@seezall I can speak on account of myself -- at least with the 1 I have sent, sometimes private messages aren't relating to the contest at all. For instance, I will admit that I messaged the CH because I was interested in their idea/brand and would like to know HOW to find out more about them POST contest as they were doing something that I really was interested in and would like to check into them after the contest. They wrote back saying they would definitely keep me updated, and for the record, the one and only name I submitted, they liked but unfortunately got rejected just because they were worried about having to explain it -- so it wasn't 'sucking up' and did not give me an unfair advantage. It's in cases like these or other instances that it should be allowed.
Secondly, I hate to be the blunt person here, and I will state that while I will say this, I automatically disagree with its usage but I am saying this to REMIND -- If there is no 'policy on what is allowed' you technically can't have it held against you, because by policy standard -- you're not doing anything wrong. It is what it is. Recommendation: If there is a want for penalty, which it is obvious there is, make and/or change the policy -- that way things that do not fit within said policy can be policed and subjectively held against those that do not follow it (assuming proof can be obtained -- not sure whether SH can see the messages in detail or not). Beyond this, however it is a feature that should be allowed to stay and I will discuss why and Dan or whomever knows better information behind these things can better support it or debate it because some of these things I am NOT sure of
PMs are needed for creatives to message other creatives, not just CHs (??? Not sure if anyone knows and/or has thought about this, but maybe the PM system is all one system and PMs are needed for to be able to send messages to anyone. Maybe that is why counts are so high? If we removed this, would we still be able to message each other?)
Maybe counts work both ways (??? If a CH sends you a message and you reply, is your count affected at all, or is it only when you initialize? If it counts sent without regard to who initializes, how do we know that CHs aren't just chatty with some people for different reasons?)
What if there is a significantly important issue that you are trying to message the CH about, perhaps personal to do with your entries as Dan has said, or maybe you are informing/helping them to fix something in the brief or set it up because they erred and you don't want to bring attention to it in front of everyone -- because like it or not, not everyone likes to be made to look/seem a fool or not knowing what they are doing in front of a lot of people. Or even something to do with how you are having or may need to submit your entry and maybe you need to reference your entry in particular to get a straight answer but don't want other creatives to know your entry but they would have to if you could not PM and ask something that cannot be answered without the specifics of your entry (it's not a leg up, just a justification question and to protect your entry you cannot post that for 'public knowledge')
On another note, @fxpreneur, you said you have seen 'new creatives' have a lot more PMs -- this can't be accurate as when I was 'new' not too long ago, I could not send PMs and as far as I know, you cannot do such until you have won a contest or reached a certain amount of points. If either of these have been met, then by technicality those creatives have 'earned' that right to do so. But again, we don't know if the CH contacted them first, or because they haven't been here that long, that they are just ones that have to ask personal things regarding their individual entries to hone their craft but not necessarily give themselves a leg up. We don't know, unfortunately, because we aren't seeing the messages. Not that I don't agree with you about the possibility that said creatives are taking advantage of it as there is always a possibility, but there is also an equal possibility that we are wrong. But again, there is no policy, and we don't see what's being said -- so who knows.
I think limitation is a bandaid that could just cause an infection. Unless it is a reasonable number, and depending on how the system is set up -- it may or may NOT go well. What happens IF you hit that mark and really need to talk to the CH about an entry or reply to their question, or whatnot? Sure, you can do it in the comments but comments aren't always seen and/or read. I think we just need a better instituted policy and maybe one of those policies will be that your account and messages will be monitored if it is seen that you are taking advantage of the system (if possible), I wish I had better solution, but not sure what it would be. We're all creatives here, heehee, I'm sure we could come up with something that works for SH, the CHs, and us.
Furthermore, I think this needs to be a mutual policy, the CHs need to adhere to policy, too, of not asking creatives to submit certain names, or giving information that can only help one vs all unless it is regarding one individual entries and is only specific to those entries. They should have to use best judgment and be fair as well "Oh I liked your names the best of all, if you can just submit this, this way, then I will declare you winner" or whatever the things are that have happened in the past and others have spoken about.