The Freedom Classroom

30 Apr 2005, 00:19#1

I wrote the following post in the string A message to our prospective members a couple of days ago letting people know that we were going to start limiting the number of new applicants to just a few a day. For the benefit of new people just looking in I am creating this string which explains why we do have such size limits in place. We want people who do not get in or who even do not apply to know that we are out there to help them too just as much as we are to help any of our posting members. All readers have full access to all of the information we have at Freedom and at www.whyquit.com. If there is ever any questions or concerns related to smoking and/or quitting that a non-member cannot find answers to, he or she should email those questions to managers@whyquit.com.

 The message in the post A message to our prospective members

                       
                                                                             
                                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                                                                             
We wrote this post and the commentary below years ago explaining why we go through such an effort making sure that new applicants read and learn as much as they can about quitting and how to participate most effectively before letting them become posting members at our site. Our purpose for such measures is to try to insure that all of the information passed along at Freedom is in line with principles we are trying to teach and that all members understand our rules and regulations before they start posting. This is important to us because there a lots of people who are reading and learning at our site--a whole lot more than are actual members at our site.

We actually don't know how many readers we get at Freedom--we have no way of counting. We know that we have had somewhere around 4,000 members over the past six years and that this sounds like a lot of readers. Most of our people come from finding www.whyquit.com. We do suspect that there is a significant percentage of people who find www.whyquit.com and then come over an look at Freedom. While we can't count our readers at Freedom we do get some indications of our readers at www.whyquit.com

 Since December of 2002 we have had over 1,056,000 distinct hosts view pages at www.whyquit.com. If only 10% of these people find their way to Freedom it would still be over 100,000 people. The numbers may be higher. While we don't know the exact numbers of people who do read we know it is a lot.

Every person posting at Freedom has an awesome responsibility because every word you are writing is capable of influencing hundreds or even thousands of people. Considering what we are trying to influence them to do, which is to quit smoking and to save their lives, it is easy to see how why we feel that this is indeed an awesome responsibility.

The fact is if we were to take in everyone who would apply at Freedom, our board would end up being loaded up with lots of introductory posts with a few informational posts mixed in between the clutter. We have come to feel that this would dilute the focus and value of our board.

We see Freedom as being a classroom where people can learn how to quit smoking and watch others go through the personal growth experienced over the quitting process. In a way we are like a college telecourse. In a telecourse there are often cameras set up in a single classroom with a set number of students. One teacher                                   presents materials that follow an entire topic curriculum, and the students in the classroom can pose questions which obviously the instructor didn't make clear enough. If he or she had made it clear enough the question would not be posed. This way the student gets his or her question answered, all of the other students in the room get a clarification of the issue, and all of the people watching at home on their own television sets also get the answers. While there are not thousands of people asking questions there are in fact thousands of people getting answers. If the home viewer watches diligently they could probably ace the tests given to the students in the actual class.

If all of the viewers at home were in the class room asking questions there is a pretty good chance that there would be little time for any one student to get individual attention and worse yet, there is a really good chance that the teacher would never get in time to cover all of the materials needed to fully understand the course. Now Freedom is a little different, because we don't have one or two teachers, but literally dozens to hundreds of teacher at any one time. These teachers are our longer term members who have stuck around and learned our lessons well. Being that we have so many teachers many would think that we should be able to                                     accommodate hundreds to thousands of new students at a time.

The telecourse comparison to Freedom still applies here too.

Lets say that you have dozens of really good teachers and hundreds or thousands of smart and highly motivated students at one of the the best universities or high schools in the world. Then lets say you set up one camera in a hallway that allows you to jump from classroom to classroom every few minutes or every                                     few seconds to watch a sampling of all of the classes and all of the subject matter being taught. There is a pretty good chance that the home viewer is going to learn very little, and if the only way the viewer had access to the subject matter was from the materials being taught in each of the classrooms, there is a pretty good chance that the viewer will likely fail every test given in any individual class.

Having class size limits or the number of classes being offered at one time limited is truly in the best interest of all of the students, whether they are at home or in the class. Having too many classes going at once can limit the amount material any individual is likely to see.

We want people here at Freedom to learn as much as they can in their time here. The test that our members and readers are studying for is to develop the skills understanding needed to quit smoking and to stay free. Failing those kind of tests can cost a person his or her quit, his or her health and eventually,                                     his or her life.

