[dr. bob]

by Dr. Bob

Frequently Asked Questions

General issues


Deputy administrators

Technical issues


General issues


What's going on here?

These are message boards for mutual support and education.

These boards also give those who use other areas of my site a way to interact with each other and may foster interchange between professionals and the public. In general, I think that's a good thing, but this isn't a perfect world, so I must also remind you:


What kind of a name is Psycho-Babble?

A fanciful name. I mean no disrespect to anyone who participates. I also don't intend to overdo the caveat emptor business -- just because you see something on the Internet doesn't mean it's *not* true, either.


How should I decide what information to trust?

That's a hard -- and subjective -- question. Do consider the quality of the information provided. These comments (slightly edited) from others here should give you an idea of different ways this can be approached:


How should I decide what medication to take?

It's best to take medication only under the guidance of a knowledgeable medical professional. But that can be easier said than done. These comments (slightly edited) from others here elaborate on this better than I could:

What does FDA approval mean?
It is important to recognize that it is never a drug or other product that is approved or not approved, but a claim about the use of the drug or product... Neither the FDA nor the Federal government regulate the practice of medicine. Any approved product may be used by a licensed practitioner for uses other than those stated in the product label. Off-label use is not illegal, but means that the data to support that use have not been independently reviewed by the FDA. --US Food and Drug Administration

I hope that gives you an idea of the pros and cons. Please take care.


How should I respond to a poster who's suicidal?

To quote from below, this is a toughie. I think this is a good discussion of the issues, however:


Do you read these messages yourself?

I can't guarantee that I'll read every message. The idea here is to support and educate each other. But:

If you want to make sure I know about a post, please either post yourself to Psycho-Babble Administration or email me directly (and include "Psycho-Babble" in the subject line).


How can I report an adverse event?

Adverse events are undesirable and unintended responses to procedures. They're important to report because they may reflect risks to others about which there should be greater awareness. Please use this form to report adverse events that occur to you during your participation in Psycho-Babble.


How can I help this site run smoothly?

Your primary role is to support and educate, but you can also do a lot to help this site run smoothly:

I'd appreciate your help, it's another way you can contribute to the community, and it can also be a way for you to develop new skills.


Is this research?

One of the goals here is to help us understand how online communities work and affect the mental health of their members. This site is not currently considered a research study, but research has been conducted here in the past and may again be in the future. Case studies are not considered research, and Dr. Bob may at any time publish case studies on his web site or in a book or an academic journal.

I welcome opportunities to collaborate on research.


What does all the lingo mean?

Here's an explanation by Shar. But feel free just to ask, too!


Why doesn't anyone respond to my message?

Here's how some posters have responded in the past when this has come up:


Where do your pictures come from?

Usually from my iSight, but sometimes they're contributed by posters. The current one is from 10derheart. (Thanks!)


What are your credentials?

Please see my biosketch for a summary.




Can I pick any name?

Almost. Just don't pick one that another poster uses (or could easily be confused with one that another poster uses), isn't civil, or, if you're not a doctor, implies that you are.


Can I change my name?

Please don't post under more than one name at the same time. If for any reason you feel you need to change your posting name, follow these steps:

  1. Stop posting under your current name.
  2. Re-register ("for the first time") under a new name.
  3. Post a message (under your new name) at Psycho-Babble Administration to let others know that you used to post under a different name. This is to try to reassure them that posters who appear to be new really are new. You don't have to say what your old name was.

Can I post from any computer?

Almost. Just don't pick one that another poster uses. Sorry, but I can't think of a reliable way to differentiate between two people using one computer and one person using two names.


Can I post as much as I want?

Please share this site with others by not starting more than 3 consecutive threads on the same board or posting more than 3 consecutive follow-ups in the same thread. More than that may discourage less confident posters from joining in. Giving them more of a chance makes it easier for them also to help -- and to feel good about doing so.

There are exceptions to every rule, and those to this one may include:

The server may in the future be able to enforce this limit automatically, but it can't right now, sorry.


How can I get medication without a prescription?

Please don't use this site to exchange information that could be used to import into the US:

Both activities appear to be illegal. It's fine to discuss here the pros and cons of the medications, just not how to obtain them in those ways. In fact, please don't use this site to facilitate any illegal activities.

Please also do not request medication, money, etc., directly from or offer it directly to others here. Or ask, or explain, how to produce medication yourself.


How private is this?

It depends:

I ask for demographic information so that I can characterize the Psycho-Babble community. My policy is not to delete it. I ask for email addresses (and the server logs IP addresses) so that if there's abuse or serious danger, I can notify the person's Internet service provider (or other authorities). With those exceptions, I won't release any identifying information to anyone else. Unless ordered to by a court or something like that.

