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ReachOut Blog

How to get more replies to your forum post

by Liz_ReachOut Community, Health, Online Networks, Relationships

So, first things first, the most important thing is that you go with your gut and say what's on your mind in the ReachOut Forums. These are just a few tips for first-time posters or anyone curious about making it easier for others to respond to their post.

  1. Ask a question

    Asking open or direct questions lets people know that you want them to respond and also gives them some direction about what you’re looking for. People want to know how to help you best, so end your post with a prompt like: “Has this happened to anyone else?”, “Does anyone else know what I mean?”, “What would you do in this situation?”

  2. Make it personal

    If you say something personal, it can it easier for someone else to respond in kind. That’s how we build trust. So, by opening up in the forums, even if it feels a little scary, people are more likely to respond to you with their experience. Remember, it’s brave to be vulnerable.

  3. Try to break up the text

    You probably know this from chatting over text, but paragraphs are easier to read than solid blocks of text. Emoticons and images are also fun ways of mixing things up.

  4. You gotta give a little to get a little

    Online relationships work a lot like offline ones; if you build friendships and respond to others, they’re more likely to respond to you.

  5. Don’t make your post tooooo long

    Sometimes you just have to get all your thoughts out at once. We get it. If your posts always take up a whole page or deal with a lot of different issues, it just may take others a little longer to process and you may get fewer responses. Of course, sometimes that's all you need, but it's good to remember that you can always break your story up into different parts, or focus on one issue at a time.

  6. Think about how you'd want someone to respond to you

    Make sure your post follows the community guidelines – our golden rule at ReachOut is to always show support, or in short, be nice. We know you all are generally down with that (and that's what makes the forums so awesome!), but if a post is ever mean, judge-y or triggering, it might be removed or edited and get a lower response rate.

  7. Try to post in the right place

    People scan the forums by the latest posts or specific topics of interest, so try to put your post in the most relevant category. Question about a family situation? Go to ‘Friends & Family’. Just want to chat? Check out the ‘Hanging Out’. The mods have your back, though, and can move your thread if needed.

  8. If you’ve got time, give it a once over

    A quick proof read makes sure your post is easy to read and others will understand what you’re saying.

The most important advice of all?

Don’t be afraid to make that post! This community is kind and caring, and wants to support you.  Everybody is welcome at ReachOut, no matter what you've gone through, how you’re feeling or who you are.

Register to start posting in the forums now »

Young woman typing

Create a Facebook App to Help Teens Stand Up Against Cyberbullying!

by RO_Meredith Online Networks, School

Don't Stand By Teen App Developer CompetitionSpeaking out against cyberbullying takes courage, support... and smart, simple digital tools teens will actually use! To inspire all of the above, ReachOut, with the support of the ESA (Entertainment Software Association Foundation), has launched the National “Don’t Just Stand By” Teen Facebook App Developer Competition. We're inviting young programmers between 13-17 years old to develop a Facebook application that empowers bystanders of cyberbullying to take action.

Through May 25, we'll be accepting entries designed to reach potential bystanders of cyberbullying incidents who are between the ages of 14-24. The goal of each project should be to increase an overall understanding of what cyberbullying is and include a specific call to action for witnesses of online ridicule or harassment.  The winner of the competition will receive $2,000 plus five hours of virtual mentorship from an adult programmer matched according to the type of app developed. Second place wins $1,500 and the third place winner gets $500 -- both will also be matched with mentors.

Why bystanders? Because research shows cyberbullying occurs most frequently in the presence of bystanders who choose to merely watch the events unfold instead of doing something. According to Pew Internet’s August 2011 Tracking Survey, two-thirds of teens who have witnessed online cruelty have also witnessed others joining in – and 21% say they have also joined in the harassment. To end cyberbullying, these bystanders must be inspired to speak up.

We strongly believe in the ability of young people to reverse this trend through brainpower, solidarity and technology and look forward to what comes of this call to action! Good luck!

To help get started, check out our fact sheets on cyberbullying:
Bystanders role in cyberbullying

For more information and rules about Reach Out’s National “Don’t Just Stand By” Teen Facebook App Developer Competition, please visit:


Reaching Out On Tumblr

by RO_Admin Community, Online Networks

Today's blog post is from Zach, one of our Reach Out Council members, who also inspired us to create a ReachOut Tumblr. Read more about Zach at the end of his post!

ReachOut TumblrThe idea of creating a Tumblr for ReachOut first came to me two months ago at the Youth Council summit in San Francisco. While attempting to figure out a way to help this organization individually, I realized that one of my talents is the internet.

To some, using the word internet as a verb may seem strange, to others, it is as commonplace as using the word texting. Either way you see it, to me using the internet is a skill that I hold very dear. So needless to say when I was told to work on starting our Tumblr, I was excited to finally be able to apply my abilities to help a place which I feel very close to.

