MotheringDotCommune and Their Medical Stalker

I've not been to my little niche of MotheringDotCommune in a week now. It's sad - sad for me, and sad for the folks I left behind who are accustomed to my presence. It's very easy to get attached to our particular groups, especially those that gather around very sensitive and poorly understood.

Anyway, the background is . . .

I was looking through my google alerts one day and came across a post from a regular thorn in the side of the natural birth advocacy community. This former doctor is notorious for stalking the open forums hosted by Mothering Magazine and coming up with her own ridiculous statistics that further her cause. It's sad. And for those who just happen upon her blog and don't have the kind of support that I have enjoyed through natural birth advocacy networks (such as the International Cesarean Awareness Network, Childbirth Connection, Citizens for Midwifery, and Conscious Woman, to name a few). What was different about this blogger's post was that her target was now the BIRTH TRAUMA group. She was directly quoting from the birth trauma forum hosted at Mothering.

I understand birth trauma now. I learned about it a very different way . . . from pregnancy loss. However, I know it's there and know how it feels. And I know how marginalized it has been in the past. Heck, women still don't feel comfortable talking about birth trauma. They should be so lucky to have a healthy baby . . . as if the health and wellbeing of the baby isn't affected by the health and wellbeing of the mother. Birth trauma can happen to women who have unwanted cesareans and to women who had natural birth. Just because a woman has a healthy baby or was able to push her baby from her womb without medical assistance doesn't mean that she won't suffer from PTSD or PPD. I blogged about PTSD after pregnancy loss; my post relied heavily on this excellent post by a psychotherapist.

On a personal level, to use unique comments from a support forum (no matter if it's private or public) is just not right. Those women need to build a sense of community that at least seems buffered from the entire world thad doesn't understand their pain anyway. I think Mothering should make this forum private, and that there should be entry criteria that needs to be met before entrance to the forum is granted. I blogged about this too (read the comments as well). What makes me angry is that I was censored (without being told WHY or being directed to the terms of use statement) THRICE at MotheringDotCommune - (1) for posting a warning at my group's area, (2) for clarifying WHY I posted the warning (since it was taken down), (3) for posting on my particular group's monthly thread for saying that I was "upset about MDC" and may not be around for a while.

As a user of MotheringDotCommune, I am evidently not allowed to warn fellow mothers that their comments are not private and that others may use their comments maliciously without their consent. As a user of MotheringDotCommune, I am evidently not allowed to question the actions (or non-action) of the moderators in public. I was told that I could private message an administrator. Of course I had done that and was told that MotheringDotCommune couldn't do anything to protect its members. What a cop-out!

On a semi-professional level (semi-professional because I'm not a professional blogger), it is unethical to exploit others on the internet for your personal gain. This particular blog is always polemic, and that's fine, she has her herd of goats that just love that stuff. What is NOT fine is profiteering from the misfortune of others. Additionally, her post likely violated copyright law, since there is no indication that she sought and received permission to post those comments. Anyone with advanced degrees knows how to conduct research and how to correctly cite sources for publication. Just because this blogger put this up on the internet doesn't relieve her from the responsibility of ethical and legal citation, and she knows that.

I am quite disappointed in MotheringDotCommune. They put up a much needed forum and then did nothing to protect the very women they drew there. I knew that my comments there were always public and therefore viewable by just anyone who was interested. I was ok with that, because women need to know that pregnancy loss happens, and they need to know how others are fighting primary infertility, secondary infertility, and subfertility (God I hate that term). Infertility research doesn't make enough money, and on the clinical side, infertility treatment is more guess work and art than clearly proven methodology.

Mothering benefits from the strength of the community built on their public forums. The least they can do is take these threats seriously and do what is necessary to protect their community. They could start by revising their copyright statement which does not remind readers that all comments are owned by the original posters.

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Comment by Lorry Fach-Pedersen on January 11, 2009 at 1:11pm
I already had problems with MDC's policy of deleting anything that seems like it might be a dream of a whisper of a shadow of questioning them, but I did not know about this. That's awful! Unfortunately even informing people of a private forum alternative is against the UA! Ugh.




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