Private Forum?

Discussion in 'General Parenting' started by miles2go, Jun 17, 2009.

  1. miles2go

    miles2go Member

    I, for one, would very much like to have a private forum, accessible to members only. There are people close to my situation that I would NOT like to see my posts. Many of our posts come up via a simple Google search (that's how I found this place) and my identity would be easily recognizable to these related parties.

    I am sure the forum software has this ability, so how about it, admins, please?
  2. klmno

    klmno Active Member

    I wonder if that could be arranged thru one of the social groups on this site. I wouldn't miind having one limited to parents with similar problems as I have faced. Then members could still post publicly about things that weren't so privacy-sensitive.
  3. smallworld

    smallworld Moderator

    I will be sure to point this post out to Cheryl, the owner, for her input.

    I was wondering, however, if you had thought about how it would be determined who could be a member and who couldn't. Like you, most of us were in need of support with parenting our extra-challenging children, stumbled across this board and started posting. I, for one, would not want to close this board to any parent in need.

    If you are concerned about certain people reading your posts, please take care to remove any identifying information.
  4. klmno

    klmno Active Member

    That's a good point.

    Miles2go: Keep in mind that if someone wanted to access a members only site, they would only have to go thru the same steps you did to become a member. There is no feasible way to "prove" to the board that a potential member has a difficult child.
  5. tiredmommy

    tiredmommy Site Moderator

    I agree with smallworld's post; this is a public forum for the reason she stated. Members wishing to discuss things privately with another member may use the private messaging system
  6. DammitJanet

    DammitJanet Well-Known Member Staff Member

    I used to run a website for Chronic Pancreatitis. Actually let me be more precise...I built the website and attempted to run it along with a few other people. They wanted it to be private for some odd reason. Let me tell you exactly how hard it is to make a forum private. It is hell on earth. Just having it passworded is not enough because soon you realize that any tom, jim and harry can say they have the illness. So have to have a stable normal email account like att, gmail or comcast, aol, roadrunner...etc. No yahoo, hotmail or other throwaway accounts. You must give us your phone number and address. Yeah right. Who is gonna check that out? Do you next wanna make someone send in doctor reports? Invasion of privacy.

    Didnt work at all. I ended up opening the board up, fighting with friends and taking the board down because they were lunatics who were freaking out about stupid stuff.
  7. midwestdad

    midwestdad Lost

    I agree with all of the problems mentioned, and it's unfortunate. I have the same situation as M2G and would love to discuss it more, but the details are far too identifiable, and without them, the conversation is meaningless. It's a shame, but we just do what we can. Mostly, I just lurk.
  8. miles2go

    miles2go Member

    I am tempted to say "never mind" but I will make an attempt to clarify. All I meant was a forum open for reading to members only. No further membership restrictions etc.
    I understand anyone can join, but it would be closed to Google and other robots and hence someone not familiar with this site would be less likely to stumble by googling onto a particular post with confidential info. Any level of security has its limitations and such private forum is one I would feel much more comfortable in. I have also admin'd forums before and I understand its a matter of flipping a switch on any particular forum.
    If this doesn't sound like a good idea then please never mind.
    And regardless of the above -- thank you, admins, for maintaining this vital resource.
  9. Suz

    Suz (the future) MRS. GERE

    I'm sorry; I just don't agree with private forums. The beauty of this site is how open it is. It's how we meet and share and it's good for us to be reminded that everyone in the universe has access to reading our posts.

    That said, I do respect your desire for privacy. If you have a specific issue you'd like to discuss and don't want it to be open, you could post the topic and ask people to PM you. In order to PM the person needs to be a member. Our PM system has the ability to include several people so you could open the PM on that subject to include those who contacted you. It would solve your dilemma and allow you the privacy you would like while still keeping the rest of the board open.

  10. Lothlorien

    Lothlorien Active Member Staff Member

    I would think that making one of the forums private would then discourage people from posting on the general forum and therefore this forum would get less traffic and eventually not be quite as helpful to those of us who stumble upon this site in our time of need. I understand your need for privacy, but this site thrives on all of us who post about our issues, encouraging new people to see that someone else might be dealing with a similar issue and it encourages them to join and get help. If it weren't public and out in the open, that just would not occur.

    If you feel the need to delete a post or a thread after you've received the help you need, for privacy purposes, you can always ask the moderator of that forum to remove the thread/post.
  11. FlipFlops

    FlipFlops Guest

    Put a couple of misleading details like you live in the UK or something like that. Choose a screen name that would the opposite of anything anyone would associate with you. Or make up a screen name that is a name, but not your's. I would hate for you to miss out on the website because of this. But I understand. I feel totally scrutinized in my real life and have given it some thought too.
  12. DammitJanet

    DammitJanet Well-Known Member Staff Member

    You know...there are the Social Groups and you can make one of those INVITE ONLY. That would be more private.
  13. gottaloveem

    gottaloveem Active Member

    I was involved with another site that completely fell apart trying to maintain a private and public forum. It became more of an "us vs. them" thing. People on the public forum had no idea what people on the private forum were saying. There were some very important things that were being said that not everyone was privy to.

