Kulga To start a 1-1 discussion, you should be able to start just as you would a private message.
esoTalk does allow users to start a private conversation by clicking a link on the profile page of the person. The next thing you see, however, is the channel selection page (because in esoTalk, you can't have a conversation that isn't in some channel or another). That's where "private conversations" become more complex than "private messaging". If it were a private message system, we would be able to skip the channel selection and just start entering the message (and its title, of course).
Kulga Permissions are a null point. There should be no permissions beyond is this user a invited person of this discussion If they are, they see the whole discussion.
I agree this would make sense. But it does raise certain issues. For example, exactly where would the discussion be displayed? If I invite you to participate in a private discussion tagged with the "Experimental" tag, and you don't have permission to access that tag, then you won't be able to see that tag or select it in your sidebar. You would have no choice but to scroll down the "All Discussions" list until you found the discussion in question.
... I guess the "Private" tag would not be merely a good idea, but necessary in that case. (Though I think I prefer your idea of putting a "Private Discussions" link under "All Discussions" as a way to handle this.)
Kulga Tags.. I'm not sure about. Your idea of a private tag sounds good, but I'd permit other tags to be added on since larger private discussions could use them.
I'm divided about this too. Generally speaking, I don't see much of a need to put tags on private discussions, since tags are mainly a way to categorize information that can be accessed by a large group of people (such as a forum). When the discussion is limited to a smaller group of people, such categorization becomes much less important.
On the other hand, I run a forum that uses private discussions quite heavily ... and when you've got a lot of private discussions going, it can be nice to have some way to categorize them. So I guess on the whole, I'd probably agree that the allowing tags other than "Private" would be a good idea.
At any rate, my "Private" tag idea was only intended to demonstrate how a "private discussion" system (which is to say, a system that leverages existing discussion functionality) could be constrained to act more like a "private messaging" system, allowing the devs (and users) to sidestep the issues raised by tags and permissions. From that perspective, the above considerations are more or less moot.
Kulga Private messaging and private discussions feels redundant
Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying that both should be made available. My point was that they are quite different solutions to the problem of providing for private communication, and one or the other may be a better choice under certain circumstances. I don't see any point in discouraging third-party developers who are thinking about providing alternatives to default extensions.
Kulga I feel like private discussions can do private messaging as simply as a pm system would, with the ability to do more. In fact, it should feel identical to a pm until you need it to do more.
I disagree. Yes, private discussions can do more; but it would be quite difficult to make them as simple as a private messaging system (from the end user's point of view) for the simple reason that you have to take into account things like tags and permissions. With a private messaging system, there's no need for either.
Kulga Also, I definitely think private discussions (or pm's) should be colored differently to identify them as private.
That's a very good idea. I've often felt the purple envelope icon in esoTalk is a bit understated for what it needs to do.