Policies for Parent Q&A

Parent Q&A is intended as a way for parents to problem-solve with each other and get a range of suggestions and advice from other parents. The policies below have been developed to keep the forum friendly and useful for parents.

See also: Policies for Posting Reviews on BPN


Policies for Parent Q&A

Questions that BPN doesn't accept

BPN accepts all types of questions, not just parenting advice.  Popular topics include advice about relationships, careers, Bay Area neighborhoods, how-to questions, vacation suggestions, and much more. See the Advice and Reviews Archive for thousands of past discussions in many different categories. 

Here are questions that we don't accept:

  1. Editorials, rants, and rhetorical questions.  You should be asking a specific and concise question that you would like other parents to give you personal advice about.  BPN doesn't accept questions that invite other parents to speculate about a social or political issue, or that seek to "rally the forces" for a particular cause. Your question will not be accepted if moderators decide that its main purpose is to vent, preach, berate, belittle, gossip, complain, criticize, or chastise, rather than seeking advice from other parents. 

  2. Asking other parents to do research or favors for you.  Parent Q&A is intended as a way to get a range of opinions from other parents, so we don't accept questions that can be answered by making a phone call or google search yourself.  Similarly, BPN should not be used to ask other parents to help you with a personal errand, such as asking if anyone on the list has a contact at UC Berkeley graduate admissions.

  3. Questions seeking professional advice. Questions that require special training and expertise to answer, such as asking for medical, legal, or financial advice, are not accepted. See Advice about Medical, Legal & Financial Issues for details.

  4. Survey questions. Questions such as "How much do people pay for daycare?" are not accepted because they have the potential to generate too many responses on a big list like BPN. We periodically run surveys, so if you have a suggestion for a survey, contact us.

  5. Marketing questions  Questions asking whether there is interest in your product or service, or seeking advice about how to market your product or service are not accepted. These posts conflict with BPN's policy about advertising and promotion. BPN does accept announcements about parenting-related marketing research, focus groups, and the like, but it may require a paid subscription . See Research Queries on BPN for more information. 

  6. Soliciting reviews for personal gain. BPN does not accept questions that are posted in order to solicit favorable reviews of a business that you have a personal interest in, or a school that your child has attended.  See Deceptive Reviews for policy details.

  7. Requests for services outside the SF Bay Area BPN discussions are limited to the Bay Area with the following exceptions: boarding schools, colleges, sleepaway summer camps, vacation spots, and "moving to a new city" queries.

  8. Services and items that are prohibited on BPN. Posts asking about illegal products and services are not accepted. , or seeking children to adopt, surrogates, donations of eggs, embryos or sperm.  See Prohibited Items on BPN.

  9. Criticism and gossip.  BPN accepts negative reviews when posted in response to a question, but not in the question itself. This includes criticisms of specific people, schools, or businesses in your question, or using phrases in your question such as "I heard that ..." or "I read that ..." followed by negative remarks. We also do not accept questions that invite other parents to post negative reviews. See BPN's Negative Review Policy for more information.

  10. Questions you have asked before. Please do not post a new version of a question you have asked in the past, hoping to get more or better responses than you got last time. We receive scores of new questions a week, and we want to give everyone the chance to have their question appear in as short a list as possible. It isn't fair to other subscribers if you repeatedly post the same question, and it can also give readers the false impression that many parents are concerned about an issue that in reality only one person is concerned about.  If you didn't get the response you were seeking when you posted before, please try other venues besides BPN. 


Responses that BPN doesn't accept

  1. Replies that don't​​​ answer the question. All responses should directly answer the question that was asked. Responses should not give advice about a different topic, or pose a new question, or comment about the question instead of answering the question.  For example, if someone posts a question asking where to get a cake for a first birthday, you may not post a response that says why one-year-olds should not eat cake. The reason we have this rule is because we want every parent to feel comfortable seeking advice on BPN without worrying that they will be criticized for asking a question.

  2. Replies that are not based on your own first-hand experience. Please post advice and reviews only about situations that you or your child have direct experience with. Your post should clearly show that you have used the service you are recommending, or that you have experience with the problem you're giving advice about. Reporting what you've heard from others is not as helpful. When parents are asking for advice from peers, they are looking for responses from people who have been in a comparable situation. 

  3. Replies that promote your own business, or that of a family member, friend, or colleague. This includes mentioning your business in your post, signing your post with your full name or business name, or recommending the business of a family member, friend, or colleague. BPN does accept some types of promotional posts in other newsletters - see Advertising and Promotion - but not in Parent Q&A. 

