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"Send a private message" box

Forums: Suggestions and Feedback
Created on: 08/19/09 05:00 PM Views: 3726 Replies: 30
Wednesday, August 19, 2009 at 5:00 PM

I've been confusing the "Send a private message" box with the checkbox option to allow classmates to "leave a comment" on a profile page. The latter can be turned on & off but not the former. I'd like to be able to disable/hide the Private Message Box the same way. We have some instances where that would be appropriate. It would be OK if this were just under Admin control but maybe some individual classmates would like to be logged on and not be contacted, also. What are my chances?

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Wednesday, August 19, 2009 at 5:45 PM - Response #1

I have 2 concerns about this:

1) Whenver you provide the ability to disable a regular and usually popular feature of sites like this, you get people doing it inadvertently not fully undrestanding what they're turning off. I realize an Admin like yourself is not going to make that mistake, but I can tell you right now that numerous brand new Admins might see stuff like the message ability and turn it off, not realizing it's a very important part of the site's communication abilities.

2) For the reasons stated above I suspect this option, should we do it, would be best left to Administrators to enable or disable. So if we do that, what happens next? Do we just not show the entire contact form on the bottom of the Classmate's Profile? If that's all we do I guarantee people will write in thinking the system is broken. Virtually all Profiles will have the contact form, and then on just 1 or 2 it will be missing. Which will be perceived to be broken. So do we put a statement in the contact form's place? And if so what do we say in a nice way to tell other Classmates that "this Classmate doesn't want to hear from anybody."

I guess overall I see this as being a little self defeating. The whole purpose of joining your class web site is to be able to participate. And if nobody is allowed to contact you that's rather hard... On the other hand, I do realize some pretty nasty things can happen, such as stalkers and other things (I think we've heard about everything) so there may be very valid reasons for somebody literally needing to turn off their contact box. I would think this would be extremely rare, but if/when it's needed we probably should create that option. I'm just wondering how specifically we should do it as alluded to above. I'll have to give this one some thought, but I'm open to any ideas you have Mary, or anyone else reading here who would like to share their thoughs on this issue.


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Wednesday, August 19, 2009 at 6:13 PM - Response #2

Maybe if you reversed the order, put the PUBLIC profile comment option first and then the PRIVATE message box at the bottom, they'd use the right option. I'm getting private messages that I think should have been posted as Profile Comments instead. I don't have any way to move them and make them visible as they should be.

Just as I, as an old admin, didn't make the distinction till now, I don't think they're paying attention to the difference & using them correctly. As I said, I can disable one but not the other so I don't have full control of what I offer them. Maybe reversing them would help? That way we're not rocking the boat.

Or make sending a private message look the same as posting a profile comment (a button with a link) so they see both as the same kind of thing where they're going to be writing text that goes one place or the other. I can't be the only person who's confused.

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Wednesday, August 19, 2009 at 7:37 PM - Response #3

Brad, in our case on the multi-year site, Mary has created a profile page that shows up at the top of about 45 class years and has a link to a class website or contains class news or reunion information or even reunion photos, etc.

Unfortunately this counts as a "classmate" statistically but it serves a much needed purpose on our site.

This is where we have about 45 profiles that we do not want to get messages from. We only want them to use "Contact Us" but they don't.

Another situation, where being able to turn off the "Send A Private Message" box (on our single class year sites) is where we have created a page for a person who is not able to access the internet but wants us to put a page up for them. There is no email address in this case. Some have requested people call them or even mail them and allow their contact info on their page.

We have many technophobes who fit into this category on many sites. We also have a page for someone who is on a "Missing Persons" list and we have posted what we know and posted several links. We don't want messages going to this page either.

There are other situations where this feature would be helpful to turn off/on.

Thanks for thinking about this.

Bruce

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Edited 08/19/09 7:40 PM
Wednesday, August 19, 2009 at 8:26 PM - Response #4

That's fine, but an FYI, you wouldn't want to actually join the site on behalf of somebody who can't join the site. At least not typically, anyway. I know there's an exception to every rule. But most of the time you'd just want to fill in details for that Classmate and toggle the second radio button to display Classmate details even though Classmate has not joined the site. If you're actually joining the site on behalf of these people, I can certainly see why you'd want to disable the message box.


