Questions about the site
- What is the main purpose of POEM?
- Do you have to be involved with massage therapy in some way in order to add to the site?
- I consider myself a spiritual or religious person. Am I welcome here?
- I've never been especially skillful at book learning. Will I be left out here?
- Why can't I see what I've added right away with some of the things I've entered?
- Why are you monitoring so much on the site before allowing it to be displayed?
- But aren't you limiting my freedom of speech?
- If you don't get targetted donation levels, will the site still be available for use?
- What do I do if I'm having problems using your site or if I see someone abusing it (e.g., trying to use it to sell to MTs)?
- Will there be more features added to the site in the future?
- How do I add graphics?
- How do I add links to external pages?
- Why do you have a bear as your favicon?
- If I have added content, but it is not yet showing on the site, can I still edit it?
Questions about POEM Content:
- What is a Massage Wiki?
- What are e-Books?
- What is a Research Article Analyis (RAA)?
- What is a Massage-CAT?
POEM stands for the Project for Open Education in Massage, and its purpose is to bring high-quality validated open educational materials to massage therapy stakeholders around the world.
"Open education" is a movement to reduce or eliminate barriers to educational access, and "open educational resources" are educational materials provided freely by the creator to be used by students and teachers without having to purchase or pay royalties. This site practices open education in both senses.
POEM does not seek to replace hands-on massage education in any way; it supports it by providing free, open-access, high-quality educational resources to teachers and learners of massage. It also supports it by providing community support for each other as lifelong learners, to bring down the barriers of access to knowledge that we would all find much harder attempting all on our own.
If you care enough about massage therapy to write content in order to help other members of the community learn about aspects of it, then you are certainly involved in massage therapy enough to add to the site. Credential-checking is unacceptable behavior for professionals, and will not be tolerated here.
Don't let fear that you don't know everything perfectly already convince you that you have nothing to contribute. (Here's a useful tip: none of us knows everything perfectly already, and none of us ever will--if that were the standard we have to go by, no one could ever contribute. Fortunately, that's not a requirement at POEM.)
You also can contribute to the site by asking questions--if your topic isn't yet far enough along to be considered strong knowledge, that's no reason to fear discussing it within the community. The following are perfectly good examples of the types of content that can be contributed by someone who is not necessarily yet an expert in massage therapy:
"In student clinic, I have noticed X [X here means describe what you have observed]. I have heard of Y [Y here means describe the condition or phenomenon], and I wonder if the X I am seeing could be an example of Y? Does this make sense, or what else could it be?"
- For example, visualize a scenario in which a student notices that a client staggers when getting off the table immediately after a massage, and asks if this might be a sign of orthostatic hypotension.
- Experienced practitioners in the community could respond by advising the student to give the client a few extra minutes to lie still on the table after then massage, and then to have them get up slowly to a sitting position, and remain there a little while before standing up.
- If that solves the problem, then it's likely to be orthostatic hypotension, and that would be the solution after every massage.
- If that doesn't solve the problem, the practitioners could recommend to the student what the next steps in responsible and professional follow-up might be.
- "I am a client who gets massage regularly, and I wonder if it might be good for my mother, who has Z condition. I asked her primary-care practitioner (PCP) about it, but the PCP didn't know what to tell me. What do MTs usually do for people with Z?"
Whether you are enough of an expert to write a dissertation on a single topic for the wiki, or you have a question that will stimulate discussion on the community boards, if you care enough about massage therapy to invest time in writing, then you can add to the site by contributing content.
The only rule is that you have to join the community in order to contribute content, which means agreeing to abide by the community rules for how you treat other members of the community and represent the massage profession in public. You do not have to join the community to see the discussions or materials; anyone, whether or not in the POEM community, can access and download any materials on the site for their own use.
No blame, no shame
The principle that we will represent the evolving massage profession by publicly upholding its highest ideals underpins all content at this site. There will be passionate debate, but participants will always conduct themselves with respect for others as people.
There is a way in which professional representation and respect for others may seem to come into conflict. People get into massage through a variety of paths: there are people coming into second careers after decades as highly-trained professionals, and there are people who have not had good academic experiences, and who may not have completed high school before choosing massage as a career.
No one will be shamed for simply not knowing something that other people know.
Not knowing something--but being willing to work in a professional and civil way to learn it--is enough to participate in the POEM community.
