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Changes to Groups and Blogs


[Co...]

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Our old thread-based groups and thread-based Buddie Blogs tended to create silos and curtail interaction between established and newer members. This needed to change.

We have moved away from the free-for-all creation of thread-based groups and blogs. Our aim now for groups is to target particular support gaps unfulfilled by our regular community forums.

We also encourage the creation of off-topic groups for fun and distraction. Off-topic groups should be broad enough in scope to ensure a reasonable level of activity.

If you would like to start a true blog or propose a new group, post a request through the Contact the Team forum. If you are an established member, or a newer member eager to start a blog, we normally will enable this for you.

The Problem, and the Solution

The old thread-based groups frequently...

  • failed to attract even a single response
  • covered very similar subjects
  • created silos (members stayed in the group instead of actively participating in the broader community)
  • introduced unnecessary distinctions based on particular benzodiazepine,* dosages, quit dates, techniques, etc.

* What we mean by 'unnecessary distinctions' is that there is greater likelihood of encountering common shared experiences if we avoid targeting a particular benzodiazepine. By focusing on one benzodiazepine or other narrow circumstance, members needlessly restrict the potential for good, constructive feedback.

Buddie Blogs frequently...

  • included discussion of withdrawal support matters better shared in the core areas of the community
  • created silos
  • became cliquey and consequently were uninviting for newer members.

Since the restructuring:

  • Newer members are better supported, interacting more with established members.
  • In the space of a month, activity levels in the core support areas of the community have almost doubled.
  • Because newer members are now better engaged, they are posting more and (we hope) more likely to stick around.
  • The nearly 80% decline in community activity levels since its peak in 2014-15 is reversing.
  • BenzoBuddies is now better fulfilling its mission to help those wishing to quit their use of benzodiazepines and/or recover from their dependency.

 

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I understand most of what you are saying Colin, during my years here I had one of the most posted blogs as you know, and I know many read it daily. I guess I just have a little problem thinking that we were cliquish, I never felt that way, I was open to anyone that wanted to come on and join us. Yes we did talk a lot about various things, but my ambition was always to help everyone and for others to see that nothing is hopeless. I will never forget those that joined us, and are now benzo free and enjoying life, and if our Silo helped them, and I am sure it did, I am grateful. I am also grateful to you Colin for letting us have our "Village" as long as we did, and for keeping the Forum up and running. Without BB, I do not think I would have done as well and not sure that I would have healed. I am adjusting to our new Forum, but sadly others are not, and have left, but I pray they will come back and give to others. Thanks again Colin for you, and your staff that have helped to make BB a premier Forum.:classic_smile:

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Hi @[be...]

If I come across as blaming members for this, that is not my intention. I have written elsewhere on this matter and stated that if anyone was to blame, it was me. When we created thread-based groups and blogs, we did not anticipate where were it would end up. The reality is that established members gradually participated less and less in core parts of the support community, and more and more in 'Buddie Blogs' and thread-based groups.

Taking each of these in order:

  1. Buddie Blogs is not an obvious place for new members to seek support and help with devising a taper plan, etc. And since those blogs were so personal in nature, reflecting the personality of the member who started them, and largely appealing to 'friends', this would be off-putting to newer members. Just as it was never my intention for Buddie Blogs to develop in this way, I am not suggesting for a moment that this was the intention of Buddie Bloggers. Rather, it was an inevitable consequence of providing the space in the first place - and that's my fault, if anyone's.
  2. Thread-based groups tended to create very narrow terms for engagement. This puts off many who might have useful input from even reading the thread. And if they read the thread, they might (erroneously) assume that their experience as irrelevant.

I will add that 'the proof is in the pudding'. Activity is up. And activity in core support is way up.

I appreciate that you already understand all this. So my comments are more for others who might not yet fully understand our reasons for making the changes. And we still have other features to fully role out which we hope will further improve activity levels.

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13 minutes ago, [[r...] said:

@[be...] I didn't think he was talking about your blog, Flo. The main problem that I'm glad is finally being address is the multiplicity of groupuscules.

Thanks Evan you have always been my rock, during hard times, and I appreciate you so much my dearest Friend.:classic_smile:

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16 minutes ago, [[r...] said:

@[be...] I didn't think he was talking about your blog, Flo. The main problem that I'm glad is finally being address is the multiplicity of groupuscules.

