To this point, this site has maintained an open policy on the posting of links (URLs) to other sites (given common standards like good taste, and non-commercial links).
If you don't know, this liberal position is very unique, as most support forums maintain rather draconian rules disallowing all links to external sites not affiliated with the site itself. The reason we allow them is that ThisisMS encourages all members to educate themselves as much as possible, and oftentimes interesting and valuable information can be found just "a click away." Even if you never return to This is MS, we've done you some good if you find valuable information here. There is no problem with that, and it fits in with the original paradigm of the interlinked "web" of data that has become our beloved Internet.
However, this open policy has been abused from time to time, most recently in the arena of extraneous, repetitive links to generic pages at a given website. One generic link in particular has been mentioned in 182
separate threads, and many, many more times in each of those 182 threads, probably approaching 1000 mentions! To any reasonable individual, this constitutes an abuse of an open policy, and more practically, clutters the site with repetitive offsite links that can already be readily found.
As/If I notice this abuse, I will selectively disallow the posting of such URLs. If you're looking for guidelines to avoid this, here are (some, not all) some general rules:
>> Links should not point to a commercial site that is selling something-- if you have a vested interest in what is being sold. For example, links to articles in scientific journals are fine, even though they are usually "for sale."
>> The link should point to information specifically relevant to the discussion it is posted in-- not to a generic page (E.g., it should point to an article highly relevant to a particular discussion, not to http://www.example.com). Exceptions can be made if the generic page is indeed relevant and, to the knowledge of the poster, has not been mentioned before.
>> Repetitive links to a particular site will send up a red flag. Though there are certainly exceptions where doing so might make sense, if the particular link can already be easily found, why constantly post it? All posts are archived (we do not as yet "prune" older information) and thus readily available with a quick search. Therefore the posting of redundant information is akin to forum spam, and will result in the permanent banning of the link in question.
Like all things should be, this is considered a dynamic list of guidelines and will be adapted with time and wisdom. Members who have questions or disagree with what we believe is a very reasonable position should feel free to discuss their concerns with me. Anyone who has spent some time here knows how strongly we support the right of MS patients to learn, educate and empower themselves. When those purposes are no longer being met (and we have to use our best judgment to determine that), we have to step in.
Though I loathe to say this, it is necessary-- members who disagree by simply flounting the rules, and thereby placing themselves in a situation where they are no longer positively contributing to the community, will be asked to leave after being provided a warning.
In summary, this forum prides itself on open discussions of anything relevant to MS. Please do not abuse the open and accepting nature of this board to spam by constantly posting the same information or advertising products and/or services. We have worked very hard to create this resource, this atmosphere, and to attract the brilliant members that call this 'home.' We want to make sure we continue to serve the entire MS community in the best way possible.
Thanks for your understanding, and your visit.