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Wednesday, August 19, 2009 at 8:33 PM - Response #5

Mary: I'm open to anything other than reversing the order. If we switch it we switch it on a half million people who are used to it working as it does, and most likely the switch is going to cause a lot more confusion as a result than leaving the order as is. I'm all for doing something to make it more clear though.

Right now we have this for the private messages box: "Send a private message to ." It clearly states "private message" but I'm open to more wording there if you think it will help.

For the Profile Comments we have this: "Note: Profile comments can be viewed by all Classmates. If you wish to send Shelley Aubin a private message, please use the private message box above." I'm not really sure what could be more clear than that, but again, I'm open to any suggestions for improvement.

Finally, Profile Comments can get very long. It's another erason I'd be opposed to changing the order. I don't think people should have to scroll way down the page to be able to send somebody a private note.

Bottom line: What can we do above and beyond what we've already done to make the two options even more clear? I've never heard of this area causing any confusion, but then, all kidns of things might cause confusion and not be reported. People just assume "that's how it works." I'm open to any ideas that may help here.


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Edited 08/19/09 8:50 PM
Wednesday, August 19, 2009 at 8:48 PM - Response #6

Regarding the option to block Classmate comments completely, we've thought about this and think we can make it available for Classmates themselves as long as we keep some suggested wording in there to discourage people from disabling something that they might not yet even understand. Following is how I entered the Task on the Task List for the programmers:

----------------------
When editing Profiles, we have 3 checkboxes at the bottom of the page that being with "Allow..."

We need to add a 4th checkbox there. It should be the third checkbox, and should come immediately after the "Contact Details:" checkbox and should be prechecked by default. Here's what it should say:

"Private Messages: Allow to send me private messages through the web site. (You should leave this box checked unless you want to block Classmates from contacting you.)"


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Wednesday, August 19, 2009 at 10:08 PM - Response #7

That sounds good to me!

Would the box still be at the bottom of the page (or not) or just be disabled?

If still there maybe a message would appear if someone tried to send a message to them, stating something like...this feature is disabled.

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Edited 08/19/09 10:12 PM
Wednesday, August 19, 2009 at 10:25 PM - Response #8

No, we can't allow people to type in whole messages and only then find out the Classmate disabled the feature. We either have to just not show it at all, or put in some sort of statement. I'm tempted to just not show the box at all for now, as I suspect this is going to get disabled incredibly infrequently anyway. And most of the time it gets disabled I suspect it's going to be Admins doing it, not Classmates. So maybe it won't lead to that many people thinking it's broken. I know at least some will think it's broken though. This may be one of those things where we need to try it and then gauge what happens. Most likely complaints of it being "broken" would come to Administrators, not to us. Which, from our perspective anyway, is probably ok, because Admins could then explain to the Classmate why the contact box is not present. Should this question come up regularly for Admins then we'll probably have to put some type of message in place of the box. It would just have to be very carefully worded so we don't make the Classmate sound paranoid or unfriendly, etc.


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Edited 08/19/09 10:27 PM
Thursday, August 20, 2009 at 10:08 AM - Response #9

I think your 4th checkbox idea, defaulted as you say, would take care of this just fine.

But even without a change in order, it seems odd that you have the two different kinds of text options here (private message & profile comment) but one has a message box visible and one doesn't? I think that's at the root of my initial confusion. I'd make access to them the same--both from a button or both with the text box. Next to each other, with their respective explanations.

And don't they always appear at the bottom anyway, regardless of how many custom profile questions there are?

P.S. Yes, as you might have guessed, I used to be a database application developer aka Business Analyst--most recently in the entertainment industry. System design, maintenance, upgrade, user training & support. I can't turn it off! Much more fun working for you, though. The pay scale suits me fine; no real-time pressures. My rewards are in the alumni response!

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Thursday, August 20, 2009 at 1:38 PM - Response #10

No they do not always appear at the bottom. The Private Comments box always appears immediately under the Profile, but before the Comments area. In my opinion NOT having that box near the Classmate Comments "Post Response" button helps separate the two functions. The discussion area at the bottom is really a self contained forum, and the "Post Response" button is something else that helps separate the function from the Private Comments box above because it is a distinct button and doesn't resemble the private comments box at all.

