Use Caution with Off Board Relationships

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Kizzie

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Use Caution with Off Board Relationships
« on: April 10, 2015, 05:30:07 PM »
I have received a number of complaints about off-board relationships recently and want to take this opportunity to remind you of our guidelines which suggest you use caution when PMing with other members off-board.  There is good reason for this.  This is the Internet and members may not be who they say they are, it’s that simple unfortunately. There are trolls and other such people on the Internet who use others to fill their own needs, manipulate them for their own ends, have a little fun at someone else’s expense.  Sad,  but true so we must each practice self-care.

Please be extremely careful with what and how much information you share with other members off-board and with how involved you are with them. Go slowly until you're sure they are interested in a true friendship and not something else entirely.  If you begin to have red flags about someone you are PMing with, honour that feeling and end the relationship

So folks, the take away from these unfortunate incidents is to please practice self-care and keep your personal safety and well-being uppermost in your mind. 
« Last Edit: October 08, 2015, 06:35:32 PM by Kizzie »

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C.

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Re: Use Caution with Off Board Relationships
« Reply #1 on: April 10, 2015, 10:14:28 PM »
Thank you Kizzie and everyone here who works to keep this forum safe.   Well said, trolls will be found.  Privacy is entirely respected.  It is a difficult balance, but one that we've done a great job to maintain.

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C.

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Re: Use Caution with Off Board Relationships
« Reply #2 on: April 11, 2015, 07:03:43 AM »
After thinking it over, I decided to add a little more detail to what I posted earlier.

Thank you again Kizzie for your announcement.  I am disappointed that anyone would use this forum in such a way.  But I understand that is a risk too.  And cheers to you and everyone here for working to keep this space safe and free of trolls.

I, unfortunately, fell prey to one such troll a couple of years ago w/another media source.  I felt vindicated in that the police actually became involved and he had to leave town because I figured out it was a scam and called the police where he lived.  He was stealing large sums of money from unsuspecting small town, trusting people.  Ugh!

If you decide to communicate w/someone off board or via PM there are a lot of web sites about how to recognize a scammer (troll).  Often it's dating web sites, but a scammer (troll) could use other public forums to look for "targets."  Here is a list of common signs of a scammer (taken from http://www.wikihow.com/Spot-an-Online-Dating-Scammer) :

Wants to communicate off of the forum.
The person is younger than you.
Self-employed.
Recently widowed (sometime w/a child).
Currently "away" from your country, but returning soon.
It's easy to do a photo check on google if they share a photo.
Discrepancies between what they say and what's observed eg/online when said they were away.
Poor use of English language vocabulary and grammar.
Too much too soon regards trust and intimacy.
Asking for monetary assistance for a "good" reason.

So, like Kizzie mentioned, be cautious and take the time to get to know individuals on this forum.  My experience so far has been wonderful, but it's also taken time.  It takes time to get to know individuals on the forum, but I've come to see that's part of learning how to relate in a healthy way with people.

Kizzie and everyone here strives to keep this a safe community.  Everyone works diligently to keep it so.

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Kizzie

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Re: Use Caution with Off Board Relationships
« Reply #3 on: April 11, 2015, 08:07:33 PM »
Hi Folks:

I just want to point out that I have rewritten the section in the Member Guidelines regarding Off Board Relationships and Private Messages based on several recent incidents - see below. Please note that it is clearer about members' privacy and confidentiality, much more specific about what to do if you receive an inappropriate PM or have an off-board relationship that has become negative is some way, and outlines how I/Moderators will respond to these situations. 

I do hope this is taken in the spirit in which it is intended, which is to reassure everyone that your privacy and safety are very important.  In the near future I will be looking into asking one or two senior members to serve as Moderators since we have grown in size and are beginning to experience some of the issues online forums are prone to unfortunately.  Thus far, the problems have taken place in off-board relationships, but I want to ensure that they don't trickle onto the board, and if they do that we have more sets of eyes on posts.  In the meantime, if you do come across an inappropriate post, click on the Report button so that I am aware of it. We can all play a role in keeping ourselves and this forum as safe as possible.
 

