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Thread: PM Privacy?

  1. #1

    PM Privacy?

    In another thread, I read that moderators can see PMs.

    Just wondering - is this correct? In addition to administrators, are all moderators able to read the PMs between members?

    It would just be nice to know if that is the case, if a "private" message isn't quite private.

    Thanks

  2. #2
    No, moderators cannot see PMs except for those sent to us. Members will sometimes forward PMs to us if they have a complaint or concern about a communication they receive.

    (KLD)

  3. #3
    Thank you very much. In another thread, some people thought they could. I appreciate the info - I just like to know what's private and what isn't.

  4. #4
    Quote Originally Posted by TAM63 View Post
    In another thread, I read that moderators can see PMs.

    Just wondering - is this correct? In addition to administrators, are all moderators able to read the PMs between members?

    It would just be nice to know if that is the case, if a "private" message isn't quite private.

    Thanks
    Tam,

    To my knowledge, moderators cannot see PM's not intended for them. Administrators can but I don't know how and have never looked. Steven Edwards knows how but I don't think that he has ever looked.

    I think that people should understand that nothing posted on a public website is ever truly "private". You should not post anything to any web site thinking that nobody will be able to see it. Believe me, somebody will be able to see your so-called private messages and there will be a record of it.

    We provide the private message service on this web site because it allows members to communicate with each other without having to let people know their email address.

    Wise.

  5. #5
    Thank you Wise.

    Of course, I do understand the potential lack of privacy of anything on the internet. And I also understand not to put anything on the net that is extremely private, with an expectation of absolute confidentiality.

    There was, in another thread, a discussion that suggested that moderators could read private messages routinely if they liked, and perhaps discuss their contents with other people. That, if true, would have been a whole new level of "lack of privacy". I am glad that is not the case.

  6. #6
    Senior Member rdf's Avatar
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    This was discussed months or years ago, and we were told our PMs were not in fact private at all. I didn't state that mods 'routinely' read PMs, or 'discuss' them, only that the ability exists.

    http://sci.rutgers.edu/forum/showpos...7&postcount=32
    Quote Originally Posted by TAM63 View Post
    Thank you Wise.

    Of course, I do understand the potential lack of privacy of anything on the internet. And I also understand not to put anything on the net that is extremely private, with an expectation of absolute confidentiality.

    There was, in another thread, a discussion that suggested that moderators could read private messages routinely if they liked, and perhaps discuss their contents with other people. That, if true, would have been a whole new level of "lack of privacy". I am glad that is not the case.
    Please donate a dollar a day at http://justadollarplease.org.
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  7. #7
    I didn't mean to mis-state anything - sorry if it seems that I did.

    It sounds, from what the nurse just said in the other thread, that the mods can only see the PMs if a recipient reports it, or forwards it on. They can't just decide to read a PM. At least that's how I read it.

    So if I am correct, the ability doesn't actually exist for the mods to read a PM - unless someone sends it to them.

  8. #8
    Quote Originally Posted by rdf View Post
    This was discussed months or years ago, and we were told our PMs were not in fact private at all. I didn't state that mods 'routinely' read PMs, or 'discuss' them, only that the ability exists.

    http://sci.rutgers.edu/forum/showpos...7&postcount=32
    rdf,

    Let me correct you. The ability does *not* exist. We have enough paranoia on this site without including this false one. Moderators do not have the ability to read private messages even if they want to.

    There is no routine way that an administrator can read private messages. Yes, I can find out how many private messages a member has. I can even delete all the private messages of a member. But, as an administrator I don't have the privileges to read private messages of another member. I would have to trick the software.

    But, most important of all, I can't imagine that any of the moderators would have any desire to read your private messages. None of us are that masochistic. Gaining access to private messages is discussed amongst moderators whenever somebody expresses suicidal intentions but we have never done it.

    Wise.

  9. #9
    Quote Originally Posted by TAM63 View Post
    It sounds, from what the nurse just said in the other thread, that the mods can only see the PMs if a recipient reports it, or forwards it on. They can't just decide to read a PM. At least that's how I read it.
    You are correct. A moderator won't know what a PM says unless a) it's written to them, b) it's reported, or c) someone copies and pastes the text.

    The only other way to do so requires direct access to the database (ETA: and knowledge of SQL, the database query language). All database transactions are logged, however, so all attempts to do so could easily be discovered.
    Last edited by Steven Edwards; 02-20-2010 at 12:45 PM.
    ...it's worse than we thought. it turns out the people at the white house are not secret muslims, they're nerds.

  10. #10
    Senior Member rdf's Avatar
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    Wise, I disagree. The report function allows moderators to read PMs, you've said so before. Why else would the report function exist, but to see what the complaint is and discuss any repercussions?
    Quote Originally Posted by Wise Young
    Let me add further to what Steven said. The reason that the report PM was added was because there are spammers who join and then send spam to other members. This allows members to report spam. But, I can see other reasons why members may want to report offensive private messages to moderators. For example, a member may want to report somebody stalking them on the site, pornographic or other offensive messages.

    Source
    How is a moderator to know if a PM is offensive unless they read it???

    I'm not saying they would read unreported PMs, I trust them not to, and they're likely not able to access the PMs. But the ability to do so certainly exists. I've worked with the most advanced database technology in the world for a long time, both in design and implementation, so believe me if a moderator is savvy enough, he or she can read anything, depending on how tight the sysadmin has the ship locked down. Even then, nothing is immune to abuse in the world of software.
    Quote Originally Posted by Wise Young View Post
    rdf,

    Let me correct you. The ability does *not* exist. [ It does exist ] We have enough paranoia on this site without including this false one. Moderators do not have the ability to read private messages even if they want to. [ See above, where you stated the exact opposite. Again, what is the report function for if not to report messages? If they 'want to' read a reported PM, they can, according to what you've said in the past ]

    There is no routine way that an administrator can read private messages.[ That depends on your definition of the word 'routine.' ]Yes, I can find out how many private messages a member has. I can even delete all the private messages of a member. But, as an administrator I don't have the privileges to read private messages of another member. I would have to trick the software. [ Wise, you answer the question with that statement. So yes, the ability exists not only via a member reporting a PM, but, as you put it, by 'tricking' the software. ]

    But, most important of all, I can't imagine that any of the moderators would have any desire to read your private messages. None of us are that masochistic. Gaining access to private messages is discussed amongst moderators whenever somebody expresses suicidal intentions but we have never done it.

    Wise.
    Please don't think the software used by vBulletin's backend is impenetrable. It isn't. And no, I'm not being paranoid or argumentative. I'm simply stating facts. You can't have it both ways, Wise. Either moderators and admins read 'reported' PMs, or they don't. You have stated offensive PMs can be reported. To decipher the extent of the offense, a PM must be read.

    On a last note, I don't care if anyone reads my PMs, I learned long ago not to post anything on the web that you don't want read by someone, somewhere. As I stated in that earlier thread when Steven first mentioned the added report functionality, nobody should post anything in PMs they don't want others to know about.
    Quote Originally Posted by Steven Edwards View Post
    You are correct. A moderator won't know what a PM says unless a) it's written to them, b) it's reported, or c) someone copies and pastes the text.
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    Thanks!

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