If you see someone struggling with spelling (or arithmetic, or something else), and you think it reflects badly on the profession to have (for example) misspelled words in a public post, you have several choices. For example, let's say the topic is client confidentiality, and someone posts a comment saying
No matter how excited you are about what famous people you get to work with on your table, you should never share their names with anyone. Not even your piers.
In this case, your options are the following.
You can decide "not my problem", and scroll on past.
- In this case, the misspelling of the word "peers" by "piers" is outweighed by the fact that this commenter absolutely gets it--confidentiality means you don't brag to fellow MTs.
- You don't get an exception to brag "just this one time" for how excited you are--you simply don't do it, ever, under any circumstances.
- The clarity with which this commenter understands and communicates that ethical principle far outweighs one misspelled word. You can appreciate that fact, and decide to let the word go in light of the more important communication of the ethical standard.
If you know how to contact them, you can gently and kindly and respectfully offer in private by email to help them improve their skills if they would like you to help. In this case, you could write something like the following:
Dear <their name>, I really appreciated your point about not violating client confidentiality, no matter how exciting a situation it is. It was exactly the right message that people needed to hear right there and then. One little thing--"piers" in your comment should actually be spelled "peers". As someone who's had trouble with spelling myself, I can offer some hints if you like. Please let me know if you want me to do so. Best regards, <your name>
- You can offer public suggestions for how they might get their message across more effectively. If you choose this option, you will make sure that you do it in a very kind, gentle, respectful, and non-shaming way.
What you will not do is publicly criticize them for making mistakes. Language flames and arithmetic flames will absolutely not be tolerated here.
We are all lifelong learners here, and we will support each other along that journey. People cannot control the education they got in childhood and young adulthood, and they will not be blamed or shamed for circumstances beyond their control.
If someone is doing their best to learn, they can depend on the POEM community to be supportive of that goal.
POEM is committed to diversity and tolerance in supporting various learning and communication styles. Grounded in the Buddhist tradition of our shared human history, the following aspects of "right speech" provide very good pragmatic guidelines for posting on this site in a professional way:
Is it true?
Yes. POEM is not in the business of providing misinformation to stakeholders of massage.
You can count on the information on the curated part of the site to be validated and high-quality. In the uncurated part of the site, if misinformation is posted, you can expect the community to correct it quickly: if it is not true, it will not be left to stand without comment to confuse other readers.
- Yes. POEM is not in the business of providing misinformation to stakeholders of massage.
Is it kind?
- Yes, postings here--even ones correcting errors or incorrect information--will be presented in a civil and professional way.
- POEM's standard is that people will never be attacked; only misconceptions will be. The discussion, even in disagreement, will remain civil and professional at all times, or else it will not be permitted to continue.
- There are enough sites on the Internet already where people outside of the massage community can see so-called "professionals" engage in name-calling, mudslinging, and fights that put massage and the people who practice it in a very bad light. I am not going to this much effort and expense merely to provide another one of those.
Is it necessary?
- Yes, the process of getting knowledge and misconceptions out in the open and resolving them is absolutely necessary.
- As healthcare professionals, we have an affirmative duty to promote valid, high-quality information to other stakeholders in the massage community, even if that process creates sacrifice on our part.
Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion; this right includes freedom to change his religion or belief, and freedom, either alone or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship and observance.
Additionally, if you are a United States citizen or resident, the free exercise clause of the First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States protects the same right:
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
POEM is absolutely committed to human rights, and we support these principles, as well as those charters of any other nations that declare freedom of conscience as a universal human right.
There is no reason why a spiritual person cannot fully participate in and add to POEM.
In practice, there are two potential areas where there may be confusion about how that works, which we'll clarify here.
Spiritual beliefs, by themselves, are not knowledge. The reason is that knowledge must be limited to be consistent, while spiritual beliefs must have the freedom, if necessary, to contradict each other.
- Person A is perfectly free, for example, to believe that God, or gods, exists. Person B is equally free to believe that God, or gods, do not exist. However, the massage profession cannot commit to either one of those positions without favoring the beliefs of one person over the beliefs of the other.
- The massage profession must commit only to that knowledge which can be independently demonstrated in a mind-independent way--otherwise, it is taking sides on a position that should be a matter of individual freedom.
You are absolutely free to hold spiritual beliefs that contradict facts.
- If you are a young-earth creationist, for example, you are absolutely free to believe that the earth is 6000 years old, and that humans were created in their present form at that time by a supernatural being. However, that belief is not knowledge, because it is contradicted by multiple lines of evidence from biology, geology, paleontology, genetics, and many other disciplines.
