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I have an idea! How about we make a fair-and-square vote about whether we should have a private messaging system or not?

You can make a public announcement in the side bar of all the StackOverflow websites and make a simple poll where people can vote (anyone, without any reputation restrictions).

CURRENT RESULTS ON POLL:
64% (32) Yes
36% (18) No

Edit: Please use the poll here instead so anyone can vote, even without 125 reputation: http://www.misterpoll.com/polls/577005

EDIT: I dont have time anymore to do this. I have too much work.

See here: Any way to send a personal message to another user? there are quite some answers that are for PMs.

For spam prevention, it could be possible to block a person from sending messages to you.

There should be a private messaging system if someone wants to give a work offer to someone privately, or if you just want to ask them a very specific question only they know the answer for, or if your post is closed and you want to explain why you think the post should be opened, or if you revised the post and want to notify the moderators.

Also, private messaging allow you to contact people without both sides knowing each others emails. So, that means more people would agree to allow people to contact them.

Every user on the StackExchange sites has the right to include contact info on their profile page. If they don't, then they probably do not want to be contacted by email or through a private message.

NOT TRUE! Some people don't put their emails in their profile so that there wouldn't be a hundred accounts created using it by some troll! This already happened to me a couple times.

Also, I agree that the mods would receive a million PMs hourly, but we can limit Private Messaging to people with high reputation. That would keep spammers out, because you would need to work to get Private Messaging enabled.

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marked as duplicate by Shadow Wizard, Martijn Pieters, doppelgreener, Emrakul, random Jun 26 at 5:04

This question has been asked before and already has an answer. If those answers do not fully address your question, please ask a new question.

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Upvote this post if you want private messageing. Downvote if you don't –  Sam I am Mar 20 '13 at 14:31
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@Bart: Edited the question to answer your question –  user216196 Mar 20 '13 at 14:32
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Isn't this kind of a poll already... –  ben is uǝq backwards Mar 20 '13 at 14:33
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Repeat after me: Stack Overflow is not a social network. Anyone that wants to be contacted can easily add contact information in their profile. –  Martijn Pieters Mar 20 '13 at 14:36
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There should be a private messaging system if someone wants to give a work offer to someone privately, or if you just want to ask them a very specific question only they know the answer for, or if your post is closed and you want to explain why you think the post should be opened. –  user216196 Mar 20 '13 at 14:41
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Case 1: That's why we have careers.stackoverflow.com. Case 2: If they want to be contacted, they'll have their contact info in their profile. Case 3: Use comments and flag for moderator attention in extreme cases. –  J. Steen Mar 20 '13 at 14:46
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Case 2: What if they don't want to give out their email? Private messaging allow you to contact people without both sides knowing each other's emails. –  user216196 Mar 20 '13 at 14:48
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Private messaging would drive away our high-quality, high-profile users. –  Andrew Barber Mar 20 '13 at 15:03
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@MartijnPieters It might not be a social network, and yet, we have all the drama, personal relationships, and other associated stuff that comes along with being on one. If it walks like a duck, talks like a duck, etc. –  casperOne Mar 20 '13 at 15:10
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Because people would bug them with PM's. Think Jon Skeet or Eric Lippert. –  Andrew Barber Mar 20 '13 at 15:10
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@casperOne: Anywhere humans get involved, there will be a social aspect. That is not to say we thus should make this into a social networking site. It's a Q&A site, we focus on the questions and answers here, private messaging would (in my opinion) detract from that focus. Yeah, it's a bit of a popular phrasing; but one of the arguments I see again and again in favour of private messaging is that people want SO to be a social network, really. –  Martijn Pieters Mar 20 '13 at 15:13
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@AndrewBarber No, definitely not a good idea. The point being, using "SO is not a social network" really isn't a good answer to this. There are plenty of other good answers as to why this is a bad idea. –  casperOne Mar 20 '13 at 15:14
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Yep, indeed. So....no thanks. –  Bart Mar 20 '13 at 16:15
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@MDTech.us_MAN There is already a social aspect, it is called chat. –  bluefeet Mar 20 '13 at 16:20
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@MDTech.us_MAN Can you please update your question to tell us how the feature you propose would be beneficial to the wider community? And by beneficial I mean how it would help in regards to Stack Overflow's stated goal of being a high quality programming Q&A. –  Yannis Mar 20 '13 at 16:30

3 Answers 3

You stated in the comments here and here that this system would be good for several reasons:

Job Offers

The careers.stackoverflow.com should be the place for this type of contact, unless a user has included contact info on their profile page.

if you just want to ask them a very specific question only they know the answer for

StackOverflow and the StackExchange sites are Q&A, so how would you know that the person you are messaging is the only person what will know the answer? There are many users on these sites that should be able to answer any of your questions.

if your post is closed and you want to explain why you think the post should be opened.

