When organizing an event on chat, it is sometimes nice to invite an expert or a guest. Yet such person must go through the process of making OpenID, registering account, going to chat, setting write privilege -- this is complex and may effectively repel such person, especially if he/she is not from web2.0 era.

Thus I propose "expert accounts". The sample use case:

  1. Moderator (later it could be extended to room owners) defines expert nick, e-mail and grace period.
  2. Expert gets an auto-generated e-mail from the system, with a link that allows him to jump to the desired room already logged in (without any additional logins, OpenIDs, etc. -- just the link).
  3. This expert account have no rep and works only on a certain chat room, not for using Q&As. It may also have a special avatar.
  4. After grace period (=after the event), the account vanishes.
  • I'm not against this, but I'm curious: have we ever actually had a "special guest chat," in any SE community?
    – Pops
    Commented Mar 11, 2011 at 16:06
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    "expert or a guest ... he/she is not from web2.0 era" does not compute :) Commented Mar 11, 2011 at 16:19
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    @Popular Yup, we have a Journal Club on CrossValidated (stats.SE). In principle paper authors are invited. It once succeeded (out of three).
    – mbq
    Commented Mar 11, 2011 at 16:32
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    @Dan, does not compute for SO, but what about Bicycles SE or Cooking SE?
    – Pops
    Commented Mar 11, 2011 at 16:37
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    @mbq, cool! Nice to see chat doing some real good.
    – Pops
    Commented Mar 11, 2011 at 16:37
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    Does compute massively, and maybe even on SO.
    – Pekka
    Commented Mar 12, 2011 at 18:05
  • @Pekka I think the assumption there is that the experts in the CS field should be able to get 20 rep in no time flat. However, I agree with you. +1 from me, it's a valid point.
    – jcolebrand
    Commented May 11, 2011 at 16:44

2 Answers 2


Here are my thoughts on this:

Even though we have tagged this a while ago, I have never been comfortable with the "allow chatting without a Stack Exchange account" idea. Here are a few reasons.

  • It goes against the spirit of the whole thing – the purpose of the chat is to be supplemental to the main Q&A site.
  • Somewhat similar: It opens up the risk of becoming yet another "come here to chat with your buddies about anything" web chat site.
  • Even if we did it, it would only work on chat.stackexchange.com (not chat.stackoverflow.com or chat.meta), because on the other two sites, the chat account is bound even more tightly to the parent account (in particular, the user ids are identical).
  • But even on chat.se, the tight integration is happening in a lot of places; the assumption "a chat user is also a Stack Exchange user" is made pretty much everywhere.
  • As jcolebrand notes, the whole idea of "what happens after the grace period is over" opens up many questions. What if the same user is "invited" yet another time?

That said, I think this almost-anonymous chat account creation isn't really necessary (anymore, maybe). With the advent of Stack Id, creating an account for a user who has no idea what this "Open Id" thing is all about is no different than on any other site that uses email/password for signin. I think we can require this from someone who takes part in such an event.

So the problem that remains is allowing this user to chat despite having only 1 reputation. At this point, we're in a situation similar to the one in Will there be an "invitation per SO question" feature for the chat?.

It should be noted that moderators already have the ability to allow low-rep users to chat. What I'm thinking about doing in addition is the following:

  • If user X has more than N reputation (I'm thinking 3000 maybe? 5000?),
  • user X is an owner of room R,
  • and user Y has less than 20 reputation,

then user X can give user Y write access (i.e. allow them to chat) in room R only and for a limited time (24 hours?)

After that time, unless user Y has accrued 20 rep in the meantime, they will automatically be back to read-only.

Open questions I can think of:

  • values for the rep/time limits (as mentioned above)
  • Should there be restrictions on how many of these "special access permissions" user Y can have a) concurrently, b) over a given timeframe, c) ever?
  • Similarly, should there be restrictions on how often user X can grant this privilege to a low-rep user (with the same a, b, c)?

Feedback welcome.

  • 2
    obvious but worth stating: by definition, Y has no intrinsic value and is throwaway; any logic must not depend on "same Y", since that is cheaply recycled. Personally I'd say "keep as moderator managed". It is so rare that this is an actual issue that it doesn't need huge systemisation, IMO Commented Nov 29, 2011 at 9:49
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    @MarcGravell: I am not sure what you are describing as "so rare", but just to be sure, the "Will there be an "invitation per SO question" feature for the chat?" question reflects a very common situation for me (most of the users I help don't have enough rep to participate in a chat).
    – VonC
    Commented Nov 29, 2011 at 10:22
  • @vonc I was answering with the first line of the question as the context, which is not the scenario you are describing. If the proposal is to fix that scenario, then fine - but that is subtly different. Commented Nov 29, 2011 at 10:28
  • @MarcGravell: understood. I was just making sure that my particular scenario wasn't incorrectly labelled as "rare" ;)
    – VonC
    Commented Nov 29, 2011 at 10:36
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    IMO you miss the point of the idea -- it is to support "invited speakers" on chat (currently mainly for CVJC), so people who kindly agreed to honor the discussion for an hour or two and most likely never come again. Easy setup is just not enough -- it must be absolutely flawless to achieve standard invited-speaker-like experience. I can live with the fact it is too esoteric to waste your time, but it is certainly justified.
    – mbq
    Commented Nov 29, 2011 at 19:27
  • Even within the StackOverflow agenda, there are "people who want to have extended conversations about Q&A" and "chat as a sensible launchpad for guided indoctrination". When you're trying to convince people that StackOverflow isn't as cliquish and bureaucratic as they believe and that a simple adherence to mostly-reasonable-groupthink will make for a better platform, unilaterally blocking chat as a doorway is a bad idea. See my conundrum. Commented Dec 4, 2012 at 21:59
  • Is this a "no news is good news"? :) Commented Apr 6, 2015 at 19:23

4) After grace period (=after the event), the account vanishes.

Is that necessary? Perhaps there is a way to backlink it to a primary account later? Perhaps this applies in general for just having them create an account, and this grants them one-time power to use chat for n-timeslice

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    Questions like this are the reason that this hasn't been implented yet. There's a huge number of edge cases to be considered in this.
    – balpha StaffMod
    Commented May 11, 2011 at 17:31

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