Should I allow sending PM's to Multiple Users at once?

Is there any good business justification for allowing a User to send a Private Message to Multiple Recipients at once??

I say NO, and here is why…

a.) To me, a “Private Message” implies a certain degree of intimacy between two people, versus things like E-mails or Tweets which somewhat imply “broadcast”…

b.) Allowing a User to PM several Other Users at once opens up a big liability - in my mind - by making it easy to spam other Users!!

c.) It adds unnecessary complexity to the Application and Database Design.

What do you think?



Hi Debbie,

I assume you are talking about some sort of forum or similar community-based site.

My own view is that, if a member is allowed to send any PM, I don’t see any harm in allowing him to send it to multiple members at the same time. It would be reasonable to only allow a certain group of members to send PMs, such as those who have achieved a certain number of posts, or who are in “good standing” in some way. But once you admit a person to that group, I wouldn’t restrict him to sending one PM at a time.

As far as I know, most forums work that way (including Sitepoint), although they might possibly stipulate a maximum on the number of recipients per message.

As for your point about adding unnecessary complexity, that might be true. However, creating any kind of community-based site is surely already a highly complicated undertaking. If you’re building your own messaging system from scratch, I would think the extra work of allowing multiple recipients would be fairly trivial.

Anyway, that’s my opinion. But you know your system, and your community, better than I do, so don’t put too much weight on what I say.



Thanks for the reply. :slight_smile:

To clarify some things…

  • Yes, I am trying to build a online “community” of Registered Members who can make both Public Posts and Private Messages.
  • The purpose of my Private Messaging module is just like any you’d see online… Allowing people to talk one-on-one
  • Only Registered Members can send and receive PM’s

Now, back to, “Should I allow a Member to send a PM to multiple Members?”

While I can obviously think of times where you might want to PM a few friends in an online community (e.g.SitePoint), my stance is that people usually send Private Messages because they want, well, PRIVACY. :slight_smile:

To me, a PM on a Forum/Online Community isn’t the same as E-mail.

You could argue that E-mail is intended to send a “Private Message” between only two people, however, consider this…

  • E-mail can be sent to a much larger audience, thus often necessitating the need to E-mail several people at once.
  • E-mail is often used for business, thus necessitating sending it to many people at once.
  • E-mail allows you to send attachments, so that lends itself to wanting to send it to multiple people (e.g. “Re: New Baby Pics!!”).
  • In online communities, when you want to contact numerous people, you usually “Start a Thread” or “Post a Comment”…

I guess it wouldn’t be that much harder for me to allow Multiple Recipients for PM’s, but…

1.) Is it something that Members would want or need?? (When I PM, it is to send a private message to one person.)

2.) Would it open up the door to Spammers?? (I get “PM Spam Messages” fairly often here at SitePoint…)

(Feel free to disagree.)



These are all good points, Debbie. Clearly, you’ve got to do what you consider appropriate for your forum and your community. Still, it will be interesting to hear what others think.

My only experience of trying to create a forum is very limited. I was adapting one of the open source products (phpBB, if I remember right), but didn’t get as far as the PM function. The client abandoned the project because we couldn’t solve the security problems. (That was quite a few years ago. I’m older and wiser now.)


I agree. I definitely wonder what other people think. (I wonder where StommePoes and Ralph and some of the other “regulars” are at?)

Okay, but put yourself in the shoes of an End-User.

Let’s assume for a minute that I actually get my website done - a little “fantasy” in one’s life never hurts, right?! :wink:

As an end-user, what would you say if my website made it so you could only send a Private Message to one person at a time?

Would that be a major annoyance to you?

Would it cause undo stress in your life?

How do you, Mike, personally use Private Messaging (if at all)?

Do you use it like I do, to have offline, one-on-one conversations?

Or maybe to just send a cutesy note to one of your acquaintances?

OR, do you have a large social circle where you want and need to send the same PM to 5, 10, or more people at a shot?

(BTW, my goal is to NOT create FaceBook or Twitter. I just want a way that people can talk in privacy - still in the context of my website - when they need to. But I am not offering a free E-mail or Social-Networking service via my PM module!!)

I use the Forums for group discussions, and PM’s for one-on-one conversations.

But maybe others don’t do things that way…

And since I’d like my website to be user-friendly, it is important to get a sense of what the masses expect (via you Web Design experts here at SitePoint)!! :slight_smile:



But if a person wishes to send a PM to a group of people, then forcing them to repeat the steps multiple times doesn’t make sense. An example would be if your site does succeed and you end with a group of volunteers to help run your community. Perhaps you’ve got those volunteers grouped into teams to work in specific areas of the site (ahem sound like somewhere you visit often?). There are times you’ll want to send a single PM to only a specific team - perhaps you have a special promotion which is in their area of expertise you want them to champion, or a piece of content you want them to promote/safeguard. If you’ve got 10 people on that team, do you really want to go through the hassle of sending that same PM ten times, or would you want to have the capacity to send to all ten members all at once?

Another way to think about it - the privacy of a message is determined by the sender, not the recipient. If the sender feels that multiple people would get benefit from receiving that PM, why would you want to stop the sharing of knowledge, or the conversations that come from them.

Not if you know the content is limited in scope to a select group of people. or if it has a short shelf life of usefulness…

  1. See my answer in regards to groups of people - as the community gets larger, and the staffing to support it gets larger, the more likely someone will want that feature.

  2. PM spammers are typically new members. Perhaps you limit the capability of sending PMs to multiple members to members with x numbers of posts or who have been members for x number of days/weeks/months.

Good job on challenging my thinking. (That’s what I need!) :tup:

Fair enough.

Now David is trying to make me “successful” and introducing “User Groups”?! :shifty:

(Go easy on me, man?!)

Apparently I wasn’t thinking “BIG ENOUGH”…

Well, one of the reasons my website is taking so long is because I keep adding things to make sure things “scale” well.

Looks like I need to address this “PM to Multiple Recipients” thingy now too?! (:

Yeah, I’m sure one can build all kinds of complex Business Logic in there… :frowning:

Okay, David, you definitely got my attention. (Looks like I underestimated things…)

Any other gurus out there care to add their 2-cents?