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Open Letter to Spark Guy Chris, Spark Administrators, and Spark Community

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Monday, November 20, 2017

Dear Spark Guy Chris, Spark Administrators, and Spark Community,

Most of us have seen cyber bullying in the news. Typically it is mentioned in conjunction with a tragic result due to social media bullying in our young people. The stories tug at our heart strings and make us question how to protect our youth. The anonymity of social media is the perfect venue for someone to torment another individual. Comments that someone would never say in a face-to-face conversation, flow easily out of the fingertips.

Bullying, however, is not limited to young people. One report states that 40% of adults have either been bullied or have witnessed bullying of another adult on social media. Adult bullying, often times, is more sophisticated than that of children. Typically it is done in a way that just falls under the radar of social media guidelines. The results can be just as damaging.

I believe that overall Spark is a wonderful, safe program where individuals may connect with others that struggle with weight loss and healthy choices. It is a site where we can allow ourselves to be vulnerable while we work through issues. The typical Sparker has a sensitivity to other members that does not exist on other social media sites. The love and support that I receive from my Spark friends is a blessing in my life.

Many Sparkers, myself included, have experienced bullying in their life. Whether it occurred from peers as children, parents, spouses, coworkers, it has left a mark in our lives. Sadly, even with this wonderful community, some of my friends have experienced it right here on Spark. A place that should be a safe haven has become a source of pain.

Spark administrators are reluctant to get involved unless the oppressor is violating guidelines. I fully support that Spark has asked individuals to work it out amongst themselves if at all possible. Usually the person doesn’t even realize how they came across. Individuals in the situation may agree to stay off of each other’s pages as a solution. That does not always work. Some bullies enjoy the power and are clever enough to know where the line is and they know how to approach and not go over. The pain, frustration, and humiliation for the victim are still there. Sometimes resurfacing hurtful feelings that they thought were buried in the past.

After watching a clever bully torment a Spark friend on her blogs, and finding out that her tormentor had even sent her emails, I contacted Spark coaches. Their suggestion was to change her Spark page so that only friends could see her page. While yes, that will make it so the other individual may not make comments on her blogs, it also limits her ability to inspire others and make new friends. Those of us who write blogs enjoy that interaction.

Administrators, you have given us the ability to block individual users on our emails. I am respectfully bringing a request before you today to also give us the ability to block an individual, not the majority of the community, from seeing our Spark pages and blogs. Please help make this a safe place where we can take the power out of the bully’s hands by giving us the power to block an individual.

Thank you for your time and consideration.


***Spark Friends: I have never done this before, but ask that you hit “like” for this blog. I believe it is a topic that the Spark Community needs to be aware of, and a popular blog will get it out there. Also, if you have a Spark Administrator that you feel comfortable sending to, please do so.***


Do not believe what the bully says. Do not let them define you!!!

1. If it is someone you have had contact with before and they have generally been a good friend, they may have been having a bad day, or did not realize how their comment would come off sounding, especially in writing. Just ignore it or let them know you were hurt by their remark.
2. Depending on the circumstance, give the person the opportunity to explain. “I found your comment to be hurtful.” You do not need to get into a big back and forth discussion. Some groups will suggest ignoring it, because if the person really was trying to be a bully, they get satisfaction in the fact that they upset you.
3. If it has gone beyond the guidelines, or it is a repeat issue, report them. Every time.
4. Keep a cyber-trail. Do not report and then delete. Even if they did not go beyond guidelines, having multiple negative remarks documented can show a pattern to site administrators.
5. Use the tools available to block them.


1. Are you? Be honest with yourself.
2. If you were not, sincerely apologize “I am sorry you felt that my comments were out of line. They were not meant that way at all.”
3. If you were, sincerely apologize. It is a step in the right direction. Then work on yourself.
4. Do not try to minimize by saying you were just kidding. If you were kidding, then your style is hurtful and you need to change it.
5. Once you have apologized, leave the person alone. Do not follow their blogs. Do not comment on their page. Do not try to get others to join your cause.

P.S. If you see on someone's blog a comment made by another member that appears to be bullying, I just found out that you can report their comment as inappropriate as well. I urge you to do that. I am positive that Spark Administrators would want us to report bullying.

