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I just read the thread Should chat have TeX support? and I would like to ask: what is the purpose of the chat? Is it fully off-topic, off-topic but math related, or can you even ask small questions there?

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    $\begingroup$ Are you sure that you noted the date of that comment? $\endgroup$ – Asaf Karagila Dec 10 '11 at 20:06
  • $\begingroup$ Looks like I did not! Nevertheless, the question still remains, only \ "someone said that there are currently not a lot of users active in the chat". I've edited the post. $\endgroup$ – user12205 Dec 10 '11 at 20:07
  • $\begingroup$ This J.M.'s answer suggests that one of the purposes of the chat is the possibility to ask more experienced users when someones not sure about something. (Appropriateness of a post, retag, edit, etc.) Such questions are indeed discussed in the chat. $\endgroup$ – Martin Sleziak Dec 10 '11 at 22:36
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    $\begingroup$ You might also find this blog post helpful. It discusses the genesis of the chat-room idea for the SE network. :) $\endgroup$ – Aarthi Dec 10 '11 at 22:55
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I believe that I speak for the rest of the chat regulars, it is generally fine to talk about whatever you want (as long as you're playing nice with others).

Two important rules about that, I'd think:

  1. Feel the conversation, don't just drop in and interrupt - people might be discussing something already, wait a minute or two and read the backlog. This will help you get the feel whether or not it is a good time to ask your question. Worst case you can always mix into the conversation and slowly divert it to your question.

  2. Never ever ever ever ever behave like someone who is so anxious to get an answer so he asks every single person showing activity and pinging anyone. There is nothing worse than such behavior on a chat. If you don't believe me, just try to think about what it would look like in real life.

Beyond these two rules of thumb, feel free to join in and chat about your question. It is unlikely that you will lose your thumbs if you keep the rules.

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    $\begingroup$ I guess I am not a chat regular :p. I agree with 2. But not 1. Unless there is a seriously involved discussion going on, I don't see why someone needs to wait. A really large portion of our chat discussions are just silly banters anyway. $\endgroup$ – Willie Wong Dec 11 '11 at 11:09
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    $\begingroup$ @Willie: If no one is in the mood for a serious question, it may be a good thing to just go through the backlog and see what's up. If you have a question about algebraic groups but no one is around to answer, there is not much point to break the conversation... is it now? :-) $\endgroup$ – Asaf Karagila Dec 11 '11 at 11:12

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