It seems like only five short months ago we were discussing the value of having a hypothetical "Third Place" for our network:
The third place is a term used in the concept of community building to refer to social surroundings separate from the two usual social environments of **home** and the **workplace**. In his influential book The Great Good Place, Ray Oldenburg argues that **third places** are important for civil society, democracy, civic engagement, and establishing feelings of a sense of place. Most needed are those [‘third places’](http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Third_place) which lend a public balance to the increased privatization of home life. Third places are nothing more than informal public gathering places. The phrase ‘third places’ derives from considering our homes to be the ‘first’ places in our lives, and our work places the ‘second.’
Well, after a beta preview, then a public beta, and rolling out chat to Super User and Server Fault -- this "third place" concept is a whole lot less hypothetical than it used to be. We're ready to pronounce chat officially out of beta and give this third place concept a real stress test. Like so:
I've been asked a few times what the heck real time chat is supposed to be for, exactly. In truth, it is a bit of a specialized tool -- a real time, interactive collaboration tool unlike anything else we offer. It is used primarily by our most avid community members, and I don't see a thing wrong with that. Without avid community members, we'd have no real community at all.
More selfishly, I can tell you that we use our own chat for the distributed development work of building Stack Overflow and Stack Exchange itself. I have found the stateful, real-time web chat extremely useful -- dare I say essential -- for a distributed team. And what is stackoverflow.com except the world's most awesome and most distributed development team of all?
So ... who's with me?! Let's go ... read the chat FAQ!