Would a general feature of help me plan my project be useful? People could sign up on meta and each month we set up a chat room for it? The normal chat bunch helps walk whomever through it over a few days and then someone recaps the chat for the blog?

So for instance, we had a conversation about insulating an attic in the last Project Update Thursday chat. With that use case, the OP (Aaron) could sign up on meta. A chat room (or the existing one) would be created to capture the conversation. In the chat we covered questions like: How high are your joists, what's already there, what do you want to do with the space? The OP can tackle those questions, take pictures, and come back. Joists are 8 inches high, 1 inch of spun fiberglass in the cavity, plywood covering the joists, want to store christmas ornaments up there. Then we talk structure, new insulation material, target R value, other concerns. I figure this could take a bit of back and forth depending on what's involved. Once the plan is put together, a blog contributor writes up the plan and puts it on the blog. As a thank you, the OP takes pictures of the work and contributes to a follow up post detailing how it went.

My main focus here isn't so much on the finished plan as helping the questioner come up with the right questions and what techniques to look into. I figure this naturally spins off into questions for the site, results in interesting content for the blog, and naturally draws curious DIYers into the community.

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It sounds like this would work like some of the other DIY forums that are a thread for someone's project. For example the John Bridge site has a standard where people will start a thread for their project and ask questions inside it and there is a sort of back and forth (an example).

I would imagine part of the trouble would be letting people know this is a process they can use. I suppose we could mention it in comments on some questions when it may seem appropriate (usually when they are asking a bunch of questions at once). We need good way of explaining to users that "chat" is persistant and you don't need to actually have people in the room to answer the question (they can come in later and do that).

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Your example made me realize that persistent chat is quite a bit like a bulletin board thread. Ideally our first couple volunteers would know meta and chat and can serve as our example to point back to. After that, comments, the blog and maybe an in-house ad (like PUT's) might pull people in. –  Steve Jackson Dec 15 '11 at 23:10

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