So I was making a chatbot in Ruby for SE chat, and I discovered that I could find out the starrer of a message.


I'm pretty sure stars, like votes, are supposed to be anonymous. Although this knowledge would help for cases of star trolls like this.

Here's the specific slice of code that does this:

when SEChatty::Event::MessageStarred
    sec.send_message "#{e['user_name']} starred that."

I'm pretty sure that the user_name attribute of the JSON is supposed to be the user whose message was starred, not the starrer.

Is this supposed to be happening? If not, should and will it be fixed?


1 Answer 1


I have always considered stars to not be secret (they aren't secret on the Q&A sites either, where they're called "favorite"). I can see how some people make that assumption though, since we don't really show "who starred this" in a dedicated UI, mostly because, well, we never created such a thing.

It seems that there's disagreement about the expected secrecy (or lack thereof) of stars, so I'm open to opinions.

Update: For now, I've added "message starred" to the list of event types for which we don't send the user id to the client. This is not an issue, since that information is not currently used (at least by the official client).

Going forward, the question is:

  1. Should "who starred this" be public? If so, it should be obvious that it is (e.g. there should be an easily accessible "starred by" list, and/or similar info for specific users).
  2. Or should it be private? With my above-mentioned change (which will be deployed in a few minutes) this will be the de facto status quo, so if there's interest in going with 1) instead, that should be a new .
  • 17
    Unlike favourites, stars give no indication to users that they are anything other than anonymous. If they are public, make it obvious. Show the messages a user has starred on their chat profile, at least to themselves. Otherwise match reality with expectation and make them anonymous. Currently (IMO) people view them as they do votes on main sites, which are anonymous.
    – fredley
    Sep 1, 2015 at 10:54
  • 5
    I am very emphatically of the opinion that I don't really care one way or another. Sep 1, 2015 at 10:54
  • 10
    I consider stars to be pretty much upvotes for chat messages, and that is what they're generally used for (if they're not used to annoy people). Votes are secret on the main sites, I'd treat stars in chat the same way. I can't think of a case where it is useful to non-moderators to know who starred a post, but I can think of cases where it could cause more drama. Sep 1, 2015 at 10:56
  • 12
    Stars are often used to provide support for an opinion, which is something you may wish to do anonymously, and the assumption with stars is that it is.
    – fredley
    Sep 1, 2015 at 10:59
  • 1
    @fredley That is a fair point.
    – balpha StaffMod
    Sep 1, 2015 at 11:01
  • 3
    This question now layed around for almost 1 1/2 years. It didn't care SE nor moderators of the different sites. So this information had been freely avaible. It is tagged as bug but hadn't been addressed as such.From the chat faq "The room sidebar is intended to be a collaboratively created mini-timeline of interesting room events for people who don't have time to read the entire chat transcript for that particular room." which IMHO isn't like upvotes. If it is seen like upvoting, one should also be able to downvote (not unstarring).
    – Heslacher
    Sep 1, 2015 at 11:51
  • So either remove this event from the protocol or let it be used.
    – Heslacher
    Sep 1, 2015 at 11:52
  • 17
    3) Should a moderator tool be added to see who have starred a message? Sep 1, 2015 at 12:08
  • 4
    @SimonAndréForsberg If you subscribe to the argument "stars are like votes", then that answer should be no, shouldn't it? We don't show individual votes to moderators.
    – balpha StaffMod
    Sep 1, 2015 at 12:54
  • 5
    @balpha then again mods cannot reset votes on a post, but even Room Owners can "cancel stars", so there's that Sep 1, 2015 at 13:14
  • 7
    @balpha I don't subscribe to that argument. No one gets reputation from a star. You cannot down-star anything. I don't see many similarities between votes and stars, really. Sep 1, 2015 at 13:16
  • 6
    @balpha To that end, though: Provide a way to determine which user is spamming stars in chat
    – Tim Stone
    Sep 1, 2015 at 13:23
  • 1
    @balpha For reference, we in the Lounge<C++> room have been running a case study of public stars for about the last 14 days through the use of an extension that everyone had installed. The effects were mostly positive. It was convenient to tell who supported a particular idea (helps communicate). On the negative side, there were two negative comments over the 14 day period where a person the chat didn't like starred a message. But those people were also usually given negative comments whenever they typed a message in chat, so I don't think it was really that bad
    – Lalaland
    Sep 2, 2015 at 12:44
  • 1
    I preferred the staring user to be visible, at least to chatbots... Sometimes it would have been really useful to know who starred something, especially when oneself wrote a message they did not want to have starred. So one could have told the staring person to unstar it before the 3 minutes threshold passed. Instead of removing the information, I'd rather have made it public (e.g. show a list of the starers in the context menu of a starred message). Sep 4, 2015 at 8:41
  • 4
    This answer poses a question, but not in the traditional format. Would it make sense to open a new question or modify this one so that it is a discussion? I think that would attract a bit more participation. I think it would be best to simply edit this question so it's more of a "Should stars be secret?" but don't want to step on toes.
    – DJSpud
    Sep 8, 2015 at 18:51

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