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Changes to Forum Rules re: IDs and treatment advice [please read and comment!]

(11 posts)
  1. Nobugsonme

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    Posted 4 years ago
    Sun Jul 19 2015 18:52:49
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    There have been some concerns about non-experts giving pesticide treatment advice and doing insect or fecal IDs.

    Please consider the changes which have been made to the forum rules, in bold below -- I invite your constructive feedback -- feel free to ask questions or discuss below or send me an email. In a few days I will green sticky this but I find people don't always know to look there, so I wanted to let it bounce in the forum's latest discussions for a bit.

    Do you like the changes or should something different be done?
    Thanks for your input!

    Bolded material below shows what is new. (Material which already existed and is normally in bold is underlined with bolding removed below, to avoid confusion):

    ==========================================
    Giving Advice

    Please do not give advice on anything you're not qualified to give advice about. This is tricky, in terms of rules, because to some degree, you have to regulate yourself.

    Most consumers -- even those who have self-treated their homes -- should not be giving advice on which pesticides to buy and how to use them, for example, telling people to buy DE or how to apply DE.

    Offering a description of what you did for yourself in a post about your bed bug story is okay but this is very distinct from suggesting others do something similar. If the thread is one where a request for treatment advice is being made by the OP, you may have already crossed the boundary between "describing how I got rid of bed bugs" and "giving advice to others on treatment".

    If we have a FAQ on it (like DE or steam), please direct people to those. If you don't agree with those FAQs or think something should be added, then please make a suggestion about that. Remember there are qualified experts here who may be willing to answer questions about pesticides and you can direct users to them.

    Most consumers should not be identifying pest photos.

    There may be exceptions. For example, I am not an expert but can ID shiny spider beetles and cockroaches from twenty paces, and can tell you if you probably have a bed bug. (Probably, because closely-related species like Swallow Bugs and Bat Bugs can't always easily be ruled out from photos.) I've even on occasion identified a bug as a closely-related species, but I deferred to our expert entomologists for the final ID. Some other long-time users are also good at identifying specific bugs, and some like spideyjg have much more encyclopedic knowledge than I do.

    So if you're a consumer and you're absolutely sure about a bug ID, it's okay to respond, but in other cases, please leave bug IDs to expert professionals or more experienced consumers.

    Remember that incorrectly suggesting something is or isn't a bed bug can put another forum user on an emotional roller coaster ride until the experts ride in and correct you, and think how you'd feel if you experienced that. Remember a consumer might not even stick around to get the conflicting ID, and then you just sent someone away wrongly thinking they had, or didn't have, bed bugs.

    Fecal stains are even more difficult for most people to ID than insects. Unless you have a vast amount of experience, you probably should not be doing fecal IDs. To put it in perspective, I can think of only two pro forum users who regularly ID suspected fecal stains.

    If you do feel confident to offer any kind of bug or stain ID, please note in the post whether you are a non-expert (i.e. you are not a pest management professional with experience or entomologist). The same applies if you are describing treatment options you're aware of. This can be done on a post-by-post basis or you can use a signature (set in your profile) which can offer such a disclaimer in your first post in any thread.

    I started and run the site but am "not an expert."
  2. KillerQueen

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    Posted 4 years ago
    Sun Jul 19 2015 20:47:12
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    Agreed - it's been out of control here for a few months and even prevents me from replying at times.

    Also, A big problem I see - people firing question after question at a poster with no end it site. For what? The questions are not coming from a professional and a lot of them are useless and overwhelming for the original OP im sure. I shy away from them to because it's already over the top and I don't want to get in the middle of it. Suggesting this, that, and a third is not necessary most times and condemning a PCO's treatment from a non professional on the side lines helps nobody.

    That's it for now but the house did/does need cleaning or downsizing with regard to who answers what.

  3. robinsmom

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    Posted 4 years ago
    Sun Jul 19 2015 21:26:57
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    Sigh. I ask questions in order to clarify an OPs post, hoping a pro will answer...people seem to appreciate that someone is answering.

    I didn't realize this forum was for only pros. As for ripping bad pcos, if people's bed bugs aren't dying, or getting worse, they are justified in their anger, and as someone else who also had a sub par pco, I feel I have the right to voice my empathy.
    I have eliminated identifying bugs, even when I'm sure what it is. I don't see anybody else being ripped for identifying, though.

    Might there be an area set up where only pros can answer, so pros don't have to worry about us meddling non-pro busybodies from interfering?

    I'm not an expert just a dumb struggling bed bugger like every body else.
  4. Nobugsonme

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    Posted 4 years ago
    Sun Jul 19 2015 23:44:33
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    Hi KillerQueen,

    Thanks for your input!

