BPN Rules & Policies
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BPN Rules & Policies
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
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'
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.
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.
We do not accept postings that criticize others' opinions
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.
See also the sections about Preaching
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 some criticism
of a person, place, 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.
We do post political announcements in two cases:
1) At election time we
may send out a one-time "Special Election Edition" which allows
subscribers to express their thoughts about candidates and propositions
that have some bearing on the family and parenting. Rules for these
special issues are online at parents.berkeley.edu/election_rules.html. When we are not able to put together a special issue,
members may post a message to the Announcements newsletter at election time as long
as it follows the rules for the special election issues.
2) Between elections, we post
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 must be a personal note from a subscriber who
includes his/her name and email address in case there are questions.
We can't accept mass-mailings that have been forwarded to many people.
Any names, addresses, emails, dates, phone numbers, or web sites that
are contained in the message must be verified by the subscriber.
The best method is to write a short personal note and include a website
that people can go to for additional information.
We do not accept messages about political fundraisers.
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
BPN accepts postings about fundraising events for:
- schools, public or non-profit
- religious institutions
- community organizations for kids or parents
- non-profit groups for kids or parents
We cannot accept announcements about fundraising events for:
- medical conditions
- political events
- organizations that are not parenting- or family-related
- events that children would not normally attend
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:
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:
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.
- a question seeking a range of advice from other parents, or
- a response to a recent question
BPN DOES NOT ACCEPT:
- Questions that require special expertise to answer
If you are looking for an answer to a legal, medical, or financial
problem, BPN is not the right place to find it.
See this page for details.
- Questions seeking a specific "correct" answer.
If you are posting a query looking for the one right answer, in the hopes
that someone on the list might know the answer,
then BPN is not the place to ask. Please instead do your own
research using google or phoning the business or school you are asking about.
The BPN newsletters are intended as a way to get a range of opinions and
advice from other parents in the community, not as a forum
for getting a correct answer. Here are examples of past questions like this
that BPN does not accept: "What are the ingredients in Tom's toothpaste?"
and "How much is the tuition at Shady Acres Private School?"
- Questions that are not really questions.
This includes general observations and complaints about
human behavior, schools, politics, community, etc. For
example, "Why are there so many badly-behaved children in restaurants?"
Questions posted to BPN need to be in the form of a parent seeking advice from other parents.
Open-ended discussion and debate is beyond the scope of BPN.
Please use other outlets for general discussions, such as blogs, letters to the editor,
venting to friends, etc.
- Responses that comment on the original question rather than answering it.
All responses must answer the original
question. We cannot accept responses that challenge
the validity of the original question, or imply that the question should not
have been asked. For example, if someone asks
for recommendations for where to buy a birthday cake for a First Birthday, you may not
respond saying (or implying) that one-year-olds should not eat birthday cake.
If you think that a particular post is not appropriate for BPN, you
should bring this up with the moderator, not the person who posted,
because it is the BPN moderators who determine whether posts meet BPN policy.
- Responses that criticize others' responses.
post your own advice in response to a question,
but you may not disparage the advice
others have given.
- Follow-up postings from someone who has already posted.
Please restrict yourself to one post per topic.
BPN does not accept rebuttals and counter-rebuttals from people who have
already posted on a particular thread. If you posted the original question, it's OK to post a
follow-up to thank people for their responses, but BPN doesn't accept
follow-up questions about something you posted about previously, per
the Repeated Postings policy.
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.
Whining, Venting, and Preaching (WVP)
aren't allowed in the BPN newsletters because they are not helpful to other
parents, and being helpful is our main goal. A small amount of WVP in a posting
that is mostly useful is OK. However, a posting that is mostly WVP will have
to be returned to the sender.
If you are posting a question to one of the Q&A newsletters such as
Advice Wanted, make sure you are asking a question rather than
complaining and venting. BPN can only accept postings that ask a
question that other subscribers can reply to, per our
Policy. Posting a laundry list of complaints about your husband or
your mother-in-law doesn't meet the Q&A requirement, and also does not
meet BPN's goal of being useful for other parents.
this page was last updated: Apr 21, 2013
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