- The massage profession and POEM can support your absolute right to believe whatever you wish to--but if they commit to the content of any particular set of beliefs that go against mind-independent evidence, then they fail at their tasks of collecting and generating knowledge that can be used universally.
What these points mean is that, if you make a knowledge claim that is based on nothing more than a spiritual belief, the claim itself will be subjected to exactly the same kind of scrutiny and questioning that any other knowledge claim would be. Your rights and freedom to believe anything you wish, on the other hand, never will be.
You will absolutely not be left out here. It is never too late to learn, and we are all lifelong learners.
Again: No blame, no shame. Whatever your background, if you are here and participating, that means you want to learn, and that's all that's required of POEM community members.
There are no educational requirements for participating in the POEM community, and the expectations are the same for everyone. All participants, no matter what education they have, are expected to share good information, to support each other's education, and to behave professionally and civilly in discussions with others.
Since those are the expectations, and since we are all from diverse educational backgrounds, it is only fair to provide ways to meet that expectation for people who have not had the educational advantages that others have had.
If you missed out on learning certain subjects along the way, check out the Making Connections e-books to see how well they meet your needs for foundational knowledge.
If you're having trouble with the English in the discussions, check out the reworded discussion pages, and the video and audio media, to see if those resources are helpful to you.
If you have trouble writing or otherwise expressing yourself, please don't be shy about asking for help. Other members of the community are eager to help and to be supportive, and no one will be permitted to make fun of or otherwise disrespect someone who is trying to learn.
If you are concerned about how your past education reflects on you, consider participating in POEM under a nickname, handle, or 'nym, rather than your real name. I will never out your identity, and that may give you greater freedom to explore, experiment, and even make mistakes without embarrassment while you are learning.
If you have learning disabilities, I don't have the specific knowledge or experience to know how to address them in educational materials, but I would very much like to hear your feedback and ideas about possibilities for addressing them.
First of all, you should always keep a backup copy of any writing you have entered. POEM values the hard work that community members put in, and it would be awful if your work got lost due merely to a technical glitch.
However, even if there are no technical glitches, there is always a process of curation that takes place on some parts of POEM (such as the wiki), and which slows down the process of content appearing on those parts of the site.
"Curation" means that someone (in this case, POEM) evaluates the content and takes responsibility for its accuracy and correctness before making it visible on the site. Any content that a community member enters for POEM to represent as state-of-the-art knowledge has to be evaluated for accuracy before it can become a resource that others in the massage education community rely upon. POEM will work with you to ensure that your material meets that standard; that may require some back-and-forth behind the scenes before the users seen the final product.
In addition to evaluation for content, there is a process of standardization and disambiguation that also has to take place. The reason for standardizing content is not to force everyone into a Procrustean bed just for the sake of conformity, but rather to avoid putting up more barriers for the learner. If the learner gets distracted by wondering, for example:
- why POEM uses a term to mean one thing here and a very different thing there, or
- why links sometimes open additional windows so you can stay where you are, and at other times takes you away from your page so that you have to find your way back on your own,
then those questions detract from focusing on the content of the material learned. Part of the curation process, then, is ensuring that a learner genuinely has access to a variety of materials from a diverse and vibrant community, yet at the same time can count on enough continuity of look-and-feel to reinforce learning.
Example: in her case study on massage as part of an integrated treatment program for an adolescent boy with bald spots from alopecia areata, SC Putt uses the term "hair massage" when she actually means "scalp massage". If I leave it as "hair massage", then it is orphaned, with no obvious connection to other studies and community-generated materials that relate to it. So I put a redirect from "hair massage" to "scalp massage". By doing so, I instantly integrate it by connecting it to all the other related materials that use the term "scalp massage".
Finally, there are exciting technological developments currently taking place in the fields of knowledge capture and representation and of educational delivery. Rather than expecting you to master various standards of computer programming before you can submit material that supports these features, POEM takes responsibility for that aspect of the process, leaving you free to concentrate on writing the content.
All of these processes require an investment of time and work, so material on curated parts of the site may take time after submission before they are visible to other members of the community. Material on uncurated parts of the site, however, such as comments, are immediately visible.
Curated, however, does not mean "anything goes"; curated content is moderated to ensure that it adheres to POEM's standards of professional behavior. POEM does not take responsibility for the contents of uncurated submissions, but will enforce a code of conduct including, among other things, no racist, homophobic, or other hate speech, no personal attacks, no spam, no pornography, and so forth (see Policies for details). Uncurated content, then, appears instantly, but abusive uncurated content will be deleted, and the commentor and the IP address from where it originated may be banned.
