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If you think "allnurses" is harsh sometimes, you've totally missed out on the unmoderated newsgroups of the 1990s usenet. We're all new to the forums at some point, and some of us learn faster than others of us what to do and not to do online. I'm a slow learner . . . maybe I can save someone else was learning the hard way!

Specializes in CCU, SICU, CVSICU, Precepting & Teaching. Has 40 years experience.

I discovered online forums back in the late 1990s, when the usenet was at the height of it's popularity and text-only newsgroups were the only thing out there. You had to have a usenet account, and once you scaled that hurdle, you had access to literally thousands of newsgroups on every topic known to man and hundreds I never would have thought of. Just about every sexual kink ever invented was represented in an online newsgroup, and when I stumbled onto one of those forums by accident (something about bedwetting), I blushed 13 forms of red and was so flustered I yanked the computer cord out of the wall rather than try to figure out how to back out of there. It probably didn't help that I was at work at the time, and my boss (who introduced me to newsgroups in the first place) was trying to help me navigate onto a group called "ratsa" to check up on the week of General Hospital we'd both missed.

Ratsa, or "rec.arts.tv.soaps.abc" was a favorite newsgroup for years. We discussed all the ABC soaps and everything else under the sun including a few kinks that had even the two of us seasoned nurses groping for barf bags. I learned very quickly (after posting under my own name and regular email address) that anonymity was to be striven for.

I lurked on ratsa for months before daring to post, but when I did post, I innocently set off a stool storm of epic proportions. (Something like wandering on here and posting something like "Why do nurses eat their young?" or "All nurses over 50 are dried up hags who need to retire.") I defended my favorite GH character against an accusation of sluttiness or poor parenting -- I forget exactly what -- and pointed out that the GH darling made precisely the same parenting choices AND slept with her best friend's husband without censure. Instantly, my inbox was filled with nasty, venomous posts questioning my parentage, character, intelligence and reading comprehension. Several posts threatened to come to my house and either beat me to a pulp or have their trained German Shepheds make mincemeat of me -- and those posts were accompanied by a map detailing the exact location of my home. Anyone whose online experience is limited to moderated forums has absolutely NO idea what an unmoderated usenet group could produce in the way of offensive posts.

I very quickly figured out that posting under my own name and using my regular email address was a blunder so huge as to be dangerous. I backed away from the keyboard for weeks. Months even. But eventually my fascination with the layers of discussion, knowledge of the history of my favorite characters, backstage stories about the actors drew me back. "Ruby Vee" was invented then, and although it's been proven over and over again that there is no true anonymity on the internet, it was a much safer persona. "Ruby Vee" has yet to get a credible death threat accompanied by a map to my home . . . knocking wood so as not to tempt the fates.

I discovered all nurses in 2001 and lurked there for about a year before joining. My husband had done an internet search on something blood-related and one of the sources he turned up was AN. I jumped on the computer one afternoon and there it was: "allnurses.com". I started reading posts here and there and was soon caught up in the discussions -- not caught up enough to post, though. I learned my lesson on the usenet and lurked for a LONG time until I was SURE I wanted my words recorded and preserved for posterity. Even after I joined allnurses, it was about another year before I dared to post. (The first of my posts I could find in the archive was dated in June, 2003).

As I began to participate regularly on AN, I found out very quickly that I had the answers to a lot of the questions people were asking. I wish the resource had been available when I was a brand new and terrified baby nurse. It would have saved me from asking really stupid questions of the crusty old bats who ushered me through my first year of nursing, and maybe would have made me look much smarter than I was if I'd had the answers without asking the question. I'd have learned how to navigate some of those interpersonal problems with my new co-workers without making myself an unpopular colleague, I'd have figured out how NOT to make some of the gaffes I've made and I might have learned a good bit about time management without having to reinvent the wheel. Advice on how to survive the night shift or rotating shifts would have been right there for the taking rather than my having to figure it all out on my own. If a savvy old nurse had told me I was being a baby about this or a moron about that in the relative safety and anonymity of AN, it might have saved me a few scathing lectures from my actual co-workers.

I participate now not because I need answers (although sometimes I do), but mostly because I know that through my experience, I can save some new grad from learning things the hard way. The "But I'm too special for night shift" questions/statements can save someone the eternal hatred of their coworkers if they but read and heed. "Why do nurses eat their young?" threads can actually educated new grads and nurse wannabes if they are open to it, and some of the "Dumbest thing I've Ever Seen" and "Biggest Mistakes I've Ever made" threads are both entertaining and educational. Although it's hard to believe, some posters have made -- and learned from -- mistakes I haven't been unfortunate enough to have made yet, and may prevent me from ever making those mistakes!

klone, MSN, RN

Specializes in OB-Gyn/Primary Care/Ambulatory Leadership. Has 15 years experience.

I remember first joining Parent-L in the mid -90s. That was my first social networking community experience.

CT Pixie, BSN, RN

Has 10 years experience.

I belive my first 'message board' WAS Allnurses :) maybe in 2002 or so?

