Free, helpful, and fun! Those three words explain the FAST mailing list, the longest-running online interactive mailing list for people of all ages with food allergies (or allergies in the family).
Mailing List Rules
What Members Have Said
Mailing List Rules
The mailing list is meant to be a warm, pleasant place where people are welcomed and friendships are formed. By following these rules, you will help make sure that is possible. While there are no "memberships" to FAST, the members of the mailing list feel like full-fledged members with extra privileges, such as a monthly chat meeting and e-mail buddies service! This is a great place to make new friends and receive emotional support and recipe advice. FAST's group is the oldest food allergy mailing list online! Despite that, it maintains a small community and support group "feel."
Below are the rules. Most are easy to understand and are similar to rules you may have followed on other forums. Running the list since 1997 and listening to members' feedback during all these years have both helped me discover what works and what doesn't. You'll probably find this to be one of the friendliest groups you've belonged to online. While the rules do have something to do with this, wonderful, helpful listmembers make this list what it is today. Please consider joining us.
Acronyms. Acronyms are popular on many Internet forums, but please refrain from using them here. Members who speak English as a second language and new members have indicated that it makes them uncomfortable, because it's like learning a whole new language after joining a forum. Since it is intimidating to new members and people who are not native English speakers, we prefer to forgo using acronyms in favor of making everyone feel welcome and able to better participate in our conversations.
Our chat room is located at:
http://www.angelfire.com/mi/FAST/chat.html. Mailing list members have a virtual support group meeting there once per month.
Copyrights. It's illegal to post copyrighted materials on the Internet. This means that recipes, for example, can only be posted when they are originals that you have come up with. If you want to post something that is not by you, you will have to first ask permission from the originator/author (and often the publisher as well, as indicated to me by a cookbook author). If you find a good recipe online that you'd like to share--post the link! (Note to cookbooks authors, etc.: When moderators see a recipe posted on the forums, we assume that the poster has your express permission to post it. If this is not the case, send an e-mail to alert a moderator, and it will be removed within 24-48 hours.)
Cures and Treatments. Topics regarding cures and treatments are not welcome. This is because there are strong feelings on both sides of this controversial issue, and everyone's guard goes up when these topics are posted. These topics always, without fail, have resulted in heated discussions and arguments, and have even occasionally been found to be spams (advertisements). Topics regarding claims about treatments (other than avoidance) and cures will be promptly removed. The only exclusion at this point is a moderator posting a link to a legitimate news article about scientific breakthroughs.
Forwards. Remember that about 90% or more of forwards are fake. Here is an excellent website to help you determine whether or not those forwards you receive are for real: http://www.snopes.com. A forward dealing exclusively with food allergies which is meant to be a "press release" is okay to forward (if you do not have financial or other profitable ties to it), but please check to make sure someone else has not already posted it.
Free Speech. While posting on the forums at FAST, you are agreeing to operate under FAST's rules, just as if you were in someone's home, you would be operating and behaving under their rules. This means, of course, that "freedom of speech" does not necessarily exist on the forum. You must abide by the rules above to post here, and it is "legal" for a moderator to delete threads and ban users. This is not something to scare anyone since it rarely happens--it's just important to know that online communities are not always operating under "free speech." In fact, this rule helps us protect the forum from inappropriate posts and/or language, and keeps the forums as family friendly as possible.
I've been on more than one forum where disgruntled members left with a comment of, "We're starting a better group . . . one without rules (or a specific rule)!" If successful in recruiting new members, within days the groups were out of control and, ironically, implementing rules. Often they were setting up rules identical to those of the group they just left. So please understand that all of the rules are here for a reason, and that reason is not to intentionally inhibit your freedom of speech.
Food ingredients (in pre-made foods and foods in restaurants) are different in every country, and even by state or region, and potentially change often. For that reason, a mailing list is not a reliable or safe source for ingredient questions. If you have a question about a store-bought food or restaurant product, you should ask the manufacturer for an ingredient disclosure in writing (even then, it may be inaccurate). You may post an ingredient listing from a food product (for example, if you want to tell members about a product you've tried and have no financial connections to). You may not declare that a specific product is "free" of any ingredient. Additionally, members should keep in mind that posted ingredient lists may be outdated.
Legal Notice. FAST is not legally responsible for any information exchanged on the forums. Messages deemed inappropriate will be erased as soon as possible, but members are urged to use personal discretion when reading and answering posts. Moderators reserve the right to delete any post they deem inappropriate. However, sometimes a post may stay on a while before it is seen by a moderator--so use discretion and ignore inappropriate posts. Replying to e-mail posts that are inappropriate means the moderators have to erase even more posts.
Plain Text. In order to better aid all members in being able to read the mailing list without difficulty, and avoid any viruses, our group does not allow attachments. Your message (either in part or in full) will not get through if it contains fancy text (different font colors or fonts) or attachments.
