| Feline Diabetes Message Board (FDMB) Guide to Posting |
Feline Diabetes Message Board (FDMB) Guide to PostingEtiquette Written by the FDMB Community
Last Updated: 5/31/2005
Welcome to the Feline Diabetes Message Board, the group you never wanted to join. If your cat has just been diagnosed with diabetes, you probably have lots of questions. This is a support group of cat-loving amateurs; we're not experts, but among us we've accumulated much experience and information about feline diabetes. More than that, over the months and years, we've become a community. Many people have commented that you won't find nicer and more helpful people anywhere. If you have posted to introduce yourself and your cat to us (and we hope you will if you haven't already), you are now part of that community.
Every community has rules of behavior, sometimes formally laid out, sometimes just "understood" by the members. This Guide to Posting Etiquette contains our community's suggestions for how we can create a safe space for dealing with our cats' health and get the most out of our interactions. Much of it boils down to one rule: Treat other people the way you would like to be treated. (You may have heard that one before.)
| Summary of Community Rules: |
The purpose of this community is to help people give their diabetic cats the best care possible. We also recognize that dealing with the illness of a beloved animal companion is often very stressful. Therefore, we follow these basic rules of behavior:
Be kind. Be polite. Inform yourself. Never personally attack anyone. Recognize that reasonable people can differ on many aspects of treatment. Check your ego at the door.
Table of Contents
1. Introducing Yourself
2. Topics of Conversation
3. What you can expect from us
4. What you won't find here
5. What we would like from you
6. General posting suggestions
7. Difficult situations
1. Introducing Yourself
If you haven't already posted to the FDMB, we would love to "meet" you and your cat. Before you post, you need to register. We encourage you to use your name (or pseudonym if you prefer -- we don't care, as long as you're consistent) and your cat's name (or pseudonym if your cat requires privacy); this puts a human "face" on your posts and makes it easy to remember who you are.
You can start a new post by entering the Health Forumand clicking on the "New Topic" link at the top of the page.
When you introduce yourself, we'd like to know your name, your cat's name, and a little bit of your cat's history: age, sex, symptoms leading up to diagnosis if appropriate, and so forth. Depending on your question, we may have questions for you, such as what type of insulin you're using, how much, and so forth.
Most of the people on this board are very friendly and helpful. But occasionally we attract someone who's not so nice (some of whom read the board but do not post). So before you make the decision to "unhide" your e-mail address, keep in mind that this is a public forum and that anyone can use your e-mail address to contact you, and there's a small chance that a correspondent might be hostile or harassing. You may want to create a special e-mail address just for FDMB correspondence if you prefer to use e-mail rather than the FDMB Private Message system (see section 6 for more on the positive aspects of e-mail). We also advise that you never post your telephone number or exact address on the board.
Because we get so many new posters, it's very helpful to other posters for you to create a profile summarizing the information on your cat. Click on some of the various user names or look at the Profile Archiveto get a sense of what people say in theirprofiles. Then, read Robin, Tigger, &Nikita's advicefor creating a profile, and create your own.
2. Topics of Conversation
Topics of conversation fall into roughly four categories:
- Definitely on-topic for Feline Diabetes:
- medical questions about diabetes
- questions about other conditions whichmay affect or be affected by diabetes
- problems and obstacles you're encountering
- follow-up questions
- reports of how your cat responded to changes made
- good medical news about your diabetic cat
- deaths of diabetic cats and condolences
- discussion of and debates over proper treatment
(including but not limited to such topicsas insulin, oral medications, diet, ketones, the physiology of diabetes,and how treatment of diabetes may interact with treatment of other conditions)
- diabetes news, such as new articles, new treatments, or research breakthroughs
- Community Building Topics (appropriate to post, but take care that such messages do not "drown out" the primary purpose of the board):
- birthdays and anniversaries of diabeticcats
- major life events of humans such as births, deaths in family, marriages, major illnesses, and things we want to know about because we care about each other as friends
- the occasional humorous post because some days can be depressing
- Off-topic but appropriate for the FDMB Community Board, the Sugarcats message board, the Bonny Dune sharing board, the message board at Gorbzilla, or Sweet Talk:
- life events of humans such as birthdays
- lives of our non-diabetic cats and other pets and family members
- other humor topics
- non-cat-related rants about our in-laws.
