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Ideas for improving chat


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Hey all,

 

Some of us in chat were having a conversation about how chat could be more supportive. We wanted a place to continue the discussion and so other people could chime in.

 

This could have the potential to cause people to feel defensive or take things personally, and I don't want that to happen.

 

So to help frame the conversation a little bit, what would help chat work better for you? What do you want or need that you're not currently getting from chat? How could other people show a willingness to engage with you?

 

(Some of that will be based on personal preference, clearly, but maybe some themes will emerge?)

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I think that we could work on making sure that someone that presents with a crisis gets some interaction.  I agreed that there is often a lack of engagement with someone that needs to talk, and sometimes the conversation just flows around the person like they are a minor interruption.  I'm not really sure how to work on it, though, because we are crazies that are untrained in therapy.  I guess the only thing that would possibly help would be to have mods keep an eye out on crises, but they already do that and can't be expected to be present all the time.  

Edited by evilnessness
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That is true crisis situations don't get nearly enough attention....maybe we could even do split up chat room, different rooms like the forums, if we wanted to get very fancy of course we'd need to get more mods and users. 

Edited by Forbidden91
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Just so you guys are aware, some of the things which have been requested by users before aren't supported by the chat software.  Off the top of my head, that's ignoring a specific user in chat and having multiple rooms.

 

It doesn't mean you can't suggest them of course, since we're brainstorming, but I wanted to give an early heads up that some things may not be possible simply due to the software and not to anyone's desires here.

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I think reminding us how important is the most important part of this.  True - we are not trained in therapy but just having someone to complain to helps.  I meet with a group of people trying to deal with the same issue I am.  And they are the only people I talk to face to face about it (Other then Docs)   Well its way late and my experiment in not taking Ambien CR proves I can't sleep worth a BLANK without it.

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The last time I was in chat was during the christmas holidays of 2009. It was because the stupid boyfriend I had at the time dumped me via text. We were together for approx 6 months. He totally blindsighted me.

 

I went into chat and I think I did a whole bunch of asteriks **** and caps saying THIS IS AN EMERGENCY.

 

That got vapourware's attention and whatever the group was talking about listened to my freak out. I want to say reddog was there too (but if Im wrong don't be mad).

 

I'm not a chatter by nature on any forum or website or whatever. I don't know what people are doing now to indicate they are in a crisis or have an emergency. I venture to say that the person in crisis might have to be a little forceful to get attention. And by force I mean asteriks and caps.

 

db 

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while I know that it is important to let chat run its course, I think that mods could be more proactive.  There are a lot of times when conversations/situations get really tense/attacking of an individual user in chat and a mod will not step in until things are WAY over the line. Not saying that the room should be run with an iron fist, but there should be a middle ground where attacks and name calling is not allowed to get out of hand.

 

btw, I am not talking about situations where I felt the target, and I know that I am not completely innocent myself at times. We all get frustrated. We are all MI. That is why we have mods, partly to help keep things under control.

 

this could be just a matter of not enough mods available to monitor chat, or I could be completely off base, but wanted to put in my 2 cents.

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A couple of ideas. 

 

1. Ease up on the flaming of those asking questions about medications. Although one is supposed to search the forums prior to bringing the question to chat, I think the assumption is often that the one asking the question has not done so. Also, questions about medications are obviously best addressed with one's doctor, but in the absence of such guidance, chat should try to help without making anyone feel unwelcome or engaging in a kind of public shaming for having the temerity to ask such questions. 

 

2. Moderators should attempt a private chat with users who are getting out of line and warn of being kicked. When stern warnings are given in the public space it creates a kind of knee-jerk defensive posture on both the accused and those who witness it (especially if they happen to disagree with the decision). Obviously this is not always possible but warnings, kickings, and the like should try to be done as discreetly as possible, without giving the impression that a mod is simply flexing his/her muscle. 