Yes, this support space became very fractured. And, yes, siloed. @[be...]'s blog was very popular. And it surely had its positives. But it was just one of a multitude of 'blogs' drawing support away from the core forums, where newer members tend to coalesce.

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@[Co...]  Amen, as I said. But when it comes to blogs like Begood's Village, I always had the impression that there was very little discussion of actual benzo issues that would interest anyone else. It was really more of a Kaffeklatsch. Every morning the girls would stop by and exchange hugs and see how everyone was doing - which is why I never posted anything on it hehe. It wasn't that I ever felt unwelcome or excluded. It was just that, with all those hugs and hearts and kittycats, it was about the most un-redevan kind of group imaginable - as I'm sure everyone who knows me would attest. ;)  At the same time, I understood that a lot of our buddies did find that blog very helpful. It gave them encouragement, it lifted their mood, it made them feel loved and less alone - and lonliness is such a huge problem for those going through benzo withdrawal. That's why Begood's Village was so popular, and that's why I said that I didn't think you were actually referring to Begood's Village, since it really had none of the negatives that concerned you. However, to fix the problems that did concern you, it was necessary to take action that impacted even blogs like begood's - a sort of collateral damage, which is unfortunate. And there are probably others that will be affected by this change, even though they were not a problem in themselves. But the change itself was necessary, and I'm sure as time goes by you'll come up with refinements that will target the actual offenders more precisely - because you never quit. :thumbsup:

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@[re...] Well, we - the team, more than me, because I rarely frequented Buddie Blogs - appreciated that @[be...]'s blog was a bit different. So, shortly after we implemented the changes, Begood's Village was moved to The Bright Side. However, there was pushback from some members who felt it was unfair that Begood's Village was relocated and allowed to continue, but other blogs were not. Of course, they had a point. So, reluctantly, Begood's blog are archived again. But surely similar spaces can exist again. Perhaps the Bright Side, or Off-topic, or maybe another forum.

We try to be pragmatic, not be too set it how we operate, but we cannot be all things to all members. Compromise is inevitable.

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@[Co...] I agree totally. I had the illusion of belonging, while in fact I was on my own all the time. Now it's possible to interact with many new people, who don't necessarily have to "love" me, but whom I can try and help. This way I'm helping myself and learning lots of new things. 

@[re...] yes, a Kaffeklatsch could be an accurate description. To paraphrase Kurt Cobain, I felt "locked inside a heart-shaped box". But I stayed there willingly.

As Saul Bellow put it: "A great deal of intelligence can be invested in ignorance when the need for illusion is deep." Yes, I do regret it took me so many years to choose comfort and cosiness over the unease of being totally on my own.

I do regret all the new people whom I could have helped, but whom I ignored. Cause I was drained of energy. I think this place is not about making friends or enemies. It's rather about trying to alleviate the pain of another human being. This is the only way to alleviate our own pain. 

As a Newcomer, I came here and just left for many long months, cause I felt invisible. This was a very painful feeling. The first BBs to actually notice my existence were @[Be...] and @[be...]. Both no longer here, unfortunately.

And I was forever grateful for this. I finally wasn't ignored altogether, which can be very hurtful and make you leave the site in a matter of days.

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@[Co...]

As much as I understand and appreciate the changes that have been made and the inherent need to do so to stay socially relevant.

I am concerned and disappointed that there was no forewarning that “buddie blogs” were removed from this new platform for those of us who had them.

A simple private message to all “buddie blogs” authors prior to the changeover would have allowed us to prepare in some way.
To come onsite to find the main areas we frequent removed, with no ability to communicate with our buddies on our blogs to coordinate another meeting place apart from PM ‘s (which I am not a fan of), trying to navigate a new site in the process was distressing for me and I would suggest other buddies also.

 

I am trying to embrace the new site but really have no idea where I fit here (I felt the same before & that’s why I stayed in mine & my buddies blogs). 
I have joined the Long Haulers group with the intention of encouraging some other buddies to do the same (one has been here since 2009 so I figured they might fit in there too).