Private Messages and E-mails. Private communication between members is encouraged in an effort to form friendships with people going through similar experiences. Please remember that information such as your address and even your last name should be private. FAST is not responsible for any conversations taking place on the list or off. However, if you notice any flaming, gossiping, or inappropriate conduct (on or off the list), please forward it to a moderator for further investigation. Since we are here as a support group, we take a hard line against private or public gossip, flaming, and/or libel against other members. It is recommended that you do not talk about other members, but to them! :)
Quoting Previous Messages. Many people quote entire/partial e-mails that were
previously sent to the mailing list. Please do not do this. It crams up the digest, and with
immediate contact with others, it is unecessary. If you must, quote between only 2-4 lines of previous text. If you're not sure if you're quoting or not, check your e-mails that go through to the list for arrow-like bracket symbols that look like this: There should only be 2-4 of these brackets in each e-mail.
Spams and Ads. These are not allowed. Any such posts will be promptly removed by one of the moderators, and those who spam will be banned from the list. Regardless of how you feel about your product, television show, treatment, or cure, this is not the list to promote it on.
Subjects and Threads. If you want to start a NEW topic, DO NOT JUST HIT REPLY to any old thread! Instead, you must begin a NEW thread. You can do this from here: http://health.groups.yahoo.com/group/fasters/post or by writing from your e-mail account to: firstname.lastname@example.org. Type in an applicable NEW subject line.
Subscribe/Unsubscribe. You'll find a place to subscribe and unsubscribe on our forum page here: http://health.groups.yahoo.com/group/fasters/. Please note if you are subscribing that one of the moderators will have to approve your membership. We try to do this as quickly as possible, and usually within a few hours to 24 hours. Your first short subscription message to the list will be posted/forwarded by a moderator so we can get to know you right away. Please make this text somewhat in depth if you want to receive replies immediately.
Tone. The tone we use online is very important in how people perceive what we write, especially since we are unable to see one another's facial expressions. It is imperative that your tone be non-authoritative and polite. Authoritative posts are ones that often cause fights, especially because MDs and allergists don't subscribe to the list--we're all individuals with different experiences and no formal education on allergies! It's also important to be polite. Please only respond to posts when you are in a relatively good mood (although you can certainly post about problems you are going through) and avoid knee jerk reactions/posts. Many arguments begin on forums when people post while in foul moods or "speak before thinking." All of the members of FAST are dealing with serious issues. We want to be a supportive group, and posting when upset or angry does not foster good feelings between members. (Thanks to all of you, our group does a great job with positive and supportive posting!)
Topics. What topics are acceptable? Basically, FAST is a site for free exchange of support (recipes, substitutions, how to deal with others, how to talk to allergists, etc. Check the site for topic ideas). We do not exchange medical information or cure information, which should be obtained through consulting an allergist (To find out more about why the list does not allow medical information, click here.). If an accepted topic you're interested in is not showing up on the list, the best thing to do is to post and bring up the topic.
Please keep your language, conduct, and subject matter G-rated. Children have accessed the website and are welcome to post as well.
Website. The mailing list is only a small part of FAST. It's connected to a large website you may enjoy.
Your Website/Business. Many members join and wish to share about their own food allergy websites. If you have a for-profit website (making a profit of any kind, even just from advertising), you are allowed to send a "press release" (more formal and less subjective than an advertisement) one time to the listowner (not the list!)--there are strict exceptions, however. For more information, please see: www.angelfire.com/mi/FAST/bookpolicy.html. Members who include a signature with advertising will be put on strict moderating and the signature will be removed from their posts. If you have a not-for-profit of any kind website (such as a free blog), you may include information about it more than once. However, it's good not to overdo it, and if it appears that your membership on the FAST mailing list is reserved for posting about your own site, there may be action taken. Most members do not like to see this type of advertising (free or not); it's a good idea to mention your site is a personal one with no monetary exchanges, and explain why you are making the post. If posting about a product you have enjoyed, include a note that you are not connected to the product. If you are connected to the company or product in any way, you are prohibited from posting about it.
Benefits of Membership
Belonging to the mailing list will give you access to many wonderful things, among them:
Invitations to a monthly live chat meeting
Recipes, product suggestions, and more shared by members
The ability to read and add on to the "My Best Cooking Secret" article, for listmembers, by listmembers (Shhh! It's a secret)
Access to informative polls, and the ability to suggest questions you're interested in
Free "Support Buddies" match-up to another member with similar interests or allergies (women only, and completely optional)
Emotional support from others just like you
Access to our calendar of events
A list of group members and their allergies
Monthly shared meal and menu ideas
The feeling of belonging to a kind and helpful support group
24 hours a day/seven days a week access to others with food allergies
A moderated forum without spam and trolls, but with great members
Best af all, everything is 100% free.
What Members Have Said
"FAST has made having food allergies bearable, because with FAST I can talk through my latest allergy related frustration."
"This is one of the few places I feel understood."
"It helps me remember I am not a freak, I have a disease that, while serious, is manageable and helps make me who I am."
"There were times when no one in the 'real world' had a clue of what was going on or even what to say. At those times, there was always an understanding ear here on FAST."
"I have learned that I am not the only one living with this and I have learned from others' experiences and have been able to share my experience with others."
Please click here to join