 

3. Create two chat rooms: one for crises/serious MI issues and another for small talk. The two may not separate neatly at first, but I think this would help create some focus for chat. I have seen chat intensely engaged in some kind of conversation about current events or politics and when someone enters asking for help, it is extremely difficult for chat to change gears and re-focus attention on those who are having real issues. Splitting chat into at least 2 rooms, I think, would help avoid such a problem. 

 

4. Stick to the rules if someone is getting out of line. No one feels justly treated if they are punished for breaking a rule which they were never informed of prior to participating. Moderators should not be allowed to simply make up their own rules. It creates a sense of capriciousness and can make one feel rather unwelcome. 

 

I know there will probably be disagreements about these proposals, but I think they represent a good starting point for a discussion on improvement of chat.

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If folks are getting out of line, don't hesitate to contact staff. Often I don't act because I figure that it's just me who's bothered, or that everyone else is cool with it since they're still engaging. I often come to chat with no ability to figure out if I'm having a bad day or not.

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I thought about what december_bridgett had said. I think it may be helpful to preface actual emergency questions with something like:

 

********************************I HAVE AN EMERGENCY***************************** to get everyone's attention.

 

Or maybe something like,

 

I HAVE AN EMERGENCY AND NEED HELP NOW

 

That way it's pretty clear that it's not just a question about medicine or whatever - not that those aren't important, of course, but that way we're able to clearly tell it's someone in crisis. 

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I know that several people have suggested two chats, one for crisis and one for not.  Aside from the fact that the website's software can't support this, I don't think this would be a good idea.  There are certain hours of the day when there are only a handful of people on chat, so dividing them up might create a situation where there is no one on the crisis chat room.  

 

I agree that to a certain extent it is the responsibility of the person in crisis to communicate that they are in crisis with the other users of chat.  Sometimes someone will mention a problem, but because tone is difficult to read online, and there is often little context, it can be difficult to determine how much the problem is affecting the user, or how serious it is for them.

 

I do think having more chat moderators could help, possibly.

Edited by koakua
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If folks are getting out of line, don't hesitate to contact staff. Often I don't act because I figure that it's just me who's bothered, or that everyone else is cool with it since they're still engaging. I often come to chat with no ability to figure out if I'm having a bad day or not.

This. Maybe I'm chatsitting but also knitting or watching a show, maybe I'm thinking I'm the only one bothered, maybe my ADHD is kicking some serious ass that day, you name it. If others clearly point out to me their issue (and I will be far more likely to notice this done via a private chat message, personally) however then it is unlikely to escape my attention.

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If folks are getting out of line, don't hesitate to contact staff. Often I don't act because I figure that it's just me who's bothered, or that everyone else is cool with it since they're still engaging. I often come to chat with no ability to figure out if I'm having a bad day or not.

This. Maybe I'm chatsitting but also knitting or watching a show, maybe I'm thinking I'm the only one bothered, maybe my ADHD is kicking some serious ass that day, you name it. If others clearly point out to me their issue (and I will be far more likely to notice this done via a private chat message, personally) however then it is unlikely to escape my attention.

 

 

I'm going to echo Mirazh and Rosie here.  Especially as a newer mod, I'm still learning when to step in to defuse situations and when to back off.  If people point out what they think is going wrong or needs a moderator's attention to me (via PM or private chat), I'll be more than willing to step in and try to correct something that is going poorly.  

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I agree, if people are getting out of line, contact a mod or admin.

 

Crisis chat is an idea but we aren't really trained in true crisis intervention. There are other crisis chats and phone lines to turn to, which we can refer to. (When I say 'crisis', I mean potentially life threatening) We aren't professionals.

 

If someone is having issues that we can handle, they are supposed to be 'given the stage'. Chat is for support.

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Ald, there is a lot to fix.
Due to limitations, some of it cannot be fixed.

I'm not sure if you saw the part where I said "I need your help to fix it" or not? We don't get guidebooks when we become staff...

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I also wonder about the culture of chat...

 

like we are a peer support site.

 

So how can we as peers (not just mods or admins, though we are members first) be more supportive of each other and less reliant on mods/admins to fix it?

 

What do you all need from each other to make chat work well?

