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You can send an IM to another member by simply clicking on the at the bottom of a post by that member.
If you see this icon flashing at the top of your screen, it means that another member has sent you an IM. You can read it by clicking on the sending member's name -- the one next to the flashing icon. If there are more messages, the other senders' names will be there also. If you open your IM page, the sender's name will be flashing in the right margin along with the icon.
This change allows you to perform "housekeeping" on your instant messages without having to open the waiting IMs.
This icon indicates that the IM is from either the system or a site moderator.
Where you will see the icon:
Where you find the icon to send your own IM:
NOTE: SYSTEM IMs CAN BE GENERATED FOR A MULTITUDE OF REASONS, INCLUDING NOTIFICATIONS OF REPLIES TO YOUR POSTS (IF YOU REQUEST IT), AVATAR APPROVALS OR IN SOME CASES, MODERATOR ACTIONS
IMPORTANT: IMs ARE CONSIDERED TO BE PRIVATE AMONG MEMBERS OF THIS SITE. THEIR CONTENTS SHOULD NOT BE REPRODUCED ANYWHERE, ON THIS SITE OR ANY OTHER, WITHOUT THE EXPRESS CONSENT OF THE ORIGINATING MEMBER. TO DO SO MAY BE VIOLATING THE CONFIDENTIALITY OF ANOTHER MEMBER'S PRIVACY, AND WILL MOST CERTAINLY HAVE NEGATIVE RESULTS.