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Mark's Blog

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It's a beautiful cold and crisp day today in the Chicago area. Did you know it is International Women's Day today? We should acknowledge and celebrate the women in our lives every day but especially today, Our Great Grandmothers, Grandmothers, Mothers, Aunts, Sisters, Daughters, Friends, Wives, Girlfriends, cousins, co-workers, bosses, the list goes on.  


Women's day in the news: Women's Equality History , International Women's Day 2018 | Google Doodle 


Take a moment and share below how you're celebrating iwd2018. Whether it is going to a march, wearing red or reaching out to someone important in your life. We want to know what is on your mind today. Share in the comments...


Off to put on red and call the important women in my life!


EX Community Manager

The EX Community is built around information sharing. New resources are shared daily for the benefit of everyone’s quit journeys. Lots of people post information and resources they’ve gotten from other places, mostly online, but sometimes also offline. Members helping members is what EX is all about! However, out of respect to copyright owners, our legal team here at EX has asked us to remind you not to upload or link to any copyrighted content (Documents, PDFs, Images, Audio or Video) that you are not authorized by the copyright owner to share.


Sharing is a key to success here in the EX Community. To encourage it to continue in a responsible way, we have revised the Community Guidelines to clarify some issues regarding information sharing. Please read below to learn about guidelines for copyrighted content, solicitation, and attribution within the EX Community.


Copyrighted Content

We ask that you do not post any links to copyrighted material without the copyright owner’s consent. Please look for this change in the Community Guidelines when you log in to the Community in the near future.


We have identified some links to copyrighted material that we cannot allow to be posted going forward. In the future, if you create a post with one of these links in it, you’ll be notified by a pop-up and required to modify your post before publishing it. The pop-up will look like this:


You’re welcome to share/recommend copyrighted resources, provided you are authorized to do so and do not include any referential links for any personal financial gain in your posts.


On occasion, members create their own copyrighted smoking cessation material. If you’re interested in making your copyrighted content available at no charge to members of the EX Community, please get in contact with Mark so we can help you post appropriately.  If your copyrighted material is available for purchase, please get in contact with me so we can discuss possible options. EX cannot provide an endorsement of your work.



To keep the Community free of solicitation, we’ll remove any non-approved posts that recommend, endorse or facilitate the purchase of any products or services. If you see any of these types of posts, please get in contact with Mark or report the post as abuse.



Lastly, we LOVE to see great content and LOVE even more to see when the original author is recognized for their work, whether it came from EX Community (@mention) or elsewhere on the internet (external link). Please ensure that all posts that include someone else’s content, with permission, properly cite the original author. If you have the author’s permission to share their content, then including a link to where the content originally appears is a great way to give credit to the original author.


Questions? Please leave a comment below!


EX Community Manager

We’ve done requests to see if anyone wanted to walk others through how they use EX. We realize that EX changed a bit initially so it was difficult to do that because there was some worry that the video would become out of date quickly.  We went back to the drawing board a bit and thought more about it.   


We thought, “It would be great if EXers recorded a short video about what EX means to them or what they think people should know about EX.” This approach is fairly timeless. 


The videos don’t need to be long. Just take up to about 3 minutes to welcome a new member to EX. A few ideas (though we welcome whatever you want to tell us!):  

  • Tell us how EX has helped you in your journey.
  • Share how EX can be best used to help people quit.   
  • Give your advice for how a new member can get started in the EX Community.
  • Just say “hi!” and welcome someone new.


Videos can be recorded right from your computer using a webcam or from your mobile device/tablet, or they can be uploaded from your device’s memory. 


If you’re interested in recording a short video or two, please complete the form.  We’ll be in touch with you to find out the best approach to getting your video recorded and up on the site. 


Thanks in advance for continuing to make the EX Community a wonderful and welcoming place! 


Mark and The EX Team


Take the Best and Leave the Rest

Posted by Mark Employee Jul 25, 2017

With any community (online or offline), there will be a lot of information.  Especially when you’re navigating this community on your quitting journey, there will be a lot to learn.  Some advice will be sound and other advice will be questionable.  Some advice will be applicable and other advice will not. Some advice will feel right for you, other advice won’t.  As members of the EX Community, you all need to decide what recommendations from others you want to take to heart. 


Our EX Community has come up with a phrase to address this.  “Take the Best and Leave the Rest.” 

This essentially means: Learn as much as you can and apply what works for you. Ignore the rest. 


Sometimes, you’ll get advice from someone replying to things you’ve posted. If it doesn’t apply to you, ignore it. Just because you receive it doesn’t mean you have to apply it in your own life. Take what is beneficial.  What works for one, may not work for the next person. When advice is offered, it’s offered freely without expectation that you’ll use it.  


That being said, don’t tell someone that their advice is bad or worthless if it doesn’t apply to you!  Others will come along and read your post and the provided advice in the responses, and it might apply to them.  That’s the beauty of online communities. The information benefits more than one person. It’s a gift that keeps on giving. 


So, next time you post something and get a reply that you don’t agree with, say thanks (or “like” the response, or mark it as helpful) for the helpful things and ignore the rest.  Your journey is personal and whatever gets you to be quit and stay quit is the most important thing. 


EX Community Manager


Question or comment about this? Leave it in the comments below. 



