There are dozens of questions that demand private messaging, like this for example.

Would the following be a way to be considered to implement private messaging?

  • Default: No private messages

  • Users can enable accepting private messages. They are displayed on their account page under a new tab "Messages" just the way questions are (that is, with answer possibility, tags, comments, and so on).

  • By handling messages as questions the receiver can forward single questions via the 'Notify this address' to his e-mail address.

  • [optional] The receiving user has the possibility to change the private message into a regular question; for this he may edit the message, even if he has not enough reps yet.

  • Now the fun part! Not everyone is allowed to send messages to everyone else. Users may only send to users with less reputation than oneself.

  • [optional] With 1k or 2k rep the last point vanishes and one may send messages to everyone who has enabled messaging.

  • [even more optional] With 10k even this barrier vanishes and one can send messages to everyone.

Sometimes newbies write horrible questions. In this case it would be nice to give them a private message explaining why they should improve their style. Doing that in a publicly viewable comment (perhaps with others bashing along) is not very constructive.

  • 3
    Maybe this PM question won't get denied. Let's see... Commented Jul 31, 2009 at 19:15
  • 1
    I feel the rep restriction is somewhat unfair and will diminish the value of messaging all together. Commented Jul 31, 2009 at 19:17
  • 7
    If I could send you a private message I would send a message telling you how much I hate private messages. Every hour.
    – Welbog
    Commented Jul 31, 2009 at 19:19
  • 4
    @Chacha I doubt it. I'm working on an encryption method that turns conversations into programming related questions. With a greasemonkey plugin users will seamlessly use SO as if it were MSN, while the casual onlooker believes it's completely programming related! Commented Jul 31, 2009 at 19:22
  • ;-) I know that PM is not popular among many here, and I can understand it. I really thought twice about suggesting this feature. But admit, there are use cases. With this request I just wanted to throw in a possibility how PMs could possibly not lead to spam attacks and the likes (like frequent users being privately annoyed by newbies all the time).
    – Boldewyn
    Commented Jul 31, 2009 at 19:27
  • 3
    @Boldewyn: thing is, there's already a way to do this. I've been contacted by people on SO, even though i've never bothered to make this easy by putting any specific contact information in my bio! Some people, presumably those who actually yearn for contact, go all-out and leave long lists of ways they can be reached on their bio pages. And so every time this comes up, i think, "a solution... looking for a problem".
    – Shog9
    Commented Jul 31, 2009 at 19:53
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    Articles from the future: Local Internet superhero Shogington the Ninth was brutally murdered by one of his many stalkers. The stalker took his own life shortly after the incident, writing in a brief letter that, "I got the guy who closed my question and ruined my life!" Police are still attempting to decrypt this message.
    – Welbog
    Commented Jul 31, 2009 at 19:56
  • It has been over an hour and no status-rejected tag. Commented Jul 31, 2009 at 20:09
  • I have actually missed this functionality just like you say in the event of notifying a newbie how things work here. But as @Welbo'clock say in his answer: "You want to send messages to new users because their questions suck. So fix their questions and leave a comment in the edit history so they know why you made the change."
    – awe
    Commented Mar 15, 2012 at 10:24
  • When I think of it, it is actually better to leave a public comment, than a private message, because then everyone else knows that the user has got the message, instead of that poor user getting 125 private messages about the same thing...
    – awe
    Commented Mar 15, 2012 at 10:26
  • Actually, since I requested that feature the chats have been introduced, which take away basically any other use-case. And for the newbie contacting, by now I'm in sync with you, public comments are not this bad here.
    – Boldewyn
    Commented Mar 15, 2012 at 10:46
  • Not sure why this resurfaced on the front page after so long, but there's an obvious flaw in this proposal: if you can only send messages to users with less rep, replies are not possible. Commented Mar 29, 2016 at 0:16
  • Apparently because @random thought it was a good idea to edit my proposal by throwing away all my "I know, it has its downsides" and "maybe one could" remarks. Grrr!
    – Boldewyn
    Commented Mar 29, 2016 at 7:11
  • @Boldewyn: Well, those were all fluff. "Peradventure, notwithstanding certain potential drawbacks as will be detailed more fully subsequently, sir could find it within his heart to consider the modest proposal I present, to wit, as follows..." doesn't add anything to the feature-request. If you feel it necessary, though, you can roll the edit back. Commented Mar 29, 2016 at 19:57

1 Answer 1


Users may only send to users with less reputation than oneself.

So then I could just spambomb the majority of users on SO? I like it!

Pesto, kindly prepare your inbox for unsolicited subscriptions to Laserdonuts weekly and offers to increase the size of your vodka bottles.

Anyway, this is a terrible idea.

My reason for private messaging: Sometimes newbies write horrible questions. In this case it would be nice to give them a private message explaining why they should improve their style. Doing that in a publicly viewable comment (perhaps with others bashing along) is not very constructive...

That's why comments notify the owners of the questions on which the comments are placed. Why do you people continue to insist Team Jeff reimplement features SO already has? How are comments not constructive? Someone who is going to be offended by a comment that says, "Your style could be better" is going to be just as offended by a private message saying the same thing.

Moreover, we have edits so that we can edit things to improve them without even bothering to leave a comment. That and edits have comments themselves so you can provide less-visible edit-related constructive comments there. And new users can learn from example by looking over the changes made by the edit instead of having to figure it out from reading a private message!