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I speak exactly what I mean.  I never said that chat is free from error and needs more fixing.  I was answering the question in the original post.  May be a user first and a mod second, but yes I am both, and so the answer that first came to me (and so I posted) was reflective of my approach to improving chat as a moderator.  I tried to indicate possible reasons for my own struggles to see or even comprehend what might be going on in chat at some times.  There are other times where I know I'm more "on" and I seem to at least feel as though I'm doing my job, other times I have legitimate difficulty even following the conversation or remembering what might have been said.  I do what I can to mitigate this stuff: staying away from chat when I don't feel as though I could be much good due to my crazy, reading up in the chat frequently to see what I missed, PMing with a few others to help keep me up to speed about certain conversations and issues (like, if I come in during the middle of a support/crisis chat, I might PM with someone so I could be up-dated on what's going on,) asking other mods or checking in with someone else present in chat about what they think of a particular thing or happenstance or what-have-you, etc.  These are things I already do, I did not think they had much place in a post where I would be trying to suggest something I currently lack that I personally feel would help me to be a more effective chat moderator.

Edited by Mirazh
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Another two cents? I thought dopa had some really solid points.  Instead of this mod/user conundrum, tho?  I thought it might add some food for thought to :

 

Treat people like you want to be treated , fetishes or no........?

Be part of a solution, not part of a problem......

 

shit like that works wonders.  If only I could do it regularly

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Chat is important to me and I'd like to thank everyone who has contributed to this thread so far. Dopamine in particular, I appreciate the well thought out and organized way you presented your ideas and focused on solutions so I'll address those first.

 

1. Ease up on the flaming of those asking questions about medications. Although one is supposed to search the forums prior to bringing the question to chat, I think the assumption is often that the one asking the question has not done so. Also, questions about medications are obviously best addressed with one's doctor, but in the absence of such guidance, chat should try to help without making anyone feel unwelcome or engaging in a kind of public shaming for having the temerity to ask such questions. 

 

I think this is a great suggestion, and not just about people who ask about meds but for people who don't quite "get it" when they first join chat. The best approach is respectfully letting someone know that we care about their concerns but that some things are better addressed in the forums (ex. meds or complex issues) or are not appropriate here (ex. asking for advice on abusing drugs, asking for advice for a second party). Being respectful yet firm is the best route in my opinion, and that goes for both members and mods. 

 

2. Moderators should attempt a private chat with users who are getting out of line and warn of being kicked. When stern warnings are given in the public space it creates a kind of knee-jerk defensive posture on both the accused and those who witness it (especially if they happen to disagree with the decision). Obviously this is not always possible but warnings, kickings, and the like should try to be done as discreetly as possible, without giving the impression that a mod is simply flexing his/her muscle. 

 

This is also a good suggestion. I can't speak for all mods, but I know in many cases this already happens, though it may not be obvious since the room in general will be unaware of the PM. I believe that when dealing with a problem it comes back to your first point that we as a community, both mods and members, should be respectful even as we are being firm with someone who is out of line. 

 

3. Create two chat rooms: one for crises/serious MI issues and another for small talk. The two may not separate neatly at first, but I think this would help create some focus for chat. I have seen chat intensely engaged in some kind of conversation about current events or politics and when someone enters asking for help, it is extremely difficult for chat to change gears and re-focus attention on those who are having real issues. Splitting chat into at least 2 rooms, I think, would help avoid such a problem. 

 

As someone else pointed this may not be possible due to software limitations. 

 

4. Stick to the rules if someone is getting out of line. No one feels justly treated if they are punished for breaking a rule which they were never informed of prior to participating. Moderators should not be allowed to simply make up their own rules. It creates a sense of capriciousness and can make one feel rather unwelcome. 

 

I can't speak for any other member of the staff, but if I ever do something that seems unfair or unjust I am open to discussion about it, and I hope that anyone here, members and staff, would feel comfortable enough to approach me with their concerns. 

 

I have other thoughts on what could be done to improve chat but this post has been long enough and I will leave room for more discussion before adding anything else. Again thanks to everyone who has participated so far. 

