There is something of a canonical thread Main chatroom etiquette rules about proper use of a chatroom, although a narrow reading might apply it only to the "main" Mathematics chatroom.

It doesn't seem to be part of our tradition to add or discuss chat etiquette on that Question, so I'm posting a new one for discussion.

Today I found myself invited to a chatroom by user "M" (not the real handle), and the topic turned out to be a typical undergrad math major (possibly beginning grad level) exercise.

After supplying several (increasingly forceful) hints in response to a reasonable "first effort" on their part to solve the exercise, I discovered the same user had invited three or four other community members to similar one-on-one chats. This also raises the issue of whether the matter should have been directly posted as a Question by user "M", who has been around for a couple of years.

Of course no one holds a gun to my head to force me to be helpful, but at a minimum I'd expect the parallel invitations to be disclosed. Arguably it is more in our community spirit to have just one such chat for all the invited participants (to efficiently use the attention of the community).

My main question is whether the rules for chatrooms generally (not just the "main" chatroom) should be drafted in enough detail to educate chat users about basic etiquette, taking the points raised in this case as motivation. Possibly this could be drafted as an Answer/addendum to the older thread linked above, to keep things in a combined location.

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    $\begingroup$ Maybe telated: Don't understand principle of "invited to chat" $\endgroup$
    – quid Mod
    Mar 31, 2016 at 0:19
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    $\begingroup$ I think you're right that these should be posed as questions on main. I really dislike the fact that this feels like cross-posting, and causes several users to (unnecessarily) duplicate the efforts of answering; a group chat, or some established room from the user, would make this better. It also seems like a way to get around the $24$-hour question limit.... $\endgroup$
    – user296602
    Mar 31, 2016 at 0:37
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    $\begingroup$ My opinion is that in this particular situation one of these two possibilities could be better: A) M could create their own room for all their discussion. (I guess this is ok for user who uses chat a lot. There will probably not be too many such users.) B) M could use some of the specialized rooms. For example, if the question was about group theory, they could ask in Linear and Abstract Algebra room. $\endgroup$ Mar 31, 2016 at 5:13
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    $\begingroup$ BTW perhaps you could mention this meta thread in the room M invited you. (If I correctly guessed which room is it, your last message is a link to a post on main.) $\endgroup$ Mar 31, 2016 at 5:15
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    $\begingroup$ Maybe we are asking the wrong side of the question. Maybe the question is: How can M best get his homework done for him, with least effort? Perhaps creating chats until he gets the right sucker to bite is the answer... Another advantage of chats over posting questions: it is less likely that his instructor will find out what he did. $\endgroup$
    – GEdgar
    Mar 31, 2016 at 14:01
  • $\begingroup$ Considering that the rules for the main chat room are mostly ignored there, it is not clear whether creating some guidance for general use of chat would do any good. (Will at least some users read those rules? And would they follow them?) $\endgroup$ Apr 1, 2016 at 14:48
  • $\begingroup$ @MartinSleziak: This may be a small problem, by the number of community members involved. One needs a fair amount of reputation to create chatrooms and invite others to them. Chat functionality is flexible and unstructured, and I don't want to impose penalties for perceived impoliteness. I'dr to be able to refer others to a meta MSE guideline about quasi-cross-posting and potential subversion of question bans (in their current "rolling" format). $\endgroup$
    – hardmath
    Apr 1, 2016 at 15:10

1 Answer 1


You have suggested to create rules for chat rooms (associated with math.SE) in general. Maybe before starting with formulations of the rules, it could be useful to create some kind of short list (bullet points) with things which probably should be mentioned in those rules. (And maybe after we have a reasonable idea what the chat etiquette rules should contain, somebody could try to formulate them.)

I have started such list this post. It is a community wiki, if you have some reasonable idea, feel free to contribute to this post. (I will stress once again that the purpose of the lists in this answer is just to created list of suggestions what might be in the list of rules/recommendations for chat usage. After we discuss here which of these suggestion are reasonable, then this can be made into some actual list. As the OP suggested, when - and if - the rules are created, they should be probably posted in an answer to another question.)


Chatrooms serve as an auxiliary channel for communication between MathSE members. One needs 20 reputation points to participate in chat, and 100 points to create new chatrooms.

A wide range of purposes are met by chatrooms. While we seek to polish and curate the Questions and Answers on the Main site for all levels of mathematical learning, Chat is ephemeral and optional. A typical purpose is to take "sidebar" consultation on the phrasing and interpretation of a Question, when the string of Comments below it becomes lengthy without reaching clarity.


  • Be nice http://chat.stackexchange.com/faq#nice
  • Good title and description for the chatroom (From the title, description and perhaps a few first messages at the beginning of the transcript, a random user should be able to get basic idea what is the purpose of the given room.)
  • Use ChatJax for mathematical conversations.


  • Excessive pinging. (Do not ping other users unnecessarily. Do not ask everybody to help you with your problem. See also: Random User-Pinging in Chat.)
  • Don't ping the same user in every message; if there are two users having a conversation, the other user certainly knows that you are replying to them. (Of course, there are cases when pinging is appropriate, for example if there was longer pause in your discussion and the other user might miss your reply. Or if for some other reason it might be unclear which message you are replying to.) If there are several independent discussion going on in the same chatroom and they become difficult to follow, it is worth considering continuing the discussion in another chatroom.
  • Creating multiple rooms for the same problem. (As described in this question.)
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    $\begingroup$ When I look on the rules for the main chatroom, I think that the rules about oneboxing should be rooms specific. According to the rules for the main chatroom oneboxing should be avoided - I do not think that such rule should be included also in the general rules. $\endgroup$ Apr 1, 2016 at 15:38
  • $\begingroup$ "Use @ ping only ONCE if a block of text is longer than one comment-box. Do not repeat it on every new comment box when addressing the same user". $\endgroup$
    – zyx
    Apr 4, 2016 at 14:49
  • $\begingroup$ @zyx I have added a bullet point where I tried to say something about the rule/recommendation you suggested in your comment. (In this way it will be more visible. If there are users who disagree with this, they will probably comment.) As the post is CW, feel free to edit it if you think some clarification or changes are needed. $\endgroup$ Apr 8, 2016 at 4:34
  • $\begingroup$ I'm thinking we should have an "introductory" paragraph that explains a few basic facts about chat, perhaps mostly links to further material: who can participate and the generally flexible nature of chat functionality. $\endgroup$
    – hardmath
    Apr 9, 2016 at 5:04

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