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I really don't have a preference, but would support a trial period. I am concerned that it might take a lot of time and energy of the administrators to moderate a forum with off-topic discussion. We seem to have problems as it is with users getting offended, inappropriate posts, etc. It would be unfortunate and damaging to the purpose of this forum if off-topic posting generates more of that kind of conflict. In theory, though, it is a nice idea, and if there is someone who is willing to spend a lot of time moderating, then I would vote for a trial period.

Katherine

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Thanks for posting this, I think it's very important, and it will be interesting to see the results??? It could make even more work for you guys and the fact you are seeming to be willing to do this if the poll goes that way shows the dedication you have. I know this has been a little sticky at times and my hope is, that it resolves a lot of problems for us, when we're not sure about something, and in the long term, many headaches for you guys! morgan

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I would like to see off-topic posts allowed and have the poster label it as such in either the title or subheading line. That way, you can skip reading them if you want to, depending on the subject listed. I can see it might be a problem if everyone decides to use the forum as a blog.

Because this forum is a place where people with dysautonomia can talk to each other and share their feelings, people have become friends, almost like a "work" family. It seems natural that they want to share more than a very strict definition of what is on-topic.

I feel that lately, the adherence of what is on-topic and what is off-topic has been too strict. I find it silly and annoying to see happy birthday wishes posted at the same time other posts are pulled that I viewed as on-topic.

It must be a monumental job to be the administrator or a moderator. I appreciate having a place to talk to other POTS patients.

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Yes, it will make more work... but, all of us who moderate are trying to figure out a way to get back our more casual friendly atmosphere... those who have been here a long time probably understand very well why we have strict forum rules. So, the hard part will be keeping the "off topic" posts within bounds of acceptablility to most members. Michelle, Melissa and I are still trying to figure out exactly what that would look like, but we've been talking about it for the better part of a year, ever since we had to tighten the forum rules.

Nina

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You guys are right, having an off-topic area will definitely cause more work for the moderators of this forum. As Nina stated, we are hoping to find a happy medium that will keep people who want to cause trouble at bay while making the forum more enjoyable for our regular members.

Jan, personally I like birthday wishes as I think they are positive, however I hate to think that some members may feel left out if their birthday isn't announced on the forum. To help with this we have now added a "Today's Birthdays" feature to the front page of the forums so that every registered birthday is announced.

As for topics being pulled, if you guys knew what went on behind the scenes that lead to topics being pulled you'd probably say, "Oh my, I had no idea." One of the hardest jobs as forum moderator is knowing you are doing what's best for the group but not having some members of the group understand that. We can't always explain our actions, as we believe in member confidentiality...even when the particular person has caused us continual problems. Honestly, sometimes I find it amazing that Nina and Melissa haven't run for the door.

If anyone else wants to discuss other things they would like changed on the forum please send all suggestions to staff@dinet.org.

Thanks!

Michelle

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First off, Nina, Michelle, and Melissa thank you for giving us a place to talk about POTS/symptoms,etc. It has helped me, as well as others out a tremendous deal.

I think it would be a good idea to have an area that is for non-POTS related issues. That way if someone is only interested in reading about POTS issues only they don't have to scan through the different posts, etc. It sounds like it is going to be alot more work for the moderators, however. I know that I have enjoyed reading about what goes on in other members lives outside of having POTS,etc. I think it makes me feel better knowing that a somewhat normal life can be held while dealing with the medical issues we do.

Thanks!

Jacquie

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Hi Michelle, Nina and Melissa,

I don't really have a preference. I will support anything you choose. I just think it can be hard sometimes to determine what's "off topic" and what isn't. Even if there are forum rules on this, there are all kinds of grey areas in between. And I wonder whether people will forget about the new area and continue to post off topic matters on the main board. But if it works, it could be really great! Maybe a trial period is a good idea.

Thanks for everything you do on the forum, including all of the recent changes that you are making. BTW, Melissa, I really liked your forum guidelines.

-Rita

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It would seem that the easiest way for the moderators, to save a boatload of work for them is to keep stuff together, as opposed to having to create a whole new area.

I think many times the things that may appear off topic are having a profound affect on that person's pots and they are assuming we know that. However, the first thing I was taught in nursing school was never to assume anything. :rolleyes:

I am willing to go with any decision, but it doesn't increase MY work load and therefore I can easily say that. I do think something should be done, either way, because I really can feel the tension by everyone and it would be nice to have it casual again. In the end, that is my only wish. Whatever it takes to get there.