If someone else has posted information (including previous posting names) that identifies or private communications from you and you object, or if you did so yourself and have changed your mind, please contact me. I can edit out information like that, but my policy is not to delete entire posts.

If you receive an abusive email or babblemail from someone here, please forward it directly to me (with all its headers, if you know how to do that). FWIW, I can then block any Psycho-Babble or associated Yahoo Group registrations using that email address.

Registration information and connection logs are stored on the web server. The logs are used to generate usage statistics, but no individuals are identified. The web server has a security-hardened operating system and hacking alerts. It is in a modern data center and is monitored "24/7". Besides myself, only the computer support people should have direct access to it. Hackers or even burglars might, however, be able to break in.

You may want to think twice about what you post. It's easy to feel safe online and therefore to be open about yourself. That's one of the advantages of online message boards, but don't forget:

The only way to be completely safe from these risks is to abstain from this activity.


How do copyrights work here?

My understanding is that when you write something, you (usually) get the copyright to it. It doesn't even have to include a copyright statement. There's a process by which you can register that copyright, but that's a somewhat separate issue. However, I want to be able to use these posts elsewhere. For example, on my Book Ideas page or in articles.

You may therefore submit a message only if you agree to allow me unrestricted use of it. Submitting a message constitutes acceptance of that condition. But you retain the copyright.

At the same time, nobody should post anything they don't have the right to. When exactly one has that right, however, can be complicated. Even if the issue is the reposting here, without explicit permission, of the full text of an article copyrighted by someone else:

Date: Tue, 24 Jul 2001 17:56:37 -0700
From: Lawrence Lessig

This turns out to be a hard question. In my view, it is or should be fair use, but there is some authority to the contrary. Is there a reason you can't simply publish links?

Acceptable options include summarizing or paraphrasing, simply posting a link, as suggested above, fair use of a portion, or, of course, obtaining permission. If material you hold the copyright to has been reproduced here and you object, please contact me.

Please don't post passwords that are intended for only your use.


What exactly do you mean by "civil"?

The dictionary definition is something like "conducive to civic harmony and welfare", but remember also the mission of this site, support and education, and the golden rule.

Please respect the views of others even if you think they're wrong. Please be sensitive to their feelings even if yours are hurt. Different points of view are fine, and in fact encouraged, but your freedom of speech is limited here. It can be therapeutic to express yourself, but this isn't necessarily the place.

Please don't be sarcastic, treat injury or death lightly, suggest that others harm (or use this site to exchange information that could be used to harm) themselves or others, jump to conclusions about others, post anything that could lead others to feel accused or put down, harass or pressure others, use language that could offend others, disclose without permission information (including previous posting names) that identifies or private communications from another poster, post information that you know to be false, exaggerate or overgeneralize -- etc. Even if you're quoting someone else.

Information that could be used to harm oneself includes both how much it takes to overdose and how one can find out how much it takes to overdose. Please don't post information like that even if your intent is to warn others.

What exactly do I mean by "language that could offend others"? It depends, but will probably include words and phrases considered often or usually disparaging, obscene, offensive, or vulgar by Merriam-Webster OnLine. If you have automatic asterisking turned on (and don't bypass it), the server takes care of potentially offensive language, but some unnecessary asterisking may occur. If you turn off automatic asterisking, you have more freedom to express yourself, but you're also responsible for your language.

It's fine to give others feedback as long as it's constructive. It tends to be more constructive if you put things in terms of what the other person might do better rather than what they did "wrong". And it tends to be more conducive to harmony to talk about how you feel than what someone else did, for example, to use an I-statement like "I feel put down by what you said" instead of a you-statement like "you're so arrogant". But don't just word the latter as the former, as in "I feel Dr. Bob has gone overboard". :-)

If you're thinking about posting about the views of others, one way to get a sense of whether doing so would be respectful is to substitute your own views.

It may be helpful to take a look at this article on how to resolve conflict online or these virtual pamphlets on dealing with anger or stress. You can also ask another poster to be your civility buddy. Or count to 10. Give it overnight. Choose something like a star. It's also an option just to keep your reaction to yourself:

To be blocked is to be a counterfeit, for he is but the counterfeit of a poster who hath not the life of a poster; but to forgo incivility, when a poster thereby posteth, is to be no counterfeit, but the true and perfect image of posting indeed. The better part of valor is discretion, in the which better part he has sav'd his posting.

