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Requests for private comments via PM - What's your opinion?

J

JaneB

#1
What is your opinion on someone who begins by posting a new thread (or post) asking for help... and then part-way through tries to 'take it offline' by sending someone a PM asking for private advice and to continue the discussion but for them only?

My reply is no; I don't see it as fair to other forum users. If I write in the forum I write publicly and choose how, where, when and if I'll post, whereas if I consult, I do that elsewhere and I expect to be paid for it. I've only made a single exception to a PM request for help, where there were particular circumstances. But in general, it seems quite unfair to start off a topic, and then take it offline for the benefit of a single individual only, or to essentially ask someone to do work for you for free, particularly from people new to the forum, students, etc etc.

But the latest incident prompted this thread: in another forum, someone started a new thread with a topic, and after they'd received several responses (mine among them), then sent me a PM asking for more advice. In which they even copied in parts of private email correspondence from the 3rd party they'd had problems with (not on the Cove), which I found distinctly questionable.

What do others think of the practice of some Cove users using PMs to ask for private advice? What do you/would you do in such circumstances?

PS: not sure if this is the right place for this thread - let me know/move it if not.
 
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Jim Wynne

Super Moderator
#2
Re: Reqeusts for private comments via PM - what's your opinion?

What do others think of the practice of some Cove users using PMs to ask for private advice? What do you/would you do in such circumstances?
I get those occasionally, as do most of the regulars here, I presume. I tend to deal with them on a case-by-case basis, but I usually politely tell them that they should post their questions in the forums where others can benefit from the answers.
 
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BradM

Staff member
Admin
#3
Re: Reqeusts for private comments via PM - what's your opinion?

Good question, Jane. In short, my answer is no.

All the help here is for free. This site works by building a repository of knowledge in each thread. Sure, in one thread, one person may get immediate help. But so many more people come through and read that same thread, getting help also. All that knowledge is lost when done through PM alone.

On several sites, they will put notes in their signature, stating they will not help through PM. Not saying I condone or like it, but they do it.:D

I think PM is great on many different things. But when people have to devote time answering questions through PM, the rest of the site and other Covers lose out a bit. Too, someone may ask me a question, and it be an OK answer. However, they can ask in the open forum, and receive a much better answer by somebody they weren't expecting.

Now... there have been times that some of my associates/ other moderators may want to ask something specific from me that is not appropriate for public domain. That's different. But for the majority of questions/help, I think they should be posted outright.
 

arios

Your Mexican Amigo
#4
Re: Reqeusts for private comments via PM - what's your opinion?

Hi Jane

Thank you for bringing this topic to discussion. You are making a good point.

I wil speak for my self on this. On few occasions I have given my e-mail address to the post originator for further follow-up of an issue outside the chain of posts in the Cove. When I do that is not because I am trying to be unfair with other participants, but I do it particularly because I feel that some subtle details of discussions can be better clarified or resolved if handled one-to-one.

Whether or not this is appropriate I am not totally sure, however it would a good topic for discussion with the forum moderators.

I agree that keeping a private conversation outside the chain of posts may end up on situations that can affect or bother either one of the folks involved, so at least some guidelines or recommendations to perform that practice may be good.

Please provide additional suggestions to establish a "courtesy frame" on conversations that arise from chains of posts. I agree that some guidelines may help

Alberto
 

Marc

Captain Nice
Staff member
Admin
#5
Re: Reqeusts for private comments via PM - What's your opinion?

Good question, Jane. In short, my answer is no.

All the help here is for free. This site works by building a repository of knowledge in each thread. Sure, in one thread, one person may get immediate help. But so many more people come through and read that same thread, getting help also. All that knowledge is lost when done through PM alone.

On several sites, they will put notes in their signature, stating they will not help through PM. Not saying I condone or like it, but they do it.:D

I think PM is great on many different things. But when people have to devote time answering questions through PM, the rest of the site and other Covers lose out a bit. Too, someone may ask me a question, and it be an OK answer. However, they can ask in the open forum, and receive a much better answer by somebody they weren't expecting.