Off-Board Information/Relationships and Private Messages (PMs)


Protecting the confidentiality and privacy of members at OOTS is paramount to our members’ sense of safety and community and we take this very seriously here.  One risk to this lies in using the Private Message (PM) feature in off-board relationships, and revealing personal information to someone who is not trustworthy. While building friendships here at OOTS is encouraged, the fact of the matter is this is the Internet and people are not always who they say they are.  Take particular care to protect yourself when corresponding with strangers via PMs because they are unmoderated.

You are not obliged to answer any PM you receive or to provide any information to any individual, no matter how friendly or trustworthy they may appear. Members are strongly encouraged to go slowly and cautiously in any off-board relationship, and if you start having any “red flags” about the person, end the relationship.

In the case of a single PM that you find disturbing or inappropriate (e.g., sexually suggestive, asking for personal information, giving advice, arguing about something that was said in the forum, and so on), please use the "Report to Admin" link at the bottom of each private message.  If the PM is clearly inappropriate, the member will be warned.  If there is some doubt, the member may be monitored for additional complaints about PMs and/or inappropriate posts on the forum.  If additional complaints are received and/or there is a pattern of inappropriate posting, the member will be warned and possibly banned.

In the case of ongoing off-board relationships which have devolved into something negative, please be aware that we cannot become involved in what inevitably turns into a “he said, she said” situation.  What we do ask is if you experience this, that you: a) end the relationship immediately to protect yourself from further harm; and b) send the Site Manager/Moderators an email outlining the problem in general terms. (We ask that you do not forward a trail of emails as they are private based on the ongoing nature of the relationship. This is not the case with a single email from a member to member who have not formed an ongoing relationship.)  This serves to alert the Site Manager/Moderators who will then monitor the member for any additional complaints about off-board behaviour as well as for inappropriate posts on the forum. If there is sufficient evidence of inappropriate behaviour the member may be warned and possibly banned. The onus, however, is on you in this situation to protect yourself by ceasing contact.   

In terms of privacy and confidentiality, please be clear that members having personal information about another member they have learned off-board shall not disclose it to anyone other than in discussions with the Site Administrator/Moderators regarding problematic behaviour.  This is considered a serious breach of privacy and extends to the contents of any personal communications including email, personal messages, texts and telephone/face-to-face conversations.  Any information of this nature which is posted in the forum will be modified or removed by the moderator and the member warned. If it comes to light that this information was revealed to members other than the Site Manager/Moderators, the member will be warned and if there is a pattern of disclosing other members’ private information, the member will be banned.     

Please respect the privacy of others as you wish your own privacy to be respected so that we keep OOTS a safe haven in which everyone can focus on their recovery.       
« Last Edit: April 13, 2015, 05:29:48 PM by Kizzie »

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Kizzie

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About Trolls
« Reply #4 on: April 12, 2015, 04:35:21 PM »
A member asked what is a troll so here is a description of both forum and off-board trolls:

Forum Trolls - An Internet troll is someone who comes into a discussion and posts comments designed to upset or disrupt the conversation. Often, in fact, it seems like there is no real purpose behind their comments except to upset everyone else involved. Trolls will lie, exaggerate, and offend to get a response.  Source: https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/your-online-secrets/201409/internet-trolls-are-narcissists-psychopaths-and-sadists.  Note:  As I mentioned in this thread so far the problem has been in off-board relationships.

Off Board Trolls - These trolls seek out members off-baord under the guise of friendship, but as time goes on it becomes apparent that there is a hidden agenda which can include everything from: getting a response from you much like forum trolls by saying something completely outrageous or offensive; asking you to buy something; getting you to reveal personal information; playing therapist so that they can feel better about themselves; and any number of reasons other than genuine friendship.  [My description]
« Last Edit: April 13, 2015, 05:33:20 PM by Kizzie »

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KayFly

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Re: Use Caution with Off Board Relationships
« Reply #5 on: September 04, 2015, 02:23:07 AM »
Thank you guys for the posts, examples and for all the information. It's very helpful.