It turns out that if you start on the 'newest questions' page and start using Google on my SO user name (Gayot Fow) and then you Google on some of the results, and then you go to the third or fourth level of Google enquiry... You will ultimately get my private email address. It's out there for any determined person to obtain if they keep trying. And you can use that address to reach my desktop email.
Yesterday marked the fourth occasion where this has happened. Three instances have basically the same characteristics...
- the person apologizes for reaching me privately
- they ask a question that they were too embarrassed or too bashful to ask here
- they want to know the answer
- in two cases, they offer payment
The fourth was about something unrelated and doesn't count.
I don't accept any sort of payment because it's illegal for immigration questions (Sections 84 and 85 of the Immigration Act 1999) and unethical for other questions. Plus my activity on TSO is purely recreational. Plus I don't want to go through the rigmarole of VAT and so forth.
In all cases when I tell them the answer people were profusely grateful. Over the top gratitude. I am not the sort of guy who needs the 'glow from within', so I just wish them good luck.
When you look at the questions themselves in a dispassionate way, they are totally normal issues and have no grounds to be bashful. The person just feels bashful or afraid that public disclosure would lead to them getting arrested and prosecuted (or in some other way compromise their personal safety).
Two questions would easily get up voted and attract some really good answers. Plus the UK police don't care about people asking questions as long as they do not violate the Harassment Act 1997 or the Computer Misuse Act 1990 (or the previously mentioned Immigration Act). Nobody has EVER EVER been arrested or prosecuted for asking a normal question about overstaying or their illegal work situations on the net. They don't have the resources to go around and arrest the people they KNOW about, much less monitoring the net. Plus they do NOT trace IP addresses on forums or SO unless the RIPA Act 2000 is engaged. Honestly. Sometimes it's ridiculous what people think will happen.
Question: what are other people doing in these situations? I'm not asking what you WOULD do because that invites question closure on 'primarily opinion based' grounds. But rather what you actually do when it happens. There is probably some overriding policy on the family of SO about it, but clearly that doesn't work, so I wouldn't find that helpful either.
Question: Yesterday I just turned around and asked the question myself. As though I were the OP. I think doing that follows the site rules, does it?