And I remember one particular post reply (I want to say it was in regards to nurses and tattoos) I made that caused an epic stool storm. It was an innocent enough post but it was taken the wrong way. That being said, I pushed the keyboard away and just read posts. After a few weeks I stopped visiting. When I returned in 2006 I lurked as a guest (as I could not remember my previous signon name and email) and it took me about a year of watching, reading and understanding the workings of this board before i got up the guts to register again and begin participating.

OCNRN63, RN

Specializes in Oncology; medical specialty website.

My first foray into online discussions was on the Nursing Spectrum forum. Back then, it was a good forum, and we had a lot of fun.

I discovered allnurses shortly after that. Over the years, I have made some friends here and at another nursing website. I also experienced having people snarling at me in their posts, but fortunately, I didn't use my real name and never disclosed where I lived.

I'm glad you're here, Ruby. You always tell it like it is. I think if you had worked at my hospital I might have give critical care a try. I was very happy with OP oncology, though, and I have no regrets regarding my career choices (for the most part, that is).

Edited by OCNRN63

LadyFree28, BSN, RN

Specializes in Pediatrics, Rehab, Trauma. Has 10 years experience.

I remember using news net during my down time during college in the late 90s-early 2000s. I stumbled on this site as a PN nursing student and lurked for a long time before posting. Then nursing and life got in the way, but now post regularly my own take on nursing.

I think this site serves to be great unadulterated (albeit moderated) website on the truth of nursing from some posters, especially you Ruby. Some may not want to admit it, but the honest posting does work for an "aha" moment that makes ones practice all the much better. :up:

Great article Ruby. As I am one of the newbies at this site, and actually my first foray into the forum world, it is great to have experienced posters as yourself sharing their words of wisdom. All I can say is thank you to you and all the other posters who share their knowledge, and keep on doing what you do. :sarcastic:

la_chica_suerte85, BSN, RN

Specializes in Pediatric Hematology/Oncology.

I also lurked for a long while before joining partly because I was not yet a student nurse and the other part being hesitation to join a forum when I had quite a bit of a lack of self-restraint back when I was on the K-Pop forums in my high school years. :) Now that I'm more responsible with my free time and All Nurses seems to be a little more low key, I joined and it has helped me immensely!! I can imagine how it would be if I didn't have this as a great resource, especially for trickier topics and I'm grateful All Nurses exists!

For me, it was the early 90's when I was first introduced ('92) and first got online myself in '94 or '95. I had learned Fortran computer language in college, but since then....nothing. WHAT a different world then! Text only, of course, and there were suddenly people 'in my home' who I wouldn't have talked to on the street, LOL......welcome to the world of online discussion groups.

I remember typing in the word "crochet", just to see what might pop up, and was absolutely and completely SHOCKED to see nearly six thousand hits. SIX THOUSAND boggled my mind, in that there were so many groups/pages for such a thing! As a comparison, I just did the same thing while posting this message, via Google, and got 35,100,000 results. Over 35 MILLION. Stunning.

So you see, the world has gotten bigger and smaller all at the same time. Nothing is anonymous, although those of us with a touch more savvy than some fresher faces have less to fear. And I DO fear for those who are so very foolish as to post their photos, their KIDS' photos, their real names, their schools, their addresses and phone numbers and emails.

But I do warn them. And truly hope they understand it's FOR their benefit that I (and others like me) do this: we don't want to read about them in the news, someone bludgeoned to death because of a crazy stalker who found them and followed them online. It HAPPENS!

So....thank you, Ruby Vee, for this article, it's terrific, and I do hope will be VERY well received :)

I have lurked around AN since 2009, but did not register until 2013, I found it by doing an internet search and was addicted from day one. I have always found the nursing profession fascinating. Then one night I wrote my first post in a word pad and decided to register and post it, I got a kick out of how many likes I got and the comments as well, it made my day. I have always wanted to thank a large group of nurses for what they do, so I figured why not join and post from time to time to remind them that they have some fans, supporters and admirers. I also enjoy reading the stories you all share and like the debates. I have many favorite posters as well. As a big fan of nurses this site has gave me an inside look into nursing and what you all deal with, it has also showed me that there are people who truly do care about others, and as a patient and admirer that is nice to know. So glad I found AN!:)

Whispera, MSN, RN

Specializes in psych, addictions, hospice, education.

I've been here a few years and appreciate the tone of the forums. It's so much gentler and kinder here than in some others.

I was a moderator on another site that should have been supportive and helpful to its members. Usually it was, but sometimes people who had a negative agenda joined to cause trouble. I remember one particularly ugly episode where one poster figured out who another poster was, identified family members, and sent copies of everything negative the second person ever wrote, to her family members.

That's one reason why, from time to time, I post the idea that we must be careful about posting identifying details. We never, ever know who is reading and what that person might do...

I'm a newbie at this site though I'm no longer new to online forums. I love to read them because I get to learn a lot from it. Glad to be part of AN.

vampiregirl, BSN, RN

Specializes in Hospice. Has 11 years experience.

