We've discussed answers in comments (a no-no) and answers without references (also not within guidelines).

I don't think we've discussed "answers in chat". Should the same guidelines apply, i.e. if it can't be supported by sources, should it not be posted?

If I am discussing aspects of an answer that may imply a different answer, is that a matter that should concern me? What should the policy be?

Edited to add: My question isn't about espousing nonsense theories (like the effects of "energized water on Martian exposure syndrome") - in chat (although I have no major objection to that; chat is usually an informal place.) My question concerns having a place where discussion about how to improve answers on the site can take place.

If it is prohibited in chat, there is no actual way to help each other write better answers on this site.

Most sites will tolerate some discussion of an answer, but often that results in

Please avoid extended discussions in comments. Would you like to automatically move this discussion to chat?

The inability to write basically anything except a question without giving a source (though it's a policy I wholeheartedly agree with) is a burden evident on the main site.

One option is to post a "better answer", but when an already good one exists that can benefit from just some tweaking, that seems like an unnecessary duplication of efforts. It seems reasonable that having a place without all the restrictions already on the main site might - like chat - be a good thing.

I checked Meta, but am having a problem finding what is permitted and not permitted in chat (aside from swearing, etc.)

Skeptics, a site that is very similar to Health, has no such limitations on what can be discussed in chat.


2 Answers 2


You should be able to talk about whatever you want in chat, as long as it's not being mean or disrespectful. It's just chat.


On a few sites that I'm on, it's acceptable practice to discuss both questions and answers in chat, as it creates a more refined, on topic question and can clear up potential ambiguities or contradictions in answers.

It's a more interesting question for health, as we do have a stricter requirement for backing up what you write as an answer.

Unfortunately, because of the transitory nature, I don't think it can be enforced in chat, unless either a doctor/doctor equivalent or moderator sits in chat a majority of the time, which is not really a feasible solution. There is also no system for flagging chat messages, as the current flagging system is for offensive nature and is seen system wide.

What could be done, however, is to change the description of the chat room to advise that medical answers in chat are strongly encouraged to have some sort of backup and to investigate/confirm any answers you get, and for other chat users to refute pseudo and "bro" science answers. If we can get that mindset embedded in the room and regular chat users, then we can at least vet to some extent the content that passes through.

  • If I'm reading this correctly, you're asking for references in chat. In that proposed case, we can't encourage better answers through discussion unless referencing our suggestions, If I'm understanding this correctly. Is that the case? Dec 9, 2015 at 17:38
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    I'm saying that we should encourage the use of references in chat, yes, but it can't be mandated. And, if someone simply doesn't want to provide references for every chat conversation, that's their prerogative. Chat is chat, it's informal and outside the voting system. If people want to sit in chat and claim that energized water cures Martian exposure syndrome, they can do that. My main suggestion is changing the description of the chat room to encourage people to research any answers given in chat.
    – JohnP
    Dec 9, 2015 at 18:06
  • "If people want to sit in chat and claim that energized water cures Martian exposure syndrome, they can do that." It can be mandated by asking people to use chat flags. My question was about helping a user make their answer more accurate medically, not about purporting ridiculous claims. I don't see where that kind of hyperbole fits in to this (hopefully reasonable) question. Dec 9, 2015 at 18:17
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    It was an example. If someone wants to claim that, they can, It's chat. (It's only slightly more hyperbolic than claiming honey cures cancer And chat flags are not for marking a non referenced comment, chat flags are for spam or offensive material (se wide) or reporting serious issues to the site moderators. I don't think it's meant to be used to enforce site answer policies, although I can ask for clarification on that point.
    – JohnP
    Dec 9, 2015 at 19:25

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