I often get messages on italki from people asking me for my skype details, wanting to chat with me to help them improve their English. I am happy to do language exchanges with people who speak the language I'm currently learning (German), but so many of them are from speakers of other languages.
I don't wish to be unfriendly, but I came to italki mostly to teach and tutor others and without wanting to sound stuck up, I don't have the time or inclination to offer this for free.
Has anyone else had experiences like this? Or do you perhaps have any advice on the best way to politely reject these requests for my skype details in a tactful way?
Go to your privacy settings and change your contact permissions to "people I'm follwing."
The fact that you're young and pretty must be a factor in this, too.
Hi Anya, as a teacher on italki I get this too. It's a fine line to walk, trying to define how people should contact you without coming across as unfriendly.
If it's a case of the other person asking me to go on Skype to help them with their English (read: hand them a free lesson), I usually reply with a positive message telling them that they're more than welcome to look at my teacher profile and book a session. That's normally enough of a hint. If the other person doesn't (want to) understand - and thankfully, this doesn't happen often - then I have no problem deleting their message. It's never come to the point where I'd need to block someone, but that's still a possibility.
I don't see any problem with you telling the other person that you only give your Skype out to paying students. Or, you could just delete the message without answering it. Your teacher profile shows that you provide paid lessons, so it's a bit out of line for someone else to decide you ought to provide the same service to them for free, isn't it?
Of course, it's a different matter with real language exchanges or members who I've got to know well. :)
PS. I think Spagnola's advice is good, as it does limit the people who could randomly message you. There's still the "Contact Teacher" button on your profile, if legitimate students want to contact you.
@Anya, I get a few of those sorts of messages as well, and I get random strangers contacting me in Skype asking for free lessons. Like you, teaching is my profession, and as much as I'd love to give free lessons, the reality is that we have to pay rent, buy food etc, and teachers usually earn less than other jobs. So, there is nothing wrong with deleting those messages, or if you feel that you want to respond (I almost always do this) send a message back saying you'd <em>be happy to help the student but they should request a session on your teacher page</em>.
When a student requests a session, the time is locked in, and they are guaranteed that the teacher will be waiting for them. Italki take care of all the money, and even refund it if the class doesn't happen. It's a win/win for the student and the teacher.
Change your picture to turtle