That's my opinion. As always we're willing to entertain the collective thoughts of everyone. Heck I've been overruled many times before, and that's ok. That's what user forums are all about. I just think two similar text entry boxes back to back on the page will actually cause more confusion, not less. I think people would have to look extra hard to make sure they're typing their text in the right box if we did that. Having said that though, I realize there's no pleasing 100% of the people 100% of the time.

Here's what I did do though based on your comments: I think the fact that the two functions all kind of run together may be causing some of the confusion, so I'm glad you pointed that out. I went into that area and put a horizontal rule across the entire page to separate the two features. I think this will help plant the thougth in the user's mind that "these are two separate functions." Further, I think "Profile Comments" is not very descriptive. If you're commenting on somebody's Profile it could possibly be perceived as making a private comment to somebody about their own Profile. Of course you'd have to not read the text there too, which explains what it is, but then we obviously realize people aren't always going to read everything. So I changed "Profile Comments" to "Classmate Comments" to give the area more of a feel of an open message board where all Classmates are participating and making group comments.


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Friday, August 21, 2009 at 5:43 PM - Response #11

Maybe a checkbox on DETAILS page that only the Admin can see (similar to Admin Comments) for "No Classmate Contact Desired" that can be turned on if a problem develops.

There are many reasons that classmates are created that aren't really "Graduating" classmates - A "Classmate/Guest" can be created to store reunion photos. A "Classmate/Guest" can be created so that a "Teacher Obituary" can be published, etc.

If the Classmate isn't really a classmate but a storage place for reunion photos (or a classmate created for some other purpose, like a Guest Member for Teacher Obituary), then the classmate probably wouldn't want to be contacted because he isn't real, so this checkbox could be used to disable the Classmate Contact so that e-mailing the classmate would not be an option.


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Friday, August 21, 2009 at 5:58 PM - Response #12

I think having this 4th checkbox for private comments on/off on the profile page being only available to Admins is a good solution to keep classmates from using it wrong. A public comment (3rd checkbox) could be used if any explanation of the lack of private message box is needed.

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Sunday, August 23, 2009 at 4:54 PM - Response #13

Ironically, I just had a request from a classmate to "make a check mark so no others contact me." She's an active user but has much family distress at the moment. Has this been decided? Is there an ETA? She doesn't want her profile hidden (I thought of doing that), just no contact. Or maybe I should just change her email to something invalid...

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Sunday, August 23, 2009 at 9:19 PM - Response #14

We've decided for now to try adding the 4th checkbox so only Admins can see it. Thus anyone requesting "no contact" will need to be toggled by an Admin. I marked it on the Task List as high priority so likely sometime this week.


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Sunday, August 23, 2009 at 11:00 PM - Response #15

Super. Thanks!!

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Tuesday, January 5, 2010 at 12:54 PM - Response #16

Brad Switzer wrote:

We've decided for now to try adding the 4th checkbox so only Admins can see it. Thus anyone requesting "no contact" will need to be toggled by an Admin. I marked it on the Task List as high priority so likely sometime this week.

I'm unable to find this option for admins to toggle off a private message box on individual profiles. Am I missing it, or is it still on the task list?

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Tuesday, January 5, 2010 at 1:07 PM - Response #17

That's on the list grouped with some other related tasks when we ge to that.


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Thursday, August 18, 2011 at 1:45 PM - Response #18

I’m still not seeing any option to disable the Send Private Message box. Nothing in my profile, nothing in Manage Classmates, and nothing in Preferences. There are options to block instant messaging, though. How does it make sense to let people block communications when they’re logged in (and therefore presumably interested in alumni-type stuff) but not let them block communications when they’re not logged in?

I’d also really like to be able to limit the private messaging function to classmates, either on a blanket basis or by individual classmate, and I'd also like to give classmates the opportunity to block this themselves. We’re not locking the Classmate Profiles page, and as a consequence visitors can send private messages.

Even Facebook lets me block strangers from messaging me!

