I recently had a user contact me outside of SE/AU questioning one of my moderation decisions in the queue.

To be clear, it wasn't hostile, but it seemed a bit odd/off-putting(?).

Over the years, I've had my contact information occasionally used to follow me on twitter, contacts me for jobs/contract opportunities. I've even made a couple of acquaintances from having this info visible as well.

I don't recall anyone bringing my AU activity to me off-site.

Has anyone else experienced this?

I've looked at a couple of potential dupes and don't see any discussion/policy regarding this:

How can I contact a user from this site?

Feature request for "private messages" privilege for user communication

Contact Users seen on AskUbuntu

I might understand if this was a low rep user; but, they seem to be a pretty high rep user from another SE site.

Is this normal for other regular users?

  • 1
    Depends on each user and what they're comfortable with. Stack Exchange lacks an easy private messaging capabilities so it is not unusual for people to use emails or team apps like, discord and slack, to communicate more effectively outside of chat. Commented Mar 21, 2019 at 12:00

2 Answers 2


If you provide contact details, you should expect people to contact you.

The site deliberately omits a lot of social features, making chasing an individual down annoyingly hard.

I have been on both sides of the scenario you have been in. There are lots of times I would have liked to quickly ask somebody to reconsider a decision they've made. A DM/PM would have been ideal but we don't have that.

So imagine you're in the position of the person who contacted you. Somebody has voted to close something and you don't understand why. What are your choices?

  • You can only @reply-comment if the other person commented/posted.
  • You might both be active in the same Chat channels, you might not. It's not immediately obvious.
  • Starting a Meta post is super-public and not always the right venue for something private.
  • You could look at their profile and find another velue to chat privately.
  • [MODMODE] Click their profile and send them a message (reserved for important things)

On the face of what you've said, I see nothing wrong. They've looked at their options and picked something private that you've volunteered, that ultimately you can ignore. If you don't want people to have that option, remove that detail from your profile. It's not a guarantee that they can't find you, but a reasonable person would stop there.

Of course, we would expect the conduct to adhere to our rules. If somebody from the site starts sending you nastygrams, or keeps sending your messages in a harassing way, please let us or SE know immediately.

  • This seems reasonable. As mentioned, I've been contacted numerous times via my contact over the past 6+ years re: non-SE specific stuff. The signal:noise ratio has been wholly beneficial, to me. Personally, I'm more in line with @jacob-vlijm take on this matter of etiquette. With the exception of some Mod,<-> User urgent communication, "What happens on AU, should stay on AU". YMMV, obviously. Thanks for the answer. Commented Mar 22, 2019 at 3:40
  • To clarify one point: If someone votes to close a question they are pingable in the comments. The system just doesn't make that obvious,
    – Seth
    Commented Mar 23, 2019 at 6:16

I don't believe there are strict/written rules on the subject, and below is nothing more than just my experience and opinion.

The principle

Is that we should not contact users and moderators directly, unless there is a good reason to make an exception to the rule.

Having said that

I have both been contacted by users (and once a moderator, not for suspension :) ), and I have contacted users and moderators occasionally. I must say I never felt I was offended, nor by the nature of the message, nor by the fact that they contacted me.
Likewise, I never felt that I did anything wrong in contacting people, especially if their email address is in their profile or the first link in the profile brings me to their email address. I can only hope they didn't feel offended, like I didn't feel I was.


At the same time, As said, I don't believe you can or should just contact anyone outside the site, and we should respect privacy and the fact that people might very well want to separate their daily life from their presence on AU or SE in general. This counts even more on moderators, since their position is more vulnerable by nature.

What I feel is especially inappropriate

  • Discussing moderation decisions, no matter if it is moderation by users (like your example), or by a moderator. These discussions belong on the site, either in chat or on meta.
  • Discussing answers, or giving support on questions that belongs on the site. This is leading away the discussion from the place where we all benefit from given insights.
  • Just contacting people for "chatty" reasons, with no reason(s) that justify making an exception on the rule.

No doubt the list is incomplete, but these are the most important ones I guess.

In short, in this case

I would say it is inappropriate for anyone to contact you about moderation. The fact that it is not an offensive message doesn't change that. Moderation and the discussion about that belongs on the site.

  • 1
    Thanks for the thoughtful response! My initial reaction was more a WTF? as the notification interrupted me writing a msg on my phone. Definitely more head-scratching than offensive. Commented Mar 21, 2019 at 11:20

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