Now... there have been times that some of my associates/ other moderators may want to ask something specific from me that is not appropriate for public domain. That's different. But for the majority of questions/help, I think they should be posted outright.
I agree with this summary, but I also agree that it is a case by case issue for each of us. I get PMs now and again and almost every time I tell the person to ask in the forum because while a one-on-one can help everyone else looses out. There are times when they don't want certain information in public and I may try to help a bit, but that's relatively rare.

On the other hand, I am hesitant to make a 'rule' on something like this as its not enforceable - Not even moderators can see anyones PMs so there is no control mechanism.

I do think a courtesy reply, even in the negative, is a good idea, but again I know some folks policy here is to simply not reply.

As a last comment, remember each of you has the option to turn off PMs from others in your UserCP (I think it's under your Options).
 
M

MIREGMGR

#6
I got what seemed to be a broadcast PM a day or two ago, judging from the non-specific wording and contextual presentation. It was asking what amounted to an initial question, not pursuing a fine point of a discussion by the forum community that had already explored the general characteristics of a problem.

It also posed a very general question, asking for an essay-length answer.

And there was no sign that the asker had come here first to review past posts.

Most days I have limited time for participation here, and I focus that time on community posts. I tend not to respond to such PMs.

My perspective is that anyone needing private, personal advice should be hiring a consultant. Those who would respond that the reason they come here is because it's free, and who don't display at least a modicum of community-knowledge orientation, pretty much immediately lose their access to my time and advice. Those who demand my time and seem to regard me as obligated to help them personally, get nowhere.
 
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harry

Super Moderator
#7
As a last comment, remember each of you has the option to turn off PMs from others in your UserCP (I think it's under your Options). UserCP = User Control Panel
Also remember that this is an International Forum - there are cultural, language and many other differences. In case of doubt or where there is persistent testing of your patience (very rarely happening here), you can approach Marc or any of the Moderators for help.
 

SteelMaiden

Super Moderator
Super Moderator
#8
Sometimes, in cases of information very specific to one's operation, I really don't see that there is a problem with PMs. I think that is going to always need to be a decision made when you get the PM. Should this be shared with all, then ask the person to continue the conversation in the thread. I, myself, have been guilty of asking people through PMs for their thoughts on information specific to what I am looking for. Sometimes it helps you to figure out the path to provide better information through the public forum.
 
J

Juan Dude

#9
Re: Reqeusts for private comments via PM - what's your opinion?

I get those occasionally, as do most of the regulars here, I presume. I tend to deal with them on a case-by-case basis, but I usually politely tell the them that they should post their questions in the forums where others can benefit from the answers.
I agree 100% with this.
 
#10
I’m sorry if it sounds like that. The first thing came in my mind when I was reading the post is that if someone is happy helping people, don’t complaint. People who complain will get more of what they’re complaining about. Besides, she has a choice to reply or not to reply. and complaining is useless. it doesn't help. no one wins
Let me act as a "Gray Eminence" here.
The point you are missing, Triad,
is that the complaint comes to the eyes and ears of the moderators. In the past, we moderators have looked VERY dimly upon folks who continue in an unwanted activity in either the public forums or private communications with other Cove members. In several such cases, we have banned the offending person. In extreme cases, we have determined an individual is using multiple screen names for reasons which have no valid purpose in a public forum and we have searched out and banned EVERY such screen name.

To all Cove users:
If you feel harassed or badgered in any way by another Cove member in either a public thread or private communication, do not hesitate to make a complaint to the moderators. The poorest course of action is to try to deal with such offense on your own - the moderators may only need a little bit more information on a bad actor to trigger banning. If a bad actor is offending one person, odds are great that bad actor is also offending others. Depending on the nature of the offense, we may merely warn an offender, but multiple offenses and egregious offenses will be dealt with PERMANENTLY.
 
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