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My current thoughts are that our chat is a reasonable place to point people who have a legitimate interest in feedback but aren't asking an answerable question as yet. Case in point:

https://mechanics.stackexchange.com/questions/5463/which-one-should-i-buy

There are certainly people on our SE who have strong opinions about the vehicles in question. However, the OP doesn't really know what to ask or point out as distinguishing features between two vehicles.

It's possible that a significant number of "too localized" or "too general" questions could benefit from a timeout in the chat zone. If nothing else, I feel less like a jerk in closing the question.

Do you agree that pointing some users at the chat rather than slamming the door is a better move?

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  • This requires that more users idle in chat... (hint, hint) – Sam Whited Sep 25 '13 at 20:34
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I think if we can help the user gain a more focused question through comments, we should.

After that, if they have discussion-y follow-up questions, s/he should be made aware chat exists.

However, it's worth noting (something we learned over at DIY) some topics don't work in chat well, just because of the disjointed-ness.

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  • That's very true - that was the root of my suggestion: go chat up your topic for a bit and see if a concrete question or set thereof emerges. – Bob Cross Apr 25 '13 at 1:34
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Using your example question, when starting from such a low point when comparing cars, it's going to be difficult to be helpful to the OP with discussions in chat only. The best advice would most likely be "get some advice what to look for when buying used cars, or bring somebody who knows about it with you". It's too subjective, and there are so many things, small and big, to look for in a car. My personal checklist is probably two pages long, and that's mostly for the stuff that's not immediately visible. Going through that in chat is going to be time-consuming, and I'm not sure many people would want to do it. Specific issues of comparison are probably fine, but since it's still hugely subjective, I'm not seeing much value in it.

The most we can do is have a huge wiki question with stuff to look for, and point users to that.

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