I am getting really tired of every community-based website creator feeling the need to reimplement basic functions of the web. Why does every site have to have a ‘Message This User’ action? Has everyone forgotten about email? The problem of sending a body of text to another individual on the web was tackled long ago! Let it be!
Under the ‘I’m going to reimplement a perfectly good system’-system I now have to check yet another message box. Oh goodie, in addition to the six mailboxes I already check, I get to check another. And this one I can’t access though the mail client I use to access many of my others. No, I have to log onto some stupid website with a stupid unique interface. And how many sites with this “feature” do I have accounts on? Far too many. Every one a different website, every one a different interface. I’m not going to remember to check them all regularly, and even when I do, I wont remember how they all work. That’s bad for everyone (including your precious community).
So some genius gets an idea: “I’ll email the users when they get a message!” This is even more foolish! Now I get an email telling me that I got an “email” somewhere else. How bloody convenient!
I guarantee you that no matter how snazzy your messaging interface is, it’s not as effective as how I manage my email. My email is set up in a way that is useful to me. Me, the user. I chose the email program I wanted, I chose the spam filtering solution I wanted, I configured procmail(1) to drop emails into appropriate mailboxes in just the way I like. Email is a stable system that puts the control in the hands of the users. People like email.
To trendy-community-site-creators: the world does not revolve around your website. You do not have to provide every service a person could ever want from the internet. We all visit multiple sites (not just yours). Every site does not need to include a profile, a blog, a messaging system, a set of communities, a news system, a photo gallery and a search engine. Do something new. Do it well. And don’t force your inferior replacements of existing web services upon us. We don’t want them.