In order to insure that our board stays clear and focused we are about to make a major change in who we let into Freedom--or more accurately, how many people we accept to be posting members. We are only going to be taking on a few members at any one time. People still need to be off smoking for a minimum of 72 hours                                     to be considered for membership, and will still need to apply with all of the correct information in order to be considered for membership--but meeting all of the requirements will no longer mean that a person will become a member. Once we let in the maximum number of people on any given day we are going to shut down membership for that day. It is likely that there will be times that we will end up turning away more people than we accept. For this we are sorry but we really do hope that                                     people who do not get in will still stick around and read regularly at our site. They will in fact be able to get the full value of all of our materials and the value insights and lessons being taught by all of our teachers here at Freedom.

Also, if a non-member ever has questions or concerns that he or she cannot find answers to on the board, he or she should just write the managers@whyquit.com and the questions will get answered. Actually, if the questions are really good we will likely put them up on the board for all to see and for our members to add their particular insights to.

It will take us a few days to get all of the bugs worked out and getting the instructions up on how to join and the letters written for those who do not get in. None of this effects our current members and things will pretty much stay looking normal on the board. We do hope that all of our posting members always stay cognizant to the fact that all they are writing at the board is helping to influence lots of readers to improve their health and to save their lives by inspiring them to see quitting in action by your sharing of your insights of how you quit smoking and have stayed totally committed to never take another puff!

Joel

                                 
An earlier post in the string A message to our prospective members that explains why we always worked at making sure people who got in did their homework first                                   and understood exactly what we were trying to accomplish at Freedom:

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           
This post covers the reason why we don't make it too easy to get in at Freedom. We really do want our members to read and learn here before they start posting.                                                                                                                                                 There are those who question this policy. I've seen it written that we are doing it to just keep our statistics higher. This is partially true. We do want to have as good of a success rate of our members as possible. Not for the obvious reason that it makes us look good, but more so because we want as many of our members to be successful as possible because we truly believe that their lives depend on being successful.                                                                      

In a real sense though our membership requirements are not designed to just protect our members though. It is designed to protect all of our readers. Becoming an active member at Freedom carries some degree of responsibility. From a personal perspective of the member, there is a personal responsibility to himself or herself. Responsibility for posting members doesn't stop at himself or herself though. Posting members also have the ability to affect other members and other readers and basically the whole board by what they write on the board.                                                                      

That is why we want people who are members to read and learn all that they can before they start exerting any influence on others. We know from our past experience that people coming in who have done very little reading or worse yet, people who come in who have done extensive reading at other sites have very little idea of all they need to know to quit smoking and to sustain their quits. Often, people pick up lots of ideas elsewhere that fall under the category of conventional wisdom or even pick up ideas that fit into what is currently considered the state of the art in professional cessation circles. The problem is conventional wisdom and state of the art philosophies usually result in very low cessation rates.                                                                      

One other thing I want to point out. People who are rejected and try to figure out why and to correct things often become very good members. It is obvious that they take the time to figure out what had gone wrong and worked at being calm and level headed to find a solution. That is usually a sign of a person who is going to be a responsible member.                                                                      

Then there are those people who get rejected and fire off a nasty letter of our elitist policies and basically trash our managers and our board in their emails. That is a pretty good indicator that if they had ever gotten in to Freedom and encountered a problem with one of our managers or even another member that they would likely have trashed our board with actual posts at our site. This is another example of why we have the application process that we do because the last thing we ever want to do is allow anyone to trash up this site.                                                                      

The work that each and every member is doing here is just too important to allow our board to be brought down by disgruntled people, because the work that each of our members and most of our readers are doing is basically a personal health saving and life saving effort. We hope that each and every person here whether they are members or not are getting sufficient information and motivation to help secure their quits and to keep their commitment strong to never take                                                                         another puff!                                                                      
Joel                                      
                                 
                                                                  
                                                               
                                                       
                                               
                                       
                               
                             
                     
             
     
Last edited by Joel on 16 Oct 2009, 18:28, edited 2 times in total.
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02 May 2005, 23:03#2

Joanne sent me a picture a couple of days ago to capture the idea of a virtual classroom. The original picture had a single instructor in the front teaching a class. I felt as if this aspect of the picture didn't truly reflect what really happens here at Freedom. We have lots of people teaching here--people who have taken time to learn lessons themselves and to prove to themselves that the information shared on the site works. By staying smoke free they have proven to themselves that there is life after smoking and are now able to go on to prove it to others.
I edited out the individual teacher from the front of the room, and now think that the picture captures the essence of what we do at freedom. People learn here not by listening to one teacher, but more accurately, as the picture now depicts, they learn by "reading on the boards."
The more people read here at the boards the more convinced they will always stay that they made a good choice the day they decided to never take another puff!
Joel