This buddie I invited over told me that a mod they had spoken to in PM’s, had said that they don’t fit there (I’m not saying this is what the mod said but that the buddie believes it was).
This buddie now feels unwanted on this forum.
I know that this buddie used their blog ad part of their Mental Health Plan outside of this forum.  


I don’t think you really understand the implications of the manner in which the “buddie blogs” situation has had on individuals.


I hope that in future you consider issues such as these when you consider making changes.

 

 

 

 

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Hello @[ca...]

13 hours ago, [[c...] said:

@[Co...]

As much as I understand and appreciate the changes that have been made and the inherent need to do so to stay socially relevant.

I am concerned and disappointed that there was no forewarning that “buddie blogs” were removed from this new platform for those of us who had them.

To avoid any possible confusion, Buddie Blogs have not been removed - they are archived. Check the archives at the bottom of the forum index. Here's a direct link to the archived Blogs:

Buddie Blogs - BenzoBuddies Community Forum

13 hours ago, [[c...] said:

A simple private message to all “buddie blogs” authors prior to the changeover would have allowed us to prepare in some way.
To come onsite to find the main areas we frequent removed, with no ability to communicate with our buddies on our blogs to coordinate another meeting place apart from PM ‘s (which I am not a fan of), trying to navigate a new site in the process was distressing for me and I would suggest other buddies also.

It is not possible for us target members in this way. We posted about the changes to the community.

We appreciate there have been a lot of changes, but they are already having positive effects. The changes were absolutely necessary to ensure the future of BenzoBuddies.

13 hours ago, [[c...] said:

I am trying to embrace the new site but really have no idea where I fit here (I felt the same before & that’s why I stayed in mine & my buddies blogs). 
I have joined the Long Haulers group with the intention of encouraging some other buddies to do the same (one has been here since 2009 so I figured they might fit in there too).

This exemplifies the problem, and why we had to implement the changes. We are already finding that newer members are better engaged by established members with their wealth of experience. If (many) established members are instead siloed with their circle of buddies in their personal Buddie Blogs, this does little to help newer members, who are then less likely to stick around to help future new members. As long-time members tend to drift away eventually, and were not being replaced by new members, this lead to an inevitable decline in activity at our community. Activity levels (before then changes) were down by more than 80% from our peak in 2014-15.

13 hours ago, [[c...] said:

This buddie I invited over told me that a mod they had spoken to in PM’s, had said that they don’t fit there (I’m not saying this is what the mod said but that the buddie believes it was).*

This buddie now feels unwanted on this forum.
I know that this buddie used their blog ad part of their Mental Health Plan outside of this forum.  
I don’t think you really understand the implications of the manner in which the “buddie blogs” situation has had on individuals.

* This would seem rather unlikely. (Understatement). 

We do understand. But we also understand the negative effects thread-based Buddie Blogs and thread-based Groups had upon the greater community. We could either cater for an increasingly smaller number of members, fade away, and close; or, we could make the much needed changes in how we operate. To be clear, we are really moving BenzoBuddies back more to how it operated ten years ago, before many members became too heavily entrenched in areas of the community which were uninviting to newer members (Buddie Blogs) or created unnecessary and divisive distinctions (groups - as they used to operate).

13 hours ago, [[c...] said:

I hope that in future you consider issues such as these when you consider making changes.

With respect, we did consider these things. But we operate for the greater good. BB cannot be all things to all people. Running any community (or any operation) requires compromises to be successful.

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@[ca...]

I understand it is difficult for you and I'm really sorry. It also was for me in the beginning. But @[Co...] has gotten it perfectly figured out, please try to trust him. I spent hours reflecting over these changes and also see them work out in practice.

Our Founder has gotten a long-term, global vision. Something which isn't very common for us, human beings. We prefer instant gratification over achieving long-term goals. We are usually wired like this, not paying much attention to our future as a Community. It takes a lot to see this place as a Community of people who suffer. And not "my own" particular place.

Many people like to view themselves as the center of the Universe. Altruism and concern for the well-being of us all, for win-win situations, is becoming more and more rare, unlike in Eastern cultures.

I hope you get used to the changes and see the deeper meaning in them🤍

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Thanks for your response @[Co...]

I think you've misunderstood why I posted.

