Tag Archives: Tribes

The baby forum tribes – which one do you belong to?

Baby forums imageEarlier today, while Scrip was rummaging in her toy box for a small plastic bottle of pretend bubble bath (as you do) and I was bouncing a grizzly baby D with one hand, I used the other one to Google ‘early teething’. He’s been agitated and super hungry since the weekend with nasty nappies and I thought it was probably the 12 week growth spurt, but then I noticed a tiny white speck on his bottom gum which I think is a tooth bud.

It seems rather early at around three months (Scrip was six months almost to the day for her first tooth) so I wanted to find out more. I skipped past the articles and straight onto one of the forums. Baby Centre, Circle of Mums, Mumsnet, Netmums – do you use them as much as me? They’re great for getting a range of opinions and there’s so often someone with the same question you have. The responses are mostly reassuring and make for strangely addictive reading.

As a bit of a forum afficiando, from conception to pregnancy (when I was actually banned from certain sites by my husband) to toddlerdom, I’ve noticed the people who respond to questions tend to fall into certain ‘tribes’. This is not a criticism – I’ve been helped so many times by forums and I’m grateful for all of the responses – more of an observation. So if you post a question be prepared for these tribes to offer up their responses:

The ‘seen it all before’ responder – the experienced mum, often with multiple children, who’s seen it, or done it, or one of her many children has. It possibly happened a decade ago but she still gives invaluable advice.

The ‘me too’ responder – usually caveated with ‘I can’t help but…’ she has the same problem, or a similar one, which she goes on to explain in great detail. It may not solve the problem but is actually pretty reassuring.

The ‘random fact’ responder – chipping in with a fact that may be only mildly related such as ‘my cousin’s boyfriend was born with a tooth’ or ‘my neighbour’s daughter got a peanut stuck in her ear’. Thanks for that.

The ‘copy and paste’ responder – someone who’s found a good, useful chunk of text online and is happy to share. Like Google but with a human filter.

The ‘I should see a doctor’ responder – in all likelihood, seeing a doctor is sensible advice. But really sometimes we just want answers from fellow parents before we take that step, especially if it is 2.37am.

The ‘professional’ responder – possibly someone from the site itself offering up advice and links to other pages (which may or may not be helpful considering the question is still being asked). Or a medical professional who happens to be browsing and gives a handy gem or two.

The forum queen responder – like those awe-inspiring bloggers who manage to post three times a day, regularly join in multiple linkies and fill their Instagram with arty shots, all whilst balancing a small child on one hip, these people are the lifeblood of forums. They give a great response, a link to a previous relevant thread and maybe even a picture or two. All rounded off with a smiley emoticon.

As for me, I’m more of a browser than a poster but I will respond if I’m sure of something. And hopefully people can gain from what I say as much as I have from others. Unless it’s a random, peanut-related fact.