And another thing. Your suggestion really works under the assumption that users with high rep aren't assholes. I have an example of a high-rep asshole right here. Seriously. If you give me a feature that I can abuse that I think needs to be improved I will abuse it until Jeff fixes it in a way that satisfies me, or gives me a logical reason why I can't have what I want. Any moderator who has been reading my spam reports will back me up on that one.

Don't take this as a threat - take it as a prediction: I will spam you and everyone else who suggested the addition of private messages on SO if they get implemented. Ask any moderator about how creative I can get and how serious I am.

Now as if that isn't enough I'm going to eat this knife to back up my claims.


It boggles my mind that even after my stunning display of knife-based imagery this question's vote count is still greater than zero. How many more logical holes must I find in your silly idea before you social networkers understand the point of SO?

You want to send messages to new users because their questions suck. So fix their questions and leave a comment in the edit history so they know why you made the change, and they can see the specifics of the change you made so they can make it themselves next time.

<strawman>But wait, that's too aggressive! These poor new users' feelings will be injured and they won't grow up right!</strawman>

The way I see, someone humble enough to ask a question on an Internet Q&A application shouldn't have a problem with people making his question better, and offering him help publicly. Oh no! He's gotten help! The poor bastard is going to have to cry himself to sleep tonight on his bed of empty beer bottles and broken dreams.

(Broken dreams are very comfortable, by the way. The more hopeful the dream the fluffier. Like kids who want their favourite baseball man to sink a 4-point dunk past the 90-yard line when the score is already 40-luv. Those are the best!)

You seem to think that a private messages' usefulness is an obvious truth. It's not. You have to demonstrate to me that you are capable of predicting human behaviour as The Atwood Superfriends have in coming up with badges and reputation to curb actions toward the main goal of the site. You have to prove that your system works in practice.

You haven't done that. You've just said, "Hey, this is good." That's not good enough. You should know that.


It's an injustice that you're not listening to me. You're probably off closing my answer like you closed Click Upvote's. I can see you mods there, with your devious plans and your fancy ornithopters you use to commute to moderatorville every afternoon.

I'm entitled to having an audience who supports my ideas! That's why I can just keep posting the same suggestion over and over again even though you've shot it down (n-1) times before!

This is good knife. The taste is a bit dull, though.


You've even killed Shog9, my Internet acquaintance! Haven't you done enough!? What more do you sick private-messagers want? Whom do you have to kill next before your bloodlust is satisfied?

Your cause can't be forwarded this way, you know. Violence begets nothing but more violence. I think Napoleon said that. Or was is that guy from Star Trek? It doesn't matter who said it! The point is killing Shog9 proves nothing other than you're an inhuman monster. People don't like inhuman monsters. They downvote inhuman monsters. That's all you've accomplished by killing him. Downvotes for your entire cause.

If I put up your cause on the Internet, absolutely no one would Digg it. You wouldn't find it on Fark (except with possibly the FAIL tag). If it showed up on Youtube in a video format its rating would be one star out of five. Or maybe Google would change Youtube's rating structure just so that your cause's video-ification can have the implausible rating of zero stars out of five. Wouldn't that be fantastic?

We live in a brave, new, Shog9less world, people. A world where things can have no stars. Look what you've done.


When you get your way and the world is destroyed, it'll be just you and Stack Overflow and the wide open world. Forever. The world where all the people who hate you are dead.

  • That part is a really bad idea. I think that its more like, you can only send messages at 1 or 2k. Commented Jul 31, 2009 at 19:16
  • Oh, and there are much better reasons for Messaging than the one given. Commented Jul 31, 2009 at 19:17
  • 6
    That way jon skeet could only talk to us and we would not be able to talk back. It would further enforce the fact of "Jon skeet is always right"
    – Troggy
    Commented Jul 31, 2009 at 19:18
  • Ha, I've got more rep than you do so I wouldn't have to listen to you. (Now there's motivation to keep answering questions!)
    – mmyers
    Commented Jul 31, 2009 at 19:45
  • I am copy/pasting this question into Evernote for future reference. I always love a good 2 page rant. Commented Jul 31, 2009 at 19:52
  • 1
    Re: Edit #4... laughed so hard, i choked on the jelly donut i was eating.
    – Shog9
    Commented Jul 31, 2009 at 20:10
  • @Welbog: I would like to sign up for my subscription of Laserdonuts Weekly. Make it happen.
    – Eric
    Commented Jul 31, 2009 at 20:10
  • Wouldn't edit 5 be more like edit 4b or 4a? or 4.1 Commented Jul 31, 2009 at 20:14
  • @Chacha102: No, I just really, really hate private messages.
    – Welbog
    Commented Jul 31, 2009 at 20:14
  • 2
    I'm pretty sure this doesn't have anything to do with the question anymore... but I still can't stop myself from upvoting.
    – mmyers
    Commented Jul 31, 2009 at 20:15
  • 7
    They killed Shoggy?! This means war! Give me a minute while I go get my stabbing knif-- WHO ATE MY STABBING KNIFE?! Commented Jul 31, 2009 at 20:43
  • Are you eventually going to edit the entire database of SO into this post? Seems to be getting pretty close in size Commented Jul 31, 2009 at 21:40
  • I just noticed you pointed at yourself as the asshole. Commented Jul 16, 2020 at 3:24

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