Two reasons: First, I am putting my good name on the line to stand behind and take responsibility for the accuracy of the information POEM provides in the curated sections. There is a great deal of unreliable information on the Internet; POEM is intended, by contrast, to be a source of reliable information relating to massage. That requires a process of curation, and so I am taking responsibility for curating the information put out by POEM.
Second, this is a safe place for community discussion, and members of the community need to know that they can rely on POEM to protect their right to speak freely, without concern about being personally attacked for their ideas. There are many sites on the Internet where discussions degenerate into personal attacks, and I am not investing my time, effort, and other resources just to replicate the kind of fever swamp of personal attacks and hate speech that can be found in so many other places on the Web. That decision requires effort to ensure that community standards for appropriate discussion are upheld.
"Limiting", yes; "freedom of speech", no.
Let's look at the "freedom of speech" part of the question first. The First Amendment to the United States Constitution reads:
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
I am not a government entity, and I make no laws. Nothing that I do on my own page is preventing you from going to millions of other sites on the Internet and saying anything you want to say. Freedom of speech is not an issue at all here.
I am simply exercising my own First Amendment right to peaceably assemble with other people who value high-quality information for its own sake, and are willing to work hard to make that good information freely accessible to others. Providing a safe place for pursuing those goals is what POEM is all about
But the "limiting" part of the question does apply. Limitations on our absolute freedom to say anything we want to say, and behave in any way that we want to behave are part of the price we pay for becoming professionals. We should, and will at some point, have the discussion on whether--at that price--we want to become professionals. Parts of that discussion may take place on the POEM site itself.
Of course, it is only fair that if POEM declares a constraint around a particular topic, that I explain why I am doing so--otherwise, the process is not transparent, and it will not communicate a clear expectation to you. For example, see the policy on the discussion of draping here to learn why questioning the necessity of draping is not an appropriate topic for this site.
I recognize that some people may find these conditions too restrictive, and I respect their right to feel that way. For that reason, access to the education materials is absolutely unconditional. You do not have to agree to the conditions for taking part in the community discussion simply to download and use the educational materials provided by POEM--they are free for you to use no matter what.
Although I would adore being able to do this as a labor of love (a strictly volunteer basis if need be), the reality is that it is far too big a project to do on that basis. There is a break-even point below which I cannot sustain the work as anything other than livelihood.
The details of how it works are described in more detail in POEM's business model, but it comes down to this: if this resource is valuable enough to the community that you support it at the necessary level, it will always be free and open for use by any stakeholder. If it is not of sufficient value to the community to support, then I will have to take it private, and make the content available only to paying subscribers.
You will always be aware of what the status of the site is (see the Status box on the left-hand top of the page), and if the site does need to go private, then you will have a month's warning before it happens, so that you have the opportunity to download any materials you want to keep before the site is no longer available.
Make sure that you're looking out for what you need for yourself:
I am going to do my very best to keep this free and open-access, but if the community does not support that business model, I will be forced by economic necessity to take the site--and all of its content--private. That means any contributions made by bloggers or commenters at the point at which that decision is made will belong to POEM, and will go private with it.
Although I will do my best to prevent this from happening, I can't guarantee that it won't. To protect your own interests, do not post anything that you cannot see go private with POEM, if need be.
I may publish academic papers based on the publicly-visible content of this site; if so, I will never reveal your identity or personal details in those papers any more than is already publicly visible on the site.
To protect your own interests, make sure that your level of personal disclosure on POEM is at a level you are comfortable with for both discussions on the site, and for any analysis of those discussions that may occur in an academic setting.
What do I do if I'm having problems using your site or if I see someone abusing it (e.g., trying to use it to sell to MTs)?
For problems using the site:
contact me using the link below.
Remember that the more detail you provide on how we can reproduce your problem, the faster we can try to help you. Tell us what browser you were using, and what you did (or tried to do) that ended up in a problem. If it's possible to repeat the problem, tell us the exact steps to do so.
For abuse of the site:
contact me using the link below.
Absolutely! These are very exciting days both in what we're learning, and in the delivery of educational content; to the degree that we have resources to do so, we will be exploring new possibilities in covering and publishing massage educational resources based on validated knowledge. Part of the Report Card, where I report on progress on building the site, will be to outline projections about where I see possibilities for adding more features, and seeking your input on what features you would find valuable (and which, maybe not so much).
