Here’s 5 tips for new and old members alike to help you get the most out of your forum experience.
1. A good title makes the difference
Just like a headline in a newspaper, when scanning the dozens of threads to click into, it’s only natural that people will choose the ones that resonate with them most. A title that entices the reader, or asks a question, is likely to get a better result than something non-descriptive like “Depression” or “I don't know what to do”. If you think you’re not good at choosing titles, leave it till last. Spend time writing your post, then perhaps choose a sentence from what you’ve written as the title.
2. Join in threads that have already been posted
We all have our own unique stories, but part of the reason for joining a forum like this one is because you know that you will have a lot in common with others who are posting. Before starting a new thread, have a look through the current topics being discussed and see if there’s a conversation you can join in with. It can be quite common to have a handful of very similar threads happening at any one time, with members seemingly unaware that there are others right there who are going through the same thing. Talking to other members on their threads is a great way of getting yourself known so that when you post a thread of your own, people may respond quicker because they recognise your name and feel they know you.
3. Choose the most appropriate section for your post
Many people browse the forums looking for stories specifically to do with pregnancy and parenting, employment, grief, loss, separation etc. Going straight for the “Depression” section may seem like the easiest option, but this section is often the busiest, so your post is more likely to get lost among the threads. Making good use of the different forum sections not only helps keep the forum relevant, but you’re more likely to find others who are going through the same experiences as you. Also, if you're wanting to discuss issues of trauma, abuse, suicidal thoughts or self-harm, it's really important you post in the designated section to avoid triggering others who may not wish to read about these topics.
4. Try and keep it short!
Sometimes the hardest thing to do. We have a forced 2,500 character limit on the submission form (about the size of one whole typed A4 page). Posts that go on for longer than one screen, where people have to scroll in order to read, run the risk of people skimming your post and not reading it. Break up your paragraphs as well - big blocks of text with no breaks are equally intimidating for others to read, as is txt language and abbreviations (It's like talking to someone in person and not taking breaths or pauses). Please don't try and cheat the limit by submitting multiple-part posts...it only creates more work for our moderators who have to clean the forum up. Forums are about dialogue, not monologue. You'll have plenty of time to tell your story if you're patient, stick around, and take the time to discuss, not broadcast! :P
5. Stick to one thread for support
When seeking support on the forums, we really encourage members to use one thread rather than starting new ones all the time. It's really difficult for the community to keep up with your story if you have a lot of threads going at once, and you may find yourself having to repeat information if your story is spread across the forum - sometimes our members will be repeating themselves as well if it's an issue you've had previously. Help us to support you by keeping to one thread, even if you're returning here after a period of time. There's a lot of value in seeing how someone's story evolves over time, and when facing a new crisis it's helpful to scroll back and see how you've coped previously.
Please feel free to share your own tips below on how to get involved in the community and get the best out of your time online.