App.net: Sending PMs to people who can’t receive them results in…nothing

Last weekend I sat together with @map and we noticed the following behavior on app.net: When you send someone a private message that has his privacy settings set in a way, that the person can’t receive a message from you, then well, nothing happens. For you it look likes that they received the message, but they won’t get it.

Except one of two things is happening:
* they send you a private message
* they change their setting to something that they can receive a private message from you and you send her a private message

In both cases they will see all private messages sent previously.

To understand that behavior I have to get a bit technical here and since I am not a developer, I hope that I do not mess up 🙂

Sending someone a private message creates something called a channel. Depending on the private message-settings of the user, you have the ability to subscribe her to this channel or not. If not, the channel will be created, it will look like you both are a member of that channel but in fact only you are (at least in my tests it seemed that way).

Now my question: Why doesn’t the sender get an error message? After all for the sender it will look like you are ignoring her and not as if you cannot get the message. Which can lead to real life social problems (like people thinking you are a prick).

From what I gathered my understanding what the reasoning on app.nets side is that:

  • the receiver could have a setting in place that he intentionally ignores you (like a mute)
  • clients could implement it, if they wanted

Do you see already the contradiction in that argumentation?

If not, I will explain it to you. You can check if you can subscribe a user to a channel (there’s a flag for it in the user details when you ask for it called „you_can_subscribe“). If the user has privacy settings in place that she can’t receive messages from you, the flag is set to false.

Now what happens, if a user has muted you but has her private messages set up in a way that she can receive private messages from all? Well, „you_can_subscribe“ is set to true, but she won’t see your message.

Well, if a client implements a check wether you can send someone a private message or not, the client would as I understand it check for „you_can_subscribe“. When the person has appropriate privacy settings in place, the flag is set to false, if not it is to true, wether or not she is muting you. Thus people who intent to ignore you will still seem to ignore you.

And now again my question: Why the hell doesn’t get the sender an error message? As in an error from the API? Clients usually have already something implemented to show you error messages – they are not always look nice, but they can do it. But the check for it, is an extra step that has to be implemented. And since they can only implement it in a way an error message from the API could show it, the API could directly throw the error. That way, when it gets implemented even clients that are not getting updated often (I look at you Netbot) could have this feature immediately. Or am I seeing something wrong here? If yes, please correct me in the comments.

If you see it similar to me, that there should be an error message thrown by the API, please write the app.net-staff.

Best chances are probably to write support@app.net and writing directly to @dalton, @berg and @mthurman. The more who write them, that this is a problem, the better the chances that it gets corrected in the API. After all, it is a network where we are the customers and which thrives not only from good clients and happy developers but also from happy users. And I know already some unhappy users because of this.

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