Special thanks are due here to Michael, Nancy, Pouncer, Arly(GA) and Abigail for the Sugarcats site, to Jon & Patches (GA) & Tabbistar for Bonny Dune, to Lisa & Gorb for Gorbzilla,and to Yolanda & Goo for Sweet Talk, all of which are for people tojust have fun and not worry about obscuring messages of medical importance.
Note, of course, that, except for off-limitsmaterial, much off-topic material can legitimately be mentioned,in passing, in otherwise on-topic posts. (Example: "Help! Fluffyis vomiting! I don't know what to do now, because today's my birthday,and my nasty mother-in-law will give me a hard time if I don't show upto my party.")
- Off limits here due to the potential for too much heat, no enlightenment, and creation of bad feelings:
- politics or other controversial topics unrelated to feline health care
- personal criticism of other posters
3. What you can expect from us
- Emotional support. Most people on the board remember the feelings of being overwhelmed and not knowingwhat to do upon receiving the diagnosis. Many of us have dealt withcats with multiple illnesses, or family members who did not understandour determination to give our cats good lives. We've experiencedthe joys of small triumphs. And, knowing what you're going through,we can, if nothing else, be a sounding board, a shoulder to cry on, anda cheerleading section.
- Benefit of years of experience and much outside reading and research. Many members of the board have been dealing with diabetic cats for years. Others have in-depth personal experience with related issues such as hypoglycemia, ketone treatment, pancreatitis, chronic renal failure, congestive heart failure, stroke, and so forth. Some people have responded to their cat's illness by doing much outsidereading to understand various aspects of the disease. They have thenbrought what they learned back to the board. The experience and understanding of these people is available for you to learn from.
You will soon find that certain people are considered "experts" on various topics, although "mentors" is probably a better word since very few of us have official credentials. Unfortunately, they tend not to run around saying, "Listen to me! I'm an expert!" But you'll soon get a sense of which people are respected to give really good advice about certain topics due to personal experience, longevityon the board and/or extra readings on the topic.
- Benefit of the shared experiences from many members who are having their cats treated by noted diabetes experts and/or at teaching universities using the latest theories of treatment.
- Diversity of opinions. There is no shortage of opinions around here! On many issues, you willfind general consensus, but there are other issues on which people herediffer. And in many cases, different cats respond differently to thesame treatment approach. It may be confusing, but this diversity ofopinions and experience can work to your benefit, because you will hearall sides of an issue, pro and con, often in great detail, which is bestfor making truly informed decisions.
- Safe space to deal with your problems. Although we can't completely prevent occasional rudeness and harsh words, we want you to feel that you can come here and ask questions. Ifsomeone gets out of line or attacks you, other people will intervene.
- Honesty. We will tell you when we think a plan of treatment is dangerous for your cat -- even if the plan is your veterinarian's. We respect veterinarian advice and strongly urge you to work with your vet. However, our experience is that some vets, although they may be fine human beings and generally good with animals, are not particularly experienced with the specialty of feline diabetes. On the other side, we have seen that some owners are not being consistent with the protocol, or are making changes without being aware of potential consequences. Because of this, we will tell you if we feel that safety is an issue in any treatment plan.
4. What you won't find here
- Veterinarians. We cannot supply emergency care or advice. If our response to your question or problem is "take your cat to the vet right away!", we are serious, and we can't take responsibility for what happens if you decide not to follow our advice. If money is an issue, say so. We may be able to help you save money or help you find organizations which can provide financial aid.
- Support for the decision not to treat diabetes. Diabetes can be simple to treat, but untreated it can kill a cat by starving him to death, which is a very cruel way to die. The members of this board have all chosen to treat their cats, and will encourage you to do the same. (If you feel that you cannot treat your cat, we encourage you to find a new home for your pet with someone who is willing to treat the diabetes. Such people do exist, but you're not likely to find them quickly, and in the meantime you must give your cat proper treatment, both for his own sake and for the sake of the future owners.)
- Support for the decision to euthanize your otherwise-healthy cat without attempting to treat diabetes. It is our collective experience that diabetes does not have to be a death sentence, and many cats with diabetes can live long happy lives if properly treated. You will find very little sympathy on the board if your intention is to put your newly-diagnosed cat to sleep simply because he has diabetes. On the other hand, euthanasia is sometimes the compassionate choice for diabetic cats when other conditions overwhelm them, and if the time comes that you have to make that choice, you will find emotional support on the board.
