6

Often times I have questions I'd like to ask on the Workplace, after going through the process of writing the question, I ask myself "wait, would this be a good question to ask?" If the question passes the internal check, but I am still on the fence, I head towards the Water Cooler to prototype the question and get a straw poll of opinions. If I find a response satisfactory, I leave the issue as is. If not, and the question is deemed worthy, I post.

With this said, is this part of the design purpose of the chat function?

  • 2
    Why bother? When in doubt, just ask the question. You'll learn quickly if it was a good question to ask or not via the community's response. And if not, just delete it. No harm. No foul. Over time, you'll hone your questioning skills. – Joe Strazzere Sep 13 '17 at 19:45
  • @JoeStrazzere makes sense, with this in mind, the answers thus far suggest that by running it through the cooler, it enters the question through a curation by users who: have at least 20 rep (to enter the chat), and are active users on the workplace. I am unsure of the actual effects on user retention, but wouldn't it allow new users a more forgiving medium to address their onboarding pains? – Frank FYC Sep 13 '17 at 20:14
  • There's no real problem running it through chat. But just know that the number of "chatters" is very limited, and while knowledgeable, they certainly cannot represent nor speak for the Workplace community. Some users spend a lot of time in chat. Others seldom (if ever) venture there - even others with very high rep. All of this (for me at least) means that it isn't an effective "litmus test". Just my humble opinion. – Joe Strazzere Sep 13 '17 at 20:54
  • @JoeStrazzere Makes sense. I'll keep this in mind. Thanks for your opinion. – Frank FYC Sep 13 '17 at 21:01
  • @JoeStrazzere Sounds like an answer to me. – Tim Sep 13 '17 at 22:56
  • @tim - okay, done. – Joe Strazzere Sep 13 '17 at 23:00
  • @JoeStrazzere just delete it, No harm. No foul doesn't having too many deleted questions ban you from asking again? If I recall correctly from the rulings of SE – Malcolm Salvador Sep 18 '17 at 0:07
  • @AConcernedProgrammer - I've not heard that. And I see a few users deleting questions/answers all the time and they are still around. – Joe Strazzere Sep 18 '17 at 2:02
  • @JoeStrazzere I suppose you are correct as usual :) According here meta.stackexchange.com/questions/103656/… it isn't a big issue, as long as questions are at deleted after 30 days. Just don't spam and you'll be fine – Malcolm Salvador Sep 18 '17 at 2:45
  • @AConcernedProgrammer - and I'm not expecting anyone to have to delete all that many questions while they learn what is an acceptable question anyway. I'm just suggesting that it's not all that hard for a regular reader to learn by reading and asking, then deleting when necessary. Apparently others disagree. – Joe Strazzere Sep 18 '17 at 12:01
  • @JoeStrazzere Repeatedly posting bad questions and deleting them -- where 'repeatedly' means 'way more than someone who is genuinely trying to post good questions will ever post, because they'll try to figure out what went wrong before posting again' -- will get you banned. Occasionally having to delete a bad question won't. – Nic Hartley Sep 23 '17 at 5:07
  • Anyone doing what I suggest wouldn't be posting 'way more'. – Joe Strazzere Sep 23 '17 at 11:29
6

Chat can be a good way for a newer user who's not quite sure about scope to get help formulating a question. I've done this at least once on a site where I knew that certain types of questions had to be asked carefully. Using chat doesn't work for brand-new users (who don't yet have 20 rep), but it helps for visitors from other SE communities who already have chat access. I don't know to what extent chat was designed with this use case in mind, but it's certainly supported.

I would hope that more-experienced users would be able to just ask, most of the time. Sure, if there's something particularly tricky about this question, chat can help. If you're previewing most of your questions in chat, though, and you've been active on the site for a while, then it sounds like something's wrong -- some aspect of scope is unclear, we're being inconsistent about something, or whatever. In that case, please bring it up on meta so we can figure out what the problem is.

Finally, as others have said, please don't leave your question in chat. The site exists to build a repository of quality questions and answers. Chat is hard to read (and search) and can't be voted on. You might get your answer there, but if the question is good for the site, we'd really like to have it in the form of a main-site question.

7

Yes.

For one you have active members of the community there to help refine and get the question into shape before you ask it.

For another you can get some champion votes for your question which help draw attention and helps you solve your problem.

  • 1
    Champion votes, I thoughts all votes were equal? – Frank FYC Sep 13 '17 at 18:01
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    It just means people who already support your asking the question in the first place. All votes are not equal they just have the same score value. those first early votes can help launch the question to the HNQ. – IDrinkandIKnowThings Sep 13 '17 at 18:04
  • @FrankFYC In addition, when reviewing a question in the close votes queue, people like me are likely to be an extra bit careful in casting close votes if the question has a score of +5 rather than -2. This doesn't mean I blindly close downvoted questions without thinking, just that I don't ask myself, "are you sure?" before casting the vote. – Masked Man Sep 13 '17 at 19:29
  • @IDrinkandIKnowThings Mostly, it is receiving answers which will get a question to the HNQ, rather than votes. The votes will help it show up on the site homepage though. – Tim Sep 13 '17 at 22:55
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    @Tim yes and the votes help get people incentivized to answer. Especially when they happen earlier. I am not saying they are the key but you arent getting to the HNQ with out some votes for the question either. – IDrinkandIKnowThings Sep 13 '17 at 23:50
6

Yes. However, it often happens that some of us with way too much idle time experience answer your question in chat. In that case (assuming the question is deemed a good fit), please go ahead and post the question on the main site. Otherwise, the question and its answers will get lost in the chat and would hardly help anyone else in future.

