I have someone asking for my email address in a comment to an answer I posted on SO:

I wanted to contact you for another project which I don't want to make public. But I couldn't find your email to send, how should I contact you personally?

This is the second time. The first time they apparently looked at my LinkedIn profile (linked from my SO profile) and found my name and company (which is fine). Their comment addressed me by name this time and asked if it was "alright" to contact someone else they found an email address for at my company. I flagged it and the comment was deleted soon after. Now they're asking again, and obviously don't get the idea of how SO works.

What's the best practice here or what would you suggest to do?

  1. Keep flagging the comments and not responding.
  2. Suggest that they find a way to ask the question publicly.
  3. Politely tell them to go away.
  4. Ignore it entirely.
  5. Some combination or something else?
  • 17
    I would like to discuss this with you over dinner. Please post your home address, and I'll be by around 7:00.
    – user27414
    Commented Apr 4, 2011 at 11:06
  • 7
    @status-declined: just give me your bank account and routing numbers so I can pay you first. Commented Apr 4, 2011 at 16:26
  • I've ACKNOWLEDGED the idea, great.
    – OpenCode
    Commented Apr 4, 2011 at 16:59

1 Answer 1


If somebody doesn't have their email address publicly available, it probably means they don't want to be contacted, right? Well, if you never tell this person, they might never realize that.

I would politely tell them that I am not available for such contact, and that they might try to find a way to ask publicly or ask somebody else who does have contact information.

  • 2
    +1, This is the answer, most people probably figure that the OP is missing his notifications. They need to be told if contact isn't wanted. Commented Apr 4, 2011 at 7:33
  • 4
    As Lance suggests, be careful not to make too many assumptions about the person. They may be from a different culture, have different understandings about the community, have a different first language, and so on, so it's better to be explicit and polite whenever possible.
    – Gabe
    Commented Apr 4, 2011 at 7:53
  • 1
    +1 Thanks for the feedback guys, good points. I went ahead with simply: "Sorry, I'm not available for personal contact. Perhaps you could try to find a way to ask your question in public?" I decided to leave out the idea of asking someone else, as I assume there are some members with contact information that don't want to be bothered. Commented Apr 4, 2011 at 16:43

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .