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A Guide to Posting in SparkTeams & Message Boards

Get the Most Out of the SparkPeople Community
  -- By Jen Mueller, SparkPeople Community Leader
SparkPeople has a wide variety of resources to help you reach your health and fitness goals. Finding support from others who share common experiences and goals can be an important part of your success. The Community Message Boards and SparkTeams are two features that can help you connect with others like you.

When it comes to using the Community Message Boards versus joining SparkTeams, you might be unsure about which to use. What's the difference? How do you know where to post your questions? Where should you be spending your time? Understanding the purpose of each and the differences between them will help you get the most out of these important features.

Purpose of the Community Message Boards
The Message Boards cover a wide variety of topics, and many relate specifically to your program. For instance, if you have a question about your account, you would post that in the "Site/Technical Help" forum. If you want to know the best abdominal exercises, you would post that in the "Fitness and Exercise" forum. SparkPeople's Resident Experts are qualified to answer your questions and provide advice about your program. Our experts monitor most of the Community Message Board forums, and can answer your questions here. On top of that, using the Community Message Boards gives you access to the entire SparkPeople Community. No matter how large (or small) your Team is, you'll likely get more responses and ideas from members if you ask questions here.

For more information on how to use the Community Message Boards, check out The Beginner's Guide to the SparkPeople Message Boards.<pagebreak>

Purpose of SparkTeams
SparkTeams are groups that are started by other members who share common interests or goals. For instance, there are Teams for vegetarians, single parents, and those trying to lose the last 10 pounds. Teams, which each have their own Team message board forum, are a place to talk about those common interests and share tips with your fellow members. The majority of the conversations in team threads should be related to the Team topic.  When joining a team, check for threads that explain the rules of the team.  Each team works a little differently, but often there is a sticky post at the top of the forum explaining how your team operates. 

For instance, if you had a question about your knee injury, you wouldn't want to ask members of your SparkTeam for advice because: 1) it's not related to the topic of the Team, and 2) Teams are not monitored by SparkPeople's Experts. A question like that should be posted in the "Fitness and Exercise" forum on the Community Message Boards, where other members and/or experts can respond. You might also find that when you go to the Community Message Boards to ask your question, someone else has already asked a similar question and you can find answers without needing to post.

Most Teams (with the exception of those started by a SparkPeople expert) are not monitored by our experts. Similarly, because our experts spend their time helping members on the Community Message Boards, they will not join Team threads to offer advice or answers. If one of your Team members asks a question that you think needs expert attention, please encourage her to re-post her question in the Community Message Boards. Although SparkPeople experts are not involved in Team threads, members can report any inappropriate activity, posts, or Team members by clicking the "Report Inappropriate Post" button at the bottom of any Team thread. This will alert the SparkPeople staff to investigate and handle any problems.

If you aren't sure about what is considered inappropriate, check out the SparkPeople Community Guidelines. These guidelines apply to both the Message Boards and SparkTeams.

Allocating Your Time
Most people find that it's helpful to use both features. The Community Message Boards are a place to interact with all of our members and experts on a wide variety of topics. SparkTeams are a place to interact with a smaller group of people who share a common interest or goal.

Members who post on the Community Message Boards or in SparkTeam forums tend to lose more weight than those who are not active in these areas. You'll find other members just like you who can share in the ups and downs that come with establishing a healthy lifestyle. We encourage you to take advantage of all of the resources the site has to offer. You'll find support and meet lots of great people—no matter where you post!