When I /msg someone about a node that needs to be edited, or I just want to compliment or comment on it, I always include a hardlink or a pipe link to the node in question. It only makes sense, because otherwise they'd have no idea what I'm talking about. /msgs aren't like chat or ICQ; they're asynchronous, like e-mail, and unless the equivalent of a subject line is provided I may come back three days from now and have no idea where I left off.

But frequently I get replies on those messages, or even comments on my own nodes, that include no such link. Being the ADD dummkopf that I am, I can't even remember what the last node I wrote was, but even if I could I have no way of knowing if that's the one they read, or if they're replying to a /msg of my own, or what. It's not maddening, and it's not really a pet peeve. It's just kind of depressing, like when you get a message on your answering machine with no name and no phone number.

It should be common sense, then, if not common courtesy, that when you're /msging someone about a node, or replying to their /msg about a node, you should provide a hardlink to it at the same time. Doing so is the best way to make sure your comments are given all the attention they're due.

Addendum, July 10, 2002: The blab! feature automatically adds hardlinks for the recipient for you, which is a nice feature. But if you're not using the blab! box, or if you're replying to a message about a particular node, then your recipient is still in the dark. (I still get messages like "What do you think I should change?" two days after I've sent a /msg to a user, and I'm utterly at a loss as to what I was trying to advise them about. In other words, please don't assume that blab! solves all of your problems just 'cause it's there.

/msg is the Internet Relay Chat (IRC) command to send a private message to another user, rather than chatting in a channel. Its syntax is as follows.

   /msg <nick> <message>

The underlying RFC1459 protocol message is

  PRIVMSG <nick> :<message>

The exact way this is displayed at the other end depends on the IRC client the recipient is using. On the most widespread client, mIRC, the action can be decided using a configuration setting. The most common is for it to open a "Query Window". This is a new window, into which the message will appear. Stuff which the recipient types is then sent back via /msg to the original sender - essentially the window is a private chat window between the two users.

On most IRC server software, communication via /msg is private and can't be snooped on by an IRCop or another user. That said, there's no reason an IRC server couldn't be written that does allow this.

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