Joanne sent me a picture a couple of days ago to capture the idea of a virtual classroom. The original picture had a single instructor in the front teaching a class. I felt as if this aspect of the picture didn't truly reflect what really happens here at Freedom. We have lots of people teaching here--people who have taken time to learn lessons themselves and to prove to themselves that the information shared on the site works. By staying smoke free they have proven to themselves that there is life after smoking and are now able to go on to prove it to others. I edited out the individual teacher from the front of the room, and now think that the picture captures the essence of what we do at freedom. People learn here not by listening to one teacher, but more accurately, as the picture now depicts, they learn by "reading on the boards."
The more people read here at the boards the more convinced they will always stay that they made a good choice the day they decided to never take another puff!
Joel
Freedom from Nicotine
A support classroom to stop smoking, quit oral tobacco and break free from NRT
Freedom is an open nicotine dependency recovery forum where 100% of the group's posts and materials are available to all, regardless of membership. A single-minded program, those applying for posting privileges must have quit all forms of nicotine delivery cold turkey within the past 30 days, without use of any products, pills or procedures, and remained 100% nicotine-free for at least 72 hours. A nicotine-free forum, any nicotine relapse - even one puff, dip or chew - permanently revokes posting privileges.
Key Freedom links
· Mission Statement
· Relapse Policy
· Courtesies & Rules
· How to Join
· Index of Highlight Posts
· Free quit smoking meters
Freedom's discussion boards
· Main or home page
· Today's parade
· Celebrating our new life
· Latest calendar milestones
· Understanding nicotine dependency
· The first 72 hours
· Navigating the 4 phases of recovery
· Relapse prevention
· Member journals & diaries

Last edited by Joel on 16 Oct 2009, 18:28, edited 2 times in total.
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03 May 2005, 22:06#3

"Every person posting at Freedom has an awesome responsibility because every word you are writing is capable of influencing hundreds or even thousands of people. Considering what we are trying to influence them to do, which is to quit smoking and to save their lives, it is easy to see why we feel that this is indeed an awesome responsibility."
Joel:
Thanks for bringing this up, speaking of 'whyquit coverage' here is some information that I learned just yesterday.
My father was released from the hospital last week. It was quite interesting that his discharge instructions included information on quitting smoking. Along with other resources whyquit.com was included in this literature. Needless to say my father somehow thinks that I was behind this. I really had no idea. Dad (an ex-smoker) took up cigar smoking a few years ago - his logic - "I am almost ninety, at least it is something to do". I do have my work cut out for me.
I am delighted to see that whyquit is being utilized in such a way. My goodness, a big Chicago hospital sending folks to us. Like Joel mentions, everything we write here is being read and absorbed by many people. Many are fighting for their lives. All we can do here is give it our best shot to keep things focused and on topic. We have an impressive group of resources available. Our seasoned quitters in this forum are a great asset to this cause. Never underestimate the impact of your knowledge in the giving that you do here.
Guaranteed freedom for each of us as long as we never take another puff.
Joanne
Last edited by Joanne Gold on 16 Oct 2009, 18:28, edited 2 times in total.
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17 May 2005, 03:40#4

We may have a few more readers than normal over the next few weeks--people who are looking in on us precisely because we are a "cold turkey" site. I just kicked up a series of posts that explain the reasons we are such strong advocates of cold turkey quitting. p> Our board is unique at helping to show how quitting cold turkey is totally possible, and, how in the long-run, it is a whole lot more successful and how even in the short-term, it will likely result in an easier process that will definately be a shorter term ordeal than it would be if people are still delivering nicotine via any route.

A sure fire way to quit smoking and to succeed forever is just to make and stick to a personal commitment to never take another puff!

Joel
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25 May 2005, 19:36#5

We may have a few more readers than normal over the next few days because of the referral to WhyQuit.com made on the Pax's televison show Cold Turkey. Our board is unique at helping to show how quitting cold turkey is totally possible, and, how in the long-run, it is a whole lot more successful and how even in the short-term, it will likely result in an easier process that will definately be a shorter term ordeal than it would be if people are still delivering nicotine via any route.

A sure fire way to quit smoking and to succeed forever is just to make and stick to a personal commitment to never take another puff!

