It was nice to discover the option for a room owner to add any user to a room, even if their rep is too low.

"Even when this room is read only or their reputation is too low, these users will be able to talk in this room."

...so I notified the user in question, and as instructed on the next screen, I had them got to chat.stackoverflow.com so that I'd be able to add them.

Add a new user to the write access list: Please note that you can only add users that have already visited chat.stackoverflow.com.

...but when they did their part, and I did my part, I got the message:

Users must have at least 20 reputation to talk

Obviously both frustrated, the user's next logical question was:

"So I just have to ask a couple questions and get someone to upvote them, right?"

Needless to say, we don't want to encourage new users to post questions for the sole purpose of bypassing a frustrating, misdocumented rule.

I realize this will likely quickly get closed since it has at least one duplicate - which hasn't been touched in 5½ years. However it would be nice if the issue was revisited.

Ideally, it would be cool if RO's did have the option of deciding who had access to the room they "own", but short of that, is it possible to remove the six "misleading" words from that page?



2 Answers 2


The behavior described here was affirmed by Shog in March 2018 as intended behavior:

Well, that is what the users listed there can do [...] whether or not you can add them is another matter.

I introduced to him the idea that a message should be shown to users that only moderators can add <20 rep users to that list, but he responded that "it's hard coded" and took no further action. I'd suggest filing a new feature request for that.

  • 1
    Thanks for the response. I don't understand how it's such a big deal to re-word a few pages, but I'm also not a web coder... I've heard a few grumblings another on your link stating that "Chat will never, ever have any development done to it, ever." With as few active users as it has, I could understand why that would be the case, but haven't seen anything official; I'm just wondering if I shouldn't bother with MSE posts re:issues/requests/etc?*
    – ashleedawg
    Commented Jul 13, 2018 at 1:14
  • 1
    @ashleedawg Yes, you should file such requests. The SE team generally checks older requests whenever development work resumes. Commented Jul 13, 2018 at 8:16
  • can someone ask 3years later once again if this isn't a feature to speak about or even fix this damit text passage?
    – djdomi
    Commented Aug 15, 2021 at 21:03

I spent an odd amount of time really thinking about this question and your situation and the text on this page and it led me to make a few realizations.

  1. The text on the page is 100% accurate.

Even when this room is read-only or their reputation is too low, these users will be able to talk in this room.

Here's the thing, it's absolutely correct because it's talking about who's on that list. In that context, I hope you'd agree that it's factual and accurate. The thing is, you were using it as instructions - and that's not what it's intended for. Anyone who views that page sees the same text and most of those people can't edit the list, so it's just raw information.

  1. The text on the page could be a bit more descriptive.

Since you're not the first person to get caught up by this and we're a bit short on explanation, we could make this a bit more clear by updating the text to say something like this:

Even when this room is read-only or their reputation is too low, these users will be able to talk in this room. Users with insufficient reputation to chat have been granted write access to this room by a chat moderator.

So now, Room Owners are aware tacitly that they can't add users with under 20 reputation to the write access and they know how it can be done if they want to do so.

  1. The text in the Room Owner modal is insufficient to prevent surprise.

Product surprise is what you're experiencing when you get that error message - you go into a situation thinking you can do something and, instead, get a warning that you can not. This is a bad thing in UX and UI should be improved to prevent it. Right now, we only set one rule for you - that they have to have a chat profile - and we don't set up the other rule - they have to have sufficient reputation to use chat.

This is where we really need to make a change:

Please note, you can only add users in the following cases:

  • They have already visited [chat url].
  • They have sufficient reputation to talk in chat (>20 reputation).

In the end, these are the changes I've proposed internally for us to make and I'm hoping we'll see them shortly. While I spent time figuring this out on my own, in drafting this post I reviewed the comments on the older linked post and discovered that the very wise Tim Stone proposed nearly exactly this back in 2013:

The description is correct though, as it's not describing what you can do by clicking the button, but the (currently empty) list of users in that group. If a user is in that list they can indeed chat even if their reputation is too low, you just can't add them to that list in that case without being a moderator. The clarification should probably be in the non-moderator "Please note..." message in the dialog.

So I find myself agreeing with Tim Stone, which is generally a good thing. :)

These updates have been shipped.

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  • ">20 reputation" is inaccurate; it should say "at least 20 reputation". Users with exactly 20 reputation can talk in chat, but your proposed text mistakenly says they can't. Commented Aug 19, 2021 at 7:58
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    @sonic It also doesn't say "20 rep across any SE site, excluding the 1 rep granted by default for every site profile"... I guess I don't think that one point is enough of a reason to make this wordier.
    – Catija
    Commented Aug 19, 2021 at 13:55
  • I don't think it's necessary to elaborate about how chat reputation works in that message, given that that's visible by looking at the profile. Commented Aug 19, 2021 at 17:49
  • It also doesn't change the fact that it's inaccurate. If wordiness is a concern, it should be "≥20 reputation". Commented Aug 19, 2021 at 17:52

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