Posting Guidelines

What is the intention behind the comments and forums?

Mad In America serves as a community forum for those interested in rethinking psychiatric care. We aspire to make this space rich with a diversity of voices and experiences. Our ability to succeed in this goal requires your involvement and your protection. In this spirit, please…

  • Honestly articulate your opinions and experiences. Your unique perspective is a welcome contribution to the issues discussed on the site.
  • Keep comments civil. This includes refraining from posting personal attacks, threats, spamming, misrepresentations of oneself or others, illegal material, profanity, hate speech, disparaging assertions about a person’s character, discrimination based on a person‚Äôs identity or occupation, and calls for violence against any people. We ask for good faith and the benefit of the doubt in our effort to allow anybody who wants to join the dialogue to do so without fear of abuse. Please respond to and criticize ideas, not character.
  • Honor differing viewpoints.¬†This website intentionally brings together individuals with varying backgrounds and values. We believe civil, inclusive dialogue to be crucial to finding solutions to our current paradigm of mental health care.
  • Remain relevant to the present article/topic. Off-topic comments are disruptive and derail the discussion. These may be removed by the moderator. Readers who wish to initiate a new conversation are invited to submit an Op-Ed blog. Keep self-promotion to a minimum and post no more than one link to your own website per comment. Please note that in most cases discussion of comment moderation in a thread is considered off-topic. Contact us directly to report problematic posts or offer feedback about moderation.
  • Register your account with a valid email address. Email is how the moderator will get in touch with you if there are any issues with your comments. If it’s impossible to contact you, you may not be able to continue posting on the site.
  • Do not choose a username that is vulgar or offensive. Vulgar or offensive usernames, including use of profanity, reference to private parts, and racial/gender slurs are not allowed. MIA will require a user to re-register under a different a different username if this guideline is not adhered to.

Major amendments to guidelines (July, 2013)

  • We ask that each comment serve to advance the discussion started by the original article.¬†Low content posts, (i.e. “I agree”) may be moderated. Off-topic posts may be removed.
  • We consider all conversations on the site to be ‚Äúeye-level,‚Ä̬†meaning that nobody is higher than anybody else in status or authority in this dialogue. We seek to provide a forum outside the daily power dynamics of helper and helped, professional and patient, and so forth. On our site, people from all sorts of backgrounds participate in candid, open dialogue. In this spirit, we address one another as equals, aiming to strip away the assumptions, shame, blame, and other prejudices that we might have developed in our everyday roles.
  • We are a shame-free zone.¬†Language that primarily exists to disparage, shame, dismiss, taunt, bait, exclude, or otherwise diminish another person is not allowed on Mad In America. Comments containing such language will be removed, and people who cross this line will be put on moderation. In these cases moderation periods will last longer (at least a week) and temporary bans for repeat offenses will be swift.
  • We are a certainty-free zone.¬†Benefit of the doubt will be given in all cases. Commenters are asked to refrain from assuming or inferring anything about another person’s position. Errors of omission or misuse of terms are always assumed to be made in good faith. A person’s choice not to acknowledge or respond to specific arguments will not be assumed to be malicious, or a sign of a character flaw, or otherwise held against them. Under no circumstances may individuals represent and attack an argument that is not explicitly made by the person they are responding to. This “strawman attack” behavior is disruptive, unkind, and too often committed in error.¬†When in doubt, ask the other person an open-ended question rather than declaring you know their truth.
  • We are an oppression-free zone.¬†Comments that are racist, sexist, transphobic or otherwise oppressive may be subject to removal. Statements that attack or assume things about a person based on a label they carry (i.e. “psychiatrist” or “schizophrenic”) are similarly not condoned.

Thank you for working with us to make Mad In America a vibrant and welcoming space for this important dialogue.

How does moderation work?

In nearly all cases, comments are approved within 24 hours. The Mad In America staff will remove comments that do not contribute in the above ways or violate the expectations in the posting guidelines above. Individual users who repeatedly post inappropriate comments may then be warned of the need to alter their behavior. Continued violation of the posting guidelines will result in a temporary ban from the site lasting a month or more. We strive to be as consistent as possible in our enforcement while acknowledging that all moderation decisions are subjective.

MIA staff may not read every comment posted on the site. Reports of inappropriate comments and questions regarding moderation may be directed to our moderator, via the Contact page, or by pressing the report comment button.

What should I do if my comment was moderated?

We encourage thoughtful comments that move the conversation forward to be resubmitted without the personal attacks or misrepresentations that caused it to raise concern. You may contact the community manager if you would like to discuss why your comment was considered an attack, misrepresentation, off-topic, or otherwise uncivil. We never intervene based on the positions being argued. Please note that Mad In America only removes comments based on violation of these guidelines. We do not remove comments on user request, or for any other reason.

Why do you moderate posting this way?¬†Shouldn’t¬†everyone‚Äôs voice be heard freely?¬†

Years of experience with online community and the first six months of activity on this site have demonstrated several reasons to moderate online discussion. We find that a public space that allows abusive, disrespectful, or off-topic comments shuts down conversation and benefits very few people.¬† The majority of bloggers and community members, who are interested in civil conversation, are dissuaded from contributing to such an environment; instead, the conversation becomes dominated by the ‚Äúloudest‚ÄĚ voices. This leads to a negativity echo-chamber where productive dialogue becomes impossible.¬†This kind of abusive environment mirrors and perpetuates the very problems we would like to address. Mad In America invites sincere comments that are on-topic, respectful, and do not harm other people. We believe this intention reflects principals of healthy human connection. We sympathize with and respect the need, at times, to communicate feelings of outrage and anger. Please feel free to do so in a way that does not shut down the conversation for others. If you have a question about a specific comment you would like to post, we invite you to run it by us before submitting.

What if I have things to say about Mad In America staff or this policy? 

Please submit feedback to us directly via the Contact page.