Just a little friendly advice before getting to your main issue here. When I read:
sherrief's and bartender's please take notice.
I felt like I was being told that I had better fix this problem. This is almost certainly not what you intended, but it was the initial impression I got. My time (as with everybody's time here on the Ranch (including the Sheriffs and the owner of JavaRanch)) is donated as a volunteer. So anytime I read something that I feel implies that I must be doing something then I personally think of a million other things that I could be doing instead.
So please do continue offering suggestions as to how we can improve the Ranch. But please think carefully about how the suggestion might be read by your target audience. You might want to take a look at How To Ask Questions On Java Ranch for some comments on what can be done to improve the chances of getting the response you want.
Now as for the online chatting idea ...
Personally I think the success of JavaRanch is in the very fact that it is a forum. I recommend you read Use The Forum Not Email for an idea on why sending messages via the forum is better than sending private messages.
When you start using online chatting, most of the benefits described in Use The Forum Not Email disappear. In particular:
Previous discussions are lost to the general public - an answer given to your question cannot be searched for by others
You will possibly become reliant on one or two people being online at the right time to answer your questions, rather than having one of the million odd JavaRanch members answer it in their own time
A wrong answer can be given in a private discussion without the chance for others to see it and correct it.
We would also have the potential problem of having every member trying to raise their questions directly with the Sheriff or Bartender of a particular forum. If I were in Ernest Friedman-Hill's position, and I logged on in the morning to find 1,000,000 people start asking me questions via online chats, I would very quickly decide not to log in anymore .
Now perhaps some of these issues I mentioned might be mitigated if we had ICQ style chatting software. But I just cant see that working for a busy forum - you could have some people asking about threading while others are talking about collections while others are talking about garbage collection ... It would just be complete chaos.
So I just don't see online chatting fitting within our existing sphere of expertise.
As for having online chatting available for two friends at JavaRanch to chat on non JavaRanch matters - while this might be a nice feature, there are plenty of existing online chatting solutions available.
Sorry if i did hurt. But really the intention was to tell the bartenders and sherrief that please look into the suggestion,as only they would be in a position to be able to make some changes if required. Apologising for any rudeness.
I agree with Andrew. To me, the biggest asset of JavaRanch is that it is a *friendly community*. I don't know how we would maintain it with a chat...
The soul is dyed the color of its thoughts. Think only on those things that are in line with your principles and can bear the light of day. The content of your character is your choice. Day by day, what you do is who you become. Your integrity is your destiny - it is the light that guides your way. - Heraclitus