Can we read your private messages? The answer ultimately is yes. Do we make a practice of opening your private messages and reading them? No, we do not. We respect your privacy.
We, however, discourage the use of our private message system in breaking any of the "said" rules (it's obviously impossible to find out if someone is doing this unless you read their messages). So do we police it? No we do not.
We do make one exception: If we begin to receive excessive complaints about an individual using the private message system to break the rules here at SG, we will review the messages in question and take action as is warranted.
And here's why we do make this exception ...
In the past some individuals we were made aware of were sending very "nasty" PM's ... which were not respectful and very degrading. We don't think there is really anything that PM's cannot be used for (other than malicious activity). The key point here is the manner in which we deal with issues that arise.
We hope that our users can deal with such touchy issues discretely AND respectfully, in an adult-like manner. It is only when someone becomes the "sour apple" and is making many individuals uncomfortable that we feel we need to intervene.
And again, we may end up changing this policy or even removing it if necessary in the future. But we believe it is a good policy for the time being and will be a benefit to the entire message board.