5. What we would like from you
- We want you to treat everyone here with respect. Remember that every other poster is also a human being who is doing the best that they can to deal with diabetes, and/or volunteering their time to help people out of the goodness of their hearts. We recommend that you read The Art of Getting Help to understand the basic rules of asking questions over the Internet (but please recognize that if your cat is acting strangely, this trulyis an emergency, and you are not out of line to ask for immediate help).
- We'd like you to inform yourself as much as you can. Specifically, we would like every newcomer to read the following essential documents:
We don't expect you to understand all of this information right away, and your questions about any aspect of what you read are welcome. But we do encourage you to regularly re-read these documents, because you will discover new things every time.
- We need for you to give us allrelevant medical information. In order to help you help yourcat, we need to know the complete situation. Diabetes affects thewhole body, so if you've noticed anything unusual or have changed anythingabout your cat's care or routine, tell us publicly so that we all knowwhat you know.
- We'd like you to realize that you are the ultimate caregiver with the final say on what treatment, diet, etc.your cat should receive. We want you to know that our opinions and adviceare not the last word, nor is the vet's, nor is any specific reference paper-- you are the one who must make the decisions, and those decisions should be based on the information you believe is most appropriate for your cat..We strongly recommend care by a competent vet, but you are still the finaldecision maker for your cat.
- We'd like you to contribute back to the community when you feel ready to do so. For example, you can help welcome newcomers, offer them emotional support and the benefit of your personal experience, and point them to any online readings which have helped you. Or, if you're the type who likes to spend time learning new things, you can do outside research and reading to contribute to our collective knowledge and experience. Maybe you are also diabetic or in a health profession: then you have much to offer us in terms of your personal experience. Please share what you can! If you can't share here, then please help someone in some other area of life.
6. General posting suggestions.
The FDMB has historically had a collaborative, consensus-building communication style, which we feel is a major reason that the board is thriving. Although arguments can break out, by and large the members of the community have an astonishing ability to keep our eye on the objective: to help,educate, coach, and support other humans with diabetic cats. We subscribeto the notion of "paying forward" -- take as much help and support as youneed, and give what you can to others in your turn. The following(heretofore unwritten) guidelines have served us well.
Different people have different conversational styles. Some people are blunt and direct, which can come across as rude or hostile. Others have an indirect style, wrapping their messages with so many qualifiers thatthe meaning may be unclear. The general tone on the FDMB hasbeen to favor a respectful, less direct style and save the bluntness forimportant statements such as "Get your cat to the vet now!" But not everyone communicates this way, so it's important to recognize that most people have good intentions and to avoid taking offense. Additionally, be aware that the FDMB is international. Some posters have a first language other than English and should be given more latitude in how they express themselves.
We all want to help people who are clearly in distress. But we also have to remember that the life of a catdepends on the person getting good advice. If someone asks a questionfor which you're giving an answer, you should first assess how certain youare that your advice is correct. If you're uncertain, or if you'regiving a personal opinion or experience, make sure that this is clear inyour answer. For example:
Better yet, if you're giving advice, providea source that you trust. For example:
- "If I recall correctly, Humulin N is a fairly short-acting insulin in cats."
- "My personal opinion is that giving a high-carbohydrate diet to a diabetic cat is like pouring gasoline on a fire."
- "I think that you're safe to increase the dose by half a unit, but wait until the 'experts' come along to confirm this."
For newcomers and old-timers alike, if you are responding to a post and you believe you have special expertise in thesubject at hand, explain this. For example:
- "Take a look at http://www.felinediabetes.com/inject.htm for some tips on giving injections."
- "Question 6.3 in our FAQ discusses in more detail what to do when your can't won't eat."
- "Linda Case's 'Canine and Feline Nutrition,' a textbook which extensively relies on peer-reviewed studies, indicates that free-feeding dry food is a major cause of urinary crystals."
"I treated a ketone-prone cat for 2 years." "I had a diabetic cat who lived to be 20 years old." "I, myself have been diabetic since I was 10." "I work as a medical technician." Don't worry about posting info that most people may already know. Even if you have been posting to the board every single day for over a year, you can't assume that everyone reading your post knows you or your cat's history.
The FDMB is not a monolith of opinion,although it sometimes seems that way with regard to certain topics such ashometesting blood glucose. Keep in mind that people don't always agreeon every aspect of care, and don't take it personally when someone disagreeswith you. Everyone should be prepared to back up any statements oradmit that they are personal opinion. If you see that someone is getting only one answer to a question and you hold a different view (or know that other people do), it's okay to step in. For example: "Most people here would never reuse a syringe, including me. But a few people here do use it for two shots before throwing it away, and they report no problems with this approach."
