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Code of Conduct

SPALS Guidelines



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The SPALS Code of Conduct is intended to guide our members in providing mutual support. Maintaining the code of conduct helps us to preserve our self-help group process. Our group process is what SPALS members depend upon for support. Our group process depends upon mutual support, decorum, tolerance, and self-respect.

These SPALS Guidelines provide specific examples of behaviour consistent with the code of conduct. Some guidelines identify clearly those few topics and behaviours that generally are found to be hurtful on SPALS. Others provide guidance on how to handle discussion that you might find personally difficult.

Member Obligation:

It is each member's obligation to abide by the SPALS Code of Conduct, as illustrated in these guidelines.

Our code of conduct is intended to guide our members in providing mutual support. Any questions about SPALS group process, or appropriate conduct on SPALS should be directed privately to the list administrators.


On SPALS, we are very diverse, representing a vast array of cultures, beliefs, experiences, decisions and situations.

What we have in common is a need for support and understanding. SPALS does represent many miracles in the making. Perhaps one of our miracles is the extent to which we descend into the pain of our own experiences and decisions -- and find there, the great understanding and compassion that leads to so much healing. Even more miraculous is the extent to which those of *different* beliefs and experiences support each other, without judgement.

Code of Conduct Guidelines:

We strive to maintain a highly supportive atmosphere on SPALS. Providing loving support to those with different experiences is difficult to do. From time to time our own strong emotions and beliefs may inhibit our ability to offer support -- and may even lead us to express things, unwittingly, that cause each other pain. To be able to provide support, we must accept that pursuing certain topics is divisive rather than helpful.

Some guidelines based on the SPALS Code of Conduct:

Providing support to others on SPALS

  • Help other members to focus on facing the present or the future, and avoid judgments based on their past.
  • Respond to questions from other members with insights based on your own experience.
  • Avoid giving advice, even when asked for it explicitly. We can and should share information and experiences -- but we do not have all the right answers and we are not counsellors. There is rarely only one answer to most questions on SPALS.
  • Be careful how you empathize with others. Telling someone in crisis that "things will turn our all right" often is not helpful -- try to find other ways to help the person cope. Avoid saying "I know how you feel" -- instead, share your own experience if you feel it might be helpful.
  • Respect other members under stress. Recognize that all members come to SPALS for support.

Responding to conflict or posts you don't agree with

  • Be tolerant. From time to time a difficult or uncomfortable topic will arise on SPALS. Occasionally a member may use strong language. Support is not achieved by shaming someone who has raised a difficult topic, or who has used an injudicious choice of words.
  • Avoid debate in any form. Recognize that people come to SPALS for mutual support, not ideological debate. Attempts to "one-up" each other are not appropriate. Recognize that members who are facing difficult choices during their subsequent pregnancy need support -- not an explanation of why your opinion is different from theirs.
  • Give others the benefit of the doubt. Grieving, trying for pregnancy and being subsequently pregnant are difficult, emotional times. If another member upsets you, chances are it was entirely unintentional, not personal.
  • Avoid criticizing another individual who made a decision to have (or decline) prenatal testing, or their decision based on the results from those tests, whatever the decision, its basis, or how different it is from your situation or beliefs.
  • Avoid discussing your personal beliefs about the pro-life/pro-choice debate. There are other places on the 'Net for this debate. Accept that we have a wide diversity of members with a wide diversity of experiences -- including a wide spectrum of experiences involving both termination and continuance of pregnancies.
  • Accept diversity and avoid absolutes. Absolute statements often are hurtful to others and may even be interpreted as flames, insults or an attempt to ignite debate.
  • Avoid criticizing others' views or their decisions. Instead, and if appropriate, try to discuss your alternative experience or information with tact, without argument, and in a supportive manner.
  • If you can't respond with a supportive post, consider not posting at all.

Respecting the privacy of other members

  • Do not compile stories or experiences from SPALS without express advance permission of the list administrators.
  • Do not forward SPALS posts to anyone. Forwarding messages outside of SPALS breaks the confidentiality and privacy of our "closed" list. Please help keep our list a "safe haven".
  • Don't reveal the identity of other people on SPALS -- and do not use the Bio List for any purpose other than sharing SPALS conversation.
  • Don't reply to SPALS quoting or including another member's private post to you, without their advance permission. Sometimes members reveal personal details in private posts that they do not wish to share with the group.

Sharing the bandwidth of SPALS

  • Limit conversation on the list to topics that are within the charter of SPALS, and be sure the subject line of your message is relevant. Informative articles, inclusive humour and the occasional off topic post are all a valuable part of SPALS -- although it is a good idea to identify these clearly in the subject of your post. However, other members expect the main focus of discussion on the group to be support-related, within the charter of SPALS.
  • Please do not post "chain" letters to SPALS -- in general, other members don't appreciate them. Often members are stressed by chain letters, particularly ones that say certain things will happen if you don't forward the letter. Some forms of chain letters are not so obvious, including the many virus "hoaxes" and well-intentioned but poorly-structured petitions circulating in the Internet.
  • Be careful with posting "inspirational" material, particularly of a spiritual nature. Recognize and respect that our spiritual backgrounds are very diverse. What may be spiritually uplifting for you, may also be spiritually insulting for another member.
  • Avoid sending attachments with messages. To keep control of the volume of message traffic on SPALS, each message is limited to 40K in total size. Most attachments will cause your message to bounce. If you have a photograph, document, or other file that people may be interested in, ensure it is smaller than 35K and make sure your message does not use formatted text or HTML encoding. (Note that attachments are not sent to SPALS Digest subscribers.) Or, offer to send the attachment to interested members by email outside of SPALS.
  • Reply to the poster rather than the whole group unless your reply contains information of general interest. Thanks, congratulations, and "me, too" messages are not of general interest, however any information about your own experience or your progress always is of general interest.