As I become more and more homebound, well completely homebound, I find that I am very dependent on this site and my cyberfriends. I am not ashamed or embarrassed to say that somedays I just need some validation that my life is important and there is always someone here to do that for me. Someone who really gets it. And it is validating to know that maybe sometimes I have helped someone through a rough spot. It's good to feel helpful. So let's pull together on this one guys...morgan

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My preference would be to have a difference section for off-topic subjects. This way when I have only a little time or energy to check the forum I could only see the main section.

I agree that you could give a trial period to see how the moderators cope with the workload and other forum related issues.

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Either way is fine with me...

I understand that it would be easier for readers to access what they want by having seperate sections but it seems like it would be difficult to determine what's "off topic" and I wouldn't want the moderators to be stressed more than you guys already are...

With that said..if the moderators WANT to do a seperate section then that's fine too...

It seems there's been some tension and misunderstandings over the past few months and it does sadden me that some folks have left our "community"....I commend Michelle, Nina, and Mel for moderating this forum..I know that at times it is difficult b/c you can't please everyone...

This site provides me with so much...

so Thanks guys! B)

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Yes Em, the poll will be up for a little while to make sure most people get a chance to vote.

I also agree that it won't always be easy to tell if something is on-topic or off and many on-topic posts may veer off-topic, at which point they would have to be split and sent to the off-topic forum....and some people might get upset if their posts are moved. We'd really have to have everyone's cooperation and understanding to take this on, especially when posts are moved.

I do appreciate all of your input, and thanks for letting us know you are appreciative of the volunteer services we provide. B)

Michelle

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Note to Michelle,

I don't mind the birthday wishes. They are positive day brighteners. What I meant was that I did not like seeing them at the same time that other posts were being pulled for being off-topic. That just seemed like such a contradiction to me.

It also doesn't matter to me if you have a separate area for off-topic things, but if you start splitting up people's posts and sending some part of a post to another location, I would find that very confusing and I think the person who wrote the post would find it difficult to see their message split like that.

I hope that you can bring the forum back to the friendly, more casual site it once was. I have not been a part of the behind-the-scenes discussion, but I can sense it, in that the forum just "feels" different to me in the last few months.

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Jan,

Thanks for sharing your thoughts on splitting posts. I've contacted other forum administrators regarding how they handle posts that veer off-topic on the "on-topic" forum, and splitting and moving posts is what seems to work best for them. I agree though, it could lead to confusion, and that is why I want to make sure everyone understands the possible end-results of adding an off-topic forum.

I still think our members are pretty friendly here. :unsure: I enjoyed the previously casual atmosphere as well, but -through trial and error- learned that it was not in the best interest of our members. There are people who prey on casual forum atmospheres.

Sorry if you felt birthday wishes were contradictory to some of the off-topic posts that were pulled. I never saw them that way.

If you'd like to continue this conversation please write to me at: staff@dinet.org

Thanks!

Michelle

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Michelle,

What do you mean there are people 'who prey on casual forum atmospheres'?? That is soooo sad!

I am still thinking on this one!

It sounds like you have done soooo much thinking and research on this. What do other forums/forum moderators feel about their off-topic sections? Are there boundaries on the off-topic stuff that is reasonable?

This is so hard and I will respect whatever decision you and Melissa and Nina make...b/c ultimately you all have to do the work. You know how much I wish I could be on board with you all helping and it stinks that my health stinks! :)

I am still thinking on this, but need a little time for my mind to clear as my grandmother (who I was very close to) died this week and I'm a little distracted!

Emily

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hi all -

i just wanted to chime in with my thanks for all of your responses & support. personally i can go back and forth regarding which way will be best but in general echo the sentiment that yes, it will definitely take more time, but if we can make it work & it's a good thing for people it's at least worth considering...

:) melissa

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I concur with my fellow volunteers--I'm willing to give it a try because Melissa, Michelle and I would like to get back to a more upbeat, positive vibe here, even if it's extra work for us, or a bit of extra stress. All three of us feel strongly that there are parts of our lives that help us cope, but that we are reluctant to share here because we know it would fall in the off-topic realm. As I mentioned in a previous post, we've debated this from all angles, and played devil's advocate for each other for as long as I've been a moderator.

And, yes, Emily, there are folks who prey on open forums and/or their members. The cyber word for that is a "troll"--a term well known to moderators and admins. Our members probably do not realize that we've had several trolls so far in the history of our forum--in fact, some of the very same individuals have shown up multiple times, under multiple member names--we are able to trace them via some of the forum's administrative tools, which tracks activity and source IP addresses.

