Rules for the Encouragemint Forums
We hope that the Encouragemint Forums will be a positive and beneficial experience for you and for everyone. To that end, all users of the forums are asked to abide by the following rules and regulations. By using and/or participating in the Forums (whether actively or passively) you signify you are agreeing to comply with these rules and regulations. If you do not agree to comply with the rules and regulations described herein, you may not use the Encouragemint Forums.
While somewhat lengthy these rules are not designed to be restrictive, but rather protective. By registering and/or participating in the forums you are agreeing to comply with the following rules and regulations.
Failure to comply with these rules will result in the editing of your post(s), a warning, being placed on probationary status (typically for 30 days), the deletion of your post(s) and/or user account, and/or being banned from continued use of the forums. Additionally, where applicable criminal or civil charges may be brought against you. Encouragemint reserves the right to determine an appropriate course of action based upon the extent, duration, and nature of the infraction.
All rules and regulations are subject to change at any time without advance warning or prior notification. Additionally, prior notification of a post being edited or deleted will not be provided, nor are warnings required prior to placing a user account on probationary status, being banned from the forums, or having an account deleted. All such corrective action in response to the violation of any of these rules or regulations may occur without notice or delay. Encouragemint is not required to provide any such warnings, to use a “milder” corrective action prior to taking a stronger stance, or to explain the reasoning behind its choice of action(s) taken.
With that, we again hope that the Encouragemint Forums will be a positive and beneficial experience for you. The rules listed below are broken down into three parts: (A) that which we encourage you to do, (B) that which we encourage you to avoid, and (C) that which is strictly prohibited. Remember that these rules are in place in order to provide a more supportive environment to users like yourself.
We Encourage You To:
1. Feel welcome sharing your story. There’s no need to feel like a burden or that you're taking too much from the forum. Today you may need to be the recipient of help, while tomorrow (next week, next month, next year, etc.) you can return the favor to someone else and pay it forward. This is a community and we're here to help each other. We all need help and support from time to time and you deserve that much.
2. Share your successes. While many people will choose to reach out to others when going through a difficult time, we can also learn a lot from one another and find the drive and motivation to keep moving forward by hearing the success stories of others. By sharing what works, others can learn from your experiences. By sharing what kept you going through the toughest days, others will be motivated. By sharing your story, others will be reminded that there is hope. What a beautiful gift to share!
3. Introduce yourself in your first post. Tell us who you are, where you're from (without being too specific), what brought you here, what's on your mind, how you found the site, or whatever else you'd like to share.
4. Read through some of the threads already posted. If you have a question, it may have already been answered. Even if you don't have a question and choose to start your own thread, you may find some ideas or encouragement from hearing someone else's story and the responses they received.
5. Begin a new thread if you are looking for support, encouragement, ideas, etc. Even if someone else has already posted about a similar topic, please start your own. This assures that both you and the other member are given a fair opportunity to share your unique experiences and receive back some personalized attention and responses. Reading someone else's post is a good idea and can be useful, but it does not replace sharing your own story and your own situation.
6. Include a specific subject line for any threads you start. People who are skimming titles deciding which ones to click on and potentially respond to are less likely to read and respond if you use a generic title. For example, instead of "I need help" or "Is anyone listening?" try something more descriptive. Good alternatives would include things such as "How do I tell my parents I want to see a psychiatrist?" or "I don't feel like my spouse really cares about what I have to say".
7. Remember that people who respond are doing so with their opinions. The information exchanged on the Encouragemint Forums is not a substitute for professional advice. Keep this in mind if/when someone offers medical, medicinal, psychological, psychiatric, or other suggestions to you.
8. Offer others the benefit of your experience and knowledge. You likely have much more to offer than you're aware of. We are all differently gifted, and what comes natural or is obvious to you may not come so easy to someone else.
9. Be encouraging to others. Practical ideas and specific solutions (action steps) are helpful, but often a sympathetic and caring response is just as encouraging; if not more so at times. Don’t feel like you have to solve anyone’s problems. Listening and caring are much more powerful that we often realize.
10. Welcome our new members. If you see someone new, introduce yourself. Say hello and welcome them to the Forums. If you were welcomed then this is your opportunity to return the favor. If you were not welcomed, this is your chance to assure that the same doesn't happen to someone else. Also, if you were not welcomed we apologize and want to assure you that you are indeed welcome here!
11. Be respectful of all people and of our differences. Our world is a large and diverse place. While we may not always agree with each other, understand or fully appreciate each other, we can certainly still respect on another. Who knows, maybe by virtue of someone else's different background they may be able to help you to see things from a perspective that you haven't previously considered. This includes providing all people respect and dignity regardless of their faith or lack of faith, age, sex, race, ethnicity, skin color, cultural background, sexual orientation, gender identity, political affiliation, physical appearance, country of origin, native language, physical abilities, grammar skills, family status, veteran status, legal status, opinions, any mental or physical conditions they may have, etc. Yes it's a long list; and although it's also an incomplete list, it's a reminder of some of the differences that make our world the beautiful kaleidoscope that it is.
