Privacy and Anonymity on BPN

About BPN's Privacy Policy

The Berkeley Parents Network is meant to be a supportive, helpful forum for parent-to-parent networking. BPN's Privacy Policy is designed to 1) protect the anonymity of subscribers so that we will all feel comfortable discussing sensitive topics about ourselves and our families, and 2) ensure that parents who post to BPN will not be subjected to unwanted marketing from other subscribers.

Information You Provide to BPN When You Subscribe

When you subscribe to BPN, we ask for certain information to make sure you are eligible to subscribe and also to create an account for you on the BPN website. The information we request includes:

  • All subscribers:  your full name, your email address, the city you live in, a username of your choice, and a password
  • Parents: the ages of your children, the neighborhood you live in, and an optional introduction
  • Community subscribers: the name of your school or business, license number, capacity, and a description of your program

How BPN Uses the Information Your Provide

Your email address is used to:
  • mail BPN newsletters to you (you can opt out of newsletters on your account page)
  • forward messages to you from other BPN subscribers (you can disable this on your account page)
  • contact you if moderators have a question about something you posted

Your username is used for posting and sending messages on BPN - more below.

All of the other information you provide when you subscribe is stored on your account page on BPN, which can be accessed only by you and by BPN administrators. This information is never shared or sold or made available to anyone else outside of BPN, except as may be required by law, or with your consent. For example, if you choose to be included in the "Welcome to New Members" section of the Announcements newsletter, your username, city, ages of your children, and your introduction are listed in the next newsletter, which is a one-time mailing sent to BPN subscribers only.

Your Username on BPN

Your username will appear on all your posts with the exception of "Q&A" posts, which can be posted without a username if desired. Most BPN subscribers choose a username that does not identify them.  You can change your username on your account page -- click "my account" in the upper right corner when you're logged in, and then click the "Edit my Account" tab.

Sending Messages on the BPN Website

The BPN website provides a messaging system that allows subscribers to send a private message to one another by clicking a subscriber's username on a post. All posts except Parent Q&A are automatically signed with the username that posted the message. Subscribers who do not want to be contacted by other subscribers can disable the personal contact form option on their account page. However, this will prevent you from posting on most of the listings, since a username is required.

Sending a Message:

BPN subscribers who are logged in to the website can click on the username at the end of a post to send a private message to the post's author. This include current posts in one of the listings, as well as Parent Q&A from past discussions that appear on the website. Note subscribers can hide their username on Parent Q&A posts. If the poster did this, their post is anonymous. You will not see their username and you cannot message them. If a username is displayed on a post but is not clickable, this means the poster disabled their personal contact form after they posted the message and they cannot be contacted.  When you click a username to send a message, the BPN website will forward your message to the email address they have provided to BPN. Your email address and your username will be displayed on the message, but you can see only the username of the person you are sending the message to. 

Receiving a Message:

When you receive an email from another subscriber who messaged you on BPN, you will be able to see their username and email address. They cannot see yours, though.  They have access to your username only.

Replying to a Message:

You can either reply directly to the email message, or your can use the sender's personal contact form to reply - you'll see a link to their contact form on the message. If you reply directly, the recipient will be able to see your email address, because it is coming from your own email account.  If you instead click on the link that takes you to their contact form, they will not be able to see your email address in your reply, only your username.

Are messages sent on BPN anonymous?

Messages sent on BPN can only be viewed by the sender, the recipient, and BPN administrators. As long as you use the contact form to message another subscriber, the recipient can view only your username, not your real name or email address. You can change your username to make it more anonymous - see How to Change your Username.  If you reply to a message directly, or send a message by clicking the username on a post, the recipient will be able to see your email address in addition to your username. Note that BPN administrators do have access to all messages sent on the BPN website.

Posting Anonymously

All posts are signed with your username, except for "Parent Q&A" posts, which can be optionally posted without a username.  Your real name and email address are never included on a post unless you specifically type it into the body of your post.  Only the BPN moderators have access to your name and email address. We recommend that you choose a username that does not identify you to preserve your privacy, rather than hiding your username on Q&A posts. Posts that include a username are friendlier and more in keeping with the community spirit of BPN. You can change your username to make it more anonymous - see How to Change your Username.

Sending Unwanted and Unsolicited Messages

BPN subscribers may not send unwanted or unsolicited messages to other subscribers. This is a misuse of BPN and can result in your account being deactivated. BPN subscribers have the expectation that they will be networking with other local parents when they post on BPN, not subjecting themselves to criticism or marketing or any other type of unwanted messages.  

Unwanted and unsolicited messages include:

  1. Sending subscribers information about your business in response to their post.  Example: If a parent posts a question asking about family-friendly neighborhoods to move to, you may not send them a private message offering your services as a realtor. Note: If your business is parenting-related, you can purchase a community subscription and post announcements on BPN. However BPN does not accept any other type of post that promotes one's own business, per this policy.

  2. Sending complaints or criticisms to subscribers about their post. Example: If a parent posts an opinion in the Q&A newsletter that you disagree with, you may not send them a private message to argue with them or complain.  Instead post your own opinion.  If you think a post has violated a BPN policy, please contact the moderators and we will review the post.

  3. Using email addresses from BPN postings to assemble a list of customers for another organization or business.   Example: You may not collect email addresses from BPN posts in order to create a mailing list for another parenting website.