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Please Read! : Softening the forums by changing how they are labeled


Mark
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GingerSnap has communicated to me some thoughts on how to edit this community's forum names so as to make the place more inviting. I like these ideas, and am thankful to Ginger for suggesting them in the spirit of making this place more welcoming to tentative future members for the betterment of all. Since the changes would be quite public, however, I'm posting them here so that others can comment. I want your good ideas for how to take this good start and improve on it further :cool:. At the very least, I want you not to be shocked when we implement changes like this in the near future ;)

So here they are:

1. rearrange the forums so that they are in alphabetical order to make it easier to find things. this also avoids the possibility of ordering by "severity" of problem which might be perceived as stigmatizing

2. clarifiy, soften and/or simplify some forum names

- ADHD => ADHD and ADD

- General Parenting => Parenting

- Children's Mental Illness => Children's Mental Health

- xxx Problem => xxx Issue

- Aging => Growing Older

It is not obvious to me how we come across to members and to new members so feedback like this is helpful.

I like the idea of softening things inasmuch as doing so may make this place seem less frightening to someone who might benefit. It had never occurred to me that this place could be seen as frightening until several weeks ago when I had to disallow discussions on the main site regarding "small penis syndrome". My hope had been that we could simply move the discussion to here where it would be more managable (as this software is better designed for ongoing discussions than the comments system on the main site), and found that no one would come over here from that discussion because in part they thought of this place as the place for "sick people". They did not want to share a forum with someone who would openly discuss pedophila or psychotic symptoms even though it was clear enough to me that their own issues were as severe as most anything we discuss in here. But I was struck by that "sick people" idea. I'd like this place to be a place where anyone can be comfortable speaking up if they are having any variety "psychological" concerns, and changing some of the language we use to describe this place may help make that more likely to happen.

Thoughts? Additional suggestions? Criticisms of this idea? The more we can make this a collaborative change, the better it will be.

Mark

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Ginger has made some excellent suggestions-- here are my 2 cents:

• Create an Urgent Care or Urgent Help forum for those who are in need of rapid response or just to have someone to talk to quickly. 2-3 members could make it point to be responsible for making sure they checked on this forum every 6-10 hours. I would volunteer to be one of them. This forum would be like triage and from here, members could be slowly moved to look at specific forums addressing their concerns.

• Add a career advice forum for those who made need assistance with interviewing, career decisions, resume writing, etc. this would be especially helpful for those who have been hospitalized or have a severe mental illness and are just returning or trying to enter the workforce.

• Change Addictions section into a Recovery Forum

• Have a books and articles section where members could recommend practical, user friendly self help books and readings (such as articles on the net or a magazine) for other members.

• Have a Sanctuary and Spirituality Forum for members of any faith to offer compassion, support and wisdom to each other. This could take the form of prayers, meditation, Yoga and other expressions of a spiritual nature. This forum is not intended for debate.

• Have a forum on: Living with a family member with mental illness

• Create local forums so that members could become aware of services in their area. This would take some time to complete, but as one member refers to services in a local area, the member could also post the website and name of agencies who can help in various cities. For example, the name and number of the local Community Mental Health Center and hospitals who provide psychiatric services.

These are just off the top of my head, I’m hoping others will add to this list of ideas.

Great job Ginger!!!! Thanks for being open to this Mark.

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How about a thread on anger management ?

I beleive a thread that members can post inspriational poems , or quotes, or a thought of the day, can bring something positive to the community.

Anther idea is to have a thread regarding Disabilites -workers comp, SSI, Or SSDI , for those who find themselves unable to work anymore, & need help through this process. SSA has it's own website, however, many people need the extra support and feedback.

A thread on relaxation tech, and stress reducers? Healthier coping alternatives ?

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Ginger has made some excellent suggestions-- here are my 2 cents:

• Create an Urgent Care or Urgent Help forum for those who are in need of rapid response or just to have someone to talk to quickly. 2-3 members could make it point to be responsible for making sure they checked on this forum every 6-10 hours. I would volunteer to be one of them. This forum would be like triage and from here, members could be slowly moved to look at specific forums addressing their concerns.

• Add a career advice forum for those who made need assistance with interviewing, career decisions, resume writing, etc. this would be especially helpful for those who have been hospitalized or have a severe mental illness and are just returning or trying to enter the workforce.

• Change Addictions section into a Recovery Forum

• Have a books and articles section where members could recommend practical, user friendly self help books and readings (such as articles on the net or a magazine) for other members.

• Have a Sanctuary and Spirituality Forum for members of any faith to offer compassion, support and wisdom to each other. This could take the form of prayers, meditation, Yoga and other expressions of a spiritual nature. This forum is not intended for debate.

• Have a forum on: Living with a family member with mental illness

• Create local forums so that members could become aware of services in their area. This would take some time to complete, but as one member refers to services in a local area, the member could also post the website and name of agencies who can help in various cities. For example, the name and number of the local Community Mental Health Center and hospitals who provide psychiatric services.

