You'll find approximately as many recipes for chili as you will chili cooks.
I find that I can make a great chili by simmering it for a minimal amount of time, no more than a couple of hours, letting the hot peppers do most of the work of flavoring it. (Here's my current chili recipe. I used to take three days to make chili.) Soaking and simmering for a long time just isn't the taste I'm going for. You may find you prefer a chili with a longer cook time. (Many people seem to.) Experiment and find what works for you.
Chili needs a good amount of liquid both to keep heat circulating freely and to keep it from sticking to the bottom of the pot. Sticking is less of a problem in a crock pot than on a stove, but you still need to scrape the bottom of a crock pot periodically. Water will evaporate as chili cooks. If you added the water all at once, the chili would start out watery and end up dry. I add the water as it's needed, to maintain the consistency I want.
In the end, experiment, tinker, and make that chili your own! There are hundreds if not thousands of chili recipes, and there's no single correct way to make it.