It's come to the attention of the Community Team that although threads posted on RYL asking for support for someone other than the person who posted the thread (aka "support for..." threads) can be a great help to the person the thread is for, they can also leave other members feeling excluded, because they don't know the people involved with the thread, or because they too have been struggling but haven't had a thread made for them. We discussed this issue at great length, but since "support for..." threads have the potential to do both good and harm simultaneously, we reached the conclusion that there really isn't a good solution. Hopefully some information about these threads and suggestions for those who post them will help push these threads towards doing more good and less harm.
When should I post a "support for..." thread?
There are no rules that determine whether or not to post a thread like this. However, we do want to encourage members to reserve these threads just for times that the other member is unable to ask for support him/herself. If these threads are only created when they're really needed, then people will be more likely to take them seriously, and it's less likely that people will feel excluded by them.
What should my "support for..." thread say?
The more detail you can include, the more helpful your thread will be. Give as much information as you can about why you're posting the thread. Try to avoid simply saying your friend "is going through a rough time, and could use some support." Also, try to make it partly about sharing information with the community, because then it feels more like it's including everyone instead of excluding everyone outside of a specific group. For example: [person] was taken to the hospital last night after an OD. She's going to be okay, but she doesn't have internet access, so she won't be on RYL for a few days. I wanted to let you all know why she's not on RYL, and I also thought it would be nice for her to have something here to read when she gets back.
Of course, sometimes you can't share anything about what's going on. But if that's the case, then say so. For instance, "[person] asked me not to share any details, but she's really struggling right now, and I think it would help for her to see that people here care about her."
Also, try to tell people what you want from the thread. If you just want them to leave messages that they care about the person, then say so. If you're going to visit your friend in the hospital in a few days, and can print out the thread for her to read, then say that in your post.
Finally, if there's a reason you have "inside information" about the person, other than that you've been talking to them privately online, then say so. If you're posting for a friend who you know outside of RYL (as in, someone you know in the "real world"), then include something about in your post. For example, you could mention that you were talking to them on the phone or in person when you found this out, or that something happened at school that you noticed. That way, people don't feel left out because they think that other people have more or closer friends on RYL than they do, or that the person the thread is for didn't tell anyone else on RYL what was going on.
Why didn't anyone make a "support for..." thread for me?
Most people on RYL never have a thread made for them. It doesn't mean no one cares about you! There are lots of reasons that people might not make a thread for a friend who's struggling.
The first, and simplest reason is that maybe no one knew you were struggling. Personally, I don't tend to ask for help through PMs or outside instant messages, because I just feel more comfortable asking for support from whoever wants to answer, instead of imposing on one person, even though I'd be perfectly happy to talk to someone one-on-one to support the other person. As a result, it's really unlikely that any of my friends on RYL would know about anything I was struggling with unless I posted a thread myself, so there'd be no reason for them to post one for me. But that doesn't mean I don't have friends -- it's just that the way I'm most comfortable using RYL, it ends up that they'd never have reason to post a thread for me.
It can also be that your friends do know you're struggling, more than you've posted publicly, but they're not comfortable making a thread for you. Just like people ask for help in different ways, people also give help in different ways. Not everyone makes support threads for their friends. It doesn't mean they don't care, just that they don't feel it's the best way to help you. Maybe they're afraid it would embarrass you, maybe they don't think it would help, or maybe they're simply too shy to start a thread like that. Whatever the reason, it doesn't mean they don't care about you.
It could also be that your friends are confident enough in your ability to get through things, and ask for whatever support you need, that they don't feel you need them to make a thread for you. Take that as a compliment! It means your friends think highly of your ability to take care of yourself, which is a good thing.
Why do some people seem to have "inside information" about other RYLers to make these threads?
Some of the time, it is just that they've gotten to be friends on RYL, and talk about things privately by PM or instant message. But that's not the only reason someone might "inside information." Some times it can feel like there's some little group of close friends who are all telling each other things that the rest of RYL doesn't know about, but that's usually not what's really going on. Most of us on RYL don't have a "group" like that, so there's no reason to feel left about.
One way people get "inside information" is if they live near the person, and know them in person, not just online. They may have even known each other before joining RYL, but either way, things are often communicated in person that aren't posted online. I don't know anyone on RYL who lives near me, but I know plenty of other people on RYL who have friends on RYL who do live near them, and who they talk to on the phone and in person, so of course they're going to know things about each other that I don't know. It's not because they necessarily like the people near by better -- it's just how it works out.
Another possibility is that the person starting the thread might be a First Aid Advisor or Moderator, who could have "inside information" even about a person they just met, because of their role in the RYL staff. A First Aid Advisor may have talked to the other person by PM about an overdose or other medical issue that lead to that person going to the hospital, and know about the person's medical status because of that. Although Moderators most often create "support for..." threads when editing a post that requires all the original content be removed, a Moderator might have had to entirely delete something the person posted, because it violated RYL rules, and the content of that post indicated that the person was really struggling and needed support, but wasn't able to ask for it in a way that was within the RYL rules.
I'm sure there are plenty of other ways to come by "inside information" as well. The important thing is that it doesn't always mean that someone told someone else something because they just like them more, or they're a close friend -- there are other reasons as well.
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I appreciate having a different perspective of how "Support for" threads may impact negatively on other members. However, I do think that the title may be an extra push to get persons to respond. I've had people tell me they read posts but don't know what to say; similarly when in chat- they don't know how to ask for help.
It is a terribly complicated thing, as people cannot support you unless you say something- and then people don't always give support unless you ask for it. And in chat, it is very difficult to support people when you need support yourself.
This sticky saddens me though- because everyone on RYL deserves support. The title is just highlighting/ identifying someone in particular- but it is in no means meant to diminish the importance of anyone else.
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itís not working for polar bears.Ē Arianna Huffington 2014