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I was trying to find a chat room associated with an answer to a few different questions, but in all instances I kept getting hit with a 'Page Not Found' presumably because I lacked the 20 rep to participate.

I was under the impression that in order to participate in chat I need 20 rep on the relevant site (in this case RPG SE). Is this assumption erroneous?

If so, do I need rep on Stack Exchange, if so, how do I do that? This might seem like a dumb question, but it appears that their page is a list of questions from a litany of different sub-exchanges such as RPG SE, Mathematica SE, etc.

Specifically this post: https://rpg.stackexchange.com/a/19679/31402

and this post: https://rpg.stackexchange.com/a/38202/31402

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You already have enough reputation to participate in chat. That's not what's going on there.

Since forever, chat rooms that aren't active get automatically frozen (read-only), then eventually possibly deleted (inaccessible). The criteria for deletion nearly perfectly matches the typical chat room that is created when comments are moved to chat, but the move-to-chat feature is younger than the delete-disused-rooms feature, and they have never been reconciled by the SE developers.

This results in getting “Page Not Found” when you go look for old chat rooms that were spawned from comments moved to chat, because they've been auto-deleted. These deleted rooms are technically still archived, but no longer publicly accessible. That's also for great reasons that make sense in other cases (a deleted room shouldn't be accessible, right?!), but doesn't quite make sense for moved-comments chat rooms.

There's a feature request on Meta.SO to have it changed so transcripts of such rooms are still readable — because wouldn't it make sense for those logs to be available still? — but it doesn't appear to have much traction: Make chat room transcripts forever public if the room was auto-deleted

Is there a workaround?

If a room is particularly important to humans despite not meeting the algorithm's sense of importance, it can be resurrected. Most aren't super-interesting, but your second example kind of has the intention of being longer-living: the idea was for it to be a place to discuss a certain topic, but as a room it never took off. (The actual activity in that chat room was almost non-existent.)

Most of the time, it won't be worth it, but in the rare cases where it is, a mod can resurrect a room by undeleting and unfreezing it; the easiest way being a flag on the associated moved-to-chat comment. If it garners sufficient activity after that, it will avoid auto-deletion again (though not freezing, but those are at least readable still). No promise that such requests will always be fulfilled, but then again, it's neither much work on our part nor much disruption if it was done without good reason, since it'll revert to the deleted state if it's not used.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ To clarify, are frozen and deleted effectively the same from my perspective, i.e. I get a 'Page Not Found' error? \$\endgroup\$ – Pyrotechnical Jan 10 '17 at 21:15
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Pyrotechnical Oops. I've clarified that in the post. They're different: frozen is read-only, deleted is “Page Not Found”. \$\endgroup\$ – SevenSidedDie Jan 10 '17 at 21:20
  • \$\begingroup\$ Okies, I'll ping mods with flags in the future if it seems like there might be a use for resurrection. \$\endgroup\$ – Pyrotechnical Jan 10 '17 at 21:27
  • \$\begingroup\$ I added an answer to that feature request. I do think it would be a very helpful thing to simply not make those links dead. \$\endgroup\$ – SevenSidedDie Jan 10 '17 at 22:11
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SevenSidedDie's pretty adequately explained why you can't view those chat rooms, which is the core of the issue.

I want to clarify what's going on with the reputation and access, since you're correct about some things and mistaken about others:

  • The Chat counts your network reputation as the sum total of your reputation on each Stack Exchange site you're a member of. You already have at least 2k Stack Exchange rep by the chat's count. (There is otherwise no concept of "Stack Exchange rep".)
  • You are correct that you need 20 rep to participate in chat. However once you unlock that privilege you can participate in any chat room. You do not need to earn 20 rep per site. I can speak in chat rooms for sites I don't even have an account on. (Stack Overflow is different: since it has its own chat servers, it only counts reputation from Stack Overflow.)
  • You do need 20 rep to participate in chats, but you never need it to view them. Chat rooms are public, even to people who have no account anywhere on the Stack Exchange network — try viewing a room in private browsing mode. If you're having issues finding a room, this would have nothing to do with it.
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