—Ben F

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Friday, August 19, 2011 at 2:42 PM - Response #19

Blocking classmate comments is a good thing.
I object to messing around with the Send a Private message.
Isn't that what this site is all about??? Connecting with your fellow classmates. If people don't want to get any messages from their fellow classmates why join the site? The more options you give people the more confused they get!!!Rolling Eyes
I think more Site Admins should chime in on this change before you implement it. So far only 5 site admins thinks this is a problem.
If you give it to the admin only..I might relent.
Yes..FB let's you block strangers from messaging you. But..supposedly the people on your School website aren't strangers.
My 2 cents.

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Friday, August 19, 2011 at 2:50 PM - Response #20

@ Ben..Don't your alumni have to be logged in to view the Alumni profile pages??? I don't password protect the alumni profile page..but do have a system password.
No visitor can access the profiles and leave messages..unless they have joined the site.

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Friday, August 19, 2011 at 4:53 PM - Response #21

Unless I password-protect the Classmate Profiles page, anyone on the internet can use the Private Message function to contact classmates who’ve registered on my site. Class Creator discourages locking Classmate Profiles, and I am disinclined to do it for the time being, but I do wish that there were some other way to offer folks the ability to block private messages from visitors. I don’t see why making private messaging classmate-only would be considered to be contrary to the raison d’être of an alumni website.

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Friday, August 19, 2011 at 5:27 PM - Response #22

I will circulate the topic to the powers that be internally to get their perspective.


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Friday, August 19, 2011 at 6:23 PM - Response #23

Scott,
Is it true what Ben says that visitors can private message alumni? As understand it No one can access the profiles unless they have joined the site and are logged in. I guess I'm having a blonde momentQuestionQuestion
Please clear my blonde brain!!! LOL!!! Twisted EvilTwisted Evil

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Saturday, August 20, 2011 at 8:18 AM - Response #24

Darlene,

If the profile is open to non-classmates, you can still receive a Private Message from a non-classmate.

Test it yourself. Logout of your website, Click on your ALUMNI PROFILES page. Any classmate that does not have the LOCK ICON next to their name, you can click on their profile and see it. At the bottom of their profile is the SEND A PRIVATE MESSAGE TO form. So you can see that anyone can be sending them a private message.


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Saturday, August 20, 2011 at 4:59 PM - Response #25

Thanx Kyle for explaining that. Most of my classmates have it their profiles locked down. I was wondering why he said visitors can leave private messages for the alumni on his site. I thought that was kinda of strange that he didn't want to lock them down...technically he can..but it's up to the individual to do that. I encourage all my classmates to lock their profile for the whole world to see.
Thanx again,

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Monday, August 22, 2011 at 11:05 AM - Response #26

I now see that messages can be sent by visitors only when a classmate has elected to make his profile visible to visitors. That makes eminent sense, and I don't see it as a problem.

False alarm. Thanks for putting up with a newbie.

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Wednesday, November 21, 2012 at 1:36 PM - Response #27

Kyle Erickson wrote:

Maybe a checkbox on DETAILS page that only the Admin can see (similar to Admin Comments) for "No Classmate Contact Desired" that can be turned on if a problem develops.

There are many reasons that classmates are created that aren't really "Graduating" classmates - A "Classmate/Guest" can be created to store reunion photos. A "Classmate/Guest" can be created so that a "Teacher Obituary" can be published, etc.

If the Classmate isn't really a classmate but a storage place for reunion photos (or a classmate created for some other purpose, like a Guest Member for Teacher Obituary), then the classmate probably wouldn't want to be contacted because he isn't real, so this checkbox could be used to disable the Classmate Contact so that e-mailing the classmate would not be an option.

Has this been done? I can't find the button to turn off personal messages on an individual profile page.

Thanx,
Cheryl

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Wednesday, November 21, 2012 at 4:19 PM - Response #28

It has not. We have been working on higher priority developments.


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Thursday, July 2, 2015 at 11:02 AM - Response #29

I have also had a classmate request for the feature mentioned below:
"Maybe a checkbox on DETAILS page that only the Admin can see (similar to Admin Comments) for "No Classmate Contact Desired" that can be turned on if a problem develops."

Any progress on this?
There are many reasons a person may not want to be contacted (ie: a public figure) Right now my only option is to remove them from class list.

Thanks.

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Thursday, July 2, 2015 at 5:33 PM - Response #30

No update at this time although I can bring it up internally.


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