I'm so tired of people in positions of authority making changes/rules without apology. It seems very cold hearted.

I understand that is not your intention - I thought I made it clear, that I understood that.

 

14 hours ago, [[E...] said:

I understand it is difficult for you and I'm really sorry.

The difficulty for me is knowing that there are buddies out there who feel they have no place now.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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6 minutes ago, [[c...] said:

Thanks for your response @[Co...]

I think you've misunderstood why I posted.

I'm so tired of people in positions of authority making changes/rules without apology. It seems very cold hearted.

I understand that is not your intention - I thought I made it clear, that I understood that.

The difficulty for me is knowing that there are buddies out there who feel they have no place now.

Hello @[ca...]

The problem, as I see it, is that how BB was formally structured, it encouraged a silo mentality where many established members failed to interact and help newer members. With respect, if some of those members choose to interpret the changes as some kind of attack or breach of trust, they are cutting themselves out of support at BB. Because there is, surely, nothing preventing them from continuing to participate at BB to both gain and provide support.

We needed to change how BB operates. As I explained in my previous post, we could have continued with the status quo, but the community would continue to fade away and close. I have explained across many posts that while we understand that some will find the changes unsettling, we have a duty to the community as a whole. We need to ensure BB's future. No one is barred from here due to the restructuring. We are opening up the community, not narrowing its focus or utility. The Mission of BB is to provide benzodiazepine withdrawal support for anyone who requires it. It is not our purpose to provide a cliquey, narrow experience, which is uninviting to new members. We were failing in our Mission - we fixed it.

I regret that some established members feel they have lost something by the archiving of thread-based Buddie Blogs and thread-based Groups. But given that we are now better fulfilling our Mission to help people with benzodiazepine use and withdrawal, and no one has been forced away from BB, for what am I supposed to apologise? The changes are necessary to save BB from closing. But, seemingly, that would be the better option for some so long as they can continue to communicate and use BB with their small circle of friends until its inevitable closure.

I should also add, the changes were a decision made by the senior team here. And although there were some initial sceptical voices within the established membership after the changes, many (most?) have come around and can now see the benefits. Certainly, there have been many comments to this effect. This is return to how BB used to operate at its peak.

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I understand @Colin,

I have pm'd the member I have concerns for and made some further suggestions for how they can be involved in the first instance.

This site is invaluable to so many. It's closure would be devastating. I would not want that.

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12 hours ago, [[c...] said:

Thanks for your response @[Co...]

I think you've misunderstood why I posted.

I'm so tired of people in positions of authority making changes/rules without apology. It seems very cold hearted.

I understand that is not your intention - I thought I made it clear, that I understood that.

The difficulty for me is knowing that there are buddies out there who feel they have no place now.

You know @[ca...], "Every new beginning comes from other beginning's end", as Seneca once put it.

It is better to focus one's energy on building something new than to mourn the death of an illusion. Independently of how much pain the ending has caused you. Pain is an integral part of life and there wouldn't be happiness without pain.

The most important thing is to learn from one's mistakes. Even better to learn from others' mistakes, but you need a real wisdom for that. 

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@[Co...]

Whatever you deem right, Boss😊

My condolences (is it okay in English?) for having to talk to that person @[Ju...], they have so much to say in such an impassioned manner. 

I was really trying to read, but it's so tiresome. Some people seem obsessed with an idea. And you never really know if they listen to you. Or only to themselves.

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Well really there's only two types of people on this website. There's the ones that are pro-government, and the ones that are anti-government. To label one side obsessed and not the other, doesn't make a whole lot of sense.

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@[Ju...]

It's better if you write shorter posts. Sorry, didn't mean to offend you. Or anyone for that matter. We all have our struggles. I actually am very short of time this week. I find long posts too overwhelming.

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Just now, [[E...] said:

@[Ju...]

It's better if you write shorter posts. Sorry, didn't mean to offend you. Or anyone for that matter. We all have our struggles. I actually am very short of time this week. I find long posts too overwhelming.

Better for who? And my feelings don't get hurt, I'm 40 years old and simply discussing a post that I don't agree with at all. Colin was trying to act as if this website is not extremely moderated, so I was giving him details of why it is. It seems a few people had an issue with that, which was my original point.

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