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I've just been in a chat without the ability to speak, and I'm under the impression that not even the owner could see my messages. Given that SO in general doesn't have a private messaging system, it would be useful if owners and administrators could see chats from those not authorised to speak.

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I think that's pretty much by design. Otherwise, the room owner might be swamped with the very messages that they're hoping to squelch. Seems sort of self defeating to make it otherwise, no? – Tim Post Mar 18 '12 at 14:43
@TimPost How many people know that the system swallows messages? In any case, I imagine it isn't beyond the whit of man to find a way to inform users of messages without showing the messages. Perhaps a number in a red circle corresponding to the unread messages? – Marcin Mar 18 '12 at 16:35
BTW: you really shouldn't be able to type anything in a Gallery room if you're not on the write list. Where the textbox normally sits, you should see instead a short message and a "request access" button. If that's not the case, this is a bug (or you're not really in a gallery room). – Shog9 Mar 18 '12 at 17:11
@Shog9 Interesting. Certainly not what I saw today. – Marcin Mar 18 '12 at 17:46

Given that SO in general doesn't have a private messaging system, it would be useful if owners and administrators could see chats from those not authorised to speak.

You mean... Like... A private message system?

The purpose - the only purpose - of creating a Gallery room is to be able to chat without getting interrupted by folks who aren't invited. Allowing them to interrupt anyway subverts this purpose. There's a button that lets you request access - if you do so, and your request is denied (or later revoked), that is the end of your dialogue with the room owner(s).

What the room should look like when you don't have write access

I'm always delighted by how many proposals for some form of private messaging involve an explicit desire to contact people who've already shown that they don't want to be contacted. It's a welcome reminder of why we don't have any generally-available PM feature.

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Funnily enough, if the chat had such a button, I wouldn't be asking this question. As I commented above, I imagine it might be possible to make the message available to someone without forcing them to see it. If only such a design already existed. – Marcin Mar 18 '12 at 17:48
As to "Allowing them to interrupt anyway subverts this purpose" - that's true but not relevant. A message shown only to administrators does not interrupt the conversation. – Marcin Mar 18 '12 at 17:49
You said "owners and administrators" - room owners are the ones who could let you in; messaging administrators is already possible via email, but outside of very unusual circumstances, administrators aren't going to intervene. Regardless, if you're not seeing that message and button, there's something unusual going on - can you please post a bug report separately, detailing: which room you're in (with a link to it), which browser (and version) you're using, and which operating system (and version) you're running on. Thanks! – Shog9 Mar 18 '12 at 18:18
Also, please double-check that you're actually talking about a Gallery room and not a Frozen room, as the latter behave quite differently outside of one rather unusual scenario. – Shog9 Mar 18 '12 at 18:22
I have only the room owner's word to go on as to the type of the room - there was no indicator of its status. – Marcin Mar 18 '12 at 18:23
There will be two indicators of a Gallery room: a gray padlock icon next to the name, and the text "Gallery: anyone may enter, but only approved users can talk" on the Access page. (example). – Shog9 Mar 18 '12 at 18:26
As I say, not on this room. Certain other users were chatting away happily, and the creator mentioned placing the room in gallery mode. – Marcin Mar 18 '12 at 18:27
Ahhh... Now I understand (maybe): if you were already in the room when it was placed in Gallery mode, the textbox may have remained. – Shog9 Mar 18 '12 at 18:42

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