Unless your post was closed directly by a mod, then you will have up to 5 people to contact about the closure. Obviously, if your post was closed there was some reason for it and contacting those involved doesn't mean they will re-open it. I can just see this type of private messaging turning into arguments about why a post should or shouldn't have been closed. If you truly think your post shouldn't have been closed, then you have options to take it to chat to discuss or even post on meta to get feedback.

What if they don't want to give out their email? Private messaging allow you to contact people without both sides knowing each other's emails.

Every user on the StackExchange sites has the right to include contact info on their profile page. If they don't, then they probably do not want to be contacted by email or through a private message.

I personally do not think this type of system is needed within the StackExchange network. Currently, you can contact users multiple ways:

  • chat - a minimum rep of 20 is needed to talk in chat and at least 100 rep to create new chat rooms
  • by commenting on any of their posts and they will get notification

You have not provided any real reasoning as to why or how this will improve the entire network.

My experience on StackOverflow has shown me that even though I don't have my contact details on my profile, other users can get a hold of me. They will comment on an old answer asking for additional help or request a chat. In my opinion that is enough, I don't need to be inundated with private messages just because I previously helped a user.

I cannot even imagine the number of private messages Jon Skeet or even the mods would get with this type of system.

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+50 Just got a notification a user is trying to contact me through my blog for help. No private messaging please. –  Kermit Mar 21 '13 at 23:13

I don't understand why we need this. There's a way to inform people of another service in the case of privacy.

There are other services that do this much better. Google groups for one can emulate private messaging and private broadcasts as well as public broadcasts.

You can have a secondary email if you want private messaging.

I, for one, have several emails.

Why reinvent the wheel unless you can make a better wheel. And given the structure of the site, we wouldn't be able to outperform existing services in the area of private messaging.

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Sometimes the communication is directly related to SE activity. Most users don't provide a contact method in their profiles. I would normally use comments, but I just wanted this in a case where the user posted a comment complaining about my downvote of his question before he deleted the question, so now there's no place for me to put my comment saying I didn't downvote him. –  Barmar Aug 29 at 10:48
    
That scenario, and all the scenarios I can think of are really trivial giving the grand scope of things. Plus, the site tends to favor open discussion. Last I checked, you couldn't make a private chat, you could only make speaking allowed by invite. I'm very careful when I oppose an idea, because I absolutely hate it when people tell me how things are and how they should stay as if their opinion is more important. But in this case it's just a very slightly marginal benefit, for infrastructure that I have no evidence even exists. –  Lee Louviere Sep 1 at 8:58
    
And what I'm afraid, is that any scenario you will think of, you'll be told to invite to chat instead. They're very adamant here that all discussion is as public as possible. –  Lee Louviere Sep 1 at 9:02
    
I'm not very familiar with the chat system, I've only ever used it when continuing a long string of comments in chat. Where is documentation of the chat system? I tried to figure out how to invite him to chat, I couldn't find it. –  Barmar Sep 1 at 9:13

I don't think a private messaging system within SO has any benefit, since much better private messaging systems are already used by people, including email, IM and social networking tools like G+ sharing or facebook lists or whatever they have already integrated into their personal communications.

I feel that the ability to contact a user is a valid feature and as such those options should be clearly available on the user profile where the user can give the best ways to contact them and this be well facilitated by the SO/SE web site. I think that's already readily available in the profile, if not perhaps as well designed/integrated with the various communications modalities as it could be.

Personally - that's why I put my email there, and I think if someone does not put personal contact details there, they probably aren't interested in you privately messaging them.

I'm not sure it needs to be any easier than that. There are a lot of casual SO users who barely fill out a profile and I can't imagine that they want to be contacted privately and all these details would be opt-in in any sensible system anyway.

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Indeed; I get enough unsolicited contacts via Twitter, and that takes a couple extra steps. –  Andrew Barber Mar 20 '13 at 23:38