Joel
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04 Jun 2005, 22:49#6

"Every person posting at Freedom has an awesome responsibility because every word you are writing is capable of influencing hundreds or even thousands of people. Considering what we are trying to influence them to do, which is to quit smoking and to save their lives, it is easy to see why we feel that this is indeed an awesome responsibility."
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19 Jul 2005, 02:35#7

"Every person posting at Freedom has an awesome responsibility because every word you are writing is capable of influencing hundreds or even thousands of people. Considering what we are trying to influence them to do, which is to quit smoking and to save their lives, it is easy to see why we feel that this is indeed an awesome responsibility."

Joel
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03 Aug 2005, 20:07#8

From the string Freedom - the forum's early history :
http://sc.groups.msn.com/.../pby/img/mb/reply_bg.gif noWrap align=middle>
From: Joel. Sent: 8/3/2001 7:14 AM
Today is an anniversary of one of our red letter days at Freedom. One year ago today MSN put Freedom up on their homepage. I think our membership doubled in one day, I don't remember for sure but I think about 600 people joined up in one day. It was pandemonium around here. We were an open board then, any one could come in, say what they like, and give any advice, good or bad. While we had a few of these people succeed, it was actually only a handful. There was so much clutter and distractions happening at the board we feel we missed a major opportunity with hundreds of people. This day more than any other taught us the importance of getting our board focused. We know that we may only get a few seconds with a given individual to reach them with who we are and what we are trying to accomplish at Freedom.
Many of our Diversion Policies and many of our principles in our Freedom's Mission Statement were born from that one-day experience. That day was exhausting to our managers, we all tried to come in throughout the day and keep strong educational message coming to the top but we were overwhelmed, no matter how hard we tried we could not keep up with the influx.
The only day that was even close to this was January 3, when MSN did it again, but this time we were more ready. We made it where only members could post. We were still overwhelmed as management, over 1,000 people applied for membership in just a couple of days, but that was just an administrative nightmare, the board stayed uncluttered and people who came here to read got quality information, even if they could not post--they could still learn.
So today is an anniversary of one of those days of how we got to be who we are today. We are glad you are all here with us and hope you find our board providing you with the tools you need to be able to get on with your life as a successful ex-smoker. We have only one mission now that we put all of our focus into, and that is to make sure that each and every one of our members know that they will always stay successful as long as they never take another puff!
Joel
Last edited by Joel on 17 Oct 2009, 11:53, edited 4 times in total.
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05 Aug 2005, 10:30#9

lifted from Joel's first post:

"We are only going to be taking on a few members at any one time. People still need to be off smoking for a minimum of 72 hours to be considered for membership, and will still need to apply with all of the correct information in order to be considered for membership--but meeting all of the requirements will no longer mean that a person will become a member. Once we let in the maximum number of people on any given day we are going to shut down membership for that day. It is likely that there will be times that we will end up turning away more people than we accept. For this we are sorry but we really do hope that people who do not get in will still stick around and read regularly at our site. They will in fact be able to get the full value of all of our materials and the value insights and lessons being taught by all of our teachers here at Freedom."

All readers have full access to all of the information we have at Freedom and at www.whyquit.com. If there are ever any questions or concerns related to smoking and/or quitting that a non-member cannot find answers to, he or she should email those questions to [url=mailto:managers@whyquit.com]managers@whyquit.com[/url]
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05 Aug 2005, 18:24#10

To: john@whyquit.com
Sent: Thursday, August 04, 2005 2:22 PM
Subject: Why Quit Suggestion, Comment or Story Submission


Hello,

My name is Shelby, and I have been quit since the 6th of June 2005. I am 22 years old and found this web site by accident (thank God) while I was trying to quit. I was completely uneducated and had a total lack of understanding my addiction. I knew that my intentions were well founded but success would have never been mine had I not visited this site. I did the whole cold turkey, and thought it's been three days I can have one, thus prolonging my withdrawals.

But I found Why Quit and made it to freedom, all through education. I wanted to join but I didn't need to as time ran out of me. Lurking over this site gave me the support to make it one day at a time. I may not meet every one, but I do want to say thank you everyone for helping me. And if any one thinks that they can't make it or it's too hard. I know that it is I know the pain and joy that is felt physically those first few days. You can do it, just think today I can go with out my fix. That's all and do it every day, Never take another puff. Be free forever.

Thanks again

Shelby
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05 Aug 2005, 21:14#11

Thank you for sharing Shelby's story, John. Letters as such are good reminders as to how many people are learning without ever joining. We get letters on a daily basis similar to Shelby's story.