Fast forward two months, and here I am, running half of the posts you can find on our Tumblr. I never once thought that I would be able to take an idea like this and run with it the way I have. But that’s part of what makes ReachOut so good at what it does, they allow us as Youth Council members to use our ideas to carry out their mission.

The opportunity I have been given to help run the page has been incredible. If I’m having a bad day all I have to do is look at our page, and the quotations and videos and inspirational stories provide the best pick-me-up I could ask for. So when I say that following us will be beneficial to you, I’m not just saying that so I will be able to boast about having more followers or reblogs or likes. I’m saying it because all of you, from those who feel sad occasionally to those who struggle with severe depression and other mental health issues every single day, our Tumblr is a place of support and comfort, where you can go whenever you need to be reminded that you are not alone. On top of that, Tumblr is a community itself. If you reach out to people on this site, they will reach back. So, as a friend, I urge you to check it out.

If you have a Tumblr, give us a follow using the link below. If you don’t, it’s easy to pick up and even easier to create, so hop on and give us a follow, as well.

ReachOut’s Tumblr:

About Zach
ZachHey everyone! My name is Zach, and I’m originally from Wichita Falls, Texas but I’ve lived in Plano, Texas for the past 11 years. I’m currently a second year Economics major at The University of Texas at Austin. I love sports, more specifically basketball, and spend most of my spare time watching or playing it. I also love music, of all genres, and I don’t go anywhere without my ipod. When I was 7 years old I was diagnosed with depression, and I’ve been dealing with it ever since. But I’ve learned so much from it, and now I want to use my experiences to help others who are struggling. I’m very laid back, and I don’t like to dwell on the little things. I like to have a lot of friends, and I’m open and honest with people I trust. Hopefully I can contribute to making this great organization even better!

It’s Your Birthday: Birthdays Reborn on Facebook?

by RO_Meredith Online Networks, Relationships

On your birthday, what's the first thing you look forward to doing? Checking the mailbox? Eating breakfast? If you've got an account on Facebook, chances are there are a few birthday messages on there! 

Among other revolutions, Facebook has arguably changed the way people celebrate birthdays. Your friends can be sent handy reminders (internet veterans may remember Birthday Alarm), people can give you props on your birthday from almost anywhere in the world, and you can even get vrbirthday cakes. So even if you can't meet all your friends at once in person, you can at least hear from them!

Sometimes, this effect can work against you. If you are worried about which or how many of your friends posted on your wall during your birthday, you might feel rejected or ignored. If this is the case, take these tips into consideration, and don't let it rain on your parade!

Celebrate You It's always nice to hear a kind word from a friend, family member or even a stranger, but Facebook posts can't make up for celebrating yourself and what you already have. It's your day, so remember what makes you special. Maybe your friends had a reason not to post and they prefer to get in touch with you in other ways.

Express Yourself Listen to some music, dance in the street or do whatever it is that helps you express yourself and get your feelings out

Get Out Getting outside, talking to people and changing your environment are good ways of keeping your mood positive.

Does getting posts on your wall for your birthday make you feel like #1? What cool things have you done for someone on their birthday?

Top photo by pinksherbert

Internet Intuition

by RO_Meredith Online Networks, Relationships, Sexting

Meagan Broussard, 26, admitted it was a little “weird” when U.S. Anthony Weiner’s daily Facebook messages became less casual and more and more suggestive in tone.  She also says she knew he had to have a problem with “impulse control” when he started to send her lewd photos of himself, one of which proving he was indeed the congressman himself.  Broussard also remembers wondering how many other girls Weiner was interacting with this way. 

Broussard had a strong feeling something was just not right.  And, while we all may not be swapping messages with an elected official, we can all learn from her example by exercising caution when meeting a stranger online and trusting that “little voice” that tells us something is not quite right. Here are some ways to stay safe and follow your instincts when meeting someone new online: 

Trust your intuition

If someone seems sketchy, rude or just makes you feel uncomfortable, you’re probably right.  Even if they’re not a creepy congressman, they’re still wasting your time.  If you get that uncomfortable feeling in your stomach every time you see their name pop up on screen or read one of their messages, it’s probably time to stop responding to their messages.  Who wants to talk to someone who makes them feel uncomfortable? 

Be careful what you post

Never post anything you wouldn’t want your grandmother to read.  Seriously.  It may sound limiting, but this will keep you from being embarrassed if the information you send is ever made public.  Also, 45% of employers will check your Facebook profile before they hire you.  So, don’t post anything that would keep you from getting the job you want to have one day, not the job you have now.  This includes pictures.

Ask for advice

Sometimes getting an outside perspective can help you think more clearly about a situation.  Find 1 or 2 people you trust and see what they have to say about the interractions you're having with someone online.  If they share your concerns, then it means you have good instincts!  If they think it's okay for you to continue, then you might reconsider.  But remember, in the end, it is your decision.  And you have the right to choose who you let into your life.   

Image by NYCArthur

What do you look for in a Facebook/Twitter friend?  How do you know when it's time to pull the plug?





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