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Fresh start: A conversation about posting about doctors

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  • Fresh start: A conversation about posting about doctors

    Hi all,

    I am not quite sure where to start asking questions, but here's what I have so far:
    • How can we, as a community, deal with possible inappropriate promotion of doctors in the forum?
    • What IS inappropriate promotion of doctors? What does it look like, smell like, feel like?
    • How do we help people identify doctors that may help them, safely?
    Just so you know... these questions, and my previous post, are not in reference to anything that has taken place anytime in the recent past on the forum, at all.
    Rebecca Petris
    The Dry Eye Zone

  • #2
    Originally posted by Rebecca Petris View Post
    How can we, as a community, deal with possible inappropriate promotion of doctors in the forum?
    Option 1: Flag the post.
    Option 2: Tag you or a moderator and quote the post in question so that you or a moderator can take a look at it.

    That's it imho. :-)

    Originally posted by Rebecca Petris View Post
    What IS inappropriate promotion of doctors? What does it look like, smell like, feel like?
    ex. "Guest" submits their first and only post "Dr X is amazing and helped me so much - you can book your appointment at www dot theirwebsite dot com" <- I'd say it's spam.
    ex. New forum user submits a small number of super short posts that don't add to the conversation, then drops a glowing recommendation for a doc's new treatment that no-one has ever heard of (and said recommendation is short, lacking in details) <- I'd be tempted to delete and ban... if they're legit, they'll send an email asking why, one can explain the concern, and maybe they can be allowed back. If they're not legit, they'll probably disappear, never to be heard from again. In particular, I'm thinking of posts like what user fairpricerx made after joining... they were super short, did not add to the conversation and often made no sense in the context of the conversation ... then after a month (and maybe 5 short posts total), he/she drops a link to their online pharmacy and says how great it is. Classic spam tactic (join forum... make a few posts that don't require much time/effort/thought to write... spread these posts out over time in an effort to mimic a regular user, ... then slip in a link or testimonial to whatever website/service you want to promote, hoping that no-one will be watching you closely anymore because you're no longer a brand new user)

    This is all subjective though, there are lots of shades of grey, and its the accumulation of all that a user has posted that leads to one's final conclusion about them (i.e. spammy promotional vs. sincerely trying to help). Ultimately, it'll always come down to a judgment call. Will mistakes be made? Almost certainly. But all one can do is their best.

    And on the topic of guest users... personally, I think the forum would be easier to moderate if all users have to register. That way you can see a trend over time in terms of the kind of posts a user makes, which can help gauge their intentions on posts that appear iffy at first glance. If an existing user wants to post here more anonymously, they can easily set up an extra free email account with gmail, outlook, yahoo mail etc., and start a new forum account that's more anonymous. And as a bonus, turning off the ability for unregistered guest users to post means one less item on your moderating to-do list... you will no longer have to look for guest posts awaiting approval. Having to register to use this forum is not a big ask, and almost every forum I've ever used requires all users to register. :-)

    Also on the topic of guest users... personally, from a forum user perspective, wrong as it may be, I tend to ignore those posts more because I tend to think they're more likely to be someone with an agenda. Generally speaking, I am more willing to read someone's post - and reply to it - if they are a registered user compared to a guest. If I see a thread started by a guest user, I'm unlikely to even read that thread because I have no way of knowing when someone replies if it's the same "guest", or someone different - it feels like trying to have a conversation with a ghost hehe ... I have limited time to spend on these forums, so prefer to interact with users who have a post history (or will have one, in the case of a new user) so I can get a sense of who they are... guest users don't have that. Anyhow, not saying I'm right to feel this way, only sharing it as one possible perspective on the matter.

    Originally posted by Rebecca Petris View Post
    How do we help people identify doctors that may help them, safely?
    a) Users who are genuine are easy to recognize in general. They make lots of thoughtful posts over a period of months or years. They don't name drop and then disappear. I think it's the responsibility of forum users to click on the user name and check out their past posts to "get to know them".
    b) And if you or your moderators see someone who is clearly only here for promotion, they get deleted and banned. But until it becomes clear that a delate/ban is required, I'd refer users to strategy "a".

    And I don't think it's your responsibility to help people find doctors who may help them safely. In my opinion, your responsibility lies in doing your best to get rid of wrong-doers, getting rid of mean-spirited people, and setting the expected tone for the discussions here (ex. zero-tolerance for being nasty to one another, zero-tolerance for spam).

    If anything, the accumulation of posts in this community is what helps someone find a doctor safely and/or make a better informed decision on whether or not said doctor is a good bet.

    Forum users ultimately have to use common sense though. If a doc is mentioned a handful of times in here with a brand new treatment that has no studies to back it up, common sense says that's a treatment that we really don't know for sure how likely it is to help - it's awesome the doc wants to find something new that might help us, but we still have to decide for ourselves if it's worth the risk/money/time etc. Ultimately this forum is only a starting point for their research on whether or not that treatment is any good - it's a huge time saver and great source of leads... but one must couple that with their own research, too.

    If 10 long-time users post here about their experience with doctor X, 5 say he cured them, and 5 say the treatment did nothing... well, okay.. that's interesting... that tells future users that doctor x's treatment clearly isn't a slam-dunk success for everyone, but maybe for the right person, doctor x's treatment could be exactly the thing they've been looking for. Cool. Forum users can see if they can find out more info about the 5 people who were helped by doctor x, and the 5 people who had zero benefit... maybe there are clues as to what kind of patient is helped by doctor x - and maybe there are no clues - maybe the data one has here in the forum leads one to believe it was coincidence that doctor x's treatment helped 5 people - who knows... but either way, it's worth looking into. See if there are any studies out there on doctor x's treatment. Check out what it would cost to see doctor x. Consider the possible risks of trying the treatment doctor x offers. Then decide if it's a good idea to see doctor x.

    Anyhow this is just my 2 cents. Some may agree, some may not. Just sharing for your consideration. :-)
    Last edited by SAAG; 24-Jan-2019, 05:51.
    Yet another post-Lasik (2005)...
    Anyone have a time machine so I can go back and undo this mess?


    • #3
      Thank you SAAG appreciate all the thoughtfulness you put into this!

      Am at a conference now so probably won't have a chance to revisit in much detail till I get back, but I will. Hoping some others chime in too.
      Rebecca Petris
      The Dry Eye Zone


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