To borrow an idea from other games, why not simply make use of (and even improve) the IRC client that has been built into RE for ages and have it automatically connect players to #re-lobby (we could move the play.re relay to another channel) on startup? That way everyone playing the game can all chat with each other whether or not they're on a server, and since it's IRC private messages are built right in. List of users? It's IRC, baby.
It also should go without saying that the other boon is chatting with community members outside of the game, should they happen to be in #re-lobby with an IRC client. Hell, clan players could benefit from it even more by being able to join their clan's IRC channel (assuming they have one).
I'd be more than willing to help improve the IRC client as well, it's one protocol I actually know to a fair degree, and I'm not too shabby with the GUIs. I feel like this would resolve all of these requests and then some. Effective, and simple.
Alex "ZeroKnight" George | Global Administrator, Red Eclipse |