    Hi Robinsmom,

    Thanks for your input also.

    I have eliminated identifying bugs, even when I'm sure what it is. I don't see anybody else being ripped for identifying, though.

    Note that no user is mentioned in my post above and that's because this isn't about anyone in particular. If this was an issue with one user, I would contact them directly.

    That said, you wouldn't be aware of what communications have happened with other users.

    The change to forum rules mentioned above is intended to help clarify things for all users. It is a work in progress and I hope others will also give their input.

    The rules are not intended to discourage people from encouraging new posters or trying to help. On the other hand, I do think each of us has different strengths and weaknesses in terms of which kinds of help we can offer.

  5. Nobugsonme

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    Posted 4 years ago
    Mon Jul 20 2015 20:55:15
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    Any more input?

  6. endless_nightmare

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    Posted 4 years ago
    Mon Jul 20 2015 23:13:02
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    is it still okay to provide local resources (psychological, social) for people who need them?

    I just dumped a bunch of link of that type for a local poster, I hope it's okay.

    Andrea
    not a PCO
    Spinal Cord Injury Advocacy/Volunteer
  7. Nobugsonme

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    Posted 4 years ago
    Mon Jul 20 2015 23:33:29
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    Endless--

    Absolutely. Recommending services of any kind is fine!

    Other kinds of feedback to others is also great.

    This is really just a caution against giving advice to others on how to treat with pesticides or giving pest or stain IDs (unless you're qualified to do that based on some combination of knowledge/experience/license), and if you do feel qualified but aren't an expert, stating this is important too.

    All of that was already in the forum rules except the specific mention of fecal stain IDs (in addition to bug IDs) and also the need for disclosure of non-expert status if some kind of pesticide advice or ID is being offered.

    (This would probably apply to other professional areas also-- most of us already mention we're not lawyers or not mental health professionals when making suggestions in those areas, for example.)

  8. Richard56

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    Posted 4 years ago
    Tue Jul 21 2015 7:48:18
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    Endless: is it still okay to provide local resources (psychological, social) for people who need them?
    --------------------------------------------
    The internet is unique in the depth and diversity of information and advice offered. With that comes some responsibility by the user to sift through that information and advice weighing what is presented and the source. There is no free lunch.

    I think the revised guidelines are necessary, but I would hate to see opinions stifled for fear of saying something wrong. In fact, you can sometimes learn more from a misguided post, when someone steps in and corrects the poster, often correcting one's own misconceptions.

    The quote, above, from "EN" is troubling if some people are interpreting the guidelines to mean a non professional should not offer advice. NoBugs has stated this is not her intention, so hopefully one will not read the guidelines too literally.

    Personally, I'd like to see more people contribute their opinions here, not less. That's how I learned about bed bugs, from sifting through hundreds of posts, from both professionals and non professionals, and then cross checking with independent source. That's the beauty of the internet and the strength of this forum.

    Richard

  9. Winston O. Buggy

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    Posted 4 years ago
    Tue Jul 21 2015 16:44:51
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    Certainly thought provoking, however not a direction that NB reached lightly I'm sure. Interaction
    and an exchange of input has always been a part of this blog which has also succeeded in maintaining a cadre of dedicated knowledgeable contributors to keep a scientific base as core. Bedbuggers have come and gone and many with their issues resolved moved on and in some cases, not. But I have seen at times some gross misinformation and some truly questionable and in some cases dangerous advice. Some kindness and some maliciousness. So I guess NB felt it was time to exercise a bit of control. Well best of luck and I hope people won't get too ruffled and things will iron out and move forward. Hey even I have refrained from RTFB. Lou on the other hand remains the consummate professional. Best of luck with the new direction.

  10. Nobugsonme

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    Posted 4 years ago
    Tue Jul 21 2015 17:16:04
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    Winston O. Buggy - 12 minutes ago  » 
    But I have seen at times some gross misinformation and some truly questionable and in some cases dangerous advice. Some kindness and some maliciousness. So I guess NB felt it was time to exercise a bit of control. Well best of luck and I hope people won't get too ruffled and things will iron out and move forward. Hey even I have refrained from RTFB. Lou on the other hand remains the consummate professional. Best of luck with the new direction.

    Thanks, Winston.

    Just to be super clear: the rules already discouraged forum users who weren't PMPs or entomologists from giving advice they were not qualified to give, which for most people means giving pesticide treatment advice and identifying pests they weren't sure about.

    That hasn't really changed. It's been in the forum rules for years and it's more or less how most people behave here most of the time.

