Please help us finalize details of a ThereIsHelp indicator on user's profile pages who are interested in participating.
This has been a while in the planning stages and my apologies to folks who have given us advice on this over the months when we didn't seem to be moving forward on it. Here is what we are proposing and we'd like some feedback before implementation. This is not a "Should we do this?" request, it's more "We are doing something more or less like this, can you let us now what we might not be thinking of and/or help make the implementation better or more useful?" Thanks in advance for your thoughts.
In the wake of Bill Zeller's death the community was thinking about ways we could say "I am available" to the community for discussion of issues that some people find too difficult to talk to people in person about for a variety of reasons. We created the ThereIsHelp
page on the wiki.
We would like to have a small indicator, viewable to members only, that a MeFite is available for talking to about difficult/problematic issues. Based on what the ThereIsHelp page has evolved into, we'd like to have members be able to say they're available for either general contact or contact in a few broad areas. People could see this indicator on a user's profile page or there could be a simple sort for all users that are available in a general broad area. We're thinking some sort of small set of icons about the size of the backtagger icon we used to have and something like "I can help" with the icon or icons afterwards indicating which area a user could offer help in. You could pick up to three areas or "Any area." Clicking on the icon will take you to a list of users who have said they're available to talk on that topic, in some sort of random order. We'll explain this in longer detail in the FAQ.
The sections we're thinking about generally include
- Talk to me about anything, or...
- Substance Abuse (alcohol, drugs, addictions)
- Rape/Harassment/Domestic Abuse
- Mental Health Issues (anxiety, depression, therapy)
- GLBTQ concerns
We know we could have a dozen categories and that people are going to want finer granularity here, but this is something that we feel needs to be fairly concise. It's also not for just chitchatting about problem topics [children, pets, neighbors] it's supposed to be more or less "I am in danger/crisis and I need someone to talk to about X"
- Obviously this is not supposed to be a substitute for professional help.
- People will need to be contactable via MeMail. It's okay if you have blocked certain people but not if your MeMail is turned off. Once people have made contact, feel free to follow-up with whatever mode of communication works for you.
- Users are welcome to participate or not, or even interact with certain users or not, but we'd like if people who opt to say they're available at least reply to queries, even if it's with "Can't help on this specific topic, sorry" Obviously we can't enforce this, but that is our general feeling.
- If people feel the need to be more specific about what they can't can't offer, they can put that in their profile pages.
- Regular caveats about MeMail apply. Please do not abuse the system. Please do not reveal MeMail conversations to the larger community.
- Does this sound about right?
- Is there a huge flaw that would keep you from using this, if you are the sort of person who is interested in this feature?
- What else do you think we need to consider that we have not considered?
Thanks for your time. I've personally received a lot of timely and appropriate help from different people in the community at various times and I'd love it if more people were able to share in this sort of community benefit.