  • it often happens that some of us with way too much idle time experience answer your question in chat (notsureif) :) – enderland Sep 13 '17 at 21:19
6

Yes. Many high-rep users hang out in Chat. Getting their attention likely means that they will answer your question. If high rep users answer your question, it likely attracts more users.

3

Over on the WorldBuilding Meta stack, there's a Question Sandbox thread, allowing people to post potential questions and get feedback before posting.

It's a good way of looking at how your question looks in print, choosing your tags, and getting some feedback before posting it.

The down-side to using chat is the implicit lack of detail, difficulty of keeping on track, and only one or two people getting engaged with you.

Personally, I'd recommend the sandboxing idea - there's no harm in linking to the sandbox in chat to start the discussion. This has worked pretty well in WorldBuilding for quite some time.

3

If you have a good on-topic question, you should be posting it to the main site for the benefit of others who may have the same question, if not to get multiple answers and insights which you may not have considered.

If you just ask it in chat (and "leave the issue as is"), very few users will see it and it will be essentially impossible to find by searching.

The intention of chat is most definitely not to take good questions away from the main site.

If you're not sure about the on-topicness of the question, your best bet is to search / ask about the category of the question on Meta - again trying to maximise the number of people benefiting from a post.


As for using chat to improve your questions: unlike the main site, all messages are equal, and other things may be discussed, so any given message can quickly get lost in the noise / responses and others can't edit what you post (apart from copy-paste edits, which are clunky).

That leads me to conclude that the interface is not particularly well suited to anything more complex than a one-sentence question like:

Would this question be appropriate - ...?
OR
How do I best phrase this - ...?

But these also don't lend themselves to that much improvement - posts are often rewritten entirely to make them more appropriate, and a whole lot more detail may be necessary to really understand what you're trying to ask.

It's usually better to pay attention to actions taken on your questions (such as edits, comments, downvotes and close votes), to seek to understand and learn from these actions and try to ask better questions in future.


So, yes, if you want to do a QUICK, BRIEF sanity check before posting, you can probably do so in chat.

Quick as in it shouldn't really be an extended back-and-forth to get to figure out whether it's appropriate. Brief as in the actual message should be short.

And of course chat would also make sense for a question that lends itself better to discussion and/or opinion (which would be off topic for the main site).

But don't post your actual on-topic questions as is in chat (without explicitly asking for improvement) - that will lead to answers more than suggested improvements and you'll just be demotivated from posting your question on the main site.

Also, try not to overdo it - if your messages of the above makes up a significant portion of all messages, you should probably tone it down.

-2

Is using the Chat as a form of litmus test for questions a good strategy?

Why bother?

When in doubt, just ask the question. You'll learn quickly if it was a good question to ask or not via the community's response. ("Community" is kind of the basis for all of StackExchange.) And if not, just delete it. No harm. No foul. Even some of the high-rep users on this site delete their questions periodically.

Over time, you'll hone your questioning skills and have a better sense of what makes a "good question".

There's no real problem running it through chat.

But just know that the number of "chatters" is very limited, and while knowledgeable, they certainly cannot represent nor speak for the Workplace community.

Some users spend a lot of time in chat. Others seldom (if ever) venture there - even others with very high rep.

All of this (for me at least) means that it isn't an effective "litmus test". Just my humble opinion.

  • 3
    Why bother? because a question asked well right off the bat gets better answers than one that transforms over time. If the point of asking the question is to farm rep you are right, if you want to get good and helpful answers then you get help. top three voted questions started in chat. – IDrinkandIKnowThings Sep 13 '17 at 23:55
  • Hmm, perhaps you have things backwards. I'm not sure I agree that you get better answers taking the chat route. Remember that the vast majority of questions did not originate in chat. But perhaps "top three voted questions started in chat" indicates that if you really want to farm reputation points, chatters can help. You even seem to agree with your mention of "champion votes". No matter. Uses can craft their questions any way they like, and pursue rep points or not. – Joe Strazzere Sep 14 '17 at 10:17
  • The other piece is if you ask a question that is perfectly viable in your mind, and for some reason its not, we have a few members who just love to point out what an idiot you are for asking a question. I think a bit of proofing is a good idea in some cases. It doesn't need to be required, but an option available if the person asking the question would like some input. I like @Pete idea for this forum. – Mister Positive Sep 14 '17 at 12:03
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    @MisterPositive - yup. Chat is always there if you feel the need. (of course chatters could point out what an idiot you are, too.) – Joe Strazzere Sep 14 '17 at 12:04
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    I agree, I have a bit of rep but not even sure where the chat is and not going to be heading there any time soon. – Kilisi Sep 15 '17 at 0:01
  • Not to mention if the bad question receives answers that are upvoted quickly, you won't be able to delete it. – Wildcard Sep 19 '17 at 3:13

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