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Member Comments About This Blog Post
    Well written!
    1173 days ago
    Well written!
    1173 days ago
    Well written!
    1173 days ago
    Well written and good responses from SP.
    1173 days ago
    Well written and good responses from SP.
    1173 days ago
    Well said, Skydrake. Thank you for writing this blog. It never hurts to bring light on a concern. emoticon
    1181 days ago
    I am sorry for others that are bullied, I have had only great experiences, challenging views at times, but I like them, because they make you think outside the box.

    I would never see a point in directly hurting anyone, and if anyone thinks someone is doing that, call them out on it, they may not even know they have been hacked, or if a family member got on their phone or computer, to stir things up for the spark member.

    My son pretended to be me on another social media and I found out, and he is not allowed near my things now.

    I would give people the benefit of the doubt, and at least hope for the best in another spark member.

    I miss your blogs, hope you are doing okay.
    1194 days ago
    I've been on this site for quite a few years and I personally have not seen bullying on here. I have seen comments that come across rude, but I don't feel it to be bullying. I personally received a response from a lady that wanted to know how I managed to get the minutes I had for the day, because is was quite a lot. The way she asked came across quite rude, but before I responded I notice I put the day rather than the month. It was my error, but for her to respond that way, she should have thought to herself if I made an error or stated it a different way. Some people would have blown up to her comment but I didn't. I made my correction in my blog and just ignored her comment. It was an honest mistake. People sometimes can come off the wrong way and that isn't their intention, like the lady I mentioned, she thought it to be an error, but worded her comment where it was not nice, but I didn't read into it to much and fixed my error. But also too, some people are a bit sensitive to what others might say and take it the wrong way. We as a society need to stop and think what this person is trying to say without judgement and calling them out to fix their error without being rude, even if it isn't intended. Whether you are writing a blog about your day, people need to not read into things so much and those that comment, need to think before they type, to ensure bullying remarks are not implied. We may not all agree with one another, whether it's our diet, religion, politics, etc., but we need to give each other the respect that we all deserve and want. We need to be supportive, not judgmental. That's why I enjoy coming on spark because there is WAY more positive feedback and comments then there are negative ones then most sites I have been on.
    1208 days ago
    I joined Spark on May 17 2010.
    I have never seen or witnessed any bullying.
    Have not seen or had any comments that I considered not to be constructive.
    I hope I have never given any that were taken out of context or misconstrued.
    I read the comments, and apparently some have experienced some "bullying", or what they call bullying.
    Since I am unaware of any I can't comment on their experiencing.
    If it has happened to them and is as bad as they make it sound, then I hope it's eliminated.
    I find ignoring bully's and the delete button my way to not be bothered.
    Life is too short to let a sad, lonely disruptive person effect my life.
    Since being made aware of the problem, I'm sure Spark will do the best to address it.

    1218 days ago
    I was bully when I was in elementary school because of my hearing problem. I was not happy, Today I've been bully by family and residents (where I live). It's sadden me to hear young kids today being bully. I think parents should be responsibly for their kids bullying others. Skydrake well said. I hope your friend change her name and spark page. So sad how other treat those whether normal or disable. emoticon emoticon emoticon
    1230 days ago

    Comment edited on: 11/27/2017 7:56:52 PM
    I am so sorry to hear that a friend of yours had this problem on SP! How horrible! I hope that they are okay and still an active member - didn't let the immature, spiteful person chase them away. Words can be very hurtful. Best wishes to your friend.
    1231 days ago
    1231 days ago
  • ENUFF81020
    Those of us who had their school career during early years of obesity, have already been bullied in all sorts of ugly ways. As young adults, if you were an obese female, you took a lot of rude comments, yells from car windows and nasty gestures. As an obese adult, you dealt with health issues of all sorts and doctors sometimes being less than kind. Finding a loving relationship was hard, if at all possible.

    The group of people at Spark come with a lot of historical baggage. We need to look after each other and cheer on the day-to-day successes. The rest is not needed. If there is bullying taking place, we all need to work together to make it stop. Bullying does a lot of damage.

