Group private messaging


(Adam Davis) #1

When you need to discuss a private matter with several people, start a PM (private message) topic with one of them. You will see that you can add additional users to the PM topic as you are composing the initial message.

You cannot (yet?) add additional members to an existing PM topic, unless you are an administrator on that Discourse forum.

To start a PM, go to the user page of the user you wish to invite, and click the “Private Message” button that appears below their avatar. To add additional users, type the first few letters of the user name in the text box “Add a user”, then select the user from the autocomplete box, or type their full username.


Improving Group Messaging
(Chris Sims) #2

I see a button to invite others to a private message topic at the bottom - have you tried this?


(Chris Hanel) #3

I’ve already successfully PM’d multiple people at once with no issue.


(Adam Davis) #4

Well apparently Discourse already includes this feature.

Obviously @codinghorror needs to stop using his time machine to implement what I ask for long before I ask for it.

Or I need to try things out before I ask about them.

I’m hoping it’s the time machine thing though.

I’m turning this into a FAQ so I don’t look so bad.


(finid) #5

Is this button available to all or do you have to reach a certain trust level to be able to see and use it?

Right now, I can’t see the button.


(Chris Sims) #6

It seems as though it may be a trust level progression? @stienman and I couldn’t get the “Invite others” button to show up in quick testing. I’m seeing it on my own instance, but I am admin/moderator there.

Here is the button that I see in my instance:

And here on meta:


Can't invite users to private message after it's created
(finid) #7

Well, that makes sense. From you own instance, is the trust-level configurable.


(Jeff Atwood) #8

I believe inviting others to PMs is a mod-only activity at the moment, however, we do want to unlock that as part of the trust level progression.

(Remember right now we have only two trust levels implemented: 0, new user, and 1, basic user.)


Defining trust levels
(Chris Sims) #9

@finid It is configurable through the rails console, sorry for the confusion.

@codinghorror does it make sense to be able to add others to a private topic, with participant’s permission? Maybe the ability to make it public down the road, again with a “yes” vote from participants? Or is that part of the plan already?


(Jeff Atwood) #10

Right, that is the tension. It is a social tension not a technological one. If you add people to a PM, is it really “private”?

If I start a PM with David about how Dick is such a … jerk… and David adds Dick to the PM, is that really the intent of PMs?

Of course then David would be behaving like a … jerk, too.


(Chris Hanel) #11

I don’t have as much of a problem with the feature because there already wasn’t anything stopping David from taking screenshots of the conversation and sending them to Dick.

As long as the feature isn’t hugely prominent, it’s properly implemented with the trust level configuration, and @jcsims’s point about giving everyone the ability to approve an addition should you desire to have the feature, I’d be okay with it being on my forum.


(Chris Sims) #12

Right, I think the key is the approval from participants, I’m just not sure if that can be implemented in a way that visually makes sense for a user. Maybe a notification, and a simple green check/red x to signify whether you want to add another participant. It sounds like mods will be able to do this regardless of approval, but the hope is that they’ve already shown that they are responsible users…


(finid) #13

The whole point of having a forum, at least from my perspective and need, is to create content and share it with everybody. After all, I am writing mostly about Free Software/Open Source.

To that end, I don’t mind PMs, provided they be made public at some point. Otherwise, the forum or community becomes a collection of walled gardens. Tat’ll be counter-productive.


(Jeff Atwood) #14

I disagree, PMs are very important, though they should never be more than a few percent of all posts, tops. Here’s why:


(Adam Davis) #15

When you start the PM, there should be a checkbox:

:ballot_box_with_check: Allow other participants to add people to this private topic.

This way the person starting it can decide if they want to control who sees the conversation (and they will still be able to add people if they like) or if they don’t mind if others add new people to the topic.


(Michael Brown) #16

Why force people to make an unnecessary decision?

One should always assume that the other participant(s) will be able to reveal your conversation to others (screenshot, printing, camera, etc). To imply that unchecking the box will really keep it private is misleading.


(Chris Hanel) #17

Yeah, I don’t think a feature like this should be that prominent.

When you put it front and center every time a PM thread is created, it makes it sit prominently in the minds of the participants. It’s better to have the feature to allow people to have others invited, but have it tucked away so that users aren’t constantly reminded of it and given reason to have to think about how much they trust the other participants.


(Jeff Atwood) #18

Total agreement.

It’s like when I tell you …

Whatever you do, don’t think about Zebras!

Don’t do it man! Don’t do it!


(Chris Hanel) #19

Considering I’m still just a sock account created by you, wasn’t I already thinking about Zebras by default?


(Jeff Atwood) #20

This is covered by the visible add / remove indicators in the stream now.