Awesome article, thank you for the words of wisdom:)

Just like any community - in cyberspace or in a face to face environment - there is a culture. Learning that culture is the trick to playing well with others.

I think sometimes the supposed anonymity of the cyber world encourages people to type things they wouldn't dare (well, some of us anyway) say to some one face to face.

dudette10, MSN, RN

Specializes in Med/Surg, Academics. Has 10 years experience.

My first venture into online forums (a popular band forum--ouch), I caused an epic shitstorm with my first post. I didn't learn, though. My first post here wasn't the best idea either. Sometimes, I need to be whacked over the head with a clue-by-4 twice to really get it.

OCNRN63, RN

Specializes in Oncology; medical specialty website.

My first venture into online forums (a popular band forum--ouch), I caused an epic shitstorm with my first post. I didn't learn, though. My first post here wasn't the best idea either. Sometimes, I need to be whacked over the head with a clue-by-4 twice to really get it.

​LOL..."clue-by-four." I'm going to tuck that one away for future use.

vintage_RN, BSN, RN

Specializes in NICU. Has 7 years experience.

I think my first online forum experience was a band fan forum which often didn't include any discussions about the actual band..I believe this was around 2003. I discovered allnurses because I was in such heartache that I couldn't get into a nursing program yet I wanted to be a nurse so badly...so I lurked on here for years living vicariously through all of you :wacky: I finally felt I was worthy of joining and posting while in nursing school. I have learned so much from the users on here and I also got my job because of this site! I connected with another user in my area who gave me her managers email...I emailed her and got an interview...and a job! So I'd say allnurses has been pretty helpful :yes:

kbrn2002, ADN, RN

Specializes in Geriatrics, Dialysis. Has 19 years experience.

I remember the news groups we used to subscribe to through email programs. I used Outlook I believe and it was so cool to see your newsgroup updates right below the inbox. Ground breaking technology! The discussions were usually lively, occasionally inappropriate and pretty rarely some threads got confrontational enough to be a little scary.

fortunately AN is well moderated (thank you mods!!) and a truly beneficial exchange of information can be had. Also enough just for fun threads to relax and enjoy ourselves. Very few people outside of nursing "get" nurses often dark sense of humor.

I joined about 4 years ago? I must live a very sheltered life because I didn't even know these types of Nursing Blogs existed, I am NOT a computer geek and still prefer telephones to texting buttttt you can always count on change in Nursing on a Daily basis. So be it with technology--the bain of my existent.

I happened to latch onto VivaLasViegas, I have no idea why, I just loved her Blogs. I did not specialize in her area of expertise but yet learned so much from her. I do not have the same personal issues she has dealt with in her life--something she has been very open and honest about. But I could relate in so many other ways personally. I did not choose to leave nursing after 30 some years but rather it was chosen for me. The over age 50 discrimination is alive and well. Our entire division slowly disappeared to be replaced with Rn's with a few years experience vs. 20 or more years. Some days it still hits me with a shock. I have tried several other areas but have not yet found that niche I so loved or could love again.

I have been in on discussions regarding AD vs. Diploma vs. BSN and girls I heard these conversations while still in my Diploma program before I had even graduated and they have not changed one iota, same old same old 30 some years later. I have a Diploma and BSN both achieved with 6 straight years of school. Began one--graduated--completed the other--graduated. I did it for personal reasons and have no regrets but did NOT find that it made any difference in how I practiced Nursing.

I don't care if you are a CNA, LPN, AD, DIPLOMA OR BSN, I don't care if your 18 or 89 just deliver the best care you can, follow the rules, be a team player and be respectful of us all. Is that reality NOOOOOOOO, but its one I tried to live by and for the most part it worked.

Being part-time helped as you didn't get sucked into the female hormonal political pet issues--sorry guys I might have worked with maybe 1 male in 34 years but I knew plenty of them, their chosen area to practice just wasn't mine. Yes we do eat our young something I had never heard of till I was 4 years out and going into a very specialized area of Nursing. I have been on the receiving end of bullying, I have trusted others who I thought were my friends but its a learning curve. It took a verryyyyy long time for me to call the Bullies out and for the most part it seemed to help or I just moved on. No place is worth the constant harassment of a certain select few. And believe me in the end they received their payback. Karma baby!

I have not received a whole lot of responses yay or nay to my postings nor does it matter to me. This is not a site for me where I am looking for confirmation of my beliefs about Nursing or how it is practiced, rather its reading and learning how others have practiced, learned, reacted to the entire Nursing environment as the years have passed. SO MUCH is the same and YET its NOT.

But it is THE best career and for many of us our Passion. Do not allow others the power to kill your passion, you own it, sometimes you just have to roll with it. RN's are nothing if not FLEXIBLE. A word I have heard from the first day I started school. Its been worth every sob fest, backaches, feet aches, mental exhaustion, sadness, anger, joy--the entire rollercoaster of emotions.

Wouldn't Change A Thing :))

I must have been a lurker for a few years before joining. I didn't even know the date or year. But luv ALLNURSE.COM for everything it has provided for us.