Keeping the board on topic and focused is crucial in helping so many people, both members and non-members. We certainly have many qualified teachers here, and it shows.
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18 Aug 2005, 20:33#12

I've been trying to break down just how many individual people read at WhyQuit.com on any given day. I am still not sure how to interpret the data. Lets suffice to say though that since we know over 1,000 people a day are finding and downloading the book from the site, and it is extremely likely that most people who happen to find their way to WhyQuit.com are not downloading the book, that we have lots of people finding us at WhyQuit and likely lots of them finding their way here to Freedom to learn more about quitting too.

With our mechanisms in place limiting the number of people who join and post, some may think that things being written here may not be being seen by many people or helping many people. These assessments are wrong. The odds are that every word being written here at Freedom by our members and managers alike are helping to influence countless numbers of people.

As it says above, "Every person posting at Freedom has an awesome responsibility because every word you are writing is capable of influencing hundreds or even thousands of people. Considering what we are trying to influence them to do, which is to quit smoking and to save their lives, it is easy to see why we feel that this is indeed an awesome responsibility."

The Freedom classroom is a venue to help hopeful quitters to see that life does go on for people after they quit and that in many ways life is a whole lot simpler and better once a person makes the commitment to never take another puff.

Joel
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15 Sep 2005, 19:16#13

I wrote the following comment today in the string Reading at other quit smoking sites . It made me think of this string and how important it is that people have a resource such as ours to put quitting into perspective.

I had an email today from a young woman who had only smoked for a few years, was planning on quitting cold turkey, but who was terrified of quitting because of all of the horror stories she has read about withdrawal symptoms. She sounded pretty convinced that the withdrawals that people experience are so terrible that she would lose her mind.

I am assuming that she has been getting these stories on Internet based quit sites, considering she wrote about all of the horror stories that she "read" as opposed to all of the horror stories that she "heard" about.

Along with a few personal remarks, I sent her back a copy of the original post in this string (Reading at other quit smoking sites ) along with the links.

I don't know whether she reads specifically at Freedom or not, but I suspect a lot of people are just like her, almost crippled with fear from even attempting to quit because of the way quitting is portrayed at most sites. It is tragic that people have such a misperception for it keeps many from even trying to quit, who go on smoking and then developing diseases and conditions that are truly terrifying, experiences pain and agony that are truly horrific, suffering with these maladies for days, weeks, months and sometimes even years and eventually end up losing their lives to the smoking induced conditions.

Withdrawals from quitting, even when they are really worse than normal, are not as bad as the symptoms people experience from getting smoking induced diseases and only last a matter of a few days at most.

To minimize the chance of experiencing real pain and agony over a lifetime is as simple as making and sticking to a personal commitment to never take another puff.

Joel
Last edited by Joel on 16 Oct 2009, 18:29, edited 2 times in total.
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14 Dec 2005, 16:51#14

I am passed the 2 month milestone so I am not able to join the Freedom Club, but I just wanted to let all of you know that because of all of you on the board and all of Joel's educational information I have been able to finally kick the habit!!!!

I have been a 20 + year smoker with a couple of failed quits. You all have been with me since the very beginning….. I kept my eye on the clock to make sure that my cravings only lasted the exact amount of time and that I could then breath a sigh of relief and go on with another few minutes to finally make that 72 hour mark….. yeah!!!!!!!!!!!

I had finally made it, now I was officially a nonsmoker and could join the club… I never did join the club but decided to stay a lurker a little bit longer, now it's to late but I did want to thank you all so much, I have tears in my eyes as I'm writing this, because as you all know this quitting thing is a big deal and when you finally succeed you have all these emotions, but few words can exactly express all your feelings.

If there is any way to pass on my gratefulness to everyone, please do!!!! I continue to lurk and gather strength from all, and when I read about another newbie's trials and tribs, I just want to let them know to keep with it, and to definitely know that things do get lots better, even though your junkie mind will say no it won't….don't listen it does!!! Now I'm rambling…just wanted to let someone who understands know that I have quit and that you would all be proud and just to thank everyone for helping me keep this quit.

Hugs to all

NTAP
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23 Aug 2008, 21:19#15

What are you doing all the way down here?

Go back up and read the opening post
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06 Oct 2010, 18:23#16

"Every person posting at Freedom has an awesome responsibility because every word you are writing is capable of influencing hundreds or even thousands of people. Considering what we are trying to influence them to do, which is to quit smoking and to save their lives, it is easy to see why we feel that this is indeed an awesome responsibility."

Joel

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