensus on this, so that aid-seekers may be redirected to the main site with confidence whenever prompt help cannot be supplied in chat.