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This issue has been discussed before on meta.SO, however, I think it needs revisiting. Originally, the idea of disallowing new users to chat was in order to prevent SPAM and also to make sure that the question gets answered in the way that other people see it. However, as we all know sometimes follow-up questions must be asked/answered in order for the question to be answered at all. Indeed, StackExchange implemented the "Would you like to move this to chat automatically?" feature on long comment exchanges, yet new users cannot talk in chat. This can be problematic because chat is sometimes the easiest way of actually getting to a point where an answer to a question can be posted at all. The tension between having long comment exchanges and having chat can be resolved if we allow new users to chat.

Nonetheless, the threat of SPAM and off-topic remains, though the latter issue is moderated by the gamification: there is no rep for solving problems on chat. SPAM is a potential issue, but not unsolvable one: Some possibilities:

  • Have a single chat room just for new users, only accessible after a post has been made. SPAM bots can have their fun in the new user playroom.
  • Chat room invitations: an established user (say 200 rep? 500 rep?) can invite a new user to a special chat room. If the user turns out to be a SPAM bot then the chat room is shut down when the established user leaves.

I think allowing some form of chat for new users will not fundamentally change this as a question/answer post oriented-site, and allow more questions to be answered in the first place.

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An experienced user(s) can always upvote the person so he/she can get enough rep for chat. We can almost always find other people in chat to go an upvote the user.

I would much prefer this over lowering the bar for chat entry.

Although, being able to join chat on the invitation of someone with lots of rep could work too. I would require the experienced user to have more rep than 200-500. More like 2,000+.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Point taken about "ganging up on upvoting".. though do we really want to mark a question as +4 just to give the user a voice? Indeed that creates a slightly perverse insentive: the less complete the question is, the more likely it will get +4 just to give the user a voice. BTW, not suggesting general chat access for new users. \$\endgroup\$ – angelatlarge Apr 8 '13 at 22:11
  • \$\begingroup\$ @angelatlarge You can always comment, saying what the upvotes are for, and then remove the upvotes if they are not earned. But honestly, I've never seen this as an issue. \$\endgroup\$ – user3624 Apr 8 '13 at 22:14
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If a question needs so much discussion to understand it, then it should just be closed. The long comment chains I have seen are not about trying to get more info for a bad question. There are usually a few comments to bad questions for that, while the close processes is started. If the OP comes back and responds satisfactorily, then problem solved. If the OP doesn't come back the question will be closed. Problem still solved.

Using chat to clarify a question is a bad idea since it leaves no record in the question and the OP may not update the question. Pertinent information should be forced to be with the question, preferably by editing the question itself.

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    \$\begingroup\$ "If the OP comes back and answers the questions satisfactorily": did you mean "answers" or "corrects"? \$\endgroup\$ – clabacchio Apr 9 '13 at 5:51
  • \$\begingroup\$ @clabacchio: I edited the answer to clarify. I meant the OP responding to the requests for more information about the question. \$\endgroup\$ – Olin Lathrop Apr 9 '13 at 12:32
  • \$\begingroup\$ Ok, I thought it was that but didn't want to edit and possibly change the meaning of the sentence. \$\endgroup\$ – clabacchio Apr 9 '13 at 15:05
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    \$\begingroup\$ As someone who never steers people in chat I would not consider you qualified to weigh in here. Often after someone has a closed question or some such they get to chat for clarity, or we can help them with a core misunderstanding to clarify the question. I find chatting with new users is a very very productive thing 95% of the time. \$\endgroup\$ – Kortuk Apr 9 '13 at 18:31
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Kortuk: That may be fine after a question is closed and for other related information not directly pertaining to the question, but additional information relevant to the question should be with the question. \$\endgroup\$ – Olin Lathrop Apr 10 '13 at 12:54
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    \$\begingroup\$ @OlinLathrop I agree, and a discussion like that should lead to an edit. That is only tangentially related to what we are discussing, a way to pull a very new user into chat to quickly give them the back and forth feedback they need to understand the site or some basic concept they need for their question. \$\endgroup\$ – Kortuk Apr 10 '13 at 14:04

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