These are just off the top of my head, I’m hoping others will add to this list of ideas.

Great job Ginger!!!! Thanks for being open to this Mark.

David O I think these are great suggestions. However, I'd like to comment on one of your ideas , if I may so?

Your Spirituality thread?

only because their are many people that do not believe in christ or the afterlife, in which I feel could lead to those feeling left out, hurt, misunderstood, or felt like they are not welcomed in a community that is of a christian nature. Some have faith , some do not. I feel IMO , it ought to be left out of a fourm . Religion is and can be a very uncomfortable topic even if it is to offer hope or compassion.

Some , have inner demons that haunt them and insomuch can't get away from them > My point is, I am unsure that this is a good one to add?

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MsCat,

Yeah... I thot long and hard about suggesting this, realizing as you do that this could become cumbersome. I titled it Sanctuary and Spirituality deliberately to avoid any connection to a specific belief or religion, and specified that this was not a debate forum. In the end, however, you may be very right. Do you think that if we placed very clear guidelines and moderated it carefully that it could work or do you think it would quickly spiral into the negative world just like politics does sometimes?

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David O ,

I am curious as to what specifically the spirituality fourm will have to offer those in need of supprt? Not as a debate of reliegon , but who find it a powerful resource in their lives.

Example, are we suppose to talk about praying for each other? To those struggling , in times of great need? Tell each other to have faith in christ in order to heal?

I am unclear about it? That is what bothers me? Yes, having rules and guidelines on this thread is going to be be needed . I am unsure about how it will benifit some people who do not believe in religion as a source of healing, or who have had experiences with it from growing up in very strcit religious homes, who now choose to not believe in religion at all? Is this wise to bring into a Mental Health Community ?

Anther example could be a person who hears voices , from god, telling them to do certain behaviors? Or are delisonal, at that moment, this could be very confusing for a person in a crisis mode ? Off the meds , may or may not act out , because of this?

And anther example> a individual who struggles with issues of feeling evil inside themselves, therefore needing to cleanse that part out of them? Or get rid of the evil , therefore at a high risk of hurting themselves ? Being an online community we can't stop individuals or intervene when necessary , I'd be devastated if a person mistook a post the wrong way, and then reacted irrationally at home?

Just a few thoughts. I am a little concerned it could set a unbalanced person off into the wrong direction.

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Well not every forum benefits every person. If you are not spiritual or religious you could simply choose not to visit that forum.

Very true, however why start a new thread when it may only do more harm then good ? I am looking at it from a different perspective, smallstar. This is Why Mark posted here in the first place, to have our thoughts and suuggestions on how to soften up thread titles and make our community a more inviting place .

Do you have any of your own ideas of how to make the fourms more appeasing?

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Mscat,

I decided to visit other forums to see how they manage this section., It seems that one site in particular lost several members due to the nature of the discussion. Eventually they had to put down a strongly worded explanation regarding the purpose of the forum:

This is a safe place where members of the community can go and discuss spiritual issues.

As a reminder, this is specifically not a place to debate issues of religion.

So to be crystal clear -- No talk of religions is allowed here, sorry.

Welcome and enjoy!

PS -- What is spirituality as opposed to religion?

Spirituality is:

1: of, relating to, consisting of, or affecting the spirit : incorporeal

2: of or relating to sacred matters

Religion, on the other hand, is a personal set or institutionalized system of religious attitudes, beliefs, and practices.

So this forum's main focus is to talk about spirituality, not specific religions.

WE would need to be even more specific in our phrasing and expand on what the difference is:

Spirituality is matters of the spirit. Spiritual matters regard humankind's ultimate nature and purpose, not as material biological organisms, but as spirits or energy with an eternal relationship beyond the bodily senses, time and the material world. Spirituality may also include the development of the individual's inner life through practices such as meditation and prayer, including the search for God, the supernatural, a divine influence, or information about the afterlife. Spirituality is the personal, subjective aspect of religion, mysticism, magic and occult.

RELIGION:

1. Belief in and reverence for a supernatural power or powers regarded as creator and governor of the universe.

2. A personal or institutionalized system grounded in such belief and worship.

2. The life or condition of a person in a religious order.

3. A set of beliefs, values, and practices based on the teachings of a spiritual leader.

4. A cause, principle, or activity pursued with zeal or conscientious devotion.

We would likely have to condense these 2 definitions and really make it clear what was and was not to be discussed. I think we need to recognize that nearly 70% of our population has spiritual/religious backgrounds and underpinnings. We should likely look to try to meet these deeper needs, but will need to be extremely careful in how we would approach this. But to not consider this b/c of the tensions it might raise could be a disservice to many.

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It's a hard problem because spirituality/religion can be a polarizing topic even as it can be a unifying topic. Not sure what guidance to give here. Certainly we can try things and withdraw them if they don't work out. And David O very wisely points out that we need to have ground rules set in place from the getgo. No enforcement of rules should ever appear arbitrary if we can avoid it.

