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In the past few weeks, I've noticed some newish users coming to the general room looking for IRC-style technical support or (perhaps more objectionably) using it as advertising space for their questions.

I'm personally not too bothered by this, provided it doesn't get out of control. However, chat is ostensibly supposed to be a "third place" for community-building and coordination, not AskUbuntu: RealTime EditionTM.

How, if at all, should we address this issue?

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    If only we had some sort of site that allowed people to ask questions and improve them over time! – Jorge Castro Jan 31 '12 at 20:30
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Chat is completely Ask Ubuntu RealTime Edition™ - that's what chat's for. Chat should ultimately facilitate everything Ask Ubuntu is and does. This should include meta discussion, community building, and support. Comments, the second class citizens they are, sometimes don't cover the bridge that's needed to really troubleshoot an issue. That's where chat can play a vital role in getting an exchange of comments done in realtime.

Often users stumble in and ask for support directly. If it's an easy one-off question there's no harm in just saying "oh, do this". However, I've made it a practice that if a user comes in with either a question that is complex, or one that can benefit multiple people, that they first ask it on the site, and come back to chat with a link. That way a discussion can occur, when new details are found out the original author is request to place it in his question, when an answer is discovered whomever found it is encouraged to answer it on the site.

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    That's so, but shouldn't support be happening in some channel other than the GR (eg "Discussion between FOO and BAR")? – Jjed Jan 31 '12 at 20:41
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    @JacobJohanEdwards We had discussed this - but as it turns out people simply flock to the room with the most people. In circumstances where one topic becomes too noisy it's usually split off into a different room. Otherwise a Support room might remain idle and we may miss the chance to help a user out :) – Marco Ceppi Jan 31 '12 at 20:45
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I would not duplicate community effort. The advantage of askubuntu (or any "forums" meaning public Q&A on a web server) is that others can benefit from both the questions and answers.

So if someone needs support -> sure ask and answer in chat -> but (ideally) the Q&A should at some point be added to askubuntu.

The point is not to turn down a support opportunity, but rather make the Q&A available for all.

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