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Covid-19 Discussion Policy

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Freya

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This policy was last updated 26th August 2020

EDIT: I am trying to address questions as I am asked them - one has cropped up from a couple of people so I am adding a Q&A in subsequent posts of this thread and any questions that come up repeatedly I will answer here also.

Covid-19 is something that is impacting everyone around the globe. We recognise that it is frightening and stressful and people will need support with related topics. Over the past weeks and days it has become clear that general discussion of this topic is NOT helpful to people's mental health and overall wellbeing and is not something that can continue on SF. It is endangering our members.

The current policy for discussion of topics related to Covid-19 is that discussion is to be support related only. This means that a person requires support with a personal issue related to the current health crisis or the changes in day-to-day living created by it. If the support topic requires discussion of Covid-19 specifically it must take place in the Covid-19 support forum.

Non support Covid-19 related topics are not allowed. This includes (but is not limited to):
  • Speculation about possible cures or treatments
  • Speculation about the impact on the economy
  • Speculation about the length of time that social distancing will need to be in place
  • Speculation about what governments may or may not do in the future, either globally, country specific or regionally.
  • Speculation about how many people may or may not be infected, be seriously unwell or die.
  • Speculation about things that have been said/published about treatments / symptoms / statistics / policies
  • Discussion of the various restrictions and changes in different areas, comparing 'how bad it is here' with 'how bad it is there'
  • 'Information sharing', politcical opinions and anecdotes/stories about other people's experiences.
Support topics might include things such as:
  • My anxiety over this Covid situation is making me want to self harm to release tension
  • My *insert person* has/might have Covid and I am really upset and worried
  • I have/might have Covid and I am panicing
  • The Covid situation is making me feel more and more hopeless - I want to end it all
Support in these instances does not include speculation, information sharing or collaborative fear endorsement via the sharing of 'how bad it is' or 'how bad it might get' information.

Support topics that are Covid-19 related for the most part can be discussed without reference to the virus or speculation. People might need support around things such as:
  • Feeling more isolated than normal
  • Struggling with money
  • Losing their job

These things (and many others) can be discussed in chat and on the forums without the speculation and information sharing and comparatives that focus on Covid and the general impacts of it. Support focuses on the PERSON needing support, not the global situation.

This policy is in response to the stream of members I have messaging me daily telling me that SF is making them feel worse not better and that they are not receiving support here anymore - only endless discussion about the global or regional 'situation' and speculation about the future. We are a support community and I cannot have a situation where SF is making people actively feel worse.

If you have questions or want to know if a particular thread is okay in the main forum vs a covid forum please write a Letter to Admin and we will be happy to help.

Stay safe,
Freya
 
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Freya

Loves SF
Forum Owner
ADMIN
SF Author
#2
Update 26 August 2020: Covid chat has been deleted and integrated back into regular support chat.

Q: Why can't we have a room where people can discuss Covid-19 related things such as scientific data, world news, theories about the impact on the economy etc. where only the normal SF rules apply and anyone who wants to avoid Covid can?

A: Any chat room needs to have moderator cover. We have had chat rooms before that do not have moderator cover and it has ended up being incredibly dangerous for members. As people realise there are no staff, for some reason they decide that also means 'no rules'. Moderating a chat room is exhausting and emotionally difficult. You have to be watching and aware, you have to deal with people yelling at you and arguing with you because THEY want to talk in a way that is against the rules. You have to keep a balance and be the voice of reason when perhaps you are exhausted and scared and upset yourself. It's incredibly difficult. Watching two chatrooms is harder. Watching three chatrooms is harder still. Watching four chat rooms...? It isn't reasonable or safe for my staff. Further than that, my staff should not be forced into a Covid-19 free for all in order to keep it safe if that topic is dangerous for them. We may have a couple of staff that feels safe with the topic but a couple of staff is woefully insufficient coverage for the safety of a chat room.

Further than that, there are people who beleive that constantly talking about something and getting a stream of new 'information' and speculation helps them. That is probably true. But we have still more people that would be drawn to that room even though it was dangerous for them, the same way that people look at their ex's facebook page. They know it hurts them, they know it is dangerous for them, but they are so distressed and panicy about what 'might' be happening that they keep looking even though it is terrible for their mental health. Many of our members would not be able to stay out of the room, even though it would damage them. Still more would insist it was fine and helping them - like the people who claim that being able to see what their ex is doing all the time is helping them.

The few people for whom this kind of speculation is actually helpful can have that discussion many many places online. They can have it here in private conversation with other people who have confirmed that they are safe to do so. What we cannot do is force staff to moderate yet another chat room in a time when they are already anxious and exhausted and insist they take responsibility for the rules in a room where the topic is not safe for them. What we cannot do is open something that is actively damaging to the majority of our members and pretend that people it would endanger will be able to choose to stay away from the flood of information.
 
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