Ok, I am going to offer a different opinion here publicly, and I'm sure I'll draw some hate; and probably from some of you I actually find delightful and pleasant for the most part.
There's an awful lot of defensiveness that was inspired by bear's post. That should tell you something.
In general (just a generalization, mind you), when you are vehemently defensive about something there is sometimes a kernel of truth involved.
Now that being said, let me say what I've witnessed and my own experiences here since I joined. This will be long. Please bear with me.
I am a member of multiple fish forums. I have been a member of approximately 4 betta dedicated websites. And I have been a member of at least 3 tropical fish forum websites. I initially joined most of them a few years ago, when I first got back into betta keeping, and when I first set up my community tank. I have had good and not so good experiences with each, as is to be expected, though never anything severe enough to make me want to leave. I stayed with them all except ONE who in my opinion, did not stand strongly enough against a betta "hot topic" (which I will not name). The others I stuck with until I encountered a personal catastrophe; one which devastated me enough to want to leave keeping bettas behind for a long while. It hurt alot; and I wanted to separate from the hobby in a big way, and this included the forums I had spent so much time on, interacting with people. The love I had for my fish was a raw wound that needed to heal, so I left the "fish scene" for awhile.
Fast forward. A month or so (?) ago I decided to try again, and ended up with another betta friend; and as is par for the course for a forum addict like me, I went back to my old forums so I could share my excitement with fellow betta lovers. But for whatever reason, the activity on them was fairly gone. I still do not know where "everyone" went, but the posting was just not that active anymore. So I started hunting around for another forum.
And so I ended up here. And the first thing I saw after I joined was a drama thread, involving a particular user that has been banned multiple times now. Some of you might even know which one I'm talking about, but I'm not going to call it out publicly. This is a thread that has no business even being there anymore. It serves no educational purpose; and might scare away new users, users like me.
I almost took this site out of my bookmarks the same day I joined, because that thread was the first thing I saw.
But I didn't. I stuck around a little longer. I was pleased by the activity of this forum. I admit that was a big draw for me; because of all the time I spend on the computer. Over the brief time I've been a member, there have been countless times I do not agree with what is posted, as far as betta care goes. But one thing you learn as you grow older, is that there is more than one way to do things; and with a hobby like betta keeping, you will find that the one consistent argument is that bettas are all so different that there almost is no such thing as one right way to do things.
So any time someone comes in with a question on tank size, or whether to use salt, or whether to use a filter, when to medicate, etc.; I always point out what my opinion is; and that it is not necessarily the right answer. No matter whether myself, or you all want to admit it or not; there is no getting away from that fact, that our successes and failures are so vastly different that even now, many years after people first began keeping bettas, we STILL cannot say with certainty what the absolute best conditions are for keeping bettas. We can say what has worked for us and others; but we cannot say that this will work for someone else.
Now that that very long history and where I am coming from is out of the way. Since the initial 'drama' thread [which will not be named], I have been on the verge of leaving here on more than one occasion. And it's not because some have not embraced the concept I just outlined. It's because I've seen things in my short time here that have been unacceptable to me; and my fear is that if I'm seeing it this much in such a short time? It bodes ill for more time to come.
There are some things that are NEVER ok. It is never ok to make fun of or bash another member, even if they are not named, on this forum in public. All it took for me to find out the other day who was being mentioned was 3 clicks of the mouse and 2 minutes. And that is all it would take for the person being publicly embarrassed. It IS ok to have an issue with another member, and I would say it is expected. You cannot have a large community and not have problems with anyone. But that is no reason to justify outing them in public. It is degrading and elementary, and serves no good purpose. That is what the pm system is for, among other things. Feel free to say what you like about someone in private, so that his or her dignity isn't being assaulted in public; and you can still get things off your chest that are bothering you with those members you consider friends.
Do remember this: I'm not the only one who has been or is a member of multiple forums, I'm sure. I know some of you from quite a few over the last couple years, even if you do not know yet who I am. I am quite familiar with at least one who has been banned as well, long before I became a member here, yet another situation I did not learn of until I joined and started reading. I also know some on other forums who have been talked about on this forum. So I am not just a newbie who is looking at the surface and no further.
I know I rambled a bit, and I'm sorry. I felt it was necessary to explain my position with much detail. If I had to sum it up, I would leave you with this.
Next time you post, ask yourself the following: "Would what I'm about to write make me feel belittled?" If all of us do that; I truly feel this site would have even more members than it does now, because we wouldn't be scaring away some who come here wanting help, or wanting TO help, because they felt they were surrounded like a pack of wolves.
*As far as the facebook thing, in all honesty I think that's the business of the members who are part of the group. I didn't even know about it, and that is a good thing. As long as it's not advertised on this forum; I am not sure one thing has anything to do with the other. I felt it was important to point out that I did not know about the group; so that it is clear that my feelings about this matter in general came ENTIRELY from what I saw in the forum itself.
Very well said. A lot of this issue lies with members who feel like they're being talked AT and not talked TO. The last thing we want to see is reports of rudeness from new and existing members.
Unfortunately, we're seeing a lot of these lately. Even if our intentions are good (which I wholeheartedly believe in most cases), it's easy to misinterpret typed words.
And I could go back and find those posts where "unnamed" members were made to feel embarrased or stupid and re-post them here but that will add more and more fuel to the fire.
Our goal is to make this stop and I hope we've accomplished that. This is a great forum with the best members of any forum I've seen IMHO. We don't want anyone to feel singled out whether it's on the giving or recieving end of posts.