Community: Responsible Post Monitoring


Tazmanian Veteran
Jan 1, 2004
Kathy submitted a new Article:

Community: Responsible Post Monitoring

Responsible Post Monitoring

There are many communities that operate in content that can allow for a wide range of info without concern. Add to the mix the different styles of administrators and their moderator team and you have a wide variety of content that is within the realm of acceptable content.

However there are issues that we need to be aware of as administrators and be involved (and make sure we've trained our mods to be involved) in responsible monitoring.

Suicide threats:
Create a policy for your site and be aware that becoming personally involved with a suicide threat can have long-range legal ramifications. Tell your staff to encourage anyone posting a suicide threat to PM the member with instructions for them to go to their local ER or call 911. Do not attempt to help them through your message boards unless you are a licensed site, capable and legally protected to handle such things.

I, also, suggest removing the suicide threat post in part or in whole so as not to upset your community. Your members will not understand if they find the post and the staff tell them to call 911 while the members beg the member not to do it. It can cause an upsetting scene which can take away from the community as a whole.

Medical Advice: Unless you or your members are medical professionals set up to provide medical advice online, be careful that your community's TOS includes "no medical advice, post with your experience only" in particular on medical/health support websites. Our TOS also says our site does not take the place of their relationship with their physician and to review all questions and information with them.

I run a medical/post-surgical support website and am careful that members asking medical questions are sent back to their personal physician for diagnosis and instructions. We have been relentless to maintain an atmosphere of *support* without medical input.

One member arrived at my website with a degree in nursing. She started to provide pre-op prep medical advice which we immediately <snipped> and notified her of the agreed TOS. Although we stopped her from public posts with her pre-surgery prep information, what we didn't know at the time was she was PMing pre-op members with the information.

One such member "listened" to this member without telling her surgeon about her prep the night before surgery. We were notified later in the week that this member went into dehydration shock...

Read more about this article here...
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Jan 17, 2004
That is a very nice article. And I wish I had the time to really write out a good policy, disclaimer and copyrights page(s). We run into certain issues once every month and we have no solid rules on this yet; Being able to point them out to our members and staff would really help.

Last weekend someone went from happy into a suicide discussion - I first adviced to seek professional help and wished her the best. Then I posted that my site, staff or members will not be pulled into this. And that we obviously can't help and/or will be responsible. More than that, I will not and don't want to do. It would be even easier to just point them to a policy and close the thread; then remove to archive after x hours.