    Timely and well-worded blog!!
    1232 days ago
    Powerfully put, Julia...... Well done!
    1233 days ago
    I haven't been or seen any bulling since I have been on here but I saw a lot of people just disappear and didn't know why.
    I suppose it could have been because of this.
    The written word can be taken any way the reader wants it to be because there is no real emotion.
    I do think being able for someone to block a person is a better idea than having to go private or change everything.
    I don't like anyone being bullied. It is such a shame to have to hurt people that way to make yourself feel better. emoticon
    I think you did a great job on bringing this problem out into the open.
    1233 days ago
  • no profile photo CD16560690
    Great idea. Hope Spark is listening!
    1233 days ago
  • FITNIK2020
    Pertinent topic, one that might help a fellow Spark, or reveal a thought that might help by sharing. In short, this might not seem like bullying, but it was...and done to others as well. The accuser turns away, the accused wises up.
    1234 days ago
  • FITNIK2020
    We all hit bumps, or they hit us.., a friend might understand a comment and not simply report you. I asked for clarification. I got none. It hurt. My son reminds me, this is a chat room. Do not expect too much. I try always yo base my blogs on a per
    1234 days ago
  • FITNIK2020
    At a critical juncture, and I dared to offer a comment that questioned something. I was reported,asked to break all contact, and did so. Happy to. When someone does a complete about face and ditches you after professing a deep kinship - what is that
    1234 days ago
  • FITNIK2020
    You have explored this subject in depth. You do not mention how it feels to be asked not to interact comment or sever a relationship with a friend . This happened to me because I made comments that diverged from the norm . And why ? Because my life
    1234 days ago
  • CHERYL4808
    Thank you for your brave and thoughtful letter.
    We're connecting with real individuals, faults, strengths, in times of victory, plateau, and vulnerability. The best and worst may come out, along with the regular responses to each other.
    If we're all equally as brave to gently remind folks who have inadvertently or intentionally wronged us, we may keep the opportunity to sharpen our relationship skills which is just as important as having the option to BLOCK those we need to. Be as much kind as you are'll come back to you 100 fold.
    1234 days ago
    1235 days ago
    Great blog was saddened that someone whose posts I enjoyed said she would cease writing as she was told it was unsuitable for this site by the way have not faced anything but kindness here & am so grateful for my Spark friends
    1235 days ago
    Excellent Blog- thank you for writing - and am impressed by quick response from Spark Coach Jen and Spark Guy Chris
    1235 days ago
    Well said! glad you got a response too!
    1235 days ago
  • no profile photo AKROXIE
    Good blog! Sorry to hear that bulling is happening.
    1235 days ago
    Being online sure offers more ways to be bullied, really a shame. I have lost friends because of it. Thank you for your post. Nice to know sparkers are not alone and spark is working on what they can.. emoticon
    1235 days ago
  • DIROB57
    It's good to be aware of and on the lookout for things like this.

    I tried to report an inappropriate picture on the community feed one time (seriously inappropriate) and by the time I figured out how to do it and went back to report it, it had already been removed! Sparkpeople is such a great and almost universally positive community and I find one of the Coaches is usually VERY quick to respond to questions on the message boards.

    To all the SP administrators and coaches....a big THANK YOU for a job WELL DONE!

    emoticon emoticon

    1236 days ago
  • MARGIEB221
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    1236 days ago
    I am so grateful a Spark Friend told me of this blog. Here is 'My story' :

    Several weeks ago, I received an email stating I had 'violated' the SP guidelines and was 'asked to delete my account or it would be deleted' because of a comment I made on a Team Members page. I wrote Spark Coach Jen and explained the situation as well as provided email address of the writer. I was reassured by Jen it was NOT from Admin. I was told I could change y password..I could change my avatar name or make a new account. Being I am Premium, it is non transferrable I wrote to the people whom I thought may have felt injured by my comment and made my amends. They stated they had no issue with what I had written.. Great!

    Subsequent to that, I was deleted from all my Spark Teams so I frantically wrote the Team Leaders and told the I had been hacked and deleted from the Team. They sent me links again and I was back where I started, but the Team Leaders had their concerns because I was hacked. A few weeks pass and I could not get into my spark page..nor my personal email tied to the account. I made a new page and went to my site and found that ALL of my blogs were deleted..ALL of my goodies deleted comments..Trophies .. Featured blog posts .. ALL GONE!

    I asked a Friend (IT manager) to help me access my email so I could access Spark People to change my email address here so I could access Spark People and make a new password!

