As learned from why users cannot send private messages to each other? personal messaging is currently disabled, but OTN staff apparently hopes to enable it in the next two weeks for users who are following each other (it probably means based on accepted Friend relationships).
For what it's worth, here is a list of Pro's and cons, including suggestions and alternatives collected from the mentioned discussion.
Unless there is anything wrong with my collection of cons, I cannot see or think of any pro.
People can spam my email address as much as they want - good luck! I have an email client that takes care of junk mail and all free web mail services I know provide sufficient spam protection. I don't think OTN should worry about it. I've had my email address visible on OTN probably for 15 years and never had any issue with spamming, or at least not that I ever noticed. And should it ever become a problem, I simply create a new mail account, no problem. Sorry, I find the argument of spamming a bad excuse to favor personal messaging.
And btw, are you going to make additional forum rules about exposing a private message to the public or restictions about conent and possible ways to address personal offenders? For instance, a forum expert may request friendship to a newbie and send a PM asking to stop posting stupid questions and read his documentation.
Dude, you list all those things as Cons, but many are purely subjective views of your own.
1.A PM requires the prior acceptance of a Friend invitation to protect from spam and unsolicited messaging. It does not protect from unsolicited content, though that is the same as any interaction on the internet. Whether you consider this a Con or a Pro is purely subjective. The need to be 'friended' first before being able to PM, provides a level of protection from unwanted PM's.
2.In rare cases the ability for people to PM may result in people manipulating others or using it for potentially fraudulent reason, however in most cases, like any other forum with PM features, it's just used by people who want to share something with a friend privately. The risk of manipulation and fraud is not proven to be greater through PM than through any other interactive media. The requirement to 'friend' before PMing allows people to only receive PM's from people they feel they are comfortable with, and if they don't like something they have the ability to 'unfriend' and prevent further contact.
3.If people feel they are being abused etc. via PM's they can raise their issue with the moderators/admin who will no doubt be able to look into the issue (or certainly admin should be able to)
4.Rejecting or ignoring a Friend invitation could be considered personal and rude by some people, but then anything people say on the forums can be taken by some to be rude. That's a personal subjective opinion, and the same anywhere on the ineternet. Just because a person believes it doesn't make it true. As taught in Buddhism, a person does not make you angry, the anger comes from within yourself.
5.Just as easily, the use of the forums could be 'spoiled' for people contantly receiving unsolicited PM's from people, if they didn't have to 'friend' them first. The restriction to just allow PM's for friends, allows individuals greater personal control over who they wish to be in contact with.
6.If people didn't have to 'friend' first then yes, some people would certainly try and use PM's to contact experts or others to try and get their technical issues solved off-forum, and even with the friend restriction, there's a possibility that some may still try that. The individual, however, has the choice to ignore such requests or reply to tell the person to post their issue on the forum, or maybe they're happy to provide free private support... that's a personal choice. I can't imagine most experts will be happy to just deal with people's issues off-forum (based on previous years on the forum where people have requested experts email addresses and be told to just post their issue on the forum). So, PM's could certainly 'attract' the idea that people can try and get private support, but those people are likely to be newbies and would most likely be told where to go.
However, I do agree that your suggestion would be a feasible option, allowing people to choose whether they wanted the friend and PM features enabled via a profile setting, though I do sense you are over-reacting (meant nicely) about people may consider it rude to have their friend request ignored/rejected. The ability to accept/reject/ignore friend requests does act as a kind of, more granular, method of enabling/disabling the PM feature... you get to choose who you want to have it enabled for.
As for the forum rules, that's a good point, and I hope moniquevdb-oracle and her team will consider setting out the rules, not just for members, but also for the moderators, so that we can take on board any reports of abuse etc. and know whether they need raising. Certainly, a common rule on most forums in respect of PM's is that private messages are private and should not be posted on the public forum, and usually only the site administrators have access to look at such messages against individual profiles where a complaint has been raised.
Ok, thanks for the feedback and here are my answers according to your points:
Another option might be to have a setting to automatically accept Friend requests or enable it for all by default and instead provide an option to exclude individuals when necessary. Or to disable it generally and present an alternate contact information.
I personally do not use the Dashboard that would be affected by the above, so this would not be an issue for me. On the other hand, the Friends feature seems to be the door to open other features. As long as OTN has a hidden agenda, I’m reluctant to use the Friends feature.
It's what happens when you convince people points and badges have value.
Edit: And of course, in rare cases followers do have value: How Much Can a Celebrity Make for Tweeting? -- Vulture
Well, that's an interesting point. I have to admit there is a close resemblance when considering points and followers as a matter of goal or achievement. However, for instance, I enjoy collecting points, but I couldn't care less about collecting friends and followers.
Points are similar to a thank you and confirmation for providing a certain helpful and correct answer. The point system may also encourage cooperation since the evaluation of correct or helpful answers is expected, and last not least answered questions can provide a useful reference to the community. Friends and followers however are on a more general level with a personal or political attitude or interest. I therefore do not think that points and badges and friends and followers are all the same type of game.
I guess my dismissal of Facebook, LinkedIn, Xing and other social networks alike stems from some experience about how people present themselves compared to how little is actually true or real, or how some people brag about their wonderful life's, and how silly people are to provide private information about themselves or even worse, expose private information of others. And I also do not like the commercial interest of these networks to use user profiles, footprints and connections for marketing and manipulation. It may just be a matter of time until corporations use people's Internet footprint for personalized services to the disadvantage of the customer. I have never been able to pull anything useful out of Twitter.
Yes, I have the the same feeling about the social sites. But I am on them (rarely), simply because "everyone else" is, both personal and professional. I have caught up with long-lost buddies for both, which has some small value.
Twitter may be a special case. There is an active Oracle bunch on there, and several maintain that they've gotten positive results for specific technical issues. I get the idea many are there just because "everyone else" is, and can't say as I've had good results with specific issues (which, of course, may just be my fault). The direct messaging has suffered from some classic hacks, but aside from that, may be informative for our subject here of PM's. Even though I can guess why some people block me from following them (I can be brutally honest), for others it's tough not knowing whether it's something I did, something someone misunderstood that I did, something someone else did that they thought was me, a cabal badmouthing me, or general blockage of everyone.
I deactivated my Facebook account a couple of years ago when it went to the stock exchange. Anyway, I did not use it for much else other than to look up information of some friends and lost interest very quickly.
Hopefully people will learn and not take all information on the Internet face value, but unfortunately the Internet has infinite memory and whenever money is involved, abuse of information and loss of privacy is at stake. Without privacy, life becomes highly vulnerable to the control of others.