For example: Can I quote a PM in a public post?

I think the instant message is basically the same with private message, but the later is broader. Do you think we should rename it?

  • This is a discussion. If you disagree with this suggestion, please write an answer stating so or upvote an existing one. Don't downvote the question unless it is a bad question, which this is not.
    – kscherrer
    May 7, 2018 at 11:50
  • @Cashbee but I thought that votes on meta sites are used for agreement/disagreement?
    – Ooker
    May 7, 2018 at 13:34
  • 2
    only if it's tagged with feature-request. For a discussion like this, you upvote the question if you think the question per se is good. it doesn't mean you agree with it.
    – kscherrer
    May 7, 2018 at 13:46
  • @Cashbee is this only for this site or the entire system?
    – Ooker
    May 7, 2018 at 14:57
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    @Ooker That's the general rule for the whole SE system. Somehow folks here especially* have got the idea they should downvote any Meta question if they don't like the idea under discussion, but that's not how the system is meant to be used. A downvote on a discussion question (or a bug or support question) should mean "this question does not show any research effort; it is unclear or not useful"; it should NOT mean "I disagree with the apparent premise of the question". (*I've seen the same misconception on other Meta sites, but not nearly to the degree I've seen it here.)
    – 1006a
    May 7, 2018 at 15:19
  • @1006a thanks, this clears a lot of confusion I know on how meta votes work
    – Ooker
    May 7, 2018 at 15:33
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    For those who are curious, the relevant "rule" is in a Help Center post (bolding in original): "Unlike normal Stack Exchange sites, Meta invites the community to discuss, debate and propose changes to the way the community itself behaves, as well as how the software itself works. On posts tagged feature-request, voting indicates agreement or disagreement with the proposed change rather than just the quality or usefulness of the post itself."
    – 1006a
    May 7, 2018 at 15:37
  • @1006a thinking about it, isn't this question a feature request too?
    – Ooker
    May 8, 2018 at 4:03

2 Answers 2


I read an interesting statement on the internet today:

Companies are changing their terminology from 'private messaging' to 'instant messaging' or 'direct messaging' because we all know those messages weren't really private.

It was probably just a joke/shower-thought, but I think renaming instant messaging to private messaging won't help much. People will be confused because there are basically three words used across the internet, all to describe a similar sort of online-interaction.

And lo-and-behold: IPS already has the tag, which states:

Questions related to interacting with others online, including via chatroom, Facebook, Skype or any other method of communicating online. Can also be used for long-distance-relationships, or just friends you have met online.

If anything, I think we can safely get rid of and only use online-interaction for now. If you're using a specific form of online interaction that e.g. has a character limit, it's a detail that needs to be in the question, not the tags. Looking at the questions now, some are even tagged both and , which seems like a double serving of tags to me.

  • so maybe we should make all possibilities as synonyms?
    – Ooker
    May 7, 2018 at 15:29

I disagree, I think they have different implications which would benefit from having distinct tags.

  • intended for real-time communication
  • no special amount of privacy: could apply to group chats, public chat servers, etc.

  • more like email; often asynchronous
  • implies a level of privacy above the usual for that forum

As pointed out by the answers to your question, the fact that it was a private message is very important to the situation. Instant messaging is a different thing, and while it does often carry some expectation of privacy, it doesn't have the same weight as when a person specifically chooses to message you out of sight of the "public".

So, I think should not be renamed, and instead a new tag should be added for those situations.

  • Hmm, as an old fogey, "private message" (but not "private-messaging") does carry a specific meaning, but it's related to the expectation of privacy rather than the medium of the message. That is, I think the issues in the example question would be the same if it was a private message sent via email or snail mail or what-have-you. As such I'm not sure that we need a whole separate tag for "private-messaging" versus just having folks include in their question that a particular communication was intended to be private.
    – 1006a
    May 7, 2018 at 16:08
  • @1006a The term "private message" (or "PM") is a communication mechanism specific to internet forums, not just "messages which are intended to be private". Some sites like Twitter call it "direct messaging" / DMs. So if created, I wouldn't expect this tag to be applied to snail mail or email. That said, I'd also be fine with Tinkeringbell's suggestion of not tagging message types at all, and letting the asker specify such details in the question body.
    – Em C
    May 7, 2018 at 16:23
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    To clarify, I do understand that "PM" sometimes has a specific internet application; I just think that "private message" also has a more general meaning, which is equally plausible as a tag to some questions regardless of the medium of the message.
    – 1006a
    May 7, 2018 at 18:21

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