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Our chat room, the Observatory, has existed for almost 10 years, yet it doesn't have many messages in it. On average these days, one message is posted every week, mainly regarding interesting ramblings in the science world and links to other questions.

Our chat room needs more love, but what can we (and the rest of the community) do to keep our chat room alive (and not sputtering with random, intermittent messages)?

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    $\begingroup$ All it takes is interest really. Unfortunately our userbase hasn't really had interest in a long time, but there hadn't been any interest in meta for a while either and it's picked back up, so you never know! $\endgroup$ – called2voyage Apr 13 at 14:02
  • $\begingroup$ @called2voyage If only moderators could add in "site-exclusive" badges... Participation in chat would be a big one... $\endgroup$ – fasterthanlight Apr 13 at 14:32
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    $\begingroup$ There already are badges for that: Talkative and Outspoken. $\endgroup$ – called2voyage Apr 13 at 14:33
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    $\begingroup$ @called2voyage Yes, but these don't really provide a valuable incentive for users (there could be more) $\endgroup$ – fasterthanlight Apr 13 at 14:34
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    $\begingroup$ If you have ideas for more you could always propose them on MSE. They may be useful to more than just Astro. $\endgroup$ – called2voyage Apr 13 at 14:35
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    $\begingroup$ But I'm not really sure badges are actually helpful in this case. Of the two we have, only 25 have earned the bronze one and just a handful have earned the silver one. $\endgroup$ – called2voyage Apr 13 at 14:38
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    $\begingroup$ My biggest problem is that I did keep forgetting how to find the chat - I knew it existed whenever the discussions in comments gets lengthy, but the link directing there is not too prominent nor intuitive. $\endgroup$ – B--rian Apr 21 at 10:49
  • $\begingroup$ There's a chat room? Who knew?! $\endgroup$ – Aaron F Apr 24 at 13:50
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When it comes to chat, I think it's best to keep to an organic "If you build it, they will come"$^{\dagger}$ type of approach. It was always meant to be a third place, but not everyone wants or needs that - and that's fine! I personally don't use the Observatory that often because my day is centered around astronomy, and when I have free time - well, I'm usually using that free time to do something totally unrelated. Given that we have a number of full-time astronomers among the most active users, I wouldn't be surprised if others feel the same way.

Participation in chat doesn't necessarily lead to community growth; rather, I'd argue that it's instead a byproduct of that. A bigger userbase means more folks who might be interested in using chat. Therefore, I think that it's not worth trying to artificially stimulate chat room usage. If there were issues with the culture of the chat room - violations of SE rules, rude language, unwelcoming attitudes, etc. - well, that would probably warrant a thorough meta discussion. But that's definitely not the case.


$^{\dagger}$I know it's actually "he", not "they", but . . . eh.

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    $\begingroup$ Definitely agree $\endgroup$ – called2voyage Apr 14 at 18:16
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I concur with @HDE226868's answer and will add the following observation.

There are several high quality science/math/tech SE sites with excellent, mature and active user communities and yet nearly zero activity in their general chat rooms.

Chat is for "disposable" discussion, it scrolls off, is hard to search, and is generally forgotten. It really is a place to chat and if users aren't the chatty type or have found much better places to chat, then the room will naturally be quiet.

Our chat room needs more love,

As I see it there is no problem to be addressed, if love is needed it's in maintaining tags, answering questions, being kind and helpful to new users, giving them advice and sometimes just editing their posts rather than insta-closing them.

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    $\begingroup$ I am happy to have matter-based discussion as (semi-persistents) comments, and not in a somewhat hidden chat room. But that's just my view. $\endgroup$ – B--rian Apr 21 at 10:48

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