12. Remember that we're all unique individuals. Just because something works or doesn't work for someone else doesn't mean that the same will apply to you. If someone suggests that a particular treatment approach that you believe in doesn't work, keep in mind that what they mean is that it didn't work for them. It still may very well work for you. On the other hand, what works or doesn't work for you may not hold true for someone else. With this in mind, please don't insist that others must use the same medication or treatment approach that you used. You're welcome (and encouraged) to share what worked for you and how it worked, but please do so in a respectful manner considering everyone's right to self-determination (i.e. their right to make their own decisions).
13. Feel free to disagree with a statement made by another member, so long as you don't attack their character or person. We don't all have to agree on everything, but please be respectful of one another.
14. Let a person know if they're bothering you. Ask them to stop what they're doing and explain why you find it bothersome. There's a chance that they may not be aware of how they're coming across. If the behavior continues you can respectfully ask that they leave you alone and stop contacting you in posts, emails, and/or private messages.
15. Inform a moderator of any inappropriate posts or emails / private messages you come across. Feel free to copy and paste or attach a message if you'd like and let the moderator know what you feel comfortable with in terms of a response. For example, let us know if you think that the offending member may not have realized the significance of what they said that they should simply be warned or if this has been a pattern of behavior. Also, if you don't want the member bothering you to know that you're the one who reported them, make sure to let the moderator know so in advance.
Please do not feel ashamed or embarrassed for reporting someone. The Forums are designed to be a supportive and safe place and not a place where you should feel attacked, abused, or degraded in any way. We genuinely want your experience here to be a comfortable one.
16. Contact a moderator or administrator if you’re having difficulty with the system. If you’re receiving an error message it can be helpful to copy the message and/or take a screenshot in addition to describing the issue. The more information and details you can provide, the more likely we’ll be able to assist you in resolving the problem.
Try to Avoid The Following:
1.Posting your personally identifiable information such as your full name, address, place of employment, names or contact information of friends or family members, a phone number, an email address etc. If providing a location we suggest being general and citing a state, county, province, country, a nearby major city, etc., but never your full address. We encourage you to be safe and smart whenever interacting with others online whether here on Encouragemint, or elsewhere. Unfortunately some people who initially come off as very likable and friendly, sometimes have other more harmful and malicious intentions.
2. Requesting personal contact information from other members. If you would like to reach out to a person outside of the forums and in a more one-on-one capacity, you can send them a private message. However when doing so, be sure to respect their right not to respond or not to respond in the way that you would like. Also if a person asks you to leave them alone, please respect their request. Failure to do so may result in disciplinary action.
3. Telling people what they have to or must do. What worked for one person may not work for another person, and vice-versa. Please be mindful of this and instead of telling someone in a definitive tone what they need to do, try to instead offer options. For instance, "Personally, I've found cognitive behavioral therapy to be helpful. I can tell you a little about it if you'd like".
4. Going off topic. If you want to start a new topic or go off in another direction, please start a new thread. When you're responding to another person's post or adding to their thread, consider that they posted what they did because it has meaning to them. Even if it doesn't seem terribly important to you, it may still be important to the original poster and to other members.
5. Posting multiple copies of the same message. Sometimes it may take a little time to receive a response from the community. Please be patient and refrain from posting the same message more than once. Not only do many members find this annoying but done in excess it can also cause a strain on the servers causing the website to run more slowly for everyone.
The Following Are Strictly Prohibited:
1. The use of copyrighted or illegal materials. All information uploaded must be either your original work or a piece that you have received permission to use online. Written evidence of your permission may be requested at any time. Otherwise, the posting of copyrighted images, text, articles, reports, audio files, or any other materials is strictly prohibited.
2. Copying or cutting and pasting of articles, whether news, blog, research-based, or otherwise. If you feel that someone could benefit from information made available elsewhere (and that intended reference conforms with the other rules and regulations described here) please use a link.
3. Any discussion of illegal activities or plans for self-harm or hurting others. It's acceptable to speak in general terms about struggling with an addiction to an illegal drug or to speak about having had past thoughts about wanting to harm yourself. However, discussions about buying and selling drugs, engaging in any illegal activities, plans for how you plan to hurt yourself, talking about or making plans to hurt another person, or encouraging others to hurt themselves are not permitted and are grounds for immediate banning without warning. Additionally, specific details about prior attempts or considered attempts at self harm or harming others is likewise prohibited. Other similar discussions not expressly stated here are also disallowed. Just to be clear, here are a few examples of what would be considered acceptable and unacceptable.
"My friends want me to use heroin with them. I really don't want to, but I don't want to lose my friends either. I also think that they're planning to sneak into a neighbor's shed and steal their riding lawnmower. I don't want to tell on my friends, but our neighbors are good, hard-working people and don't deserve that. What should I do?"
"I've been feeling rather depressed lately; more than is normal for me in fact. A couple years ago I had some suicidal thoughts and I'm afraid that if things don't start to improve that I might fall back into having those kind of negative feelings again."
"If anyone is looking to buy prescription pain killers, send me an email and we'll set something up."
"I've had enough with my life and I've decided to end it. Tomorrow I'm going to drive off a cliff."
