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BPN Rules & Policies

Berkeley Parents Network > Help & Frequently Asked Questions > BPN Rules & Policies

Policies for All the Newsletters Policies for Specific Newsletters UC Berkeley Policies


The Rules

The goal of the Berkeley Parents Network is to be useful to parents and to provide a sympathetic discussion forum for the community of parents. To keep the list as friendly as possible, there are a few rules:

The newsletter moderators are responsible for deciding whether members meet the guidelines and policies of the BPN. We may return or edit messages that we decide are not in keeping with the policies, or that we feel are otherwise inappropriate for the list. Members who do not abide by the rules will be unsubscribed from the list at the moderators' discretion.

Do you ever reject messages?

Yes. We return messages to the sender to edit if they do not meet our policies. Although we prefer to return postings to the sender for editing, we do sometimes edit messages for length or content ouselves in order to get the newsletter out on time with your posting.

The moderators must judge for themselves whether messages meet the policies, which have been developed over many years and are still evolving. We can't guarantee 100% that we always apply all the policies equally and fairly, but that is what we try very hard to do.

Do you ever unsubscribe people for breaking the rules?

Yes, but not often. In the years since 1993 of running the list for tens of thousands of subscribers, we have unsubscribed fewer than 10 people who didn't want to be unsubscribed. They have all been extreme cases of the policies being violated even after warnings, such as phoning subscribers who had posted messages the person disagreed with. We have occasionally had to unsubscribe people for repeatedly badgering the moderators about editorial decisions they disagreed with, and we have unsubscribed a few people for misusing the Marketplace newsletter. In one case, a mail order violin company was posing as a parent with an instrument for sale. In another case, a member was collecting free items on the Marketplace newsletter and re-selling them on Craigslist.

Chicken Pox Parties

BPN does not accept requests for playdates or parties to expose children to Chicken Pox or any other disease that can adversely affect other members of our community. Chicken pox is very contagious and is a serious risk for pregnant women and also for children who take asthma meds or with weakened immune systems. BPN urges families to vaccinate to protect our vulnerable friends and neighbors. See the Mayo Clinic's page about Chicken Pox risks for more information.

Disparaging others' opinions and practices

We do not accept postings that criticize others' opinions and decisions about how to raise their children. You may describe your own parenting techniques and say why you think they have worked well, but you may not disparage others' techniques and parenting decisions that differ from yours.

You may not imply that someone else is not a good parent (or spouse or citizen, etc.) unless they agree with your own opinions and/or parenting style. An example that frequently comes up on the BPN is suggestions by proponents of Attachment Parenting that parents who don't use this method are raising insecure or unhappy children. Comments like this are not accepted on BPN.

See also the sections about Preaching and Politeness.

Getting personal

We do not accept postings that criticize other people, unless the post is a negative review of a person that BPN considers to be a business. See Negative reviews for information about this. All other posts must refrain from making critical comments about other people. This includes mentioning a person by name as well as providing enough detail about a person that he or she is recognizable. The friend, neighbor, or ex-husband that you are criticising is likely to be a fellow BPN subscriber. We don't want anyone's feelings to be hurt, so that we can meet our goal of being a helpful and supportive resource for parents.

What is the geographic area for BPN postings?

We are not able to accept requests for pediatricians, schools, childcare centers, real estate agents, and other services in areas outside of the San Francisco Bay Area. We ask this because not many of our subscribers live outside of this area. In fact, most of our subscribers live in the Easy Bay cities of Berkeley, Oakland, Albany and surrounding areas. Therefore, out-of-area requests are not likely to get responses. They place a disproportionate burden on the volunteer moderators and are not likely to be of general interest to our subscriber pool.

We are happy to take more general requests such as "Moving to...." or "Vacationing In...", as long as they are parenting/family related. These frequently get excellent and useful responses for popular destinations (Boston, DC or Hawaii) and fewer or no responses for less popular destinations (Boise, Glendale). We don't accept travel questions that are more fully answered elsewhere, such as "need a hotel near the Rome airport". See Travel Questions for details.


We do not accept postings that have the appearance of gossip. Usually we would consider a post to be gossip if it had a phrase like "I heard that ..." followed by criticism of a person, place, school, service, or product. For example, we can't accept a posting about a school that mentions criticisms that have been heard from friends and neighbors. On the other hand, we do accept criticisms that are based on first-hand experience as long as they follow our Negative Review Policy.

Political Announcements

BPN accepts postings about newsworthy events that we think subscribers would be interested in. They need to be related to parenting or children. The right place to post these is in the Announcements newsletter, in the "Other Announcements" section. The announcement should be a short personal note from a subscriber who includes his/her name and email address in case there are questions.

We do not accept messages about political fundraisers.

Donation Requests

Members can post to the Marketplace newsletter asking for non-cash donations for their child's school, their church, or any other non-profit organization. Examples: donations for a school rummage sale or non-profit parenting organization, baby clothes for low-income parents at the county hospital, office supplies for a public school, and the like. However, we cannot accept requests for money, such as marathon pledges or cash donations to non-profit organizations. Announcements about some fundraising events are allowed - see the next section.

Fundraising Events & Sales

BPN accepts postings about fundraising events for:

We cannot accept announcements about fundraising events for:

If your event meets the criteria above, you can post to ...

Note about Items for Sale
It is OK to post items to the Marketplace that are being sold to raise money for your child's non-profit school, sports team, chorus, and similar groups, or for non-profit family-related community organizations such as city parks, parenting groups, and the like. However, to avoid having a Marketplace newsletter full of ongoing ads for non-profits, please stick to the items sold during fundraising drives as opposed to merchandise that is always available for sale. Also be aware that most everyone with a child in school will be selling something at one time or another, so please don't rely on the Marketplace to get rid of all those boxes of gift wrap and candy!

Rules for UCB Mailing lists

We follow the UC Berkeley policies for mailing lists. For example, the list may not be used for commercial purposes, and the list owner must advise members of rules that apply to the list, and may remove members who don't follow the rules. For details on the policy, see UC Berkeley's Mailing List Policy at

Is it OK to use University resources to read and reply to the newsletter?

In general, it is OK for University staff & students to use University resources to send, receive and read personal email, as long as it does not interfere with their work and it abides by existing policies such as not using it for personal gain or for criminal use. (Note: your UCB email account is NOT considered private, however.) If you're interested in all the details, you can read the University's email policy here:

Question and Answer Format

Some of the BPN newsletters are Question-and-Answer format, or have sections where questions and answers can be posted. This includes Advice, Recommendations, Parents of Teens, and Schools. Postings to the Q&A sections in these newsletters must be either:
  1. a question seeking a range of advice from other parents, or
  2. a response to a recent question
The BPN newsletters are not intended for open-ended discussion, or for asking a very specific question seeking the "correct" answer. This is beyond the scope of BPN. Sticking to the Q&A format keeps BPN discussions helpful for other parents, which is the mission of BPN, and reduces the likelihood of gossip, flame wars, venting, and preaching.



Please write to the moderator if you think that someone has posted incorrect or misleading information, or if you have a question or a comment about any postings that have appeared. The moderator's email address is shown at the top of the newsletter.

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this page was last updated: Oct 30, 2014

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