What a forum is:
There are several meanings for the word “forum”, one which would be accurate for this purpose is: An assembly for the discussion of questions of public interest.What an internet forum is:
An internet forum is a forum which is hosted on the internet. This might sound stupidly obvious and it is a simple idea. What is often overlooked however is that human written communication varies a lot from human verbal communication. There is no eye contact or facial expression in written communication, the visual and audio clues that we all use every day to discern tone and meaning are not available. One common problem resulting from this is that it can seem as if people lack concern, understanding or empathy. This can also lead to sentences with an angry tone seeming much angrier than the person intended.What this internet support forum is:
This internet support forum is both of the above, yet more. It was born from the frustration of people with CFS, ME or Fibromyalgia not having anywhere to access support, find answers to their questions and express their concerns. Through the years the forum has evolved but this remains its primary goal.Foundation of Respect:
----------------------------------------------------Code of conduct for members:Think before posting, especially when angry
If you are angry then stop. Someone very well may have said something which made you angry, and you wish to explain why. Take a step back for 10 minutes then read the post you disagreed with again. You will be able to explain your own points more clearly and there will be less chance of things escalating simply due to rage.Preview your post
There is a button next to submit which lets you do that, it can be easier to read that way than in the editor. Most of us suffer from brainfog, even if not it is unrealistic to expect a message written without review to be clear. If your message is not clear then someone is more likely to take the wrong meaning, post back angrily and you can see where this is going.Try and see the other side of things
We all come from different backgrounds and have different levels of understanding on each and every topic. If you feel someone lacks understanding and perhaps further, feel they are making opinions which they are not qualified to make do not simply attack them for it. Explain what you feel they do not understand, what research they might have read or other topics they may have missed. Link these if possible, if you cannot find them ask in your post if any other members are able to. Try not to word it such that the person has to go away and shut up about it – educate. Telling someone their point is invalid and they should go away might make them go away, but it will not change their mind, which is one of the most important things you as a member can achieve for the community.People might never agree with you
So you’re an apple and they are an orange. It happens. If a discussion reaches a point where both parties are simply rehashing old arguments then please do the decent thing for all involved and stop. Agree to disagree, or continue later if you have new ideas.Moderators are people too
Just because someone is a moderator or has another team role (all referred to as simply moderators from here on for brevity) does not make their opinion any more (or any less) valid than that of a regular member. Moderators exist not as judges but as police, they will move posts, delete spam or any posts deemed unacceptable (such as racism). Some of our moderators do have a lot of knowledge on specific topics and experience. Unless on “official business” such as making an announcement, moderators are just like normal members. All of them either have or care for someone with an illness.A members opinion on a matter is their entitlement
All members are entitled to their opinion. Something which often happens however is a member will become upset when someone challenges their opinion. If your opinion is challenged then it does not mean another member is trying to deny your opinion, it means they do not agree with it and are telling you why. This is a forum, going back to our definition it is "An assembly for the discussion of questions of public interest". A site where some members state their opinions then everyone else either just states their own or either agrees or disagrees is not a forum, it is some kind of polling site. If the very discussion of one of your opinions will upset you, or you deem it as too private then do not bring it up.It is all just easier if everyone assumes people are entitled to their opinion
It becomes very tiresome writing “I understand you are entitled to your opinion” every other sentence. Unless someone explicitly says you are not entitled to your opinion, then assume that they accept you are.A disagreement is not a personal attack
On a forum, unless you only ever post extremely trivial content, somebody will eventually disagree with something you say. This does not mean they are attacking you personally, it means they disagree with something you said."You are" versus "You are being"
If someone says you are not being open minded regarding a subject, they mean simply that. They feel that you are missing or not seeing some piece of information which they think is crucial to their argument. They do not mean that they think you are not an open minded person, it is not a personal attack. Try to avoid saying such things to people anyway as they are often taken the wrong way.Stand by your posts
If you do not post when initially angered, preview your posts and re-read the other person’s post then this should not be a problem. Posts can only be deleted by the moderation team so please think before you post. Member deleted or edited posts can make moderation and admin tasks more difficult and can strip the context from a discussion. If you genuinely feel that what you have written does not match what you meant then make another post and explain what you did mean. If you feel you have posted something you really feel needs to be removed then moderators will review it and do so if necessary.
Needless to say moderators for the most part are dealing with illness themselves so members excessively asking for post deletions or large edits will be asked to think before they post. That is not to say you should worry about asking, nobody is going to "get in trouble. If you feel it is required then do ask. Changes because of a confusing typo in the title or other trivial changes are fine, everyone makes them, and moderators will be happy to change them when they get a chance.Do not claim to be someone you are not
This will go unheeded by the people who actually do this but please remember this is a CFS support forum, run for and by sick people. If you use the forum to manipulate people and play mind games for your own amusement you are doing serious damage. Go wind up some people in full health, or better still nobody at all.Realise that some people may not be who they claim to be
The moderators try to make sure we have no members making problems, impersonating or playing games but there is a limit to their ability to do so. Ultimately anyone can sign up to this site.Do not incite drama
Again, the majority of members and moderators here are ill. Stress is bad for anyone, let alone if you are ill. For the sake of your own health, and everyone involved do not go looking for people to wind up or leave well worded posts intended to bait members into conflict.Do not get sucked into drama
Some people start drama because they enjoy the drama, this is not an acceptable behaviour and does not go unnoticed. The best thing you can do if you find a person’s arguments to be continually nonsensical or that you feel they are deliberately trying to cause trouble is step away. Otherwise, you are just feeding the habit. If you are not sure if something is drama then check this cartoon
If you laugh as much as you did the first time you saw it then it is drama. If you have any concerns or are unsure, please contact a moderator.Do not tattle-tale on people to incite drama
You get the point, there are lots of ways to start drama, or get drawn into drama, don’t do it.
----------------------------------------------------Code of conduct for moderators/admin:Try to follow the code of conduct for members
Plus the belowAlways explain why you are performing a moderation action such as a lock or post deletion
People can get upset when you move, delete or edit their posts without saying why. Put a note in saying what you have done. Obviously you do not need to do this for a spammer or in some other cases like if the member asked you to change a title or something, that would already be explained for all to see. If you delete a post please post explaining it in the moderators’ forum so that a every moderator is aware.Be aware that you have a prominent position within the community
Try and ensure you follow the member code of conduct and do not push other members’ opinions aside. This does not mean you are not entitled to your opinion, you are. Just realise that people can be wary by moderators so you will cause less conflict if you follow this code of conduct well.You are an example to the members
By following this code of conduct you can show members how it should be done.
----------------------------------------------------Never abuse or twist a rule or guideline
Ultimately common sense, respect and courtesy will avoid 99% of forum problems. These guidelines are examples, based on things which commonly happen on forums and how members are asked to behave. Neither the wording or the absence of a guideline is an excuse for poor behaviour. If you are unsure about what any of the guidelines mean, or have any other questions then please either post asking about it, or contact a moderator.