Disagreeing with someone.
Main rule: disagree without being disagreeable. Avoid personal attacks or sarcastic/condescending digs at people. Use "I" statements whenever possible.
- Bad way to disagree: "Jeez, Janet, you've put your foot in it again. Are you trying to set a record for most wrong statements in one week?"
- Good way to disagree: "I disagree withJanet's position. Many diabetic cats, such as my Fluffy, live longhealthy lives eating Hill's W/D."
Occasionally, someone's vet will do something we consider tremendously dangerous, such as starting a cat out on a high dose of a short-acting insulin, or refusing to worry about ketones in the urine. Unfortunately, this kind of thing can set off a rantabout vets in general, which usually degenerates into anger and hurt feelings. The general consensus here is that most vets truly care about animals, but some vets aren't particularly experienced in treating feline diabetes. It may be a good idea to switch vets if there's evidence that he or sheis not up to date on treatment of diabetes and isn't interested in learning. But generalized bashing of vets does not contribute anything positive.
Most of us here provide our e-mail addresses because we are open to corresponding with each other. We have found that private e-mails are a great way for building friendships. For some people, receiving a personal e-mail from someone who cared made the difference between participating on the FDMB and going away.
E-mail is also good for:
Problems can arise when
- discussing off-topic issues;
- conveying "me, too" sentiments for responses;
- making follow-up inquiries as to how a person or cat is doing;
- helping someone who is giving advice by giving them extra tips;
- or just boosting someone's morale when they need it.
Suggested solutions to these problems:
- people e-mail an on-topic question to an individual when there may be more benefit to discussing it openly and getting a diversity of responses;
- relevant information is conveyed via e-mail thatsomehow does not make it to the board.
But do feel free to send e-mail to other FDMB members.
- If you receive an e-mail from someone and you feel that they'll get better responses from the board, encourage them to post their question, or post it for them (ask them if it's okay, and leave out their name if you feel they desire privacy).
- If you see that someone on the board is giving adviceand is unaware of some pertinent piece of information, let them know viae-mail or by posting. Be polite!
- If you are getting conflicting or confusing advice via e-mail, post a question to the board relaying all that you have learned, and ask people to help you sort it out (again, you can leave out names).
7. Difficult situations
What to do if you think that someone has given incomplete or just plain terrible advice.
Step in and give your opinion. All publicly posted "conversations" are open to anyone on the board. Be polite and explain why you disagree with the position. Back up your point of view. If you can see why the person's advice might be good in other circumstances, acknowledge this. In short, treat this asa teaching opportunity. What to do if you disagree with the way someone is treating their cat, including decisions to euthanize or not euthanize.
For example: "A lot of people think that a cat who misses a meal shouldn't get an insulin shot. This is appropriate advice if the owner does not know her cat's glucose value, and if onlyone meal is missed. However, in your case, we know that Fluffy's glucose is over 400 mg/dl, so we know she needs some insulin to bring this value down. I recommend a reduced dose, because skipping insulin altogether might lead to ketoacidosis." With this kind of phrasing, no names are mentioned, no feelings need to be hurt, and other posters can learn something new.
If someone is repeatedly giving the same "bad" advice, you should first stop and consider whether this is just a difference of opinion, or whether the advice is truly not good for the health ofcats. If the former, you can just step in and clarify that "theFDMB has no consensus on this issue." If the latter, a public postingor e-mail on the side, again phrased politely and respectfully, may be agood idea. If you feel a need to debate the issue, start a separatethread asking for a discussion on the issue, stating the issue, your viewpoint,and other viewpoints (in an unbiased fashion), and see what everyone hasto say.
If a person comes to the board asking for advice and input, you have a right to give it. Many people who come to the board don't know what the best decision is, and are being pressured to euthanize the catagainst their better judgment; keep in mind that if they truly thought thiswas the best option, they would not have done the research and found theseonline resources.
However, the bottom line is that it's impossible to know another person's true situation, and ultimately everyone has the right to make their own decisions regarding their animals, regardless of how much you might disagree. If you are truly unhappy with someone's decision, you can state that you disagree and explain why, but after that, please either offer toadopt the cat so that you can treat it, or drop the argument. Youwill not change anyone's mind by venting your anger (in fact, you may havethe opposite effect of making them cling to their position), and you maychase off other people by creating what they perceive to be a hostile environment. It's an unfortunate fact of life that we can't save every diabetic cat. We do the best we can.