For those not familiar with a troll, here's a definition from http://curezone.com/forums/troll.asp

"An "Internet troll" or "Forum Troll" is a person who posts outrageous message to bait people to answer. Forum Troll delights in sowing discord on the forums. A troll is someone who inspires flaming rhetoric, someone who is purposely provoking and pulling people into flaming discussion. Flaming discussions usually end with name calling and a flame war."

later in the site, it continues with...

"He (and in 90% of cases it is he) tries to start arguments and upset people." ...

"Sometimes, Internet troll is trying to spin conflicting information, is questioning in an insincere manner, flaming discussion, insulting people, turning people against each other, harassing forum members, ignoring warnings from forum moderators."

"Trolling is a form of harassment that can take over a discussion. Well meaning defenders can create chaos by responding to trolls. The best response is to ignore it, or to report a message to a forum moderator."

So, historically speaking, some of the current "tightness" of the forum rules is a direct result of trying to restrict trolls form taking over our site and ruining a great resource for all the people who really need it, are sincere, helpful to others, and/or in need of help themselves. In the spirit of keeping our forum truly OURS, and not taken over by those bent on being the center of attention, I'm more than willing to take on extra work.

As you can see from the voting, the large majority want an off topic area...and quite a few of our group don't want ANY off topic... so, in all likelihood, we'll need to create a separate Off Topic posting area, and those who want to visit it can, and those who just want to talk more directly about POTS can simply stay in this section and ignore the off topic area. . . I'm sure there will be confusion at times if a thread, or part of a thread needs to move for whatever reason, but things will only be moved in the spirit of keeping things streamlined and easy to read /follow.

Whew. That's way too much typing. Sorry. Overmedicated... B) can ya tell? But at least my migraine backed off. B) Nina

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hi guys,

thank you so much for giving us the opportunity to think and talk with you.

honest, i had NEVER heard of the trolls nina (yes, my husband calls me naive :( ) but i soooo loved the atmosphere we had.

i was going to vote for not splitting up because it is easier for me to just read whatever i want (or better: can) in just one section. but i understand the difficulties other people might have with this. what i loved most, were the few personal notes that were written in serious topics which gave me a laugh, or just someone at work telling her collegue shared chocolates from the netherlands, and the care we had for eachother when somebody disappeared for some time. but i also remember nina telling about a foreign collegue who made mistakes with the language. these kind of things make me laugh and smile and give me a very happy feeling being part of "our" community.

so i'll vote for splitting up and i'm sure people will be confused about posts, but hey, we are confused so many times because of POTS, it might make us smile!!!

many thanks to all of you that make this possible for all of us to enjoy: do i respect you!!!

corina :)

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I guess i'm as naive as Corina (so don't feel alone) It would never occur to me to purposefully cause friction, although I may have a time or two innocently. OOps, sorry if I have. But considering I don't even know what a navigation bar is, I guess it's not out of the realm that I wouldn't realize there was such a thing as trolls.

My son said there are "lurkers" and explained that to me in a discussion we were having about his classes, but we have never discussed trolls. And here I sit in a house of absolute geeks.....amazing B) morgan

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Hi Nina,

Thanks for the links on trolls. I have read it through and I find it very informative.

I remember some of the trolls we had on Dinet and I found that they were sabotaging the friendly atmosphere we had on the forum. There are also very toxic and emotionally draining.

I am glad that Michelle, Melissa and you are protecting us against that kind of people. I rather be on a forum where the rules are more respected than where there are no moderators or lack of moderating.

Thanks for your hard work.

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Nina,

Wow! I never used a forum until I got POTS, so I had never heard of a troll either. (But now that I read it, I realize who some of the trolls were. Don't know whether to laugh or be mad about it.) Do some of these people actually make up the fact that they have POTS just to cause trouble here? If so, that is really crazy.

-Rita

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Rita, honestly I don't know if the folks who trolled here had POTS or not, but they definitely had issues of wanting to be at the center of attention and/or controversy. I'd tend to think they weren't all that sick, except, perhaps mentally, because it took lots of energy to do...

Really, I think we all know people who could fit that "troll" definition in real life--it's the one who feeds off of gossip, and likes to stir the muck and be the one "in the know". There was a girl I worked with who used to do that stuff--I remember telling my boss that she was a giant black hole that pulled all the goodness out of good people and made them end up arguing. I avoided her most of the time except when required during staff meetings.

Anyway, we're looking forward to trying to bring the community feeling back. Nina

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