Recalling that tikz-pgf and pgfplots tags are the top and fifth most mentioned in questions on the main site, I wonder if it is a good idea to make a chat room solely for TikZ/PGFplots discussions, inquiries, getting started with some figures/graphs.

In this case, a lot of askers may go there first to ask about some minor points that can help them polish their questions or even answer them without the need for asking.

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    One thing to keep in mind is that chat can only be accessed once one has 20 reputation points: Plus, chat is real-time and more elusive than questions. The approach may reduce the number of do-it-for-me questions on the main site, but I can't see it reducing the number of do-it-for me queries: People will ask in chat. And the bad thing about that is that it is much harder to find answers in chat and duplication etc. won't work. – moewe Sep 9 at 9:34
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    Nobel idea, I just doubt that the kind of user dumping do-it-for-me questions on the main site is engaged enough to know about things like chat rooms. If they don't react to comments asking them to show what they already tried, they probably won't follow a link to a chat room. – samcarter Sep 9 at 10:18
  • @moewe Regardless the newcomers, is it helpful for users with a considerable reputation to go there and discuss before posting the question? – Diaa Sep 9 at 12:09
  • @samcarter Actually, I thought that it may be helpful for me as much as for them. :) – Diaa Sep 9 at 12:19
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    @Diaa Don't get me wrong, I'm not against a chat room about tikz, I just don't think that it will solve the do-it-for-me problem. – samcarter Sep 9 at 12:29
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    The question is what problem you are trying to solve. I seriously doubt you can reduce the number of do-it-for-me or bad questions just with a chat room. Very new users won't be able to use it and even some of those who will be able to probably won't know about it or won't care. That means that the target group of such a chat room would have to be established (reputation, need to know about the room) and dedicated (need to post to the room instead of dumping the question on the main site): Those people would probably manage to ask a good question right away ... – moewe Sep 9 at 12:44
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    ... and if there is an issue that could be solved via the comments or an ad-hoc chat. My greatest objection to this chat would be that there is a risk that good and interesting questions get answered in chat and not on the main site. And note that not everybody hangs out in the chat room, so asking on the main site gives you greater reach. Plus, the main site is not a short-lived as chat. – moewe Sep 9 at 12:46
  • @moewe I got your point. – Diaa Sep 9 at 12:58
  • I guess the question is more general: how to reduce the number of do-it-for-me questions. Some suggest this can be achieved by just not answering, but this point of view is not shared by everyone. A perhaps even more fundamental question is whether do-it-for-me questions are bad or against the spirit of this site. Naively one may think everybody can read the pgfmanual or look up similar questions and their answers, but it might just be that for some the initial threshold is too high. – marmot Sep 9 at 23:21
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    I'd also like to add that I agree with @samcarter that a chat room may not really solve the issue. The single-most feature(s) that will help most IMHO are better search facilities. Your own suggestion, if followed by many, will already help a lot. Yet the search engine on this site has a lot of room for improvement. Another, perhaps crazy, idea would be to start a new (?) tag "tutorial" and post questions and answers of the type "How to do that" there. – marmot Sep 9 at 23:54
up vote 12 down vote accepted

Based on my expierence on FreeNode's LaTeX IRC channel over the last years, I don't think an extra channel dedicated to TikZ questions only would solve the problem of "lazy" new users. Additionally to what has already been mentioned in the comments, my concerns are the following:

  • The chat room is hard to find. It took me several months on this platform before I even noticed that TeX.SX has its own chat room. At the time I joined it, there were about 20 users in it and it didn't seem pretty active.
  • Especially new users tend to be really impatient when waiting for an answer. This isn't probably so much a problem on the main site, as opening new threads/questions doesn't indicate real-time responses. But in a chat room people want their answers now. I've seen this so many times that people aren't able to wait at least 10 minutes for someone to respond to their questions. Of course, not all people are like that, but the impatience threshold in a chat room is certainly lower. So would there even be enough people around in a TikZ-only channel that are able to respond fast enough?
  • On the other hand, users that are already more familiar with how the platform works know they cannot just post "Please, how to draw this picture???" questions without just getting a comment asking about what they have already tried. These people probably would only use the chat if they have an easy or quick to solve problem for which it would take too much time to prepare a full example document. However, if the channel isn't very active and an answer would take as much time as waiting for an answer on the main site, they probably still wouldn't use the chat much.

What would be more helpful, in my opinion, is an FAQ-like thread with links and small examples to the most common graphics problems people are trying to solve. Something similar to TeXample but more concentrated and perhaps also with non-TikZ-based options. You need a simple function plot? Here's a small code snippet how to draw one using pgfplots. Change this line to plot another function. Follow this link if you want to customize the axes. You need to print a hierarchical tree structure? Here are your options. etc. etc.

If we had such a really concentrated overview which provides starting points to further examples and references, it could be used in the standard response comment, just like MWE or MWEB usually are. I don't think this will reduce the number of those do-it-for-me questions, but I presume it would be more helpful to the users asking such questions than an extra chat room.

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