Be aware that there may be posters who try to start arguments and upset people ("troll"). Of course, not everyone who starts an argument or upsets someone *intends* to do so. What can be done about those who do? It may be best just not to respond. If you do, please be civil. One possible response is to encourage others not to respond, and one civil way to do that is to post something like:

Different points of view are fine, but sometimes discussions just lead to discord and it may be best just not to respond.

Also, please don't post the same information in more than one place at the same time.

Also, please don't post the same information in more than one place at the same time.

I shall not today attempt further to define the kinds of material I understand to be embraced within that shorthand description; and perhaps I could never succeed in intelligibly doing so. But I know it when I see it --Potter Stewart, Jacobellis v. Ohio, 378 U.S. 184, 1964

To elaborate on the above a little, I do *not* mean that I have any special gift for discerning the "true" degree of civility of anyone's comments. I just can't spell it out any better. Maybe more precise than "I know it when I see it" would be "not until I see it can I know it". Also, it's subjective. Others may know it when they see it, too, and we may disagree. So maybe even more precise would be "not until I see it can I form an opinion about it".

I know I'm not perfect, and this isn't always easy:

Language sets everyone the same traps; it is an immense network of easily accessible wrong turnings. And so we watch one man after another walking down the same paths and we know in advance where he will branch off, where walk straight on without noticing the side turning, etc. What I have to do then is erect signposts at all the junctions where there are wrong turnings so as to help people past the danger points. --Ludwig Wittgenstein, Culture and Value, 1931, translated by Peter Winch, 1980.
Such signposts are all that philosophy can offer and there is no certainty that they will be noticed or followed correctly. --Duncan J. Richter

I want to be open to feedback, but if you could also please try to accept what I decide and to trust that I'm doing my best to be fair and to do what I think will be good for this community as a whole, I'd really appreciate it. Thanks.

Please remember how others may respond:

Other comments from posters:


What's this about civility buddies?

Civility buddies are posters who volunteer to be available to you if you're uncertain how the civility guidelines might apply to a post of yours. There are at least two ways a civility buddy can help:

The current civility buddies are:

I urge everyone who feels the need, and would benefit, to make use of a civility buddy.

Dinah manages the civility buddy system. Those who believe they have a decent understanding of the civility guidelines can volunteer to make themselves available to those who feel they don't. It's a pragmatic way to support other posters and to reduce blocks.


What can I do if I feel harassed here?

First, I'm sorry if this happens. I try to keep the atmosphere supportive, but unfortunately it isn't always. To help, please be civil even if you feel harassed.

I'd rather lines of communication stayed open, but if that's not possible, you can, as a last resort, ask that another poster be asked not to post to you anymore. If you think you need to do that, follow these steps:

  1. Identify a post by them to you that makes you feel harassed. Use the "notify administrators" button below that post to let me and the deputy administrators know why it makes you feel harassed and, since this should be a last resort, what steps you've already taken to address the situation.

  2. If we're going to support your request, we'll post a response to their post. If not, we'll let you know why not. We may also decide their post isn't civil, but that's a separate issue.

  3. If we ask them not to post to you, but they do, use the "notify administrators" button below their new post to inform us.

If you post to them, it's OK for them to post to you in response. Your request stays in effect unless you change your mind, which you may do at any time (and are encouraged to do at some time to reopen lines of communication).

Posting to someone means directing either the subject line or the body of a post to them. Replying to a post by someone isn't necessarily posting to them.


How do you enforce these policies?

If I see a problem with something someone posts, I usually try to explain what it is I see as the problem. If it's the first time for them, I usually just ask them please to be more careful. If I've already done that, I may block them from posting for some time. The block is the result of one uncivil post, but its length is the result of the pattern of uncivil posts. If it's their first block, or their first block for a particular type of incivility, it's usually for 1 week. If they've been blocked before, it's usually determined by a formula that takes into account how long the previous block was, how long it's been since the previous block, and how uncivil the current post is:

B = 1 + (SD - 1) * exp(-P/r)

B = block length
S = severity
D = duration of previous block
P = period of time since end of previous block (in weeks)
r = 24 / ln 2 ~ 35

S starts at 2 and may be decreased by 1 if provoked, increased by 1 if uncivil toward a particular individual or group, particularly uncivil, or uncivil in multiple posts at same time, and increased by 2 if uncivil toward a deputy or deputies. If the poster seemed not to understand a request to please be civil and replied in an uncivil way, I may just try to explain again. If I missed the post and it's already been archived, I may just let it go. Here's a calculator (requires Javascript):

Duration of previous block weeks
Period of time since end of previous block weeks
Uncivil toward particular individual or group
Uncivil toward deputy or deputies
Particularly uncivil
Uncivil in multiple posts at same time
Different type of incivility
Didn't understand PBC and made effort to reply
Already archived
Result of formula
Block length weeks

I reserve the right to block a poster, and to set the duration of the block, or to make the block indefinite, and also to unblock a poster, if in my judgment that would be in the best interests of this community.

