Monday, January 3, 2011

Please be Neat, do not Delete

If you create, then choose to vacate... Please be neat and do NOT delete.

Something frustrating happened this week.  A very helpful Health Activist of my acquaintance chose to stop their Health Activism activities.  This wasn't something they really wanted to give up, but stated they felt they needed to for personal reasons.  Instead of leaving all the wonderful, helpful information and supportive posts they had spent many months creating and responding to, they instead chose to delete everything... lock, stock and barrel across many communities.  Gone - forever.  No opportunity to save that helpful information and those terrific links was given.  One minute it was there, the next minute *poof* it was gone.   I think in this case there were extenuating circumstances, but most often there are not.

Some groups save your conversations and discussions even if you opt to discontinue your membership.  Others allow authors to remove their posts.  Still others (like NING) allow you to choose to leave a community or group, but when you delete your profile all your posts are automatically deleted as well.

Do you know what your group's policies are re: the status of your contributions when you decide to leave?

I have been a member of many communities.  I am a Health Activist because I want to help other patients so they can benefit from my trial and error. Because my whole reason for putting my experiences out there is to help others, only once (a single post) have I ever gone to the trouble of deleting my profile or the content I have added to those communities.  Why?  My only concern is to get that important information "out there" for patients to find.  I don't much care whose user name is on it or if anyone knows who is sharing it.  I don't own that information and I don't feel it's mine to take away from patients because I have chosen to move on.

Additionally, it is so discouraging to me as a community leader to find that sharing information is not always the primary reason people become Health Activists.  I don't think this was necessarily the motivation of the person who disappointed me this week, but it did bring this general question to mind again as this has happened in the past as well, on other boards with other advocates. From time to time I see content deleted when someone chooses to move on.  Sometimes they simply don't realize what deleting their content does to a community... other times (like this week) they do.  Sadly, there are times I can't help but wonder what their motivations are for...

* becoming an activist in the first place
* taking time to physically remove valuable and helpful content they took the time to create and others took the time to reply to.

For those who aren't aware... as community leaders we invest immense amounts of time in those we work with.  For me personally, I am never bothered when someone has gotten what they joined for and either bows out or simply fades into obscurity again.  This truly is the course most patients take.  But I feel such discouragement (and I admit selfishly) some real betrayal when someone I engaged with and invested a great deal over a long period of time chooses not just to leave gracefully, but to take all that time to physically delete information.  Sometimes I know they just don't realize the path of destruction this causes, but other times they do, yet choose to do it anyway.

Perhaps I am just not "getting it"?  Is there an unexplored angle that anyone could share with me that might explain why this happens?  I admit being very short-sighted where this is concerned because I just can't personally imagine removing something helpful from the hands of patients seeking it.

Are there ways you choose to help protect content created within your communities?  Do you have any suggestions for other Health Activists how they can prevent this from happening while still allowing patients to retain ownership of their posts and comments?

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