Sticky FDMB Guide to Posting and Etiquette

Discussion in 'Announcements & How to use the FDMB' started by Marje and Gracie, Jun 23, 2020.

  1. Marje and Gracie

    Marje and Gracie Senior Member Moderator

    Joined:
    May 30, 2010
    Feline Diabetes Message Board (FDMB) Guide to Posting and Etiquette

    Written by the FDMB Community
    First Posting: 5/31/2005 by Rebecca, Original Webmaster
    Last Update: 6/20/2020 by Marje and Gracie

    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.)

    Before you start reading this guide, be sure you have read and understood the official Terms of Use, posted by Dr. Rebecca Price, who has generously created the FDMB to help us and our cats. The current webmaster is Robert and Echo who so graciously took over the site when Rebecca “retired”. We are all very grateful to him for continuing the FDMB. We are all guests in his home and, by posting at the FDMB, have agreed to adhere to these rules. (And, quite frankly, he can kick out any or all of us whenever he wants, which is an added incentive for us to do our best to help diabetic cats.)

    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
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    1. Introducing Yourself

    When registering for an account, 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 Forum and clicking on the "New Topic" link at the top of the page.

    When you introduce yourself, we'd like to know your name (first name only), 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.

    We strongly advise that you never post your full name, telephone number, email address, 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 and to enter very important information into your signature block. The instructions on how to do this and what info to include in your signature are in this post.
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    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 which may 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 diabetic cats
      • 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 Community & Off Topic Forum:
      • life events of humans such as birthdays
      • lives of our non-diabetic cats and other pets and family members
      • other humor topicsnon-cat-related rants about our in-laws.
    Off limits here due to the potential for too much heat, no enlightenment, and creation of bad feelings:
    • politics, religion, or other controversial topics unrelated to feline health care
    • personal criticism of other posters
    Note, of course, that, except for off-limits material, 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 up to my party.")

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    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 outside reading to understand various aspects of the disease. They have then brought 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, longevity on 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 will find general consensus, but there are other issues on which people here differ. And in many cases, different cats respond differently to the same treatment approach. It may be confusing, but this diversity of opinions and experience can work to your benefit, because you will hear all sides of an issue, pro and con, often in great detail, which is best for 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. If someone 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.
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    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.
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    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 all relevant medical information. In order to help you help your cat, we need to know the complete situation. Diabetes affects the whole body, so if you've noticed anything unusual or have changed anything about your cat's care or routine, tell us publicly so that we all know what 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 advice are 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 final decision 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.
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    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 subscribe to the notion of "paying forward" -- take as much help and support as you need, and give what you can to others in your turn. The following (heretofore unwritten) guidelines have served us well.

    Communication styles.

    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 that the meaning may be unclear. The general tone on the FDMB has been to favor a respectful, less direct style and save the bluntness for important 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.

    Giving advice.

    We all want to help people who are clearly in distress. But we also have to remember that the life of a cat depends on the person getting good advice. If someone asks a question for which you're giving an answer, you should first assess how certain you are that your advice is correct. If you're uncertain, or if you’re giving a personal opinion or experience, make sure that this is clear in your answer. 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 a more experienced member comes along to confirm this."
    Better yet, if you're giving advice, provide a source that you trust. 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."
    For newcomers and old-timers alike, if you are responding to a post and you believe you have special expertise in the subject at hand, explain this. For example:
    • "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.

    Controversial topics.

    The FDMB is not a monolith of opinion, although it sometimes seems that way with regard to certain topics such as hometesting blood glucose. Keep in mind that people don't always agree on every aspect of care, and don't take it personally when someone disagrees with you. Everyone should be prepared to back up any statements or admit 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 with Janet's position. Many diabetic cats, such as my Fluffy, live longhealthy lives eating Hill's W/D."
    Vet bashing.

    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 rant about 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 she is not up to date on treatment of diabetes and isn't interested in learning. But generalized bashing of vets does not contribute anything positive.
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    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 as a teaching opportunity.

    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 only one 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 “the FDMB has no consensus on this issue." If the latter, a public posting or PM on the side, again phrased politely and respectfully, may be a good idea. If you feel a need to debate the issue, start a separate thread asking for a discussion on the issue, stating the issue, your viewpoint, and other viewpoints (in an unbiased fashion), and see what everyone has to say.

    What to do if you disagree with the way someone is treating their cat, including decisions to euthanize or not euthanize.

    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 cat against their better judgment; keep in mind that if they truly thought this was the best option, they would not have done the research and found these online 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 to adopt the cat so that you can treat it, or drop the argument. You will not change anyone's mind by venting your anger (in fact, you may have the opposite effect of making them cling to their position), and you may chase 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. If the poster persists,
    you can report the post to the Moderators and Webmaster by clicking the “Report” button at the bottom of the specific post.

    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.

    Sometimes debate or conflict just seems to keep going, long after most people have given up on it and starts wasting valuable space on the board. If such a debate has veered seriously off-topic, is not adding any new information, and/or has started to include personal attacks, then a reasonable option is to report the post.

    If you come to feel that your own behavior has been out of line and wish to apologize, do so publicly to help erase hard feelings; public apologies are a gracious course of action. If you are the recipient of such an apology, we advise that you accept it with equal grace, and examine your own words to see if you have anything to apologize for as well.

    How to deal with hostile private messages (PMs).

    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). If a member is sending you harassing private messages (PMs) through the board, or if you think that the sender may be abusing other people, you can share the PM with someone else on the board whom you trust or report it to a Moderator or the Webmaster. Please note that it’s important to copy the PM to Moderators or the Webmaster as they are not able to see the content of PMs written by members. If you feel physically endangered, report it to the police. Whatever you do, don't let it drive you away from the FDMB! The vast majority of members do not approve of such tactics.

    If you're thinking of sending an angry PM to 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 some harmless alternative activity.

    Anonymous postings.

    Anonymous postings will be reported to the webmaster, who has the tools to track down who is doing it. If you 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 their advice on how to communicate your point of view.

    Contributors to text or spirit:

    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, Rosemary, Sandra & Barney, sara & eli, Sharon and BJ
    Shirley, Pico & Fuzz, Susan & Shadow, Terry and Punkin, val & tyro
     

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