I want to setup a chatroom for online students learning HTML, CSS & JavaScript. (I encourage everyone learning programming to get a StackOverflow account for Q&A). Stack Overflow Chat is brilliant. But unfortunately new members can't participate right away. The ability to "talk" is only available once a member has 20+ reputation. Why?

"To reduce spambots" does not seem like a solid enough reason. Stack Overflow and Stack Overflow Chat have community-driven moderation. Also all Stack Overflow registrations already make members jump through the "Spambot" filter hoops (e.g., email confirmations / CAPTCHAs).

We wouldn't/don't restrict the posting of Questions on Stack Overflow to 20+ reputation members, so why limit Chat? It's the "new" members/programmers that really need the ability to "talk" to other members. Many aren't ready to formulate a Question, or knowledgable enough to commit themselves to an Answer, so getting that 20+ reputation takes time.

Considering the cost on new users, is the restriction really necessary?

  • 4
    Where do you get the "email confirmation" part from? There's no such thing anywhere on Stack Overflow.
    – balpha StaffMod
    Commented Jan 6, 2011 at 12:51
  • e.g. Blogger registration - which you may then use to register an account on Stack Overflow. Commented Jan 6, 2011 at 13:01
  • 4
    a) you don't have to register anywhere to participate on SO, and b) since everybody and their dog can set up their own OpenId provider, you can hardly claim that even a registered user has a verified email address (let alone the fact that the email address may not even be known to SO).
    – balpha StaffMod
    Commented Jan 6, 2011 at 15:03
  • 1
    Related question: Would it be abuse to make a channel on StackExchange Chat for my clan?
    – badp
    Commented Jan 6, 2011 at 15:30

4 Answers 4


Participation in SO really revolves around questions, not chat. New members can ask questions and submit answers, and therefore 'participate' right away. Have the students ask and answer questions on SO until they get to 20 rep, (in many cases that is just one question or answer).

If all the 'learning' is done in chat then there will be no benefit from the conversation for the community, since there is no structure to the information; it's just a conversation. In that way, it is no more remarkable than a forum. Sometimes people do need chat-like hand holding, but many questions can be more appropriately answerable in the Q&A format.


Because spambots chatting are more annoying than spambots posting questions/answers.

There are real talented people offering help on chat (live). Let's not waste their time and patience dealing with spambot crap.

  • Indeed spambots on chat is a major issue. However regarding your point "There are real talented people offering help on chat (live)"... the trouble is that the "new members" that NEED help from these tallented people are restricted from talking. So they miss out on this help. The 20+ design rule is focusing on bots - not on (new) users. Commented Jan 6, 2011 at 13:06
  • What if <20 rep users were made to answer an "Are you human" CAPTCHA before entering Chat?... a happy middle ground that fights off spammers - but enables new members to still have a voice. Commented Jan 6, 2011 at 13:09
  • 5
    @Chris Not exactly. This would only work if there was a CAPTCHA for every msg a new user tries to send to chat. You can still get help by asking questions! I think chatting is a privilege and 20 rep is the least you can ask from someone. In the end, spambots are a bigger problem than new users who can't chat right away. Ask a question and if 4 ppl like it, you'll have the easiest 20 points you've ever earned. Commented Jan 6, 2011 at 15:01

Edit: As several comments mention, this is no longer true, but was at the time I posted it.

It's probably worth pointing out that since you have enough rep to create chat rooms, you can make your own and individually allow write access to whoever you want, regardless of their rep. Once you've made the room, go to the room's info page, click the "access" tab, and add users under the "explicit write access" section

  • 2
    Except that, apparently, doing so on a large scale is regarded as abuse.
    – badp
    Commented Jan 6, 2011 at 15:29
  • 1
    @radp Oh, I was completely unaware of that. Never mind :) Commented Jan 6, 2011 at 16:26
  • This ability is now restricted. Commented Jan 7, 2011 at 9:56
  • 6
    we are closing this loophole. I support a one time 4 hour access link, but not this forever and ever backdoor. Commented Jan 7, 2011 at 9:59
  • 1
    This isn't currently true. meta.stackexchange.com/q/194514/301021
    – Erik
    Commented Oct 16, 2015 at 2:49

Yes, because SO chat is for the SO community, not for your school community. As such, the access restrictions will revolve around SO participation, not participation in your school.

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