Should IPVM Provide A Way For Members To Get In Touch With Each Other?

This came up in the comments of a new product post where an integrator, Mark, was trying to get in touch with a manufacturer, Kevin.

I certainly see situations like that where it is mutually beneficial to make it easy for members to connect.

However, my main concern is abuse. For example, I don't want an end user to post about a large project and then get a dozen vendors pitching random stuff.

So, what do you think? Do you want such a way? How do you think it should be setup? I have some ideas but I'll let you all start. Thanks.


You sound like a cybersecurity guy? ;)

See above for our initial approach. We are going to keep it simple.

Rodney, btw, at the very least Display Your Personal/Company URL When Commenting.

(ignoring the effort to build it...might be too complicated...)

I'd like a per-post ok-to-contact-me button, with a time limit. Then, I'd want to get an email from the IPVM site telling me someone wants to contact me. So I can hit the IGNORE button and ipvm knows but not the sender. Also note this allows ipvm to remain the gatekeeper. And I'd want to have to ask permission to enable the "send a request to another user" capability.

I edited my profile and enabled it. But no luck, I still cannot message myself. Maybe I have blocked myself? ;)

Also, you will now see a mail icon next to the names of all IPVM admins. Should be above this comment between 'Honovich' and 'Reply'

Click on it and feel free to send me a message.

Also, if you want to enable it for yourself right away, edit your member profile under the 'notifications' tab.

We have implemented basic member messaging. It won't publicly released / pushed until next Tuesday but here is an overview of how it works:

  • Next to a member's disclosed name on comments, there will be a mail icon. Clicking that mail icon will let you send a message to that member. The message and your email address will be emailed to the other member. The other member can then choose to email you back or ignore.
  • You will not be able to message anyone whose comment is undisclosed.
  • By default, this will be opt-out for manufacturers and opt-in for everyone else. This will make it easy for manufacturers to receive inquiries (who are almost always open to such requests). Others (integrators, users, etc.) can simply toggle on their openness to messages in their member's profile page.

That's it at a high level. Let us know if you have questions or feedback.

You see, I cannot make decision :)

Scott, interesting feedback. Thanks.

No, just one URL can be displayed. Konstantin, you don't display even one anyway :)

I'm on another non security related forum that has a private messaging option. You receive an email when you get a message to let you know to check your 'in box'. It helps provide a security shield and has no spam. After sending emails back and forth on the website, you can always choose to give them your normal email adress for direct communication.

I've not been on IPVM long. I assumed that this functionality was built in, as I've been looking for ways to contact people directly without posting my contact information on my profile

And regarding urls in profiles, is it possible to add more url fields? We will not have to choose between company url and our LinkedIn profile url.

I think it should not be complex unless IPVM wants to create a social network. Just add button [Request Contact] to profiles of opted in members that makes possible to send request for contact and includes link to profile, name, e-mail/phone and a short message. If IPVM can add ability to mark the message as a SPAM then at some point it will be possible to block sender from using this function.

To be clear, this is really just fancy email forwarding with a template and a few rules. :)

As I said, if I need to post an email, I have a throw-away. If this gets to be too much trouble, there are alternatives. Thanks.

One minor problem. There are some members with the same names.

In the rare case when two or more posting members match a given name, the e-mail would simply route to an admin to mediate.

One major problem. There needs to be a message included or else recipients will not be sure why the requester is reaching out to them.

The subject line should be room enough to give a reason. Anything more introduces spamming possibilities.

So Kevin might have received this:

To: kevin.nadai@kevins-real-email.com
From: info@ipvm.com
Subject: IPVM member Mark Jones has provided his contact information

Body: Mark Jones has provided you his personal contact information and this message:

From: mark.jones@marks-real-email.com
Subject: Kevin, I am interested in x. Email or call me at 3323988436.

No action is required on your part. If you wish you can directly correspond with Mark using your private email by clicking his address above.

To block further requests from Mark, click here. To block all requests, click here.

------------

One option is to list a throw-away email address. I have at least one. To get information or access to one thing or another, I often have to offer an email. I have one just for that. Spammers can hit it all they want and it does not bother me.

"Mark would just send an e-mail to kevin.nadai@ipvm.com, IPVM would strip everything out of the e-mail, except for Mark's return address, and have the subject say Mark Jones is requesting your e-mail. Then Kevin would just e-mail him directly. Or not. No spam and no hosted mail."

One minor problem. There are some members with the same names.

One major problem. There needs to be a message included or else recipients will not be sure why the requester is reaching out to them.

And it's still potential spam unless the recipient has opted in or unless we track and only allow a member to reach out to a a fellow member once (or limited times).

This is and was the case. I had a particular need, had reached out through normal sales channels to no avail. When Kevin popped in, I saw a person, regardless of position within the company that I was confident could point me in the right direction and would take action.

By default, IMHO, if you are a member on this board, you have a deeper interest in what you do and customer service. A member is unlikely to be here otherwise. These are the people I would reach out to and, very infrequently. I would have no interest in turning this into a social media board. The back and forth, following an issue through to its conclusion, the many different ways we all might solve the same problem are among the many things I enjoy about IPVM.

