I guess this has been discussed on other SE sites, but I'm interested in the opinions on cogsci.SE specifically:

I feel this site misses a system to send private messages to other members.

People who commit to a site and become members of its community, sometimes want to interact with the other members on a private level. There is a chat here for that, but not everything wants to be said in front of an audience (One member said to another member: " I think we should get divorced."), some interactions are too short for a chat ("Thanks, love your answers!"), and – how the heck am I to let anyone know I want to chat with them without posting off-topic comments or lingering in chat for hours?

Private messages bring other problems (such as having to reply to them or appear unfriendly), but if we really want to limit the answers and comments to being on topic, then private messages are a way to release the need social interaction.

I wonder how other members of cogsci.SE feel about this.

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    We're all a pretty collegial bunch, so it wouldn't have the "Jon Skeet Stalker" effect that it would on SO, but the privacy issues remain. It also would require another large piece of infrastructure to implement, which unfortunately is likely to drag the heroic developers away from bug fixing, etc. Aug 21, 2013 at 17:41

1 Answer 1


The official policy of Stack Exchange is that if users want to allow private messages, they can link to a third-party private message service in their profile. This is what I do; my email address and personal website are both linked from my profile because I welcome contact from any users of this site.

In this way, Stack Exchange doesn't pressure users to feel the need to accept private messages or do real-time chat (which some users vehemently oppose doing; they want to answer and not chat at all) and simultaneously absolves Stack Exchange, Inc from any responsibility regarding what users say to each other privately, because such communication is outside their network.

Comments on a question inviting a user to chat (either privately or in Stack Exchange chat) are acceptable, and while they quickly become obsolete, they are the current best means we have of getting another user's attention. Once the user does see the comment and the two users have connected privately, the comment can be flagged as "obsolete" and a mod will delete it.

Personally as a mod, I only delete chatty comments after I am sure all users involved have seen them.

Finally, Stack Exchange chat does not have to be realtime. You can enter/create a room, invite another user, ping them with @their_username and leave a message. They can respond later. In this way, it can be used like comments to exchange information in aback-and-forth, non-realtime manner.

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    I am relieved to read this, I would absolutely oppose private messages. I used to frequent many traditional forums, including professional based ones - I found PMs (and their notifications) irritating and somewhat intrusive. We have chat and comments for messenging, and if anyone really wants to contact me, I am not adverse to giving my email.
    – user3180
    Aug 21, 2013 at 18:21

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