Mod to view member PM's

Discussion in 'SMF' started by fathom18, Mar 19, 2008.

  1. GrannyT

    GrannyT Neophyte

    Although this is an old thread I'm hoping someone can tell me whether there have been any mods released in the intervening year? I've done a search but no luck. I have learnt that messages can be read through the database but after a look in cpanel I chickened out.

    We've been running a site for adults on SMF for a couple of years and I wouldn't dream of trying to look at their messages but now we're putting together a site for the kids of our adult members. Because I'm used to SMF and like it it makes sense to stay with it but we reckon it'll be important to be able to check out the messages. We can foresee times when we are worried that a 'child' is actually an adult or we suspect that a particular kid is being picked on etc - things that aren't likely to be reported to a moderator.

    We would say quite clearly that staff can read messages. Someone on the SMF site suggested that it'd be easier to just disable pm but it seems a shame not to be able to offer the facility to our kids because of the off-chance of someone abusing the system.
  2. Oldiesmann

    Oldiesmann Tazmanian

    If any such mod is ever released, you won't find it on the official mod site. We will never approve any such mod, nor will we allow any topics explaining how this can be accomplished to be posted on our site.

    If you have serious concerns about PMs, then enable the option to allow users to report them. The report goes to all administrators, and the original PM is sent in such a way that the person reporting the message cannot modify it. This, along with a public post about how to use the feature, should help discourage any abuse. Also note that the person who sent the PM that is being reported is not notified when/if it is reported unless the admin chooses to take action against them.
  3. Caliope

    Caliope 70's Fashion Icon

    Well said Sir :tup:
  4. Anonymous

    Anonymous Habitué

    The Answer

    I'll see how long this lasts here...
    This is how I did it on SMF 2.0 and 2.01 (It probably works on all 2.0 RC versions as well, but its untested)
    In Index.php

    'pm' => array('PersonalMessage.php', 'MessageMain'),
    Add After
    'managepm' => array('managepm.php', 'MessageMain'),
    Put This File In Your Sources Folder
    And that's it...

    If you are the forum Admin, you can go to /index.php?action=managepm

    If your not an admin, going to the page will result in the error "Unable To Load The 'Main' Template."

    I only spent about a half hour looking into the PersonalMessages.php code, and getting it coded, so It doesn't have any ability to delete, reply, quote, or 'report to admin'. I could have easily added these settings, but left them out by choice.

    The key to doing this was asking the database to get information on PM's and not including the code that amounts to saying (WHERE the user ID is equal to the person trying to view the PM's) By doing this, the database spits back ALL the PM info, instead of just the PM info that was sent TO or sent FROM the user. It then organizes it exactly the same as when you are trying to view your pm's normally, since its just a modified PersonalMessages.php file.

    I may redo this with more features, but I only modded it the way I needed it because I was tired of using phpMyAdmin to look at the messages.

    It says right in our forum agreement that anything posted on our forum can be viewed by the administrators. So I don't find it the least bit unethical. I also believe that if someone posts anything on my forum I should have easy access to it.
  5. TVDinner

    TVDinner Enthusiast

    Just because you can do it does not make it right.

    A lot of different forum softwares have ways to read other members posts (like simply just logging in as them and reading their posts) BUT that still does not make it right.

    Want to see a forum die quickly - let it get out you are reading members private messages. You will loose even the good members who supported you.

    Just don't do it is normally the best policy. JMHO
  6. WBSAndroid

    WBSAndroid Neophyte

    It clearly states in our Registration Agreement that all information posted on the forum can and will be actively monitored by Admins. That Includes PM's. Besides, this is just way easier than looking it up in phpMyAdmin.
    If you post it in my database, i own it.
    Also, its far more 'proof of concept'/'haha, look what I can do with my coding skilz' than it is really used.
  7. TVDinner

    TVDinner Enthusiast

    Of course you do.
    So do I on my forum, but that does not mean you should do it.l

    Post right now on your forum that you actively read the member's private messages and will read them any time you want to. Let's see what happens.
  8. WBSAndroid

    WBSAndroid Neophyte

    On another note, In neither the code, nor the display of the website itself is it ever defined that the P in PM means 'Private'.
    They are most often referred to in the code by 'Personal' Messages. However, At the head of PersonalMessages.php, It specifically says "For compatibility reasons, they are often called 'instant messages'".

    Personal means 'of, relating to, or affecting a particular person'
    Everything you do with your account is done by you Personally.

    Whereas Private means 'intended for or restricted to the use of a particular person, group, or class'

    Maybe reading peoples PM's isn't a completely moral thing to do, but It has saved our website a lot of grief in the past by allowing us to ban people before they are able to carry out the actions that they talk about to other members.