    I was successful in resetting my page( I am still rewriting it)


    This is the main point I wish to bring to bear:

    Being bullied and hacked has far reaching consequences!

    I went back to join a new challenge and this is (part) of the email I received..

    "Hi, Christopher. I am the leader to the (private) group. I have been giving much thought to whether to assign you to one of our challenge teams for (private team). I am aware of some upheaval that you caused on our (Private) team during the two challenges when you were a member. Our members join because they want support and encouragement and to give that in return and to work in a peaceful environment on their healthy lifestyle goals. I am not convinced that you share these wishes. We also keep our teams private to protect our members' information. I am not sure that you have the discretion to do this."

    BECAUSE "I" WAS BULLIED AND HACKED..NOW I AM LOOKED ON AS THE 'BAD GUY'!! A number of people have deleted me as a Friend..they have (apparently) blocked me as they do not respond. I can understand 'protecting oneself', yet for 6 month they considered me a "positive upbeat and optimistic guy" Now I am considered lower than the carnage of the bully that did all this!

    @SKYDRAKE Fantastic blog !
    1236 days ago
    This is an ongoing issue - there were people on SparkPeople ten years ago when I first joined that were out there doing their thing (a bit of potty mouth in their personal blogs). Those of us who admired her chutzpah in other areas of her life chose to keep reading and nevermind the potty mouth. The ones who just wanted to be all upset because a person chose to express themselves a bit more colorfully than others could have just simply ignored her blogs and moved on to a blog they preferred to read. This one person in particular didn't try to go to various teams and spout off there - it was pretty much their own blog where others were bullying. I don't recall all the back and forth doings - seems like the page was shut down for awhile, and then the person made their page private. I believe they are completely off SparkPeople and operating off of Facebook or other media... assuming they are still alive...
    1236 days ago
    If it is technically possible, I think blocking someone else from my page or blog is a much better solution than having to make my whole page and blog private. I would not want a bully to comment on my pages and I also would not want to be removed from free access and possible new and supportive Spark friendships by having to make my page and blog private.

    Thanks for bringing the problem and some solutions to us all
    1236 days ago
    Great blog about bullying!
    1236 days ago
    1236 days ago
  • FRAN0426
    I agree, well said
    1236 days ago
    Wow, didn’t realize this, but makes sense —
    1236 days ago
    1236 days ago
    I was bullied by someone in one of the teams that I was in. I ended up having to leave the team and several others did too because of how hurtful this person was being. I ended up reporting this person and was told that they would check out my complaint and keep an eye out for any future problems. This happened almost a year ago now, but it still affects me today. I find that I am very cautious about posting anything even though I am now in a couple of wonderful teams. It really affected how safe I felt about sharing anything. It was bad enough that, at the time, I considered leaving Sparkpeople. Now, I am happy that I stayed.
    1236 days ago
    Thanks for addressing this and then providing a simple solution.
    1236 days ago
    Thank you for writing this blog!
    1236 days ago
    emoticon emoticon
    1236 days ago
    emoticon Fantastic job, Julia! I never even considered that even here there would be bullies! Shameful! 🐦 Thank you for sharing this blog! 🐦Well done! 🌸
    1236 days ago
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    1237 days ago
    I'm really glad that you all have thought about the precautions, and it's really sad that we have to. Your doing a great job keeping us safe and informed. Thank you for all you do!
    1237 days ago
  • no profile photo SILVERNANCY
    emoticon emoticon
    1237 days ago
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    1237 days ago
    A very important message. Thank you.
    1237 days ago
  • no profile photo JEANNETTE59
    Thank you for taking the time to write such a very well thought out blog.

    Sadly bullying is on the rise on social media, in public places and it is hard to control. If we do not speak out as individuals we will not stop the verbal bile that has become commonplace from the top down.

    We are about to celebrate Thanksgiving, it is a very good time to remember words have consequences. Let's
    determine to use our words to uplift, not to tear down.

    emoticon and Happy Thanksgiving
    1237 days ago
    emoticon emoticon
    1237 days ago
    I completely agree with being able to block a particular person. Thank you for bringing this suggestion forward. I hope the powers-that-be will seriously consider it, as even here on (otherwise wonderful) SparkPeople, there are bullies who seem to delight in hurting others.

    1237 days ago
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