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On most stackexchange sites, a PM system doesn't make much sense. Since most questions on the other stackexchange sites that I've used (stackoverflow, superuser, security, unix, etc) pretty much have a single, general answer that can be given without too much opinion, religion is a completely separate thing.

I've come up with some site-specific pros/cons, and I'm looking for discussion about whether something like this would work on sites like christianity and others (philosophy, etc).

Pros:

  • People not familiar with a particular denomination/sect can ask questions about it (respectfully) where questions would not make much sense in a more general Q&A site
  • It would help avoid tons of off-topic comments (see my question that shows this particular thing)
  • Some discussions don't belong in comments, and would take longer to resolve than the discussion feature to resolve

Cons:

  • Possible abuse by users who just want to complain about something a user has said
  • Users with a lot of reputation could get a lot of spam
  • It would turn stackexchange into a socal platform instead of just a Q&A site

I personally think that it could be a nice feature. There could be a few modes that a user could choose between:

  • Always disabled
  • Enabled to whitelisted users
  • Enabled to users with more than X reputation (total or local to that site)
  • Enabled to all except those on a blacklist

I personally think it would be useful, but based on certain other similar requests, this does not seem likely to be implemented. Here are some similar requests:

  • 1
    We have chatrooms. Some of them are for two people. What is the point of a PM system then? – Double U Aug 11 '13 at 19:45
  • Also, your so-called "pros" may indicate a lack of academic research. Christianity.SE is really supposed to be an academic Q/A website concerning Christianity, not a website where Christians try to proselytize away. I'm pretty sure that anyone with a trusty database of peer-reviewed journals can come up with plenty of decent Q's. :) – Double U Aug 11 '13 at 19:48
17

This has been asked for numerous times on SE websites and has always been denied. We are not a forum and don't try to be. We don't need private communication.

If for any reason you need private communication you can create a room on chat and ask that person to join you there.

  • I figured that would be the answer I'd get. Since it's been asked several times, doesn't this mean that the community wants it? I don't see anything wrong with an opt-in PM system. – beatgammit Aug 29 '11 at 5:35
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    @tjameson: If you want a PM system you there plenty of "christian" forums on the net that use them. Knock yourself out. I think one of the primary reasons for SE's success in the QnA world is their focus on the target, cutting away all the things that could bring it down. Chat is effective at filling the needs of member-to-member discussion around here. – Caleb Aug 29 '11 at 9:03
  • Just a clarification on the chat system; fully private rooms are not usually available to regular users, to avoid misuse. – Marc Gravell Sep 10 '11 at 8:24
  • @marc updated to reflect. – wax eagle Sep 10 '11 at 12:16
11

The pros you give pretty much describe the chat area to me.

Yeah, it's a short answer, but I didn't feel like I needed to say anything else. :P

3

I'm not really advocating this feature, just saying it's the absolute most I'd really want to see implemented:

A hidden field on the profile page where each user can optionally fill in an email address. Then if I want to contact a user privately, there's just a single button on their profile page that says "Request email address." When I click it, the user gets the request, and can confirm or deny the request. If it's confirmed, then their email address would either be visible to me on their page, or sent to my inbox.

Whether this would actually be used or not, I have no idea. I probably wouldn't fill in my e-mail address (even if it was hidden from anyone I didn't authorize), and I suspect the majority of others (since most of us are more computer/security savvy than the general public) wouldn't either.

And of course anyone who really wants to allow others to contact them, can make that possible by publishing their email address in their bio, or publishing a personal web site.

  • Sounds a bit risky. I sometimes wonder if people can see my e-mail address that I used to sign up for this account. At best, I would probably decline every single request for my e-mail address. Chatrooms are designed for chats and loose discussions between two or more people. – Double U Aug 11 '13 at 19:43

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