  4. Replies that give professional advice, rather than parent-to-parent advice, are not accepted  (why?). BPN's mission is to support parent-to-parent networking and is not a resource for requesting medical advice, legal advice, or any other advice that requires special expertise.  See Advice about Medical, Legal & Financial Issues for more information.

  5. Negative reviews that do not comply with BPN's Negative Review Policy In general, reviews that criticize a person, school, business or any other group can only be submitted in response to a relevant question from another parent. Criticisms may not appear in unsolicited reviews.  Criticisms must be based on the author's first-hand experience, which must be clearly shown in the review. BPN does not accept posts that contain gossip or criticisms heard from others. 

  6. Name-calling and inflammatory language. BPN subscribers are expected to be civil and polite when posting on BPN. Posts that disparage other subscribers or their opinions or beliefs are not accepted. You may express your own opinions and beliefs, but you may not criticize those of others.  Posts that use derogatory language to describe other people, businesses, or organizations are not accepted.  

  7. Deceptive reviews. This includes posts that are deliberately misleading, such as not disclosing your personal interest in a business you have recommended, or withholding information in order to give the reader a false impression.  See Deceptive Reviews for policy details.

  8. Multiple reviews of the same school or business from the same subscriber.  Since reviews on BPN can be anonymous, multiple reviews from the same subscriber can mislead the reader about the popularity of the school or business.

  9. Follow-ups to your original post with clarifications, rebuttals, or new questions. Only one post per topic, per subscriber, please. (We do accept "thank you" follow-ups and summaries of offline responses.)

  10.  Judgmental and unwelcome advice is accepted, as long as it meets our other policies. If you are asking for advice, please be aware that you may receive responses that seem judgmental, or that you disagree with, or advice that you would never follow. BPN does have the goal of being helpful and supportive to the community of parents, but our community is very diverse, and opinions can vary widely on any given issue. 


Why only parents can post reviews and advice

BPN's mission is to support parent-to-parent networking in the SF Bay Area. Therefore, all advice and reviews must be posted in the spirit of one parent helping and advising another.  Professional advice is beyond the scope of BPN, and we do not accept questions from parents who are seeking advice from legal or medical professionals or any other type of professional expertise. Community subscribers can post reviews and advice only if they are also subscribed as a parent, and they must be posting as a parent, not as a professional or on behalf of their business or colleagues.

  • But aren't parents missing out on helpful advice from a fellow parent who has special expertise?

Yes, sometimes.  BPN parents who are also doctors, attorneys, therapists, CPAs, and other professionals really do want to help their fellow parents by posting information they might not have access to otherwise.  But we don't accept professional advice on BPN for the following reasons:

  1. BPN's mission is to support parent-to-parent networking. Seeking advice from professionals, or giving advice based on professional expertise, is beyond the scope of BPN.  
  2. BPN has no way to know whether the person giving you legal or medical advice has the training and background they say they have, and neither do you. We don't want subscribers to get inaccurate information that could affect their child's health or their family's finances from a well-meaning subscriber who is not actually trained in the law or medicine. 
  3. BPN subscribers who *are* lawyers, doctors, accountants, etc. cannot give you sound advice based on a brief message you posted to BPN. In fact, many professional organizations specifically prohibit this, because such issues are often complex, and require a more in-depth and in-person consultation to give accurate advice.
  • You used to accept advice from schools and business owners. Why the change?

We made this change in 2015 when we became a 501(c)(3) nonprofit and moved to a new website. Previously, anyone who was eligible to subscribe, including business owners, could give advice or recommend themselves in response to a parent's query. However, as the years went by, some discussions on BPN began to be dominated by subscribers recommending themselves and their businesses. Parent participation declined as it began to resemble a collection of free advertising posts from local businesses and private practices.  When BPN was granted nonprofit status, we decided to return to our original mission of parent-to-parent advice and reviews. We still allow community members to publicize their child-related programs on BPN, but they must purchase a community subscription and post announcements rather than participating in Parent Q&A. The fees from these community subscriptions ensure that BPN will continue as a community resource for years to come.


Enforcing the policies

BPN moderators are responsible for deciding whether Q&A posts meet BPN's guidelines and policies. Moderators may reject any messages that we feel do not comply with the policies, or that we feel are otherwise inappropriate for the list.  Members who are not willing to follow the rules after a warning may be unsubscribed from BPN at the moderators' discretion.