You have to realise that the Chat room seems to follow the seasons in the US, by that I mean, usually during the warmer months of the year, there is less participation in the Chat room, however once the weather cools down Chat room numbers seem to increase.
Now, I'm making a huge assumption here, but I would tend to think that folks are trying to get as much done as possible at this time, before the weather really cools down over there and are just too busy to log in.
Chat room numbers about this time of the year are usually quite low and yes it is frustrating if you are looking to have a good chat with someone.
Also, please bear in mind that the Chat room is "open" 24/7 but the chances of finding another person in there at a given time is a hit and miss affair and that is why I started this
I don't personally think that anyone has been scared away from the place, at least I would kind of hope that that wasn't the case at all!
I haven't been in there in the last few weekends myself because I'm on the graveyard shift at work in the control room and I'm usually asleep during the day here.
In closing I would like to invite anyone that hasn't tried out the Chat rooms to give it a go, it's a lot of fun, topics vary as people come and go and the chatter is a bit more "loose" than on the Forum here.