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Currently, when you follow a link to a chat room, you'll automatically join the room. This means, everyone in the room sees who's just entering that room.

For me personally, this is almost never the desired behaviour. I want to read the contents of the room, joining a room is an entirely separate decision for me. I almost never join a room unless I intend to participate in the discussion.

This behaviour is for one surprising, I don't think everyone expects that they'll be publicly joining a particular chat room just by following a link. This is made even worse by the "convert comments to chat" function, which leaves chat links scattered on the main sites. I can't just read the converted comments, I have to join the chat because it's the only link there (unless I manually try to find the room). For me this means that I never actually follow the links to chat unless it's something really important to me.

Joining a chat room is an active action to me, not something that should automatically happen without the user's consent. It has privacy implications, other users get notified that you're looking at that chat room at that specific point in time. It can also provoke reactions, suddenly I'm greeted by someone I don't know because they noticed I entered that room. As I'm a moderator they might also suspect that there is some kind of trouble which caused me to enter that room.

Following a link to a chat room should not automatically make you join that room. The easiest way would be to just redirect to the transcript, but that could be confusing for people that aren't familiar with SE chat. The other option would be to still go to the live chat page, but without joining chat. So the bar at the bottom would have a big "join this chat room" button instead of the message box.

marked as duplicate by ShaWiz feature-request Jul 23 '17 at 22:38

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  • What is so horrible in joining a room? If the problem is welcome pings or pings with questions when you join, ignoring those for long enough will make people understand it's pointless to do that. – ShaWiz Jul 23 '17 at 19:24
  • I'm not super bothered by the problem, but a mini-interstitial over the message box seems simple and unobtrusive enough, maybe only shown for rooms you've never entered before/explicitly left? – Tim Stone Jul 23 '17 at 19:24
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    @ShadowWizard it bothers me, I don't want to announce that I'm reading that particular room, and I have to actively leave it again, I can't just close the page. And the cases where it's actually a problem is anything moderation-related, where publicly showing that one or more mods are looking at the room can stir up trouble. – Mad Scientist Jul 23 '17 at 19:27
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(same applies to all suspicious links which you're not sure you want to follow)

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    That works if you know it's a direct chat link and know that incognito mode will avoid joining. I don't think that is a valid assumption for a lot of users. – Mad Scientist Jul 23 '17 at 19:20
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    I use this technique, but I still support the feature request. The problem is I inevitably end up left clicking instead of right clicking (because laptops suck) and entering the room accidentally (then closing out of the tab which apparently doesn't exit me from the room!?) – Laurel Jul 23 '17 at 21:54
  • @Laurel there is "keep alive" mechanism in chat that when failing (6-8 minutes) cause a "leave room" event to be fired, so that's not an issue. I never leave a room by clicking the "leave" link. – ShaWiz Jul 23 '17 at 21:57

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