Promoting other causes

  • Please do not post surveys and solicitations. This includes but is not limited to research projects, fundraisers, petitions, requests for sponsorship, research for presentations or term papers, press requests, etc. -- whether these are your own initiatives or on behalf of others. Asking "how did you handle..." questions for your personal information is appropriate. Direct posts of surveys or solicitations for any other purpose are not welcome on SPALS. Members come to SPALS for support, not to be tapped as a captive audience.
  • If you have a survey or solicitation for a cause you believe members of SPALS may wish to consider, contact our list administrators. For appropriate requests, the administrators will help to position the initiative in a way that will be acceptable to SPALS. They will also forward the request to SPALS on your behalf, along with a certification that you have followed this process. Our main concern is upholding an ethical principle known as "informed consent."
  • Do not promote your commercial activities on SPALS, either directly or indirectly -- SPALS is not a market.
  • Avoid posting political or partisan material. Recognize and respect that our ideological and political background cross the entire spectrum of beliefs. We preserve the safety of our SPALS support community by sharing support, and avoiding advocacy.

Understanding SPALS email etiquette (or "netiquette")

  • Use a descriptive subject for your messages, including using common keyword abbreviations (see also the extended keyword list in the SPALS FAQs):
    • PTM = Pre Trying Mom
    • TM = Trying Mom
    • PM = Pregnant Mom
    • DH = Dear Husband
    • CM = Cervical Mucous
    • (vent)
    • (long)
    • DHAC = people who Don't Have A Clue
    • Intro = Introductory post to SPALS
    • OT = Off Topic
    • LC = Living Child mentioned
  • When replying to a post, ensure the subject line is still appropriate -- or change it.
  • Avoid typing in all caps -- typing in all caps is considered to be SHOUTING and is inappropriate unless you require emphasis for what you are saying. A gentler way to indicate emphasis is to enclose your point in *asterisks* (the equivalent of bold type) or using _underscores_ (the equivalent of italicizing).
  • Avoid including another person's entire post in your reply -- quote only the appropriate part(s). In other words, delete out *all* of the previous post *except* the part you are responding to.
  • Send posts for the list to . When you are replying to a post, be certain that it goes to the original poster or to the whole list, and not to either spals-owner or owner-spals. When replying, also avoid including the original poster's address along with the SPALS address -- otherwise the original poster will receive two copies of your reply.
  • Consider including your email address at the end of your message -- some email software is not able to locate the poster's address among the header information. Those who read the SPALS Digest need to know the poster's address to respond to messages.
  • Be considerate with the length of your email signature.
  • Avoid "This is a TEST" posts sent to the list. Messages do go through our listserver with great confidence, and test messages only add traffic. If you are uncertain about a specific post you have sent, it may have bounced. If you are having any trouble regarding the list or with your own email, please ontact one of the administrators.
  • Avoid long posts. Messages that exceed 40K in size are not accepted by the SPALS Majordomo list server.
  • Avoid using email stationery and formatted text (fonts, coloured text, special characters, backgrounds, logos and graphics) in messages. Formatted text can increase the size of your message by 10 times. The SPALS Majordomo does not handle formatted text correctly for requests to join or leave the list. And formatted text is stripped from messages sent to the Digest.
  • Always post from the account from which you subscribed to SPALS. Our Majordomo list server prevents posts from non-subscribers by examining the posting address -- and if it does not match an address on file, the Majordomo will bounce your post.
  • Check your messages frequently to avoid a full mailbox. If your mailbox is full, your provider will stop accepting SPALS mail, causing bounces. If we consistently get bounces from your address for more than one day, we will unsubscribe you (temporarily) from SPALS. When messages are bouncing consistently we cannot tell when this may cease, or even if your mailbox address still exists. If you have gone several days without mail from SPALS, you should contact one of the list administrators to check if you are still subscribed. I f you are unable to read SPALS mail regularly, consider subscribing to the Digest.

Dealing with a virus

If you are concerned about a virus or believe you have a virus and you think SPALS should know about it, contact our list administrators before posting a general message to SPALS. The list administrators maintain current, accurate information about virus threats -- if you have a virus that might have been shared with SPALS, they can provide useful information to members. Also, many email messages about a virus threat are hoaxes -- even messages you may receive from friends. Please check at the McAfee Virus library under "virus hoaxes" for further information.


Every SPALS member is entitled to their own opinion, and we generally enjoy the privilege of sharing our opinions freely. However, we must all coexist in harmony -- despite our experiences and beliefs. The privilege to share opinions is not absolute -- along with the privilege to share our opinions comes the responsibility to care for all members of SPALS.

This always means taking extreme care to clarify our posts. This may mean seeking to understand a post from a viewpoint other than our own; sometimes this may mean avoiding a topic and not posting at all.

Occasionally, another member's post may seem to attack us directly, causing anger. For a post that awakens our anger, the best response is to take a deep breath, turn off the computer, and cool down before even considering a reply -- if indeed you replay at all.

SPALS is not moderated and the list administrators do not censor messages. However, to promote a supportive atmosphere, list administrators will actively discourage any behaviour outside of these guidelines. Our administrators prefer to take such action proviately, by alerting or warning the affected member(s) individually. Any subscriber who repeatedly disregards the guidelines will be considered unwilling to follow the SPALS code of conduct, and risks losing their access to SPALS.