    I think conduct disorders is perfect how it is. I agree with the private messaging system for more private discussions.


  14. Star*

    Star* call 911

    Well my not Star........It's Abbey

    I don't live in SC........I live......In Timbucktoo

    I don't have a son - I have a daughter

    I was married to a jerk - can't get around that one.

    I'm not funny - I'm extremely serious

    I don't work in an office - I work on a long boat collecting crabs

    I'm not tall - I'm short

    I'm not heavy - I'm pencil thin

    I don't like M&Ms - ..........?????????? That is a lie.

    I'm not even sure I like donkeys. Maybe I like Humbolt Squids.

    Bwah ha ha.......

    Just mix it up a little - ya know.
  15. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    Miles, I've had problems like you describe. Not fomr tis site, because I'd learned my lesson by then. I'm a bit less careful these days because nobody has any reason to scrutinise me these days. But I did go through a stage where I was getting flamed by someone who for her own reasons was out to drag me down and as many others as she could with me. I had made the mistake of posting under my real name - surely not a problem, if I'm not ashamed of anything I've written? But she was taking what I wrote, twisting it and emailing it to people along with her own notes of, "Do you realise she is saying THIS about YOU?" and at the same time, posting her own nastiness on the comments section of my posts (and doing it anonymously, using a range of disposable fake identities). I had some online friends who rushed to my rescue and posted support for me; she accused these friends of being me, in other guises. I didn't even know it was possible! Classic sociopathic behaviour. But the interesting thing was, the more this person posted on my site, the more she revealed her own identity, purely by revealing what she actually knew about me. I also began to recognise certain 'pet' phrases, and so I worked out who it was. Once I knew - I stopped worrying, because by then she had lost all credibility and was moving away from the area. I never let her know I was on to her - I found it more satisfying that way.

    Other online stalkers - I've found certain local schoolteachers (who I have clashed with in the past) were monitoring anything I wrote, keeping copies and passing those copies around. So when I joined this site (and was still publicly struggling with these people) I was paranoid about security.

    YOu need to understand how it works.

    In my case, the first stalker was someone I had made the mistake of inviting to my site. Until I met her one day and said, "Hey, why don't you log on to see what I'm writing?" I hadn't had any problems. After that - I eventually had to shut down my activity on the site, make it look like I'd run off with my tail between my legs. She postured verbally for a while then got bored when I failed to indicate any activity at all (ie I wasn't even logging on to look at what she was writing). I had others logging on to see what SHE was writing, then emailing to me so I could privately track.

    But there is no way she would have found me for herself, without a Google search on my name.

    But on THIS site - I don't use my private email address. I don't use my real name. I don't divulge where I live (although I've probably said too much, saying I live in Sydney, Australia - but there are millions of people here). My description in my sig says that I live in a seaside village - that brings my location down a bit, but there are still many places.

    The thing is, once someone finds this site, they MIGHT be able to work out who I am, FROM HERE. But that's OK, because the people who I'm most worried about ARE NOT the kind of people who would be browsing sites like CD (Conduct Disorders, in case it's not obvious - ie, this site) in order to learn more about the problems faced by the kids in their care. No, the people I fear most DO NOT do that sort of research. They are far too bound up with, "How dare that person tell me how to do my job? I'll fix HER little red wagon!"
    If they were the sort to browse this site, they mgiht actually learn something constructive and be better teachers (and nicer people) for it.

    Could they track me TO this site?

    Nope. Because I've not linked what I write, to our family. Yes, I list my kids and even their ages, but not by name. I don't use ANY recognisable names, not even the name of our village. Occasionally I've even gambled a bit and posted photos from a local village website (the name of the village included in the attached web address) but I did that in Watercooler, again not associated with any thread mentioning problem kids.

    Could I be tracked back from here to my real identity? Of course I could, by someone who was determined to do some detective work.

    Late last year one of our members was saying, in a thread, how her daughter was taking all sorts of risks on the 'Net but not to worry, there was no chance of anyone getting their famiy's private information because the girl had been taught how to protect against revealing too much.
    So husband, to prove a point, 'white-hatted' this CD member and we PM'd her with the intimate details of her family. She was a bit horrified at how much we found out. In consolation we sent her a Christmas Card, although I suspect like another card I sent to someone on CD, the card failed to arrive (very annoying).

    The point husband was making, was that we ALL need to be careful about what we reveal about ourselves on a site like this. But we need to think - what sort of problem am I afraid of? Am I afraid of opening up my family to the risk of identity theft? Of my kids being at risk for a pedophile attack? Less likely, from a site like this. Facebook is more the sort of site where pedophiles like to hang out and trawl for prey.