To add graphics to your entry, press the picture icon in the editor toolbar:
Then click on the "Browse server" button:
This will bring up another menu where you go to the upper left hand side to "Upload", and from there you can browse your computer for the image you want.
Don't forget to hit the upload button after selecting the images.
After you have uploaded, hit "Insert file":
Your image will then be previewed and at this time you can change the size of it. Just change one of the Height/Width parameters to the size that you need.
Hit "Ok" and your image has been added. Don't forget to save your changes often.
You may well want to just provide a link to an external source very often, especially wikipedia, and then relate the information to the massage profession.
Instead of just writing the external link, you can highlight text and use the link button:
A box will then be displayed where you should give the full path to the item you want to link to in the URL box. Then click on the Target button:
Pick "new window" from the download menu. This will ensure that your external link will be brought up in a new browser window and so your work can be viewed at the same time.
Reason 1: Bears are awesome!
Reason 2: Some of my favorite work as an active scientist was having the opportunity to participate as a member of a team investigating the reproductive cycle of the sun bear (Helarctos malayanus or Ursus malayanus) in order to try to support its reproductive success in the face of threats to its very survival, such as deforestation of its natural environment. Although participating in wildlife and conservation science can be overwhelming, given the challenges it has to confront, that project is some of the best work of my life--work that I look back on with pride and satisfaction. The bear icon always brings back good memories for me.
Reason 3: Bears are an appropriate symbol of the biopsychosocial model of massage, because of their dramatic embodiment of all three aspects of the model.
Their physiological abilities (such as delaying implantation of the fertilized egg until in a safe and resource-sufficient environment to support pregnancy, or their ability to hibernate for months without suffering muscle atrophy, blood clots, or waking up covered in urine and feces) speak both to how little we know about biology, and how much exciting knowledge we stand on the threshold of learning.
The power of the idea of the bear, recurring around the world in traditional mythologies, literature, and language of various cultures, stands as testament to the importance of psychological aspects of being human. For example, one English word for bear, "bruin", meaning "the Brown One", comes from the idea that to mention the bear's true name is to call bears down upon you, so you protect yourself by using other terms besides the name "bear" to avoid drawing the bears' attention. The psychological power of such an idea, and the way that power shaped individual and social-group behavior, is a stunning example of how our embodied minds can operate.
Finally, human threats to their survival as endangered species (traditional medicines, anthropogenic global warming, deforestation, the pet trade, and more) speak to discussions we urgently need to have about our responsibilities as a society and as individuals to other people, other species, and the planet we share--in other words, the social. legal, and political aspects of our humanity.
All of these aspects--biological, psychological, and social--affect us specifically as stakeholders of massage, and more generally, as citizens of our respective societies, and inhabitants of our planet. Because bears play such a large role in human understanding of all of these aspects, I thought a bear was an excellent symbol to represent a site dedicated to biopsychosocial massage.
Content that is NOT curated include: comments (on any subject - including the "talk" tabs on wiki entries), quotations and student lounge entries. Other content will be approved by the site owner. If you have entered something to be approved and realized that it needs editing, then go to "my account" and hit the Unpublished tab. That will bring up a list of content that has still to be approved. Just click on the entry that you wish to edit and then hit the edit tab.
Also, note that for content that needs approved, the site administrator will not look at it until you have indicated that you have finished editing, so it is imperative that you tick the "yes" option when it is ready in the following:
The Massage Wiki is a resource for a quick look-up of an unfamiliar term or concept. For example, if you are interested in learning more about the potential for massage in Parkinson's disease (PD), and you are reading the following article:
Zesiewicz TA, Evatt ML. Potential influences of complementary therapy on motor and non-motor complications in Parkinson's disease. CNS Drugs. 2009 Oct 1;23(10):817-35.
Complementary therapies, such as altered diet, dietary supplements, vitamin therapy, herbal supplements, caffeine, nicotine, exercise, physical therapy, massage therapy, melatonin, bright-light therapy and acupuncture, may all influence the symptoms of PD and/or the effectiveness of dopaminergic therapy.
This is a list of research articles that have been analyzed and commented on (this is separate from the Journal Club articles). These are used primarily for the Clinically Appraised Topics.
POEM uses the term "critically-appraised topics" (CATs, or Massage-CATs) as it is defined athttp://www.otcats.com/intro.html:
A critically appraised topic (or CAT) is a short summary of evidence on a topic of interest, usually focussed around a clinical question. A CAT is like a shorter and less rigorous version of a systematic review, summarising the best available research evidence on a topic. Usually more than one study is included in a CAT.