4. Politically motivated discussions. You're welcome to mention how a law or other action has benefited you, however negative attacks, libel, and suggestions or recommendations about which politicians or legislation you support, are against, or that others should or should not vote for are prohibited. For example you may say something like, "having my unemployment benefits extended helped buy us more time to deal with my medical and mental health issues without feeling an urgency to rush out and get a job before I was ready". However you are not allowed to post something like, "marijuana should be legal in all states because it would really help people with anxiety who just need to chill out".
5. Promotional links or spam. Copying or linking to promotional articles, products, books, programs, research studies, drug trials, experiments, surveys, promotions, advertising, or any form of marketing is not permitted. Nobody may use the Encouragemint Forums to promote a product or service, to recruit members to another website, an offline service, a "business opportunity", or any other such solicitation. Attempting to directly or indirectly sell products or services or to raise money for any cause is also not permitted. You may provide a link to a site that you believe may be helpful to another member if that other site is free and educational, and if it is not selling anything, marketing, soliciting, recruiting, or promoting any products and/or services.
6. Any form of harassment. This includes any form of insulting, attacking, smearing, making fun of, picking on, mocking, etc. anyone at all regardless of the reason.
7. Religious intolerance. Everyone is entitled to their own beliefs, regardless of what they believe in or do not believe in. If you would like to, you are certainly welcome to express how your faith has helped in your life and/or the lives of those around you. However making overt declarations about what is and is not the truth, trying to persuade others to follow your own beliefs, trying to recruit people to your personal belief system, and all forms of disrespecting, denigrating, judging, attacking, or otherwise putting down the beliefs or lack of beliefs of another person is prohibited.
8. Anything inappropriately sexually overt or suggestive. You may speak using medical terms and in an appropriate and respectful manner about a sexual concern for which you're seeking support, but please use discretion when doing so. For example, it is permissible to say "My doctor suggested that the medication I'm on may affect my sexual desire and I'm afraid that my husband will mistakenly assume that I'm no longer interested in him", or "I found a lump near a testicle and I'm having a ton of anxiety thinking that it could be something serious".
9. Cursing, swearing, and other forms of inappropriate or obscene language. The Encouragemint Forums are available to people of all ages and backgrounds and we want to be sensitive to assuring that everyone has a comfortable experience on this site. The one exception is if you have a specific reason to quote someone where a specific word is relevant to the dialogue, and even in this case we ask that you mask the actual word and use discretion. For example, "I'm worried about my son's safety. I know what he did was wrong calling a new student in school the n-word, but when I heard the other boys threaten to beat up my son the next day at school over it... how could I not be worried?"
10. Violation of these Forum Rules in any capacity on the website. Usernames, signatures, private messages, emails, and all other such forms of communication on the Encouragemint Forums and/or the larger Encouragemint website must abide by all of the rules and regulations set forth herein. In other words, the rules apply to all forms of communication made through Encouragemint with other members and not just forum posts. This includes things such as using profanity in a private message, having politically motivated signatures (e.g. "Vote for Smith next Tuesday"), or insulting someone in your username (e.g. "eyeH8you").
11. The use of links in signatures. One time links are allowed and welcomed so long as they abide by the rest of the rules and regulations set forth here.
12. Requesting personal contact information or any personally identifiable information from a user under the age of thirteen. Likewise, the posting of personal contact information or other personally identifiable information of such a person (member or not) is strictly prohibited by law. This includes information such as a person's real name, email address, phone number, all or part of their address, etc. In short, anything that can be used to locate, track down, or attempt to contact a person under 13 is not permitted. Anybody who is found guilty of this practice will be subject to appropriate disciplinary action. The specific action taken will be decided by Encouragemint and its administrators based upon the context of the situation.
13. Providing "expert" or "professional" advice. While we respect that you may have a professional background as a nurse, doctor, psychologist, psychiatrist, social worker, therapist, shaman, healer, healthcare worker, case manager, etc., this is not the place to provide your professional services. Making a diagnosis in a forum is not only inappropriate, but it is also potentially harmful. Likewise, providing medical advice, recommending specific increases or decreases in someone's medication, or insisting on a precise form of treatment are both inappropriate and potentially harmful.
At the same time, we do not want to discourage you from providing others with the benefit of your experience and knowledge. We simply ask that you do so in an appropriate manner. We recommend that you refer people to their own providers, while feeling free to offer some clarifying information (based on your professional background) as to why you're making that suggestion. For the sake of clarity, here are a few examples of what would be considered appropriate and inappropriate.
"Well to answer your question, if you're interested in taking medication a psychiatrist can write prescriptions while a social worker cannot. On the other hand, if you're looking for counseling social workers and psychologists tend to be a safer bet. While some may, these days most psychiatrists will provide little if any formal counseling."
"If your heart feels like it's beating irregularly you may want to speak with your doctor about ruling out possible physical causes such as heart disease, a thyroid level imbalance, and electrolyte imbalances before you assume that it must be stress and start treating what could be the wrong cause of your symptoms."
"300mg is too much for anybody to take. You should drop down to 200mg right away."
"You have PTSD, and you'll need to use a technique called flooding if you ever expect to get better."