    I want to echo Richard's response-- the current change is not meant to shut down any normal form of suggestions given by non-pros.

    What has changed, is I am suggesting people be clear about whether they are experts or not (PMPs/entomlogists or otherwise) when giving pesticide treatment advice (and then only if they really have the knowledge and background), or if they offer bug or fecal stain IDs. This can be in a signature which pops up automatically (as mine did above). Or you can say it when you need to.

    I ID bugs and also note I am "not an expert" in my sig file and I honestly believe it helps users understand that while I may be 100% confident bug x is not a bed bug, is a spider beetle, etc., it may also help them understand that when I say "I think it's a carpet beetle," it may not be. So they can weigh those kinds of answers differently.

    And it also helps highlight that my amateur "I think it's not an X" is not worth as much as an expert's "I think it's not an X".

    So really, I am asking others here who like me, are not bed bug professionals, to make that point clear if they're saying something that sounds like advice about bug/stain IDs or about using pesticides. (The latter is with the caveat that in many if not most cases, consumers don't have enough knowledge of pesticides to be telling other consumers how to best use them.)

    That said, while I hear what KillerQueen is saying, I don't think that non-pro users shouldn't respond to questions or ask them.

    Asking questions can sometimes highlight gaps which the experts have missed. For example, sometimes I ask things like, "do you have birds or bats nesting on your house."

    I can think of at least two recent cases where this was relevant and the question was not already asked by pros. In one recent case a pro had already confidently ID'd the photo as bed bug, and was suggesting the discussion cease based on this ID, whereas in fact the questions about bats and birds were leading us to see that might not be a correct ID and an actual sample needed to be viewed by an expert.

    Non-pros frequently help users get useful responses from pros who come along later, by asking users to fix links, or commenting on obvious points like insects which are obviously not bed bugs, or inspection/treatment questions which those of us who've been around the block can answer.

    Sometimes it can take a while to get a response from an expert and some questions don't require expert input. If non-experts didn't answer them, it would be a shame.

    On the other hand, as the forum rules note, the rules require you (all of us) to be conscious of what kind of responses you're giving others. You do need to be aware of your own knowledge and where it ends and be careful how you phrase things.

    This applies always, but is especially true on a site where we do have experts contributing advice and new users may not be able to discern when they are talking to an expert or an experienced consumer.

    Consider the following:

    a) "You should buy Cimexa."

    This is pesticide treatment advice. Most forum users who aren't pros probably aren't knowledgeable or qualified enough to be suggesting pesticides.

    b) "Some people have used Cimexa successfully."

    This is describing others' experiences and seems like a fair statement.

    c) "Some pros here are recommending Cimexa over DE."

    This is describing what you've seen on the forums and seems like a fair statement.

    (a) is quite different from (b) and (c).

    d) "I used Cimexa to self-treat. Here's what I did..."

    This is describing your experience. That's okay of course-- if you're posting about your experience or you're telling your success story.

    However, context matters: if you're offering this and further description of your treatment methods in response to the question, "How can I deal with these bed bugs?", then your response may be seen as crossing over from "describing your experience" to "giving treatment advice."

    You may have treated more than one household's bed bug problems and in that case, you may rightly feel you have a good amount of relevant experience. In this case, stating your level of expertise is a good idea.

    I hope this clarifies things and I encourage further questions/comments/discussion here since it does seem like everyone isn't quite on the same page about what changes are being made here.

  11. ItsJustABug

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    Posted 4 years ago
    Sun Jul 26 2015 21:08:15
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    I think you explained it very well there NB.
    I have learned a lot here on the forum and grown even more thanks to your guidance.

    I set these self discipline rules to myself:
    1. I never ID even when if sure it is a bedbug , because it could be related bug, the OP needs additional info, I may not be equipped to reply to their next posted questions.
    2. I only ID what I am 100% sure not bedbug so they can get on with there life while awaiting expert conformation.I only ID name a bug if I am 90% and then refer to expert conformation,
    Most of these are when it a weekend , post missed & falling back or Its in the best interest to reply to a OP so they can move on.
    I on occasion will give tips on itchy relief and I am in the medical field & am qualified for that but don't chose to do this professionally here.

    I see some poster just need some one to respond to the stress , that these are just as important to the over all situation of bedbug anxiety .I try to read the entire post twice before replying so my perception is clear on what they are projecting as to need " reason for posting" what is the question.
    I would also like to see some experts give the OP the next step when they ID a bedbug as well not just yes or no as it can be overwhelming to think once confirmed,

    I hope I am doing the right things, because it is tricky I know it important to state I'm a none pro/expert.Thanks for always giving us the opportunity to input on forum issues.


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