    Its a gaming clan website, and its not at all uncommon for both people outside the clan, as well as inside, to want to 'hack, destroy, ruin, ect..' us.
  9. TrixieTang

    TrixieTang Politically Incorrect

    The whole debate about the ethics of reading PMs is something that will just go on forever, and honestly I think both sides have their points. In the end it's really up to you, the type of forum that you run and whether or not you're willing to take the risks involved.

    I won't say that I necessarily agree with the SMF team's no PM reading modifications policy, but unless they say otherwise then I think that we all should respect that policy and not post links to such mods here.
  10. bucket

    bucket badge consultant

    that seems inconsistent to me. what about respecting vbulletin's position wrt xenforo?

    does SMF have a PM-mod restriction written into their license? if not, PM-mods sound like a respectable thing to discuss/link to.
  11. Floorist

    Floorist Participant

    I WAS an advisor on a forum for 5 years. When I found out that the owner was reading PMs, I quit. In the forum that I am currently running, I don't have that ability and don't want it. Are these people so self absorbed that they think the members are always talking about them? If so, they need to find something else to do.
  12. WBSAndroid

    WBSAndroid Neophyte

    I don't care what they say about me. What I care about (and have discovered 2 times before) Is when a PM conversation goes like this.

    Member "can you add and remove people from usergroups?"
    Moderator "yes, why?"
    Member "Can you remove and add forum admins?"
    Moderator "Idk, why?"
    Member "We should do this. Remove the 3 forum Admins and add ourselves. Then WE can own the clan!"
    Conversation continues with argument for a while, and then the moderator attempts to carry it out.

    That's when you read a PM and are glad that you monitor them.
    I know what they were trying was impossible with the permissions set. And even if they HAD pulled it off, I could have quickly fixed it with the database. But still. If a member of our forum wants to talk privately with another member. We all have xFire accounts.
  13. Floorist

    Floorist Participant

    They are called "Private Messages" for a reason.
  14. WBSAndroid

    WBSAndroid Neophyte

    At least in SMF, they are NOT called "Private" Messages. They are called "Personal" Messages. The php script to read PM's is called PersonalMessages.php
    Never does it ever mention the word private.
  15. Floorist

    Floorist Participant

    Most members would not use them without the idea that they were private. Tell your members that you read them, see what they think.
  16. The7thSage

    The7thSage Adherent

    I am not aware about SMF's database structure nor any other SMF related things, but isn't it possible just to fire a small SQL query and get the pm log? Just wondering, not debating. Not as convenient as a plugin, but gets the job done.
  17. rusty105

    rusty105 Habitué

    If you are the admin and have access, then all you need is phpadmin. it is not something I would approve of. A quick way to lose members, but in some cases it is necessary. And any admin that gives a mod the power to remove admins is asking for trouble.

    As in the Highlander "There can be only one!"
  18. In the guidelines for my site:
    Now, I have yet to have to access any PMs other than ones actually forwarded to me - I don't really want to know what the trolls are saying about me - but I do want people to know that just because they sent something to someone as a PM doesn't make it exempt from the forum guidelines and if someone gripes about 'so-and-so said this to me in a PM and needs to be banned' and won't show me the PM in question, they need to know that I can, and will, check it out. :Order:

    However, a report PM mod would be a nice addition to any forum software. Some trolls do a lot of their mischief under cover of PMs.
  19. Suki

    Suki Developer

    If you have access to the database you have access to everything, plain and simple.

    SMF has a report PM system, you just have to enable it.
  20. Deprecated

    Deprecated Participant

    Hi there, this is my first post. I know it's an old topic but I can set matters straight. (I found this topic because I wondered if somebody was reading my PMs on a XenForo forum, Googled my way to this topic, thought it was an interesting tech forum. The tech admin at the XF forum is just nasty! I'm pretty sure he snoops the database.)

    I was at one time SMF's #3 mod package author (more than a decade ago), and I did a short stint on their mod squad (before I decided it wasn't for me). (And yes, I knew Karl Bensen.)

    The SMF mod squad has a rule that no mod that reads PMs will be approved. That's just it, and you will never see such a mod on SMF's mod site.

    I am morally opposed to reading PMs. There's a report PM feature you can enable as noted above. The only reason I can see to go fishing is if you suspect child porn or other criminal activity is involved. One vB porn forum owner I know runs a filter on PMs to scan for things such as 'CP." That said, you might find an independent group to write it. I could write it, sure, but I just won't. That would violate my ethics.

    That said, if you know how your SMF database is organized, you can read anything you want via phpMyAdmin. It takes a little thought and some technical understanding, but you can put it all together if you go to the trouble. I did it a few times when circumstances dictated.

    It is almost a certainty that any sufficiently knowledgeable tech admin can read PMs on any forum software.
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