The feature to contact other users has been requested many times before. There is even a protected question on the issue! Valid reasons against such a feature include not wanting SO to morph into a social media site, complete with abuse and echo chambers. I agree with this!

This request is for the feature under tightly defined conditions, specifically when another user has performed a public action (such as leaving a comment) and time-limited (eg. 7 days since last public action). If abusive or non-constructive, recipient can flag for moderators. If moderators agree, user can be banned from messaging for X days or require additional reputation.


To be clear, automated bump messages would be fine. Something of the form "User XYZ has edited question ABC that you [DELETE-AS-APPRORIATE] [voted to close] [put on hold] [gave an answer to] [commented on]. Ignore / visit question."

A lot of comments assert this feature is somehow intended as a back-door abuse mechanism. Nothing could have further from the truth! This was intended as an entirely positive contribution.


I've since been directed to this related request which more or less is exactly what this feature is about. Only comment is the feature request should also cover "on hold" questions, and other public actions as well. If its automated, maybe even up/down votes as well.

Curious how this has -12 and that one +42 votes (at 2017-06-21T10:33, that is)!

  • I think your present case on SO worked pretty well. – rene Jun 20 '17 at 10:42
  • Indeed! Thanks rene. The chat feature is reasonable, but I had to hunt around to get it to work. Just wondering if there is could be a cleaner solution which works for everyone. – AlainD Jun 20 '17 at 10:43
  • And your question was on its way in the queue with 4 re-open votes already: stackoverflow.com/posts/44569157/timeline – rene Jun 20 '17 at 10:51
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    Chat rooms don't disappear when you close your browser. They wait for two weeks of inactivity for that. – zondo Jun 20 '17 at 11:19
  • OK, thanks @zondo, was not aware of that. The chat feature is useful, though slightly convoluted. – AlainD Jun 20 '17 at 11:36
  • To attract additional votes to re-open, on EL&U we usually ask a question on the Meta. The whole community gets to see it, and therefore the consensus emerges very quickly. Makes time-zones a non-issue as well. – Dan Bron Jun 20 '17 at 12:10
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    downvote on a feature request usually means "I don't think we need this feature." Though you may have gained extras by using "bogus" for reasons you happen to disagree with, as though you are the final arbiter of people's opinions and reasons. – Kate Gregory Jun 20 '17 at 14:11
  • "Could any downvoter perhaps comment on why," - I do not want to be sent emails, if I happen to answer a question or comment on a question, by anyone. So I disagree with your suggestion. I don't believe it should be implemented in any form. Anything you have to say to me in an email can be said in the chatroom. 200 reputation is way to low of an amount of reputation, to contact another user, it would have to be like 2,000 at least before it wouldn't be abused – Ramhound Jun 20 '17 at 20:30
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    What @Ramhound says. No way do I want the deadbeats sending me any kind of private messages asking me to explain stuff that is already in the rules/policy/tout/help/meta.. Such posts would almost certainly not be useful, (if not actually abusive/threatening). – Martin James Jun 21 '17 at 9:16
  • The feature request in no way suggests abusive or threatening posts would be acceptable. Responses could even be limited (selected from a dropdown) with no free text. Moderators apparently think most of the SO users are trolls and deadbeats. That's a shame because my experience on SO has generally been positive. – AlainD Jun 21 '17 at 9:20
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    'If abusive or non-constructive, recipient can flag for moderators' who will do what? Delete yet another 'Member for today' account? No. No extra work for mods, no extra work for me, thanks. If a question is downvoted, the only person who should put in any further effort is the OP. This proposal is just a backdoor to 'do my work for me'. – Martin James Jun 21 '17 at 9:20
  • @AlainD 'Moderators apparently think most of the SO users are trolls and deadbeats' I think that's economical with the truth. It's not just the mods :) – Martin James Jun 21 '17 at 9:21
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    @AlainD LOL, well joking apart, there are a humungous number of posts from those who think that, for example, other SO users should read the help etc. documentation for them. Another massive group think that 'Professional and enthusiast programmers' includes 'My first week in programming 101, I don't know even basic syntax, I've done no work and my assignment is due Monday' :( – Martin James Jun 21 '17 at 9:28
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    In re Curious how this one has -12 votes and that one +42 (at 2017-06-21T10:33, that is)! because this request is about sending private messages, and that request is automated system notifications? – Dan Bron Jun 21 '17 at 9:37
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    @AlainD Saying "automated messages is fine" contradicts everything in your first paragraph, which is about users contacting other users privately (hence your pointer to the protected question, your preemptive suggestion about how to handle abuse, your title, and so on). If automated notifications are fine, then this Q is just a dupe of that question. If you still want private messages, then that's what the downvotes are voting against. Downvotes are not unkind, they're expressing one's desire for or against a particular feature. People don't want private messages. – Dan Bron Jun 21 '17 at 10:04

Wanting to contact your closevoters is very common, but not actually a useful feature. You have at most 5 close voters. Meanwhile you have a large fraction of the site who could vote to reopen - hundreds, thousands of times as many users. And the site already "contacts" them for you by putting your edited on-hold question in the reopen queue under the right circumstances, by letting you flag for reopening, and by putting all edited questions back on the front page for everyone to see.

