|Keep It Simple, Stupid|
In general I dislike "features" that exist solely for the purpose of working around luser ignorance / stupidity. This request is for just such a feature.
Around the monastery there are three basic types of communication: creating a node, talking in the ChatterboxTM and using /msg or /tell. Creating a node is the most "formal" method, as anyone can read what you have written months after the fact. Fortunately, creating a node is a very intentional thing; it is nearly impossible to do accidentally. Talking in the Chatterbox is also world readable, but communication here is transient; you don't need to worry about something stupid you said in the Chatterbox turning up in a search next month. The only time someone accidentally posts to the chatterbox is either by confusing it with the search box or by hitting reload and re-submitting what they said previously. Finally, there's using /msg or /tell to talk one on one with another member of the monastery (or, of you believe the tabloids, speak with the dearly departed). The problem lies in that, since /msgs and /tells are typed into the same field as the Chatterbox, mistyping this means that the whole world can read what you intended to say to one other person. At one of my local supermarkets the phones at the registers have a button on the handset that broadcasts whatever is said over the store's P.A. system. Any cashier propping the phone on their shoulder is liable to have their conversation with payroll overheard by shoppers.
As amusing as it may be to hear that Thelma can't work next Tuesday while Kenny G. plays softly in the background, this can't be the highlight of her day. Likewise, having other people wondering the monastery catch a snippet of your private conversation is something that I'd rather avoid. What I'd like to see implemented is a feature that would stop
/msh jcwren I love the stats page!
from being posted for all to see. My thought would be to have anything preceded by / to return an error to the one who submitted it unless it is a reserved string like /me. Anyone intending to post /msg hello world to the Chatterbox could escape it as //msg hello world or something.
On the other hand, /telling into an otherwise quiet Chatterbox is a proven way of inciting conversation.
And no, I don't own 27 pairs of sweatpants.