Recently, someone wanted to contact me about an answer I'd posted here. Since the relevant question was locked, they couldn't post a comment to that answer.

So they looked in my serverfault profile for an email address. I don't have one there because

  • I think it's better for most SE business to be transacted in comments etc.
  • I believe posting email addresses in public invites spam.
  • I'm pretty poor at reading my email anyway.
  • I think people can ping me by mentioning @redgrittybrick in a posting in relevant chat-room (e.g. The comms room) - is this true? Doesn't chat (and related SE "inbox" notification) dissapear after a day or so?

So, what is best-practise for details in profiles to facilitate communication in these circumstances?

4 Answers 4


I leave an email address on my profile. I also know how to filter spam. People who wish to reach me have done so directly in chat, via email and LinkedIn. I'm fine with it.

Are email addresses meant to be closely-guarded secrets?

  • 2
    +1 - Same here. My telephone number (which forwards to my wireless) is in my profile, too... >smile< Commented Feb 28, 2014 at 21:30

I don't think there is any way to contact someone unless

  • You leave a comment on one of their posts.
  • They are in (or have recently been in) chat.
  • They have put contact details in their profile.

Moderators can use @@name which will put a notification into their inbox.

SE have steadfastly refused to provide any messaging facilities Any way to send a personal message to another user?

  • re: "They are in (or have recently been in) chat." I think you can still @ someone in chat and have it show up in their inbox even if they haven't been in chat recently. But if they haven't been in chat recently, you don't get autocomplete. (I'm not sure this is how it works, just my experience.) Commented Feb 23, 2014 at 18:44
  • @Ward I don't really recall but I don't think @ in chat should be considered reliable.
    – user9517
    Commented Feb 23, 2014 at 18:46
  • You're right, was just looking on meta.SO and will post an answer here... Commented Feb 23, 2014 at 18:47
  • A response to a comment of theirs in chat (using the :number syntax) should always work (and will appear as an @name with a back arrow). A simple @name may not work.
    – TRiG
    Commented Mar 5, 2014 at 17:38

Honestly, I would be down on private messaging. I don't mind the shout-out in the chat room, and someone has used that with me once, but...

I'll count the ways.

  1. I was on the Internet back in the days when having a female username was considered license to send skeevy private messages, and/or "You're not really a woman! You're a fat middle-aged man in his underwear!" I like to think that Server Fault attacts a higher quality of user, but the aversion stands.
  2. I've already been badgered by a user once in the nine months I've been here. I'd prefer that stack exchange not implement new ways for people to badger me.

As to the chat shout-outs, well. If you're willing to go into the Comms room and say it in front of a whole bunch of other users and the mods, it's probably okay. (Or, if it's not, everyone's seen you be skeevy/badger me, so there you are.)


Iain is correct about pinging someone in chat - it only notifies them if they've been active in the room recently.

However, the answer and comments to that question give a couple of other possibilities:

If the person you want to contact has been active in any chat room recently, you can invite them to a particular room. The interface for this kinda sucks:

  • you have to find them in the list of chat users
  • click the "Invite this user to" button
  • you can only invite them to a room you're already in
  • it doesn't look like it's available for someone who's home chat room is the same as yours (or maybe you can't invite them if they're already active in a room)

The other option is to create a room for you and the other person and post something in the room. It's not clear to me if you have to ping them from the new room or what...

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