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User to User Messaging

We want to add a system to allow people to get in touch with each other outside of the forums. Many people aren't happy to make their email address publicly visible, so we need an alternative.

Typical forums offer Private Messaging, but lots of people find these somewhat frustrating - yet another thing to check, learn to use, etc.

There are several alternatives:

  1. One would be a system which allows you to send a message to someone and it be delivered straight to their email address. The reply comes to our system which then relays it on to you. In this way you can conduct a conversation without ever revealing your email address.
  2. Another option is similar to above, except once you send the initial message your email address is revealed to the recipient; then if they want to reply they just reply in the usual way and it comes straight to you.
  3. Another option would be a simpler thing whereby you click a button to request that the other person get in touch. That other person gets a notification that you're trying to get in touch with them and provides you their email address. It's then up to you if you choose to email them.
  4. Or any other options people would like to see instead? We want to avoid a plethora of options - the aim is to keep it simple.
EGTR / London, United Kingdom

I'd go for no 2.

United Kingdom

I'd say no 1, similar to Pprune if you set your options there to email delivery. Works.

1 or 2 seem fine to me.

Ridgewell, Essex

Number 1

EGSA, United Kingdom

No 1

Not wishing to influence the vote but please carefully consider what you actually expect of the system, rather than what you have used previously on other sites.

Just forwarding your message as an email, and allowing subsequent comms to be done directly between you, not involving this site at all, reveals your identity to the recipient (unless your email address is obscure).

The big Q is how many people actually care about that i.e. sending someone an off-forum message and remaining anonymous to that person. I think this requirement is rare. Let's face it, it would be bad manners to do that with a phone call, or by email. On another site, years ago, I did once get an extremely handy tip from somebody who clearly wanted to be (and was) totally anonymous, but that is the only occassion I recall from the last ~10 years.

A full "private messaging" facility, with all the mailboxes, etc, protects the original sensor's identity but has a number of downsides which include:

  • a lot of people don't read their PMs
  • a lot of people sometimes read them but not often and their mailbox fills up and then nobody can send them messages
  • if the recipient is on the move and can receive emails but cannot start a decent browser, he cannot retrieve the PM (very irritating as the PM could be important)
  • one can solve the above by copying the PM to an email but then the recipient has no incentive to retrieve his/her PMs and the mailbox fills up Also the sender sees the message as unread
  • if the recipient wants to reply, he/she is forced to use a PM too (unless you have included your email address) which is an extra hassle
  • while you do get potential two-way anonymity, the administrators of the site could potentially read the PMs so you don't get "secrecy"
  • people who like to keep track of their conversations, and like to keep important messages on their PC, cannot do it when some of these are sitting on a 3rd party server
  • you cannot use your favourite email tools
  • you cannot include attachments or, if this is supported, with various limitations
  • while we will do all we can to keep this site "clean", anonymous senders find it easier to send abusive messages
Shoreham EGKA, United Kingdom


Taking on board your comprehensive points I'd say that option 2 is just as valid.

But I rarely PM and just as rarely have it done to me.

Whatever you feel is appropriate. It's not a deal breaker for me.

EGSA, United Kingdom

Option 1.

EIWT Weston, Ireland

Option 2

24 Posts
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