I would like a site setting that allows TL0 to PM staff

So I’ve been struggling with posting this for the past 3 days and finally decided it still bothers me and thus I want to know if I’m alone or not on this.

I don’t mind that TL 0 can’t PM other members, but what does bother me is they can’t directly PM staff. Sure they can use flags (I think), but we’ve had a couple of members not realize that and spend countless time trying to figure out how to directly PM one of us, only to give up and posting a public response that they can’t PM us.

As I’ve stated initially, I’m torn, because on the one hand, I believe the ability exists (under flagging), but for whatever reason, that isn’t obvious enough to a subset of our users.

Anyone else have this experience? Is it just us (keep in mind we’re a technical forum, so if they didn’t figure it out…<choose your ending>)?


Possibly related:

No, they can’t - not at TL0.

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Personally I support this, even if its a site setting. The potential damage that can be caused by allowing this is quite low, if a new user PMs a moderator abusively they can quickly be deleted / banned.

What is the specific scenario here? What does this new user need to talk to a moderator about? Can you provide an example or two?

This isn’t the best example as the intent was to be a private plea for assistance with code, but IIRC there have been similar posts asking about forum policy and feature use.

The one linked by @Mittineague is a public example, but I’ve known members to contact me to ask verify something they wanted to post wouldn’t be against our rules/policies. They read the FAQ but felt uncertain and didn’t want to cause a scene, so they PM a staff member privately to discuss it first.

Every scenario I can think of involves only PMing staff. So the harm is very low (as @sam stated). Personally, I just feel that there should be a way for new members to contact someone of “authority” should they have any questions/concerns.

In a working environment, TL 0 would be like locking someone in a padded cell with no way to communicate with those outside the door (even their boss/whatever). That isn’t a good spot to be in from a user perspective (my opinion).

I like it when they ask permission first. I honestly think this happens more on larger forums than smaller ones. Especially if you have a lot of categories and a lot of staff. People see a large category list and go “where do I begin?”, “where does my question belong?”, “does my question even fit here (as in the site)?”


Same with me. I’ve seen countless posts like

Moderators, this is not SPAM. If this is in the wrong place please move it.

That in itself is enough to raise a red flag. But if they could (and then did) ask first doubt would be lessened.

Shouldn’t the contact function or email be listed on the faq, then? I am just not sure putting a PM button everywhere for new users is the right approach here. Think of it more in terms of “where, literally where, is this new user at on the site when they need to contact someone?”

That is indeed a big part of the problem. If members took the time to actually read the FAQ many of their questions would be answered. Unfortunately it seems most would rather post their questions than to look at the FAQ.

I can’t say if it’s more a newbie ignorance thing or “human nature” but it is frustrating. Especially since even Pinning doesn’t seem to do much good.

Maybe a “Contact Staff” somewhere but not everywhere is what is needed, but IMHO it would need to have more visibility than the FAQ seems to have.

I could be wrong, but I think @cpradio’s “they read the FAQ” only happens after they get scolded and seek a defense.


Technically they have a contact staff, just reply to welcome PM, but it’s not obvious

True enough, I think @HAWK might be able to change the Welcome PM to make it more obvious they can use that to contact her.

It currently has

If you would like to contact our Community Manager personally, feel free to send a private message or an email.

But if you click “send a private message” as a new member you land on her Profile with no PM button.

Similar with if a new member clicks one of the “contact an Administrator for help.” links found in the FAQ

There is a Private Message button visible on the various “list” pages. The composer seems to work up to the “Create” when this happens.


+1 We have this need as well.

We are trying to accomdate this using categories.

Kindly see the below initiatives.

We have a link to the Administrators Member page (which is useless since they can’t PM any of them…)

We also have

So no, I don’t think that is enough :smile: Otherwise, we wouldn’t still be having these problems (and yes, it is a link in our FAQ under the Help! section).

Just realized, I never finished my thought (that’s what happens when you have two young kids… interruptions!). A single email works great for a site run by a single admin, but when you have multiple admins and a hierarchical staff, that doesn’t exactly work as well (again, prone to larger forums – though from what I’ve read, some of the smaller forums here have multiple admins too).

I’ve seen it happen both ways. They’ve read them first and wasn’t sure, or they posted once, got slapped on the hand and needed a better understanding of why it was against the rules (instead of using the existing PM from us, they wanted to use a different one – maybe to talk to a different member than the one who slapped their hand?)

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I’d like to add a +1 for this function.

In my case, I’m moving members from a private Facebook group to a Discourse community that has both private and public categories.

It would make the process of providing existing FB members with access to the private categories much easier if they could PM Staff with a request as soon as they sign up.

I’m managing with a work-around process, but using PM’s would be preferred for me.

Could be any of the things they might otherwise use a flag for, given that they have no access to flags, either.

And like @cpradio, I’ve had folk PM to ask how/where to post a particular issue, or whether something would be acceptable on the forums. I’ve also had folk PM because they can’t work out how to do something on the forums. All legitimate reasons to contact staff.

Most of the PMs that I get (from people smart enough to reply to the Welcome email) are about being totally lost or confused. There is no way that someone new to a community the size of ours, on a platform as foreign as Discourse, are going to go through the process of flagging a post. That’s daunting.

Yeah, some people get that, but not all.

No, I can’t change the content of the Welcome PM afaik.
Edit: I take that back. I can. We can discuss changes to that back at home if you like.

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I think that would help, but I’m thinking a “Contact Staff”-only regardless of TL link in the hamburger would be best, if it wouldn’t be too crowded there and if it could be done

+1 from me, too.

A forum system will look rather uninvitingly and rigid if a new member cannot even contact staff. Sometimes, the requests are outright dumb, I know this from my own expertise (like the stereotype “dear staff, my question is the following:” [+5 pages of blurb that should have been posted in the forum in the first place]). But sometimes, it can bring people to the right track and motivate them to ask the right questions. In my forum, more often than not, these were especially freshly registered older members who were not that computer-savy who used the contact staff function and were later integrated into the community…

Couldn’t we just make them read the FAQ first if they didn’t do so on their own and then let them proceed?