I’m finding myself getting a bit paranoid on IRC. Every time someone private messages me, or persistently questions me about why I keep logging off and logging back on, I find myself metaphorically looking at them through narrowed eyes.
I don’t like being private messaged by someone I don’t know very well for the same reason I don’t like getting into long email discussions with someone I don’t know very well — I’m forced into either an ongoing dialogue, or extreme impoliteness. As part of a public discussion in person, on a mailing list, or on IRC, I can slip away, cease to follow the discussion or let others pick up the slack if I want.
In a private discussion I’m called upon to invest extra energy that I may not want to expend. Insisting on extended private message with someone you don’t know well is a good way to make yourself look high maintainence before you look worthy of it.