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I'm working on a huge project, the learning curve has been steep, and I've been finding myself needing to ask questions outside the scope of the 'This single issue' => 'This single action to resolve said issue' stack-exchange format.

With the situations I'm investigating, and the decisions I'm making, I'm finding myself wanting to ask vague questions where the answers will most definitely contain:

A: an opinion

B: an explanation (occasionally patronizing) of something that could be found in documentation, that I simply did not know where to find

C: That's a bad idea don't do that, without suggestions for better approaches.

D: Not adhering to a strict context.

E: The question has been asked, but the answer does not satisfy my needs in context.

I love this site, I end up here multiple times everyday, and have come to rely on the expertise of the user-base here. Are there any good places, that aren't decade old forums with good SEO, or IRC channels that anyone could recommend to gain/share knowledge with a more casual format?

[Update:]

Found this: http://chat.meta.stackexchange.com/?tab=site&host=meta.stackoverflow.com

Will check it out, but the question still stands.

  • Depending on the issue, in addition to the rooms mentioned by @tripleee below, there's also the Root Access chat room from the Super User stack where problems are frequently tackled. Either directly in the room, or by spawning a new room just for that dialog. – Gypsy Spellweaver Apr 25 '17 at 3:09
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For some topics, chat rooms over on the Stack Overflow side of the network have a relaxed policy and enough visitors to approach critical mass for this sort of informal guidance seeking.

I am a regular in the #!/bin/bash room where however there is no activity for hours on end and few visitors; but if your topic is related to shell programming, you are welcome to pop in for a quick question.

I am less familiar with e.g. the Python and C++ rooms, both of which have much higher traffic volumes but also (especially in the C++ room) stricter rules. There is a plethora of other rooms where you may find people who are happy to chat about technical topics - just take it slow, try to be brief and specific at least until you are familiar with the culture in any particular room, and respect the room's focus (don't barge in with Unix questions in a Windows or Android room, or C questions in a PHP room; don't speak English in rooms with a different language, etc).

I should also mention that it's possible to create a room of your own on pretty much any reasonable topic, though it's hard to attract a community of regular visitors.

Like in any sort of forum, get familiar with the conventions by lurking for a bit before you do anything which could be perceived as a hostile takeover of an ongoing conversation.

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There is the /dev/chat chat, but that's not the place to solve problems. In fact, it's discouraged (EDIT: Ow, this sounded harsh, come say hello and see what happens). We want well formulated questions with good answers on the main U&L site, for the benefit of everyone who's visiting. That is the purpose of U&L.

Asking in the chat whether a question would be suitable as a full-blown question on the main site is possible, and that happens from time to time. It may also be the place where one could get input for framing and (re-)formulating a question, I suppose.

As with the main U&L site, people might ignore you in the chat (if anyone is there at all), lose interest, or kindly tell you to go read your manuals.

I'd encourage you to ask your questions on the main site, but to be aware that if they are interpreted as being a bit nebulous or off-topic, they may be downvoted and/or ignored, closed ("primarily opinion-based", "unclear" etc.), or possibly migrated to a more suitable forum (if they are good questions). This is as it should be, and should not be taken personally.

The main use of the /dev/chat chat, during the time that I've been there, is to connect with people, share ideas, and to make others aware of issues on the main U&L site. There is currently a handful of people that visit it regularly. From time to time there's a flurry of activity (usually between two or three people) while other days may be totally silent.

  • Thank you for the tip. I'll continue to ask. I never take it personally when I frame a question wrong, or too broad, or it's off topic for the format. I understand fully, that the format is the format, and for good reason. When you want to know the answer to "How do I X?" you want the answer to be in the form of, "You do Y." And this is the forum for that. The StackExchange forums serve that purpose better than any other technical forums, or Q&A sites I've found, hands down. It's been an incredible gift, and an invaluable asset. I'll give the chat a shot, and keep searching. Thanks again. – blanket_cat Apr 24 '17 at 13:55

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