Earlier today I was invited into a new chatroom by a moderator (I too am a moderator). I mistakenly thought the chatroom was set to Private, and replied to their message under that assumption. Moments later I noticed that the room was not private, and even though I hadn't really said anything that would be problematic if someone somehow stumbled across the room, I still wanted to change the privacy settings since we were talking about moderation issues.

So I went to Room -> Control Access, selected the Private option, and submitted my change. I was immediately redirected to an error page; now that the room was private, I had lost access to it! Apparently you have to be on the list of accepted users to chat in a private room. Well, that makes sense, but you would think that the person who changed the setting from public to private (who must be a moderator) should automatically be added to the list of people with privileges to chat in the room.

So, that's my bug report and my request for a fix: when a moderator changes a room from public to private, can we automatically add them to the allowed users list? I'm trying to think of a situation where that wouldn't be the desired behavior, and I've got nothin'.

  • I didn't even know moderators could not access private chat rooms unless they were on the allowed users list. Commented Dec 13, 2013 at 3:31
  • @BoltClock'saUnicorn The first time I figured that out, someone posted a link to the SO mod room and I was curious and clicked. Denied! ;) Though I have noticed that comm team members have universal access to everywhere (which of course makes sense).
    – WendiKidd
    Commented Dec 13, 2013 at 3:40
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    Moderators only have access to private chat rooms that are linked to the site(s) where they have a diamond. How frequently is this happening to create an exception for this use case? Keeping in mind that y'all shouldn't be creating private rooms except to discuss moderation issues that have the potential to reveal private info of any other users. (Not saying that's what happened here - I don't know which chat room you're talking about - but FYI.)
    – Adam Lear StaffMod
    Commented Dec 13, 2013 at 3:40
  • @AnnaLear Ah, okay, that makes sense then. There were only 2 messages in the chat room; Mike was asking me something privately about something that happened in the TL earlier, and I replied. That was going to be the end of it I think :) But since it was about TL-related stuff, I thought the room was supposed to be private and tried to change that. You're also probably right that this'll never happen again, so it's likely nothing to worry about :)
    – WendiKidd
    Commented Dec 13, 2013 at 3:48

1 Answer 1


If this really needs to be fixed, it should probably be done by preventing you from changing the access level on a room not associated with your own site. There are probably other good reasons to prevent that anyway.

If you make one of your own site's chatrooms private, you'll retain access regardless of whether or not you're in the access control lists.

Otherwise... "Doctor, it hurts when I do this!"

  • Those two are not real doctors, Doctor
    – random
    Commented Dec 13, 2013 at 4:02
  • Ha. +1 for reminding me of a great old joke (Tommy Cooper doing it of course..)
    – James
    Commented Dec 13, 2013 at 4:10
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    Note that this wouldn't prevent anything, a mod can still ad themselves as an owner and then proceed. But I think that particular functionality (owners of private rooms have full mod powers in the room regardless of parent site) should stay, we use it for the Sec.SE CTF room. Commented Dec 13, 2013 at 6:25
  • Not quite sure what you mean, @Manish
    – Shog9
    Commented Dec 13, 2013 at 6:43
  • @Shog9 Most of the mod regulars of this room (which is made private during competitions, usually by me or Gilles) are not from sec.SE. I was saying that mod room owners should retain the ability to make a room private. Commented Dec 13, 2013 at 7:00
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    Too tired to look up the particulars, but frankly that sounds like one of those exceptional things we'd normally try to discourage - IOW, not a use-case worth going out of the way to preserve if there's any real benefit to fixing it for the common case. @Manish
    – Shog9
    Commented Dec 13, 2013 at 7:03
  • When I saw your answer I had the same reaction as Manishearth. As a matter of fact I added myself as an owner of the CTF room precisely because a competition was about to start and we needed to switch the room to private (of course I notified the Sec.SE mods and they didn't see it fit to revoke my access). This is an edge case, sure, but it's a useful one. While I agree that the current rules are odd, please let mod-owners retain mod powers over private rooms even on foreign sites. Commented Dec 13, 2013 at 10:04

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