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A very interesting thread. Whatever the result that comes from these discussions, one concern is to find a way to implement these changes without creating too many additional forums. Personally, I find myself visiting a few forums while purposefully venturing to others every so often where time permits. I think this habit of mine is shared by most of the members here, meaning the forums that currently exist do not enjoy equal attention. Thus, whether some of these ideas can be implemented by way of sticky thread in existing forums should be a prominent question as well.

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kaudio, you raise a good point. Currently, we're still at a somewhat brainstorming and discussion stage. My thinking is that we create a list of potential forums with 1-2 sentence explanations for each, set it up as a poll and give it approx 2-3 weeks to see what "shakes out" as the top 1o -15 topics. The only problem with this is that there are really only about 30-40 consistent people on the boards while the active membership likely exceeds a few thousand. There are also about 250-500 visitors who peep into the forum daily w/o really signing on. And new members are added daily; however, few remain active once their issue resolves or something else pulls them away. The question then becomes one of do we poll for the active members or with an eye towards attracting and keeping prospective members?

I tend to first go to the "Today's Post" section and try to welcome newcomers while also answering as many of the existing discussions as possible (2-3 per day max). I rarely visit by forum since many may go days w/o a new post or new thread. My wife does the same most of the time, but tends to look at 1-2 forums more carefully. It seems we're all a bit different here.

Edited by David O
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A very interesting thread. Whatever the result that comes from these discussions, one concern is to find a way to implement these changes without creating too many additional forums. Personally, I find myself visiting a few forums while purposefully venturing to others every so often where time permits. I think this habit of mine is shared by most of the members here, meaning the forums that currently exist do not enjoy equal attention. Thus, whether some of these ideas can be implemented by way of sticky thread in existing forums should be a prominent question as well.

Absolutely ! I to have my own routine here. Visiting certain threads , while not looking any others.

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All,

So far the one topic that has generated more "heat" here than others is spirituality/religion. Not sure what to make of that. In some contexts, heat is good, but here I think where we are aiming for support more than contravercy maybe not so much. I'm inclined to not pick it up at the moment.

I suggest that we keep brainstorming for another week or so and then start to finalize and implement. How about we look to start wrapping things up by the 9th of September ??

I suggest that we make changes with an eye for helping to make this place feel less "extreme" to potential members, but also with an eye to making it a more comfortable place for ourselves. I don't hope that a few changes in wording will attract new hordes :) but if we attract just a few people who will benefit us and us them, because of some changes that makes this place seem less frightening, that's a good thing.

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So far the one topic that has generated more "heat" here than others is spirituality/religion. Not sure what to make of that. In some contexts, heat is good, but here I think where we are aiming for support more than contravercy maybe not so much. I'm inclined to not pick it up at the moment.

There's likely too much heat.... and not enough light!

I'm not wedded to the topic (although I suggested it), although it also has to be recognized that our spiritual "nature" has found limited expression on the forum as a whole. Until we can find a 'safe harbor" for those who would write in this section, it's probably best left out for now. If in the future, a method for including it can be found that also provides this safe haven for both believers of all faiths and non-believers, we can reintroduce the idea. More time should likely be spent discussing the logistics and need for the additional topics and the revised format suggested by Ginger.

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Guest GingerSnap

Didn't expect to find so much response to my idea but glad to see that there is input. My life is in service to God and I believe that is obvious in my posts and I know that not a lot of people share my specific beliefs which are "out there". For those searching for "something", resources listed wouldn't be a bad idea. I am anxious to see what all this will eventually look like. ***Edit: I was thinking that the idea of a urgent care area would be good. This would separate intro from urgent. I was so helped by this website when I was lost and could not think of anyone that I could share my problem with and even if someone makes just a friendly welcoming reply - for me it goes a long way. I was forced into researching mental health issues for children and now with my husband, sexual disorders/addiction and going in and reading posts and info are really hard and I kept telling myself "I shouldn't have to know this stuff". Also, with urgent, what is urgent to me and urgent to someone else...

Edited by GingerSnap
Reinforcing A Thought
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Ginger,

Your kick-starting the process was a stroke of genius, we simply added to it.

My thoughts when I introduced this area was that it (Urgent Care) would address issues of imminent risk to self or others-- suicidal thoughts, homicidal ideation, high risk of physical and/or sexual abuse, risk of self injurious behavior, etc. We would need to establish some thresholds for what constituted imminent risk, but it would not be too difficult. The tough part would be "manning" it in a timely and competent manner.

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I just finished reading this thread and I think what a great support it would be to have members regularly check the boards for urgently needed responses.

I have a question: if we're going to have an urgent section in the forum is it only for the newcomers or is it for old members as well? Because if it's only for the newcomers then maybe we don't need to create an urgent section and just vigilantly view the new members section for those urgent attentions.

Also, I am just concerned that such a plan for a section, although its intention is wonderful, can backfire, and can scare some people away from the site. What do you guys think?

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