If someone's blocked, they can still read what others post, since what's posted is public. If they try to get around being blocked by posting as someone else or having someone else post for them, I block the other posting name, too, and extend the duration of the block. In the case of abusive posts, I may notify their Internet service provider (or, in the case of threats, other authorities).

I may delete posts I see as particularly inappropriate, but in general, it's my policy not to do that. When I do delete posts, I usually delete replies to them as well, because not doing so could lead to confusion.

If you're upset by something someone posts, you're welcome to respond to them yourself, but if you do, please be civil. If you want to make sure I know about a post, please either use the "notify administrators" button below the post or email me directly (and include "Psycho-Babble" in the subject line). Please remember, however, that posts can be upsetting without being uncivil.

If you're upset by something a deputy administrator does, you're welcome to email me. Please do *not* respond to them directly or use the notification button.

They may not actually be surefire, but I do recommend these tips on how to avoid getting blocked.


Deputy administrators


Why do you have deputy administrators? What do they do?

I can't *always* be online, so I ask other members of this community to volunteer to help out as "deputy administrators". Their main function in that role is to try to maintain an atmosphere of civility -- keeping an eye on what's going on and, if necessary:

  1. posting requests to be civil
  2. blocking posters who continue not to be after one warning
  3. deleting grossly inappropriate posts.

They use their best judgment as far as when to intervene, but it isn't easy. They don't want to act too soon, but they don't want to act too late, either.

They do not have access to registration information such as email addresses.


What's required to be a deputy administrator?

Interest in helping out. Not necessarily a lot of time or interest in every board, every little bit helps. An email address that can be made public here. Being able to stay cool -- and to take some heat. Regarding the last, Dinah says:

You should be warned of the emotional beating you might get. Some people extend their anger at Dr. Bob (and possibly others in their lives) to the deputies as well. People can get upset when they're blocked or PBCed. Sometimes you might wish your skin were a bit thicker. And it can be hard to wade into the fray, or even to decide when to wade into the fray. It can be nerve wracking.

More specifically, to "apply", candidates currently need to have been registered for 1 year, to have posted 300 times, and not to have been blocked for longer than 4 weeks at one time or within the last 3 months.


Can posters just abuse deputy administrators?

No. They're supposed to be civil to them. If they're not, they can be referred to me. They can *always* be referred to me. And complaints about them, even if civil, should be emailed to me directly and neither posted nor submitted using the notification button.


Do deputy administrators have to be technically savvy?

Not necessarily. They may not be familiar enough with the workings of the site -- or have the time -- to respond to technical questions. But others at Psycho-Babble Administration may be able to help you out, so try posting there. If the server malfunctions, probably all the deputy administrators will be able to do is turn off posting.


Do deputy administrators post under their usual names?

They used to, but now they post with "Deputy" in front of the usual names when in their deputy roles.


Do deputy administrators ever have to intervene?

They never have to intervene. They can always defer to me.


What happens if a deputy administrator makes a mistake?

Their actions are subject to review by me, and I should be able to be reverse them if necessary.


Who are the current deputy administrators?

The current deputy administrators are:


How can I contact you?

You can contact the deputy administrators and me at Psycho-Babble Administration, by using this contact form, or by email. Please of course be civil to us.


Technical issues


How do I confirm my registration?

Go to the registration page, scroll down to the "confirm registration" section, enter the posting name and password you chose and the confirmation code you received by email, and click the button.


How can I reset my password?

Go to the password reset page and follow the instructions there.


What makes this site different from other sites? Or, what are the options at this site?


How do I change the text size?

This web site is designed to let you change the text size through standard browser settings. So as not to reinvent the wheel, please see these instructions from the Web Accessibility Initiative.


What are those funny » characters?

They indicate that posts are directed to specific people. To flag a follow-up for the previous poster, click the "add name of previous poster" box. To find posts directed specifically to you, you can use Find in your browser to look for "» your name". If your browser understands Javascript, you should also get a button that does that for you.

On a Macintosh, "»" is shift-option-backslash. In Windows, I think it's alt-175.


What does "(nm)" mean? Can I post just a "subject", without a "message"?

