FAQ: When should I private message (direct message) other users?

What are direct messages?

This forum permits you to send direct messages to other users. These are pseudo-private (pseudo-private since moderators can view all direct messages, and any party to a direct message thread may open it up to a wider audience) and the recipient user will get a special notification.

Should I send my questions via private message?

It is generally considered impolite to send via private message a topic that can be well served by a public thread.

However, they are many situations in which direct messages also make sense (dealing with personal or private information, talking about sensitive topics), so we have no desire to limit this feature.

What should you do if you receive undesired direct messages?

Some users who feel they are not being helped in public threads have been known to send direct messages to people that have been particularly generous with that time. First off, if that's you, congrats!.

It's obviously up to you on how to respond, but we generally discourage helping via private message topics that would benefit a wider audience. Replying to such messages puts an unfair burden upon you, and incentives behavior to move help threads to private.

We encourage:

  • Referring such private messages to this FAQ, and encourage them to ask the question in public.
  • Flag the post for manual intervention by this forum's moderators.
  • Feel free to ignore the message.