Edited by cct
edited for typos
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I think we generally do a good job giving a person in crisis the stage. Although I have seen a few people who were scared off by a second line of conversation happening at the same time as their crisis. I think the problem there is people don't know when there is a person in crisis or if the person is just talking about what's going on with them. I think it's upto the mods to stop second convo if that occurs. I haven't seen that happen before. On the other hand having a mod tell you what your chatting about isn't important can kinda rub some people the wrong way. I think chat is fine just the way it is. If it looks like the person in crisis is skittish then a mod should speak up I guess.

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I can only add ... If you have a problem with someone ... Take it to pm.... Don't take it to everyone in chat behind their backs or post it in chat. I have done this and been damn dead wrong. If anyone has a problem with what I say , please take it up with me and give me the chance to apologize or clarify. I just don't see any reason for all the middle school tell everyone else but don't tell the person crap.

I hate bullies and I never want to be one or see someone else bullied

I also agree with what others have posted and only wish I had the communication skills of Dopamine

Chat has helped me get better .... I hope it remains to help others and to give people just a chance to cut up and laugh

People here are hysterical and the wit is amazing and the intelligence of this group adds to the fun

Maybe we shouldn't take ourselves so damn seriously

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Considering we are all peers (even mods & admins) who have no education &/or training in crisis prevention &/or mental health (that is licensed to practice through the internet anyway ;) ), having a separate "crisis chat" could cause a lot of problems legally for CB. If something happens and the crisis prevention failed, the website could be held responsible. Also it could not only be a problem for CB it could also be a problem for the person in crisis; Googling "crisis chat" and is directed to s peer support chat instead of a professional crisis line.

 

Suggestion: there is already a "agree" button where you have to prove you read the guidelines of the chat room. Maybe put some crisis links & information to professional crisis lines?

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Over moderated.  How many mods do you need if there are about 10 - 14 people in a room, max?

 

If we need that many mods, we need more people. 

 

K

 

We're users first and mods second.  If there are mods in chat, they are most likely there because they want to chat, not because they are moderating.   They have moderator abilities so they can deal with a bad situation if it comes up.   The rest of the time they are just like any other users.

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Why should members under the age of 18 be not included in a mental health discussion with other people dealing with the same issues? That doesn't make sense. People under the age of 18 have just as important & severe issues as we do.

 

As well, considering they are a CB member & minor with mental illness I can most likely guarantee that they are not easily offended.

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Speaking of legalities . . . add an 18 and over only button.

 

I don't want to be held responsible for something I say that could be offensive to a minor.

 

K

 

I'm 100% responsible for everything that goes on here.   If you say something that might be offensive to a minor, it's my problem and not yours.    There's been a couple times when we banned 13 year old kids because they have no place here, but 16 years olds are no different from any other users as far as I'm concerned.

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Personally I think it's fine. Yes sometimes there are two strands of conversation occurring in chat. I think it's up to users to put their chat on hold, or just take your non urgent stuff to PM not that hard. I do think that users need to recognise the limitations of chat. We care but as said we are peers, not pros and people need to be more aware. I help everyone as much as I can but sometimes I feel guilty if I feel I haven't helped sufficiently. I don't think chat needs more moderated i just think a little bit more consideration should be exercised with users. No problems with under 18's.

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I agree that chat is basically fine.

 

Perhaps on the rules that show up before you enter chat, you could add something about how if you're in a crisis, it is up to you to point that out to everyone.  As others said there could even be a code word or something posted there.

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  • 2 weeks later...
I'd like to be  able to come to chat, talk with everyone and not feel like I'm being scrutinized as though I have alterior motives or some kind of agenda by staff and/or other users. Is this just me being paranoid because I really don't believe it is? I know that people are always going to have issues with eachother, but for me, that is between them and I don't need to be involved. It doesn't mean that I don't care; I'd like to be respected as a neutral party. I want a safe environment in which to chat. 
 