Having IPVM function as a wall between the communicating parties (like Craigslist or Monster) would be a better option.

Yes, from a social media standpoint that would be the way to go. Neither party would need to provide the other any identifying information, and comminucation could be effected thru an IPVM hosted mailbox.

But, I'm wondering if the capability for anonymous/semi-anonymous communication is really what were trying to acheive here.

For instance, in the current case at hand:

This came up in the comments of a new product post where an integrator, Mark, was trying to get in touch with a manufacturer, Kevin.

In this case, at least, apparently Mark would have liked to personally contact Kevin, but Kevin's link goes to his company website, which only has a way to contact the Sales department in general.

Here, note that Mark is not looking to be anonymous or avoid providing his e-mail to Kevin, he just has no way, (short of posting his email for everyone to see), to do so directly. Kevin, would assumedly be fine with Mark having his e-mail, IF he only knew of the need.

Though John, because Kevin's e-mail address is private, must contact Kevin first and provide Mark's e-mail and/or ask Kevin's permission to give his to Mark.

If this type of situation is what we are trying to solve, then we can do so by automating John's interaction here. Either by Mark requesting Kevin's e-mail and/or providing his own.

tl;dr

A simple way to do this would be for ipvm to filter incoming mail like so:

Mark would just send an e-mail to kevin.nadai@ipvm.com, IPVM would strip everything out of the e-mail, except for Mark's return address, and have the subject say Mark Jones is requesting your e-mail. Then Kevin would just e-mail him directly. Or not. No spam and no hosted mail.

@Mark, would that have worked for you in this case?

Option 2 seems least likely to prevent long term abuse. Handing out email addresses directly seems like it would promote spam and compromise the ability to post undisclosed. Having IPVM function as a wall between the communicating parties (like Craigslist or Monster) would be a better option.

I very much agree. I find that quite often the most informative comments or interesting posts are made in discussions precisely because they cannot be sent to OP (or others) through PMs.

I find value in that everything is shared with everyone, and it is possible that some of the value IPVM provides through it's discussions could be lost. That would be a shame.

I think an opt-in with a "block" feature would be pretty good. In fact you could make it so that if more than X people block another particular person, the blocked person can no longer send PMs (at least until some kind of review by the admins). That should prevent general PM abuse.

You could also make the PM feature something available only after a user hits a certain level of something (like karma on HN). Users could not send PMs until they made at least 5 public comments, or received at least 10 positive votes on comments. That would help ensure newbies get a feel for things before going straight to messaging other members. For cases where a new user has a legitimate need to get in touch with someone quicker they can always ask you to do the manual match-making.

But if it's just an email address, the recipient won't understand why the requester is requesting.

That's the idea, if you get an e-mail address sent to you and you don't understand why, then it's inappropriate and is easy to ignore/flag.

Normally one would expect it to follow after, "I just sent my contact info" or "send me your contact info" and so one would be prepared.

On the other hand, I am NOT in favor of a non-public request for contact info system.

It would become another LinkedIn or Facebook queue of denying or accepting friends.

Pretty strange huh? I guess I'll be doing that.

You are a guy who lists his phone number on his LinkedIn page but doesn't display your LinkedIn URL on his IPVM display? :)

You can add your LinkedIn URL via your member's page like so:

I like the opt in. I end up getting tracked from LinkedIn anyway.

"Maybe you could provide a way for a member to send another member nothing but an email address? That way it's always opt-in."

But if it's just an email address, the recipient won't understand why the requester is requesting. And if it's a message, than it's open to spam/abuse, no?

One thing that is nice about IPVM is that discussion details stay visible. In other forums, I've noticed that even when well intentioned, the "Send me a PM.", is an all too common ending to a thread.

This can rob the forum of the final problem resolution, and rob the OP of the solution vetting which the forum provides as well.

Maybe you could provide a way for a member to send another member nothing but an email address? That way it's always opt-in.

Mark, opt-in is definitely what I was thinking. Perhaps some way you can choose to either (1) share your email address with other members or (2) allow other members to send you email via IPVM without giving out your email.

I could imagine manufacturer employees choosing to opt-in so that integrator or end users who want to ask them questions about their offerings could more easily connect. However, end users probably would not want to opt-in, choosing to reach out to others who have opted-in.

Thoughts?

Sure, but as you surely appreciate, I want to find ways to automate the process to increase efficiency.

Actually I was mainly referring to the third option mentioned:

If you want to get it touch with others or make it easy for others to get in touch with you:

  • -> Display Your Personal/Company URL When Commenting
  • -> Ask IPVM admins to connect the two of you
  • -> Post here to ask or share your details.

I respect the concern and need for privacy John. Your point is well taken. Perhaps an alternate version wherein members could opt in (or not). If privledges get abused, the member could opt out? It is your board; just thinking out loud.

You can display your URL but it generally does not include your email address or an immediate way to message someone. Displaying your URL on your name in comments is helpful for branding / identification but not as good for direct communication.

Old-timers know a way to do it already:

Getting In Touch With Other IPVM Members?

Yes a PM feature would be helpful