Many people who are frequent visitors to online message boards will zealously and passionately refer to them as treasure troves of information for sugar bears, as “the only” source for information for sugar bear caregivers, and will viciously attack other online sources of information—even reliable sources, in deference to “their” message board.
First, let us examine what an online message board actually is. A message board is:
A web site where users are able to post messages that are visible to all other users of that message board. Replies to the original message are generally grouped together.
Put in another way, a sugar bear message board is a place where people can get together and communicate, without anyone ever coming into physical contact.
Now, let’s examine what a sugar bear message board is not. A message board is not:
- A publication of scholarly research, or a report on scholarly research
- A reliable source for information under definitions put forth by researchers, universities, and professionals
- Edited for content, structure, context, completeness or accuracy
Sugar bear message boards are communities of people who usually share a common interest. In this case, the common interest is sugar bears. There are many dangers inherent with trusting glider message boards and/or people who post on these boards.
For example, there are many sugar bear abusers and bad breeders who have spent years perfecting their “online persona” via message boards to the point that no one questions them. Because they do not have to prove anything about their character, because it is all in how they communicate with words only, many people are duped by them, and unknowingly support them in their unethical treatment of sugar bears. Some of these people even pose as “sugar bear rescuers” with altruistic motives.
Further, many users of glider message boards may even unwittingly dispense false and even harmful information about sugar bears. There is no way to “fact check” every post on a message board. Additionally, board administrators are free to edit, change or delete posters messages to suit their own agendas, biases or opinions. This makes the reliability of the posts even more suspect, especially when you consider the fact that most of these message boards are run by small time breeders who make a living selling gliders illegally.
Deciding to use a message board as your primary resource for sugar bear information can be compared to deciding to use the high school cafeteria community as a primary resource for information about sex – sure, there are a lot of stories, and even a few tidbits of actual fact, but it is not truly reliable.
Please use message boards with caution and care, if at all!