3

I recently came across this answer and found out that the answering user has provided his email address in username (at) domain (dot) com format.

Even though I overlooked it, on a second thought it occurred to me that the primary goal of the Android Enthusiasts (or any other StackExchange site for that matter) might be lost, as we all are here to help and get help in a way that even third parties1 are also benefited.

So my question is should we or should we not allow these kinds of practices in the site? If yes, up to what extent should this be done? What if there is a (rare) case that the answers cannot be obtained without some direct help, which involves some level of discretion? What are the options available to such a user?

Current resources available are,

  • Gallery chat rooms
  • Hosing a file (in a file sharing service)

1General public who are not members of StackExchange

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A similar question has already been asked in StackOverflow meta.

Since StackExchange is a Q&A site, solving the problem via email would defeat the purpose of the site, which is to exchange answers publicly so that others can benefit from them.

In some cases, I think e-mail might be acceptable if a file has to be sent, and it cannot be posted publicly on a filesharing site. But if that file is company-confidential, it should not be shared to others, by any means. Another case might be if it's something that cannot be accessed by someone because of internet filtering (e.g. screenshots are blocked, because it is hosted on a blocked site).

But wherever possible, everything should be shared publicly.

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One thing I certainly miss from time to time is the possibility to directly contact an ASE co-member. Especially when new users are involved which at the same time are also beginners concerning Android, communication gets difficult. What do we have for those cases?

  • Comments: they often have a lot of ping-pong in these cases, as the OP has difficulties getting the point and providing the required details, or gets lost in the process. So it usually doesn't take that long until the message appears to continue this in...
  • Chat: Pretty good place to go into details, absolve the "ping-pong-process" to obtain necessary information and walk through the steps of possible solutions. Trouble is: when it's needed most, its not available -- as new users lack the required reputation.

So we either have extended discussions in comments, or... nothing in some cases. This is quite frustrating for both sides.

What could be done?

This might be one point why people leave their mail addresses (though in most cases, I'd say its not -- but rather "I am no frequent user, and get no information by mail when comments/answers pop up. As I'm too lazy to check, please mail me"). If the essence of the correspondation is brought back to the post, that's fine -- but I doubt they will take the time, once the issue is settled.

I'd rather wish for a lower limit to chat, limited to such cases. A possible feature would be: Higher-rep user can "invite" even new users to a private/separate chat room, where the issue could be settled (others could of course join-in this discussion, given the required reputation or invitation). With this feature, leaving a mail address would lack its purpose (and could even be exchanged in chat then), and I'd vote to "edit it out".

  • Well, That's the place where my foot also is in. – Sid Jun 29 '13 at 15:50

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