Community guidelines

Updated 2 May 2014

The Talk about Autism community is for friendly and supportive discussion of the issues surrounding autism.

Who is the community for?

  • Parents, carers and family members of people with autism
  • People on the spectrum
  • Teachers, professionals and experts
  • People interested in autism
  • All members must be over the age of 16

How do I join in?

  • Firstly create a profile by registering. You’ll need a valid email address to register. You can then upload a profile picture and fill out your public profile. We will keep your information confidential and if you wish to remain anonymous you can use a pseudonym (no offensive words or email addresses).
  • Make sure you keep your password safe and always log out of shared computers. Each user is allowed one account. Any false profiles (pretending to be someone you are not) or duplicate profiles will be deleted. If you would like to change your username, please contact us and, most likely, we can do this for you while you keep all your profile data, posts, and other content.
  • You must join the site as an individual, not as an organisation, website or cause. Profiles under the names of (or including the names of) organisations, websites or causes will be removed from the site.
  • We encourage our members to add a picture to their profile. Profile pictures must not include logos, copyrighted material, or adult content which could be offensive to other members of the community.

For more specific instructions on how to join, as well as tips and advice on how to use the community, please visit the How to use the site page.

Be safe

  • This is a public forum so can be viewed by anyone searching the internet and posts will be indexed by search engines such as Google. Please be careful what you post – do not post anything confidential, contact details or personal information which could put yourself or someone else at risk. Mobile numbers, Facebook profile links and personal email addresses must not be posted. However, we do allow work and university email addresses to be posted. Please check our section on Online safety for more information about how to stay safe.
  • Please don't ask other members for personal or confidential information. Any posts doing this will be removed.
  • Naming and shaming of professionals, specialists and other service providers is not a good idea. For your own safety, if you wish to refer to specific people, please replace their names with fake names or use Xs.
  • We hope you will make friends within the community but do not share personal information unless you absolutely trust that person is genuine. If you plan to meet anyone you have befriended on the internet, never go alone and always meet in a public place.

Be nice!

  • We encourage lively debate and discussion. However, please take care to exchange ideas in a civilised way, presenting ideas in a tactful way and NOT SHOUTING BY USING CAPITALS!
  • Take care with humour which might be misinterpreted on screen. Using a discussion forum means that body language and intonation is lost – so language may more easily offend. Assume good will in others – consider that a negative sounding post may be misinterpreted. Listen to other members and be sensitive to their feelings and viewpoints.
  • If by chance someone does misinterpret your words and you receive an angry-sounding reply, or if you’ve read something and you are preparing to post an angry reply, we encourage you to use the count-to-ten method. This means you step away from the computer, count to ten, and then come back and compose a response which gives the benefit of the doubt. If someone is not responding to your attempts to be kind, please contact the Community Manager or a Community Champion for intervention.
  • We hope that each of you will recognise that personal beliefs are deeply engrained and not likely to change, and we ask that you recognise when to let things go.

Sharing advice

  • We hope the communities will be a useful way for sharing information and resources. However, this should not be substituted for professional diagnosis, advice and support. Any and all health and medical advice is intended for general discussion and educational purposes only. It is in no way intended to serve as actual, individual medical advice. It is possible that some information may be inaccurate, incomplete or otherwise flawed. Take any recommendations on the communities as you would treat any personal recommendation – check that it is authentic and suitable.
  • Be careful in sharing information yourself – don’t present opinions as facts and only share trusted resources. Please note that Talk about Autism and Ambitious about Autism do not necessarily support any of the recommendations given on the community and may remove posts containing advice it deems to be potentially unsafe. We assume no responsibility for any posts.

Advertising, petitions and spam

  • If you have something to offer which may be beneficial to our community, please do not register solely to post a link to your product, services, petition or website. We would love to hear about what you do, but only after you introduce yourself and make yourself an active part of our community. Then we can work on how to support each other.
  • Once you have established yourself in the community you are welcome to share your work with us. However, we ask that you maintain a good balance in your contributions, i.e. post your own things, but equally contribute to the other discussions happening here. Community membership should be collaborative.
  • Spam is likely to be deleted, most especially when you have posted the same information in multiple places.
  • Under no circumstances can the private messaging system be used to advertise products or services.
  • We don't allow links to products or services in signatures, but linking to your blog or personal website is fine.

Research and surveys

  • From time to time people visit the discussion forums to ask our members to participate in research. Please read our section about Safety (above) and note that the Research Ethics Framework from the Economics & Social Research Council (ESRC) applies to all research conducted in this Community. Whether you are running a survey or research, or participating, please view these guidelines and ensure that you have adhered to them before participating - Framework for Research Ethics.
  • All research requests posted must be from an educational institution (eg. college or university) or charity. Please include your work/organisation email address with your research.
  • Please note that Talk about Autism and Ambitious about Autism do not necessarily support research or surveys taking place on this website - these are independent initiatives.

No bullying

  • We operate a no tolerance policy on bullying, including racism, disablism, homophobia, sexism or ageism. Any threatening or abusive language will be removed. If someone offends you in this manner, report them immediately to the Community Manager or a Community Champion and do not enter into an argument with them.

Moderation

  • Moderators, including the Community Manager and Community Champions, have the final say on anything. If you have a problem, you may complain to them directly and not publicly on the community. Creating discussions or posts that question or reference adminstrative decisions or potential decisions, such as post removals and discussion closures, will be removed.
  • We are not perfect and if you feel we have made a mistake, please privately contact either the Community Manager or a Community Champion and we will review the situation.
  • If you would like a copy of your removed post so that you can adjust it and repost, please contact us. As long as we wouldn't prefer you to simply start over, we'll be glad to send you a copy.

You must not post…

  • Any posts with excessive self publicity, advertising, selling or soliciting. Personal details, private messages or emails. Unlawful material – such as indecent, racist or defamatory material or harassments and threats. Copyrighted material that infringes any legal rights. Posts promoting therapies deemed to be potentially dangerous. Anything intended to disrupt or vandalise the website.
  • The same information in multiple places.
  • Talk about Autism will ban anyone who continues to break the rules. We reserve the right to remove content if it is unsuitable but will send you a message if this happens. If you break the rules we will allow up to two warnings before a ban is placed and your profile is deleted. Serious offenses will result in an immediate ban.

Leaving the community

  • We understand that people will have to leave our community (of their own free will or otherwise) from time to time and to that end we do not delete accounts, posts, or other content posted on our community. Any content posted on this community becomes part of the community, even if you no longer are. You may request an item to be removed at any time, but we will decide when and if to remove content from the community.
  • If you wish to no longer be identified with our community, we will be glad to close your account and alter your profile information to remove all identifying characteristics. After account closure, you will no longer be able to participate in this community and this action is not reversible.

These guidelines are subject to change at any time and also apply to our social networks. We reserve the right to deactivate a member's account and remove content without warning.

If you notice any of the above vioaltions on the community or have a question about the guidelines, please contact Mike, the Community Manager, at mike@talkaboutautism.org.uk