After an onslaught of hateful comments and personal email attacks drove Laura Holmes to announce this week she would shut down her robust Facebook page OTTB Connect, a popular site with 22,000 users, a new plan was announced.
The page, which is a go-to resource for people buying, selling and saving Thoroughbreds, will continue with new rules governing the behavior of users offering comments. Personal and snarky attacks will not be tolerated, says Holmes, who has spent countless hours removing insulting comments calling other users “stupid” and worse.
“One of our number one rules is that people need to be nice,” Holmes says. “Being rude to others will get people kicked off the page. All we ask is that people treat others they way they want to be treated.
“We had a new Thoroughbred owner who wrote in, asking a question about the change in color of her horse’s coronet bands after he stood in the water. She’s a new owner and just didn’t know that water can change the color. We had people write in saying things like, ‘Are you stupid?’ and ‘How long have you been around horses?’ I felt so bad. It’s not like we’re born knowing the answers to these questions, and there’s no reason for people to be snarky or rude.”
Holmes told Off-TrackThoroughbreds.com in a telephone interview that after spending countless “thankless” hours trying to patrol the site for rude comments, and receiving many derogative comments attacking her for her management of her page, she announced Monday night that she would take the page down.
“I’ve spent all of my free time on this effort. I’ve even gotten in trouble at work for being on the phone because of (the page),” she says. “And when I saw people complaining on the page … it was the final straw. I’m trying to enjoy my life, ride my horse when I can, and when I get these horrible messages, it makes my blood pressure go through the roof.”
Two days after her announcement, which garnered over 800 comments pleading with her to keep the page, Holmes and page administrators agreed to proceed forward with caution.
Posts to the page will, for the time being, need to be approved first by page administrators. And, people who violate rules, or make over-the-top comments, will face being banned.
With all the rancor finding its way to the page, Holmes says something has gotten lost. “This page was started to help rescue-groups network and help horses,” she says. “That’s our main goal. So we’re asking everyone to follow the simple guidelines, which are pinned to the top of the page. If they don’t like it, they can leave.” ♦