Is the content of PMs monitored, held against us

In that case, if I use the “report” function on a PM, what do you see? It doesn’t seem very efficient for reporters to have to separately report a PM, AND send another PM with a cut-n-paste version of the offending PM. Plus of course there is the fact that you have no guarantee that a cut-n-paste version hasn’t been altered.

Okay, to do a direct test, I just reported a (completely innocent) PM. So when mods get my report, they don’t get a copy of the PM as well?

Even if reported by the recipient I question if policing PM behavior should be within a moderator’s purview. I do not believe that PMs should have a “report” function.

The moderator’s role should be, it seems to me, to police the public space, and only the public space.

Mind you it may be that private behavior can inform about intent of behavior in the public space and reduce some benefit of the doubt; perhaps true hate speech should be sent along for that reason… but the idea of asking for moderator protection from speech in a PM seems very wrong. To use one example: calling someone a “cunt” is not allowable in any of these fora, but I do not believe there is any rule against using the word in a PM. It is rude to do so. It might get the receiver to block future PMs from you. But it is not a rules violation as PMs are not the public fora.

A)They do have a report button.
B)What if it was more serious than me calling you a cunt? What if I PM’d you with a threat? Worse, what it I didn’t and you claimed that I did?

Someone making direct threats via PM or harassment via PM bombing should be moderated but that’s probably about it.

Someone with direct access to the database who has reasonably good skills can read any PM but that doesn’t apply to anyone here.

I realize that we don’t really have any active Admins here anymore but a rogue Admin, not a Moderator, could read any PM as well, however, they couldn’t do it without leaving a trace. Admins have the power to change passwords. This is for a good reason in that they may need to re-set a password for someone who has forgotten theirs. So they could change a password and access an account but then the member would realize that something was wrong when the original password didn’t work anymore.

If it’s like most other websites they probably can’t change the password just reset it. That would mean first putting their own email address on file, then resetting the password, getting the temporary password, change it, do whatever they want in the account, change the email back and let the user unsuccessfully attempt to log in and reset their password, confusedly.
Since VB logs IP address it wouldn’t be difficult to see that a mod was doing this.

Also, Dex said “madmins”* can’t read PMs without a plugin which, no doubt, isn’t installed here.

*I honestly don’t know if madmin was a typo or not, as often times modmin get’s used for admins that are also mods.

Madmin is the word for the entire class of admins and moderators.
And if hackers can steal tons of passwords, as seems to be a weekly event ( although rarely with the sky-is-falling consequences predicted by alarmist computer sites ) I’m pretty sure some people could use phpmyadmin to extract a password, insert a new one to log in as someone else, then replace the original password, then vanish away like the one who has found the Boojum.
But I’d worry about that as much as I’d worry about the possibility of someone breaking in just to clean the house before leaving.

I’ve done it many times on vB. You enter the new password and then tell them what it is and that they should change it to something else first thing.

There are no “modmins” except maybe Zotti. All the rest from Tuba, Dex, and Marley are mods all the way down.

I disagree - unwanted commercial information and abuse detract from the quality of board membership (and that’s not even talking about threats).

It’s probably true that PM reports are rarely needed. But it’s important to have the option of doing so, IMHO.

Hunh, funny, I didn’t even realize there WAS a “report” button on PMs. I’ve tried one as a test to see what comes through; normally, with reports of posts, we just get the url of the post (plus whatever comments you make when your report it.)

Anyhow, having waited a few minutes, I havent’ got the report. Not sure who it goes to.

Maybe you can’t report your own PMs like you used not to be able to Report your own posts.

Or maybe you have yourself on Ignore.


I’ve reported PM spammers before and seen them banned. I always assumed you must’ve gotten them.

I received an insulting PM from a former mod here recently and when I reported it (via PM to Marley) I was told that unless it was threatening or if it became harassment that they don’t really have much concern about it - which is fair, I think. I wasn’t trying to get the sender in any big trouble at the time, just wanted to talk it out with Marley to see what he thought about it.

The garbled OP took a minute for me to work out as well, but I think I finally did; you’ve got it just slightly wrong. OP wrote a PM that said something like this:

“I’m sending this to you via PM instead of posting on the board because if I posted it I might get suspended. I totally agree with you that Mod X is a poopyhead.”

It’s an introductory technique that’s a reasonable one to use if one has not had any kind of contact with the person they are PMing.

It’s possible this is so obvious that I been whooshed, but in case your first comment was serious… of course, you can’t report someone else’s PMs, you never see them, so you can only report ones you’ve received.

I think he thinks you sent yourself a PM, which you then reported?

Perhaps he meant that before there was no report button on PMs (like before there was no report button on your own posts). Then later it was added (just like later the ability to report your posts was added), which would explain why you didn’t notice the report buttons before.

Of course, I have no knowledge of the inner workings of the Straight Dope, but I moderate on another message board using vBulletin. Reported PMs look like reported posts, they show up as a thread in our private mod forum. Only the header says “Reported Private Message by cochrane” (for example) instead of “Reported Post.” It does show the text of the reported PM.

Accidental duplicate post.