From Barbara - Mission Statement - Guidelines for Board

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From Barbara - Mission Statement - Guidelines for Board

Postby Tituba » Sun Jul 08, 2007 4:35 pm

THIS IS FROM BARBARA SHER:

Thank you, all of you, for this intelligent discussion about whether or not to discuss depression or other emotional problems. This bulletin board was founded in 1999 because I want people to have the opportunity to have an essential part of the secret to success: support and sharing information. (The other part is structure and accountability -- as in Success Teams, classes, coaches, buddy systems.) Isolation is the dream killer. Most newcomers have the kinds of requests this board is perfect for: they need ideas and strategies, information and encouragement. Nothing makes the members happier than coming up with that kind of problem-solving.

However we're finding that a small percentage of new people have urgent problems and can become upset at not getting the kind of help they need. Then we have a situation that can't do anybody any good and might be doing harm. With so many new people coming into the boards and so many helpful people already here who can't bear to have anyone feel neglected, I think I'll have to set some new guidelines.

Most importantly, I want everyone new to know that you're very welcome here. However, that before you ask for ideas and help, I want you to get to know the people here (many of whom are almost as new as you are).

1) So the first important rule is this: if you are new to this board, read the posts and spend a few weeks helping others before you make your first request for assistance. That way you'll know the people here and they'll know you, too. If you do that, most of these problems might be avoided. If a new person is willing to spend a few weeks helping others and giving everyone time to know them it will be clear that they can care about others and aren't lost in their own problems. In that case the help given them might do some good. And if they're unwilling to help others, this board isn't the right place for them.

2) Now, to the helpful people on the board: most of you are kind and tolerant and when unhappy people don't like the quality of the help they're getting, you simply try harder until you become exasperated. A different response is called for: don't automatically rush in to help. Back up and get some perspective. We all know how upsetting it can feel to be in a rotten position (don't ask about my story, friends) and how easy it is to feel reproachful towards absolute strangers as if they owed you something. You just can't help yourself. That's how it looks to you. When people are depressed or desperate they often can't help becoming upset so I'd like you to think before you rush in to soothe or solve problems, or to scold. Don't do any of that automatically.

Just back up a bit. Perhaps they have a right to be upset, but not at you. And you have an urge to help but you must recognize your limitations. You have no idea who you are dealing with. First, search the board to see how helpful they've been with others. Sometimes it's impossible for unhappy people to keep from seeing the world as dark and for you to try to help them. But it might give them a sense of their own power as well as some perspective to help other members for a few weeks before they ask for help themselves. If they really can't do that, they're in an emotional place that this board isn't designed for. If you get involved at all, it should be to suggest other places they can go to get their needs met. Until you've established who you're dealing with, try to remember something I've had hard time learning, and it's still a work in progress: no one is an endless fountain of help. It's important for givers to exercise patience and avoid knee-jerk rescue attempts. Givers don't understand their value to their community. If they did they'd see that it's irresponsible to everyone (not just to them) to burn themselves out. ******* (The following is from another message I posted.) I originally opened a forum for 'Deep (or Shallow) Discussions so we could discuss politics, which seemed too important to block and too disruptive to leave in any of the other forums. I added "or Shallow" for the hell of it, so this community could comfortably bring up light, not-goal-oriented ones as well. (What do you think of this summer's pink in all those little handbags? Where's that new fabulous gelato place in NYC? Do you hate humidity as much as I do?) But I've always been concerned about people who need a place to talk through their troubles and be heard by sympathetic ears. There are so many reasons such discussions shouldn't be on this board, even in this forum. For one, such people tend to post many, many times, taking up a lot of room and sending lots of notifications to the inboxes of this community, pulling the direction of the whole board off track. For another, the rest of you are way too responsive, perhaps indiscriminately so, to the needs of others. You are the resources that make this such a fantastic board and I want you all fresh and rested. I also want the 'givers' to practice some taking. It doesn't come naturally to you, so you're not really good at it. But you're brilliant at problem solving. Sometimes you need to be reminded to put the brakes on. In addition, there's a danger (maybe even a legal liability) in allowing seriously troubled people to get amateur help here. I just can't take any chances. This board is too unusual, and we're incredibly lucky to have so many helpful Sherboarders and generous volunteers to help me monitor it.

And finally, some otherwise good and valuable people get frustrated and attack, and then I have to throw them off the board, because I don't allow that either. So please consider these statements as my policy statement. I know they're not organized or formal, but I hope they are clear. And, in cases of doubt, let's initiate this rule: a person seeking help (after helping others for two weeks) can initiate only one discussion, in one topic only. If they appear anywhere else, it must be to assist others. If we follow these guidelines I think it will be best for all of us.
Tituba
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