(is there a new user waiting period on using that feature, and if so how many months before it kicks in?)
It should be immediate. Not sure. but basically click on the users avatar to the side
and press Private Message
I’ve noticed the same problem after the Captain Nobody forum nuke of '99.
Maybe you haven’t been good girls and boys or maybe it’s just the browser you’re using doesn’t work well with the forum ?
Tested it on quite a few browsers and work fine. seems more like a broken permission system.