Migraine forums can be great. They’re so valuable for helping us not feel so alone, for sharing information. They’re great when they’re run right. Here are a few things to explain what I mean by “run right:”
- Migraine forums should be free of spam and scams. People with Migraines can be so desperate that we’ll try pretty much anything. Spammers and scammers know that, and they prey on us to make “easy money.”
- Migraine forums should be free of trolls, people who post to forums just to start an argument.
- Migraine forums should be free of flaming. People should be required to post to each other with decency, courtesy, and mutual respect.
- Migraine forums should be free of posts that defame or libel others. Members shouldn’t be allowed to post defamatory, inflammatory, or libelous information and comments about others. If they feel they must say something about someone, they must be required to provide proof.
- Migraine forums should be well moderated to address the points above.
With most of the forum services and software available, the forum “owner” can set up other members to share the work and serve as moderators. Most forums also have a way for members to report problems to the moderators. When forum owners are too busy or when they have health issues of their own that keep them from monitoring and moderating their forums, the responsible thing to do is to ask one or more members to be moderators.
When Migraine forums go bad, they can’t be as helpful to as many people. I’m not going to say which forum I’m talking about in the example I’m going to use because I respect the owner and don’t want to hurt her feelings. What I am going to do is visit that forum and use the forum feature that allows members to report problems, and see what happens.
So, for the example:
This forum has been around for a long time, probably ten years or more. As someone explained to me, the owner used to be fairly active on the forum, but after some changes in family circumstances, isn’t able to actively participate. She didn’t want to close the forum because there are members who have come to count on it. It’s generous if the owner to keep the forum running for those members.
The forum has developed some serious problems thought. I’ve never posted there, but frequently read the forum, so I’ve seen these problems for myself. Spam posts on that forum are deleted sometimes, sometimes not. An infamous spammer/troll repeatedly posts to the forum, often posting out of control, being nasty, defamatory, and libelous in his postings. I’ve seen it take weeks for those posts to be removed from the forum. The most recent problem member that I’ve observed started posting on July 15. He or she wrote some very serious negative allegations about a leading Migraine doctor and researcher. Members replied, telling the new member to essentially “put up or shut up.” The member in question has not posted any proof of the allegations. One member of the forum told me via email that she has used the report feature on the forum several times to ask that the posts be removed. As of now, they’re still there.
This might not seem like a big deal, but consider the fact that these forum posts often pop up in internet searches. Also consider that some people believe everything they read on the internet.
This forum is a prime example of a good Migraine forum gone bad. I hope the owner of the forum somehow finds her way to this blog, considers what I’ve said, and sees that the forum is better moderated in the future. We need good forums. Crossing my fingers for this one.