By safe,  I mean that I don't want to hear sentiments that amount to "don't let the door hit you in the ass on the way out" and I don't want to see bullying or the exclusion of others. I have felt the staff vs. users friction on numerous occasions and while I feel (oddly) that it has improved over time, I think that both "sides" need to step back and appreciate how the other feel. That doesn't amount to me siding with staff OR users. I come here to support others and be supported in a community in which I hope to feel less misunderstood and accepted. To feel that users OR staff are uncared for and/or easily discarded makes this place feel unsafe.
 
I don't always know how to confront people that are acting inappropriately towards others and have probably engaged in that behavior myself. I don't expect that playing nice will ever happen perfectly, but we need to work at being kinder to each other. And no this paragraph isn't aimed at anyone in particular, but I'd like to add that I respect what Ducky has posted above about taking responsibility towards her own behavior in chat. For myself, I'd like to apologize to San who I truly believe hated me until very recently. I'm sorry if I pushed you too hard in PM ages ago. I meant well, but my execution sucks sometimes.
 
I'd kind of like to see the elephants in the room being discussed more. Ideally, it would be nice to see some community healing which will probably take a bit of forgiveness, owning up to inappropriate behaviors, and generally just having more transparency. Don't make me light a fucking candle, I'm starting to feel sick.
 
I think that we sometimes have to call each other out on inappropriate behaviors which sucks in practice, but may nip chat rifts in the bud before they get out of hand. I don't know how to do that effectively, but it might be worth exploring.
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I was going to offer you a candle or lighter but I see now you don't want one ( just kidding )

I agree with you mari but I do think people are being a lot more careful about being total assholes in chat..... Now when we can get the humor back without worrying so much...... Chat will be awesome again

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i have a hard time with and low tolerance level for people who haven't taken their meds who are being attention seeking, with no grasp of interpersonal relations. ie they're being assholes. i've wanted to call people out on it - but i'm not a mod, and i figure this is my problem (low tolerance level) so, i should just leave, go do something else, let them have the stage and their temper tantrum/whathaveyou and life goes on. however, if i'm feeling that way...i'm wondering if others are too, and people should be called out more. perhaps it's just a case of me growing the balls to be honest with people in the moment.

 

as someone who has gone into chat when i'm not ok - it's often hard to guage when you're overtaking the board and you need to pull back. sure, ordinarily, people should self moderate, but in my case, i do wonder if i'm capable and if others have the same issue. one way of dealing with that overtaking was just chatting privately with a mod about what was on my mind (ie i was suicidal and debating whether to go to ER) which worked.

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I'm glad that worked for you, cipher, to have some private chat with a mod.

 

I really appreciate it when people ask me (as a mod) if it's ok to chat before starting a private conversation with something intense.

 

Sometimes when I am in chat, I'm there because I need support and might not be in a place to give it. I'd hate for someone to feel like they 'got shot down' when asking for help if I wasn't in the space to provide it, because I'll definitely let people know. It's also kind of jarring to be thrown into an intense conversation without any warning or giving consent.

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  • 2 months later...

I think the chat mods are great.  For the most part I think people are better about being supportive lately.  I have heard some griping about that they would rather chit-chat then talk about more serious problems, but I think they may just be one person. 

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I think the chat mods are great.  For the most part I think people are better about being supportive lately.  I have heard some griping about that they would rather chit-chat then talk about more serious problems, but I think they may just be one person. 

I certainly hope it's just one person. Chat exists for giving/receiving support. Chit-chat is fine so long as there is not a need for support.

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I like think it goes both ways.* During the chit-chatty times you develop relationships with people in chat, which makes for better support when you need it, and when it's support time the chit-chat takes the back burner for a while. 

 

 

 

 

 

* insert random innuendo here

Edited by cct
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I like think it goes both ways.* During the chit-chatty times you develop relationships with people in chat, which makes for better support when you need it, and when it's support time the chit-chat takes the back burner for a while. 

 

* insert random innuendo here

Very true. Thankfully, there are chatty times. If it was all support, all the time, we'd all be nuttier than we are now. :)

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