Stream privacy settings

Streams are similar to chatrooms, IRC channels, or email lists in that they determine who receives a message. There are three types of streams in Zulip.

  • Public: Anyone other than guests can join, and anyone (other than guests) can view the complete message history without joining.

  • Private, shared history: You must be added by a member of the stream. The complete message history is available as soon as you are added.

  • Private, protected history: You must be added by a member of the stream. You only have access to the messages that are sent after you are added.

Privacy model for private streams

At a high level:

  • Organization admins can see and modify most aspects of a private stream, including the membership and estimated traffic. Admins generally cannot see stream messages or do things that would indirectly give them access to stream messages, like adding members or changing the stream privacy settings.

  • Non-admin members cannot easily see which private streams exist, or interact with them in any way until they are added. Given a stream name, they can figure out whether a stream with that name exists, but cannot see any other details about the stream.

  • From the perspective of a guest, all streams are private streams, and they additionally can't add other members to the streams they are subscribed to.

There are two situations in which an organization administrator can access private stream messages:

  • Via some types of data export.

  • Administrators can change the ownership of a bot. If a bot is subscribed to a private stream, then an administrator can get access to that stream by taking control of the bot, though the access will be limited to what the bot can do. (E.g. incoming webhook bots cannot read messages.)

Detailed permissions

Public streams

Org admins Stream members Org members Guests
Join
Add others [1]
See subscriber list
See full history
See estimated traffic
Post [2]
Change the privacy
Rename
Edit the description
Remove others
Delete

[1] Yes, except for guests.

[2] Configurable.

Private streams

Org admins Stream members Org members Guests
Join
Add others [1]
See subscriber list
See full history [3]
See estimated traffic
Post [2]
Change the privacy [4]
Rename
Edit the description
Remove others
Delete

[1] Yes, except for guests.

[2] Configurable.

[3] Depends on the stream type.

[4] Yes, but only if subscribed. If you have a private stream without an admin, you'll have to add an admin in order to change the stream's privacy.