You can always comment on your own question or answer, or on answers to your question, regardless of rep. If someone else has commented, you can @-mention them. If someone has edited, you can @-mention also, though it will seem that you can't because it doesn't autocomplete.

With these features in mind, I don't see a gap that your suggestion would fill.

  • At the moment you get no notification if the person(s) who voted to close/put-on-hold has reviewed your edit or not. Without such a notification, there is a clear need for this feature. In addition, the community focuses naturally on new/open questions and answers. The number of users willing to review an older/on-hold question without a specific interest is small...perhaps even vanishingly small. – AlainD Jun 20 '17 at 13:40
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    It doesn't matter if the person who voted to close goes and takes another look. It matters that enough somebodies take a look. And you don't need to be notified that people have taken a look. As for your assertions about the "community" I have accounts on over 50 sites. When I see an on hold or closed question on the front page that wasn't there before, I assume it has been edited and I take a look. I also use the reopen queues. And I am not alone in either behaviour. – Kate Gregory Jun 20 '17 at 13:49
  • also, there is nothing in your question to indicate that you would even be notified the message was viewed, much less that the user took the action you want them to take, such as looking at the question again. If you want such a mechanism included because you feel the benefits are significant, be sure to include a description of the mechanism in your feature request. – Kate Gregory Jun 20 '17 at 13:50
  • mmm, so in my next feature-request, if someone argues against it, I'll point out that me getting $1000 every time it's used would actually be a huge benefit, and when someone says I never mentioned that before I'll armwave about implementation details, shall I? You can't claim "Without such a notification, there is a clear need for this feature" and "I am agnostic on that point" in the same comment pile - they are contradictory. – Kate Gregory Jun 20 '17 at 14:13
  • You may be interested in this related suggestion meta.stackexchange.com/questions/56849/…. – AlainD Jun 21 '17 at 10:00

I will explain the reason I am against any kind of private messages in Stack Exchange.

  • It will be used mostly by users whose questions were closed, asking those who closed to reopen. This by itself might not appear as a problem, so keep reading.
  • The users who close questions usually do that a lot. And lots of people who got their questions closed disagree with the closure. Which will lead to many private messages for the closers.
  • Those closers will be discouraged by the flood of private messages.

Final result: less close votes, more off topic questons staying open, quality drops. Not good.

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    Add that users who close a question don't need any private message about that. If somebody has a question about their question being closed, they can ask on the meta site, and somebody can explain why. There is no need for this to be done from the users who closed the question. – kiamlaluno Jun 20 '17 at 17:29
  • Consider if the person who voted to close / put-on-hold voted because the question was too broad or off-topic (say). If the question gets edited by the OP, then a bump to see if the edit raises the quality sufficiently isn't unreasonable. – AlainD Jun 21 '17 at 9:15
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    @AlainD that's not a bad idea indeed, and there is a pending feature request exactly for this. :) – Shadow The Princess Wizard Jun 21 '17 at 9:17
  • Why not mark my request as a duplicate of that one and end the "I hate you and your idea because <INSERT-VOMIT>" tirade? I didn't know about that feature request which is nearly precisely what I'm suggesting. The automated list of "related questions" didn't show that question. – AlainD Jun 21 '17 at 9:26
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    @AlainD umm... no. Totally different. The other one is for automated messages, sent by the system. You offer custom messages, which is open for abuse as my answer explains. If you want you can flag your question and ask to disassociate it from your account. – Shadow The Princess Wizard Jun 21 '17 at 9:29
  • Automated messages are perfectly acceptable. I'm off to upvote that suggestion right now. – AlainD Jun 21 '17 at 9:32
  • @AlainD cheers, and sorry for the bad experience here, that's just how meta works. Hope you understand now the difference between your suggestion and the other one? – Shadow The Princess Wizard Jun 21 '17 at 9:34
  • Not really. I see minor differences only and also see how those minor differences have been teased apart and presented very negatively. Lesson to be learnt? Probably steer clear of detail. With a large community, someone somewhere will take offence and accuse/abuse you for something you never even thought of. Keeping your attack surface as small as possible is an art! :o) Thanks again for pointing out that other feature request. – AlainD Jun 21 '17 at 9:43

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