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Multiple times, I see a question and feel "oh, <xyz> would be able to post a brilliant answer to this one". Quite a few nice questions get pushed down; out of the notice of the specialists. Sometimes I may want <xyz>s advice on a particular answer that I've seen. Aside from that, there are numerous other reasons where you may want to contact a specific user. For this, I proposed a feature at MSO, but it probably won't go through.

So what I propose is this: A meta question, on which a user can post their username and specialties as a separate answer. A user need not be a specialist in anything(eg, me) to post. Maybe the question can be tagged so that everyone gets a look-see at it.

The point of such a post will be to allow anyone to ping that user with P.SE related comments. It should be entirely opt-in, nobody's forcing anyone :).

Of course, there are spam issues and other stuff, so I want to see some of your thoughts on this.

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Sure, having a meta question where people can "register" their interest in being pinged sounds fine - at least, there's no rule against it. It wouldn't hurt to try it and see if it helps at all. It wouldn't be forever, but we could probably put on it if you word it the right way (e.g. "How can I ask someone specific to answer a question?").

However, I would encourage anyone who would be interested in participating in such a system to also do the following three things:

  1. Include your areas of expertise (those in which you would like to be "pinged" if a pinging system were available) in your profile text blurb. If you have enough reputation to have a "user card" (the thing that pops up when the mouse hovers over your gravatar), then make sure your areas of expertise show up there.
  2. Also include those areas in your chat profile.
  3. Stay logged into our chat room as much as possible, and check it periodically to see if you've been "requested." Let's make that the central place to recruit people to help with specific questions.

I think this is the best way to use the existing system to accomplish the goal here - and at worst, it's not going to interfere with the meta post.

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  • $\begingroup$ Regarding the faq title: I suggest we call it "Please consider adding your name here" or a more descriptive variant for the duration of its featured status. "How can I ask someone specific to answer a question?" in the featured popup will be ignored by most community members. Once we reture its featured-ness, then we can rename it to the faq-y title. Thoughts? $\endgroup$ – Manishearth Apr 1 '12 at 8:01
  • $\begingroup$ meta.physics.stackexchange.com/questions/1159/… A bit sketchy at the moment, I sort of ran out of ideas. Please take a look at it and add any improvements if you want. Also I think we need a better title (see above comment) $\endgroup$ – Manishearth Apr 1 '12 at 11:51
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Related suggestions have been made on the mother meta many times, the official position is that user who wish to be contactable put contact information in the About Me field of their profile.

Maintaining a list of such users would, of course, be fine--a question here on meat.physics would be perfect for that purpose--but the system isn't going to support your getting their attention.

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  • $\begingroup$ Well, most of the MSO posts are quite biased towards SO (or the trilogy, at any rate). The spam argument &c won't be so severe here--we don't have enough activity. On SO, on the other hand, Jon Skeet would get ~a trillion pings a day. That wouldn't happen here. Regarding the contact info, I don't like making my email publicly visible. It's better to keep such stuff in-system. If you're getting to much spam, you can just delete the meta post to opt out. On the other hand, once your email is out, it's out. $\endgroup$ – Manishearth Mar 30 '12 at 4:23
  • $\begingroup$ but the system isn't going to support your getting their attention --> what do you mean by that? Commenting on a post always pings the user, doesn't it (not sure about CW, though)? $\endgroup$ – Manishearth Mar 30 '12 at 4:23
  • $\begingroup$ I meant only that there will be no PM system. Comment pings will work as usual. $\endgroup$ – dmckee Mar 30 '12 at 5:21
  • $\begingroup$ yep, and that's why a meta-post is ideal. I don't want a PM system, just a way to openly contact others (who have opted in). $\endgroup$ – Manishearth Mar 30 '12 at 5:23

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