If you submit a post without entering anything in the message box, the server usually assumes you made a mistake. If you *want* to post just a subject, without a message, then click the "no message, just post above subject" box when you enter your post. The subject will then have "(nm)", which stands for "no message", automatically added to it. Don't type it in yourself.

If you click that box by mistake, any message you enter will be ignored. This isn't an option when starting a new thread.


How do I turn on Javascript and cookies?

So as not to reinvent the wheel, please see these instructions from the New York State Division of Housing and Community Renewal. Some of the information there applies only to that site.


Why doesn't my message show up?

If you submit a message from the main page, and you use the version of the site with two separate windows, then the response appears in the second window, which you may need to look around for a little.

Also, the main page doesn't automatically update when you submit a message. If you want the very most current main page, you need to reload.

Also, your message may have been archived. Only the newest messages are listed on the main pages. To find older ones, click on "Archives", near the top.

Also, your message may have been posted to a different board than you intended. Try the other ones.


What can I do if a board or post comes up blank?

A web server bug occasionally causes web pages (main pages or individual posts) to come up blank (all white). If it's a board, you can probably fix it yourself by redirecting a follow-up to a post on another board to that board. We need to fix posts ourselves, so please contact us to let us know about those.


Why can't I start a new thread?

Some versions of Internet Explorer aren't as good as Firefox at working with frames (or at least don't do so in the same way). Try upgrading to version 5 or later or starting a new thread here instead.


Why is my password longer (or shorter) than it should be?

What's automatically entered in the "password" box isn't your actual password, but, for security reasons, an encrypted version, which may be longer (or shorter).

Example for demonstration purposes:

You can post with either the encrypted version or your actual password.


Why am I not receiving the email notifications I asked for?

You may be receiving it, but it may be going into a "spam folder".

Or there may be a problem with your email account. Some email account problems cause the notifications to be returned. If that happens, this site may not even try to send you future notifications. If you think this may have happened to you, let me know.


How can I cancel or suspend the email notifications I asked for?

To cancel them:

  1. Initiate a cancellation request. Each email notification gives you a URL of the form:

    Go to that URL, making sure to enter it in one piece.

  2. Complete the cancellation request. You are asked for your name and password. After you identify yourself, that thread won't email you any more notifications.

Instead of canceling them, you can also suspend them while you're on vacation (and resume them when you're back).


Why do the little yellow "new" indicators show up when they shouldn't? Or, why don't the buttons work?

This may be a cookie or cache problem. You can try:

Then cross your fingers!


How can I trace the evolution of a thread?

Posts are archived by date, and a thread can span multiple archives. If a reply to a post is redirected to a different board, that reply starts a new thread on the new board.

If a post is "in reply to" a previous post, the previous post will be listed as a link. To go to the previous post, just click that link. If the previous post has been deleted, the link won't work, sorry, but you may still be able to find it by searching.

The first post in a thread may be in reply to another post if it was redirected from another board. A later post in a thread may not be in reply to another post if it used to be the first post in a different thread that was merged into that thread.

The Thread section under a post lists the first post in that thread, the posts immediately before and after that post, and the most recent post in that thread. In the case of the first post, all the posts in that thread are listed.

Each thread has a number, at the bottom of each post just before the URL, to help you search just that thread. To search just the subjects, posters, or dates of posts in a thread, you can also use Find in your browser on the Thread section of the first post in that thread.


How do I keep from getting lost at this site?

Sorry if it's confusing! This explanation by Shar might help. Also, if you want, you can keep this small list of boards open and off to the side. Finally, if you have a question, feel free just to ask at Psycho-Babble Administration.


Why can't I find an old message?

Some old web page addresses may not continue to work because of the archive process. To find those messages, try going to the time period during which they were posted, on the main page under "Previous periods", or do a search.

Also, sometimes posts seem to be submitted by mistake and are deleted.


What do I do if WebTV says a page is too big?

WebTV should be able to read the page completely if you use the "small" text setting. To change the text size, go to the WebTV home page, click "Settings", click "text size", and select "small". That should do it!


How do I insert hyperlinks in my messages? Or, can I put HTML tags in them?

The server will automatically try to turn URLs (if they include the "http://") and e-mail addresses into clickable links. HTML cannot be entered directly.


Where can I get the scripts for this?

The original WWWBoard scripts were written in Perl by Matt Wright and are available for free at Matt's Script Archive. Other additions were adapted from WWWBoard Add-Ons and JavaScript Tip of the Week. Other changes I've made myself.

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[dr. bob] Dr. Bob is Robert Hsiung, MD, bob@dr-bob.org

Revised: July 12, 2017
URL: http://www.dr-bob.org/babble/faq.html
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