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While I realize that for many users the chat is not a big part of the community but its really what keeps me engaged with the site and I think it would help keep other people (as in new users) here as well. Would it make sense to implement a feature where you can gift a user the gap amount of reputation needed to chat? Gifting would involve the gifting user permanently giving enough of their own reputation to the user they would like to join chat. To lessen the blow, perhaps the receiving user needs to accept the gift of reputation and join the chat so that reputation doesn't just disappear (this isn't a requirement but I think it would make people more willing to use the feature as there would be less risk involved). It could also be a privilege that is unlocked at a certain reputation level.

When would this get used? Sometimes there are bad questions for the site that would be enjoyable to discuss with the person looking for information and beneficial just to share opinions and experiences on the topic in real time. Often times, though, the user doesn't have enough rep to chat. If we had the ability to gift reputation to get people in the chat room it would lessen the blow of their (usually first) question being closed to oblivion, get them involved in the community in other ways, and hopefully become active members on the site.

Why would this be a good idea? When I get the feeling of "boy I wish I could chat with this person" it is because the question they asked is actually on a topic that interests me as a game developer meaning its generally not your basic "how do I X" or "Why doesn't this work" questions which means this person actually has the potential of contributing useful content to the site even though their first question may have been bad. We want to keep these people around so instead of completely putting them off of the site altogether by closing and downvoting their questions, lets get them in chat and have valuable discussion on the topic they wanted to find out about and help them get their next question right.

I personally have not given this idea full thought but there are definitely times I wish I could say "Hey! Join us in chat and lets discuss it further!" but I can't. Sure they could easily get the 20 rep needed to join chat but then the onus is on them and odds are I'll never seem them again anyway. It would be nice to have the power to be proactive in encouraging people to get involved instead of waiting around for them to get motivated on their own.

Needless to say I thought of this as a "simple" solution and wanted to see what the community thinks. If it doesn't make sense for the StackExchange network and let me know why. I'll probably see things your way.

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I like this idea, or something like it. I find the 20 reputation requirement to speak on the chat a huge barrier because it's often the new users without that reputation who ask the questions that would be better suited to the chat.

I've heard that diamond mods can "bless" users such that they can chat anyway, so perhaps adding that privilege to high-reputation users would be another alternative to this approach.

(It occurs me to that you could half-ass this if the low-rep user has an answer on the site, because you could generate and manually award a bounty for that answer, but that seems abusive of the bounty system.)

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Interesting point. On the flip side I've used bounty a couple times and I believe one of the times I got a quick answer I liked but couldn't award it due to a forced 24 hour delay between when you generate the bounty and when you can award it. As such this isn't even practical enough to abuse IMO. Maybe the delay is different / non existent under different circumstances? I don't know. \$\endgroup\$ – SpartanDonut Jan 3 '13 at 22:05
  • \$\begingroup\$ I've never used the bounty stuff so you're probably correct. \$\endgroup\$ – Josh Jan 3 '13 at 22:06
  • \$\begingroup\$ I will say this: I don't use chat (because I don't like chat-style communication). But if I knew that a bunch of newbies were flooding chat with questions of dubious quality, that would make me stay away regardless of my feelings for that kind of communication. So I don't think giving newbies access to an essentially unregulated discussion system is healthy. If they can't get 20 rep, then they're probably not going to add much to any real discussion. \$\endgroup\$ – Nicol Bolas Jan 5 '13 at 2:50
  • \$\begingroup\$ The key thing to note though is the people we would be letting into chat would be ones who have asked "good quality" questions that are discussion oriented. Just because a question is bad for the SE QA format it doesn't make it bad for chat. \$\endgroup\$ – SpartanDonut Jan 9 '13 at 17:16

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