How to deal with someone who is misbehaving.
First, make sure that you're really witnessing an attack, and not just a debate or difference of opinion. Respectful debate should be encouraged up to the point that the parties are just repeating themselves; personal attack should be stopped. Every member has the right and responsibility to stop the latter. Post a response, identify the offensive behavior, and ask the person to stop indulging in it. It may helpto change the "subject" line to something like "PLEASE CEASE PERSONAL ATTACKS." If the poster persists, history shows that more people will join you, and eventually someone will send a request to the webmaster or the board owner to render a judgment.
A lesser situation sometimes occurs when a lot of people disagree with an unpopular opinion. Although it's not meant as an attack, it can be perceived that way if someone posts an opinion and twenty people post disagreements. If you see this happening, please refrain from joining the majority crowd on the grounds that the original poster has already gotten the message, or offer some support to the original poster even if it's to defend his or her right to a minority opinion.
Avoiding and stopping pointless conflict.
If you come to feel that your own behavior has been out of line andwish to apologize, do so publicly to help erase hard feelings. If thediscussion is still going, posting a response with a subject line such as"APOLOGY - NO FURTHER COMMENT PLEASE - THREAD ENDSHERE," with the apology in the text of the post, is a gracious course ofaction. If you are the recipient of such an apology, we advise thatyou accept it with equal grace, and examine your own words to see if youhave anything to apologize for as well.
By and large, we advise that you ignore it or respond to it as you like. If it's threatening, harassing,or obscene, report it to the webmaster. She can't stop people from e-mailing you, but she can and will ban people from posting. If you feel physically endangered, report it to thepolice. See emailabuse.orgfor other ideas. If you are receiving harassing e-mail, or if youthink that the sender may be abusing other people, you can also share thee-mail with someone else on the board whom you trust. Word on thistype of thing tends to get around. Whatever you do, don't let it driveyou away from the FDMB! The vast majority of members do not approveof such tactics.
If you're thinking of sending an angry e-mailto someone, we strongly advise that you not do it. Other board members will find out about it, and you will lose credibility and respect. If you feel the need to criticize someone what someone is doing or saying, either do it respectfully in public under your usual name, or find someharmless alternative activity.
Anonymous postings will be reported tothe webmaster, who has the tools to track down who is doing it. Ifyou can't say what you want to say under your usual name, don't post it. If you're afraid to post a controversial opinion because you think you'll be attacked, privately contact people you trust and ask them for theiradvice on how to communicate your point of view.
The purpose of this community is to help peoplegive their diabetic cats the best care possible.
Be kind. Be polite. Inform yourself. Never personally attack anyone. Recognize that reasonable people can differ on many aspects of treatment. Check your ego at the door. "Pray for the dead and fight like hell forthe living." -Mother Jones
Contributors to text orspirit:
| April & Tigger |
cathy & basil m.i.a
Cheryl & Rocky
Deb & Jake
Diane, Asia and Velvet PuffPaws
Gene & Bandit
helen & tuco (busby& peanut too)
Jamie & Boots
Janet & Binky
Janet & Fitzgerald (GA)
Jennifer & Korbel
jenny and Sherman
| Jon & Patches & Tabbistar |
Juli, Button and Callie
Karla & Stinky
Kathleen & Beau
Krista & TigerLynn & Radar
Marcia & Tigger
Melissa & Popcorn (GA)
michele, rick and serendipity (ga)
Molly & Max
Nancy and Scooter (GA)
Nancy & Weber
| Noemi, Elliot(GA), and Simon |
Pamela & Baby
Robin, Tigger & Nikita
Sandra & Barney
sara & eli
Sharon and BJ
Shirley, Pico & Fuzz
Susan & Shadow
Terry and Punkin
val & tyro
Note to readers: This document is copyright (C) 2001 and 2004. You may freely copy and distribute the document as long as you do not charge money for it or change the contents. If you have suggestions for changing or updating the Guidelines, please post them to the Feline Diabetes Message Board (www.felinediabetes.com/phorum5/list.php?8), and if the consensus is that you have offered an improvement, the Posting Guidewill be updated.
If the information and/or support that you find on the FDMB is useful to you, please consider "paying forward" by making a donation to IMOM (www.imom.org), an all-volunteer non-profit organization which was founded to help people help their sick, injured, or abused animals.
Version 1.09; last updated May 30, 2005. The most recent version can be found at http://www.sugarcats.net/sites/jmpeerson/postguid.html.