The whole point of the BigMooseSaloon is that the whole community can benefit from public discussion - everyone can contribute to anyone's knowledge and learn something along the way. And even when a topic has stopped being discussed, people will still read it and perhaps find the answer to their pressing question.
Answering a question via email or in a purple mooseages is quite contrary to this purpose. By suggesting to do so, you might come across more selfishly than you'd like. For this reason, please keep your e-mail address out of your signature. It comes across as soliciting an e-mail reply which is probably not your intent - and if it is, keep reading. It is ok to have your e-mail in your profile which people will look for if they want to e-mail you.
Many of the contributors at JavaRanch feel that they could spend their time answering your personal questions, or they could spend their time answering questions on the forum. If they answer in the forum, then others will see my responses, so the same question will not need to be asked twice - and many contributors feel that this is better use of their time.
Additionally, sending you an email or a purple mooseage might be more work than just answering in the forum - some might even not be able to send email from where they read your post. Those people are also unlikely to answer in the forum, as you indicated that you might not even read it.
You should also be aware that many people have strict spam filters on incomming email. So if you do send an email, you had better make sure that your displayed name looks like a real name, you have a subject line that will engage the readers attention, and there is nothing at all in your email that might trigger an auto-spam deletion. And even then you have to hope that it still gets through.
So simply don't do it. Instead, take a look at the thread regularly. If you started the thread, you can even choose to be notified by email when someone posts an answer in that thread.
By using the forums, you are more likely to get answers, and everyone else will benefit, too. That's what our community is about!
You will also find that you will benefit from getting answers in the forum because:
you are more likely to get a response in a reasonable timeframe, since you are not reliant on an individual being online and able to answer your question - there are 20,000 other people each day that visit JavaRanch, so one of them might be able to help you.
you are not reliant on getting the right answer from a single individual. Let's face it: any once person could give a wrong answer for a particular question. But if the answer is posted to the forum and it is wrong, then others are going to pick up on that and correct it.
Emails and purple mooseages do have a purpose, which is why we keep them. Some of the common uses for emails and purple mooseage include:
When you want to bring something to a bartender or sheriff's attention.
When you want clarification on something the recipient posted, but don't feel the question or response are appropriate to the forum - this frequently happens when a discussion drifts away from the forum's purpose. The individuals then either move the discussion to a different forum, or continue discussions somewhat privately.
When you believe that a post is out of line with the forum's purpose, and you want to discuss their beliefs with the individual somewhat privately.
When you have posted a response to the recipient in the appropriate forum, but (for various reasons) you suspect that the recipient will not see the response - this frequently happens when there are lots of people posting in a particular thread, and so a response may be missed in amongst all the other issues.
Note that the last case, you should still post your questions in the forum, and if it appears the post has been missed, then (after at least 24 hours) you might send a purple mooseage or an email to see if your message can be looked at again. (also see the PatienceIsAVirtue suggestion).
If your question hasn't been answered in a timely fashion, rather than asking it again in a email or purple mooseage, ask yourself: Is there something about the way I've presented my question that gives the impression that I'm not willing to ShowSomeEffort when asking it? Many people will skip by questions if the orignial poster wasn't willing to UseAMeaningfulSubjectLine. Many still will start reading your post and then get tired and leave without answering it if you didn't care enough to UseRealWords when typing it.