As from last night I have the dubious honour of being banned from the infertility/fertility forum Fertility Friends. My crime is not that of flaming at another poster but that from time to time I give information about DC Network membership and services. Most often I am simply offering support or insights from my own experience.
Following an enquiry as to why two of my posts had been removed from the boards I received a terse email from Mel in management saying that if DCN wished to advertise on their site they would be happy to send their rates for doing so, but that I could no longer ‘advertise’ DCN services in my posts. One of the removed posts was replaced, the other, containing information about DCN’s forum that had been the subject of some discussion on the board, was not.
When I responded to a rather anguished post from a single woman looking for a book to read to her embryo donation twins conceived in Spain, by saying I would send a private message giving information to her because I was not allowed to post it, the post was removed and I was banned.
My response to Mel’s original email was to say how shocked and saddened I was that information from me about DCN was not welcome on FF. DCN is a charity and as far as I am concerned is in exactly the same business as FF – that of supporting those facing fertility difficulties and providing information and guidance. I said I saw the two organisations as being complementary to each other rather than rivals and added that DCN would not be taking retaliatory action because it believes in providing the very best information and support to everyone and that sometimes includes referring people to FF. I also mentioned that I often receive(d) private messages from FF members asking me for information or guidance and that I had been happy to give this, only mentioning DCN membership or services if it was relevant to do so. It made no difference.
I can see now how naive I may have been. Fertility Friends have long distanced themselves from the fertility support community. They declined membership of the Association of Fertility Patient Organisations which meets in London twice a year (this coming week as it happens). They do not seem to take the view that the rest of us do that this is mutual support work.
Tony and Mel have certainly worked hard over the years to build up the forum, putting in the personal time, effort and money that is needed to build up…a successful business. And I guess that is what it is these days. They now have significant advertising on the site and do not see why anyone should get away with free advertising, small charities like DCN included.
Being banned does not hurt me personally. I have more than enough to do, particularly with the writing of the Friends and Family booklets. But it is sad for those who have very much appreciated information about DCN services and the up to date news that I have been able to bring from HFEA, Department of Health and around the world. Mel made it clear that others, who do not represent DCN, can mention the organisation in posts. Anyone else feel like taking up the banner?