    My fear from saying as much as I do - that the people who in the past have hassled me online, or who have scavenged for everything I've written and then tried to use my own words to discredit me, will find what I write here and again try to use it to damage my credibility.

    But then I think - how can they find me here? If they are smart enough to do a complex search for the sort of thing I might say ("children with autism need to be given a fair deal in our education system") - I just plugged that in and got 22,700 hits. If my "followers" choose to trawl through all those IN CASE I am the one who wrote it using a psuedonym - then I hope they do, they might change their attitudes after the first 10,000 sites.

    I just refined the search with "conduct disorders" (like that, in double quote marks) and reduced the hits down to ONLY 671.

    Any ratbag wanting to track me that way - good luck to them. I know these people, they won't be bothered. If I haven't written it in my name, they won't track it.

    Now, let's say there's a major breach of security at our place (unthinkable, with husband on guard, but let's say it's happened) and these people find out that I post here in the name of Marguerite. They can go on this site, they can search through every post I've made (and there are a great many of them) and they will find my criticism of them (NOT by name) mostly in my earlier posts. I have not mentioned the name of the school (I use a code - the "village school", the "highway school" the "local high school" or the "correspondence school"). I think I HAVE mentioned difficult child 3's current school by name, but the staff there love us and we love them. I think I've even told them about this site and how helpful you have all been. I have no worries about any of them reading what I write; I know they would have no trouble with what I say about them.

    So let's say they can track me as Marg. What can they do with that information? Even if I said, "difficult child 3's Year 5 teacher was a raving ratbag who should have retired years ago," what could she do? She can't sue me. I haven't named anyone, her name has not been besmirched. Chances are if you took a poll in the town, you would get more people to agree than disagree, assuming they knew who we were talking about. They may BELIEVE that I am Marg, but they can't prove that the information is public, because it's not. They could even point to the description of the family and the kids' ages, but still only be able to claim coincidence. I've mentioned that three of my kids are all getting married within a 12 month period - even with that, we're still not easy to positively identify out of a large city full of people. And again, that is tracking from CD to home. Tracking the other way is not likely.

    There have been times when I've accidentally named a place. In one of my earlier threads when I was only a member for a few months, I named the highway school and was in a panic in case one of these people tracked my post by Googling the name of the school, linked with "autism". It wouldn't have been high on the hits, but it would have been there. I didn't know how to edit posts back then so I simply failed to respond on it until it slipped down the ranks.

    I have also been searching on a particular topic, a topic I've written on before but wanted a bit more authority, and in Googling the topic found my own posts here coming back to haunt me. But again, I was searching for words I had already written myself. I had been looking for independent confirmation of the 'facts' I had presented. I did find it, but it's the sort of information (historic) that is more to be found in library reference pages and less on the 'Net yet. Hence - MY words were the easiest found. It was a weird feeling.

    So, Miles, I strongly recommend you cope with this by 'fudging' your details to hide who you are. Use a disposable email address, one which is not easily identified with you. For example, easy child 2/difficult child 2's emails to us even come as a pseudonym, the name of an obscure character in a favourite book. The email address is a saying by that character - again, unusual. I had to dictate it to our doctor's receptionist, who was greatly amused and puzzled by it. Do not use the real names of your kids, of any people they know, of any locations. If you feel you need to, muddy the waters as Star suggested by adding deliberately false information. Change gneder of the kids if you must (although I don't recommend it, a lot of the problems they have can be gender-based).

    The other really important bit of advice for ALL of you - no matter how much you need to vent, DO NOT say anything here that you couldn't say to your partner. Because for us in our family, husband & I need to share our feelings about our family, we need to be able to talk. There are times when I have whinged about his family, but I say it knowing he will read those threads and so I'm careful to not say anything he will get upset about. And because husband knows my passwords, he also can read my PMs so I'm careful there too. Not tat it's a problem for me, but it DOES mean that I MUST be responsible with ALL my posts, private and public.

    As it should be.

    When I first joined this site, I know everything I said or did, anywhere, was being tracked. There were education officials who were desperate to know what I was up to so they could stop me. I've had various campaigns in the past where I have achieved what was considered impossible. People have been upset bwcause I failed to tell them what I was up to. As I said to them at the time, "Why would I tell you? You would only have tried to stop me and I was entitled to try. And I succeeded - if it was wrong, I would not have succeeded."

    But it meant that when I first joined here, I was paranoid about revealing too much of who I was.

    So every time I posted, I kept in mind - could anyone find this post independently of knowing this identity?

    At first I was carful so even if someone DID track me, they wouldn't find anything incriminating. Now, I don't worry so much. But my caution has become second nature, as I said before even if I DID get tracked now, they wouldn't be able to use the information. All I have to do is deny that I am Marg, and they can't do a thing. Because even if I get tracked back FROM Marg, if they can't track me TO Marg, then their information is useless in court. And if they're so desperate as to find me AND track me back to prove who I am, then what does THAT say about THEM in a court of law?

    I rest my case, m'lud.