Prohibited Word Filter

Posted by Mark Employee Jul 21, 2017

There has been a considerable amount of discussion in the last week after we turned on the prohibited word filter.  This blog post will hopefully clear up many of the questions you may have about why we turned it on, and how it works 

The EX Team realizes it was a surprise that it was enabled last week without mention.  We apologize that there wasn't clear communication about it happening. There have been lots of questions posted about why the filter exists and how it works, so we’ll answer those here.  We will also host a Let’s Talk About Prohibited Words and Moderation on Wednesday, July 26 at 7pm EST. Please RSVP here! 


Why was the prohibited word filter enabled? 

On July 10 we enabled a profanity/prohibited word filter that looks at text that is posted across the Community before it becomes visible publicly or even privately in a direct message. It was enabled largely due to an altercation that occurred in early June where members were attacking each other instead of using the report abuse button, as well as to minimize spam (which often includes hostile, derogatory or crass language). The EX Team strives to provide a safe and welcoming environment for anyone who wishes to quit smoking, maintain their quit, or help someone else quit regardless of age, race, religion, gender, orientation, social class or employment status. We do not endorse any hostile interactions between members that do not support the quitting process. 


What does the prohibited word filter do? 

Words that are changed to *’s match words on our profanity/prohibited word list. The filter doesn’t read context of the usage of prohibited words, so it cannot discern between words that are used for personal attack and words that are used merely to express frustration. 


How were words chosen for the prohibited word list? 

We started out with a list of words that were provided by Jive and then removed words that we deemed were okay for the EX community. Words that had racial undertones or are largely used only in personal attacks were left on the list. The list is a work in progress and additional words can be revised over time 


Why is the prohibited word filter blocking words in my private messages and uncensored places on the site? 

The filter censors (***’s) out words on the list across the whole site and cannot be limited. We cannot remove the functionality from certain areas of the EX Community, groups or private messages. If that functionality becomes available in the future, we may consider it. 


Am I being reported to moderators when I use words on the prohibited word list? 

The moderation/spam filter and the prohibited word filter are two separate functionalities. No, you are not reported and the word or phrase is just hidden by asterisks.  You do not get in trouble. However, the stars let you know that words you’ve used are not permitted on the site and exist on the prohibited word list. We do recommend you use a different word or phrase. 


What happens if the word I used is removed from the prohibited word list in the future? 

If the word you used gets removed from the prohibited list, the word will then display publicly next time the page loads. 


What if I see a word or phrase that is derogatory and is not being filtered but certainly should be? 

Click the Report Abuse button so the EX Team can review it anytime you see something on the EX Community that feels threatening, inappropriate, or hateful Abusive posts will go through moderation and may not be approved for publication on the site 


Who sees the abuse report? 

The EX Team receives the abuse reports. Anyone who reports abuse remains confidential.  


Where can I see a list of words/phrases currently on the prohibited word list? 

It’s not possible to directly post such a list on the site as every prohibited word would be automatically changed to *’s by the filter. Furthermore, the list may change over time so the list could become quickly irrelevant, so posting a PDF may quickly outdated. 


Does the EX Team read my private messages? 

We feel that Direct Messages (Private Messages) are private for a purpose and do not read them. We cannot underscore this enough: the EX Team DOES NOT READ private messages! If there is a concern for someone’s safety, court order or reports of abuse via Private Messages, we will take necessary measures to address any issues that arise. 

There is no way to report a Private Message as abusive at this time. If you feel attacked via Private Message or are receiving spam, please forward a copy to so we can review it. 


Is trying to censor me? 

No, we’re not trying to censor our members. We know that quitting is a monumental thing and expressing one’s feelings can be a great vehicle to being successful at quitting. We don’t, however, endorse personal attacks and we want to limit spam, so it’s a constant juggling act to find the right balance. 


Do other online communities do this?  

Yes, most online communities use Prohibited Word filters to limit spam as much as possible, and ensure that as many members as possible are having a positive community experience. 


Why does my post say “Currently Being Moderated”? 

If your post says “Currently Being Moderated,” our automated spam filter has identified one or more characteristics believing the content you posted is spam. The algorithms of spam filters are not perfect. The EX Team is working with Jive to improve the automated spam filtering so that fewer posts by trusted members are moderated. Nearly  all posts that are falsely marked as spam are released unedited. The EX Team will work to release any false-positives as soon as possible. Messages auto-moderated outside of normal business hours may take a bit longer than normal to be released. You’re not penalized for messages that are posted and are approved for posting.  Rejected messages allow the member to modify their post and resubmit for approval.   


What can I do? 

When you see something that appears to be a personal attack, report it to the EX Team via Report Abuse instead of reacting in a defensive/retaliatory manner. This is done anonymously. Don’t get involved. Taking things to private messages or retaliating publicly rarely goes well and usually results in bigger issues down the road. 


What’s next? 

The current prohibited word list is largely comprised of words that are derogatory and discriminatory against various groups of people in our membership or are used for personal attacks. As noted, this list can be revised on an ongoing basis. We’re always open to feedback! 


Moderation/curation of a community involves multiple complex things working together to ensure a safe, happy, and spam-free environment for all our members. We are constantly adapting to the meet the needs of our Community and implement new technology as it becomes available. We're working to refine our processes and with Jive to minimize any disruptions automated moderation contributes. We appreciate your patience with us and with these different systems! We realize they aren’t all perfect, but we are always working to refine them so you have a good experience on EX. 


Please let me know if you have any questions in the comments below. 

Mark and the EX Team


Let’s Talk About Prohibited Words and Moderation 

EX text messages have helped thousands of smokers quit. We’re looking to the EX Community to help make the EX text messaging program even better than it already is.  


Your experience about quitting and what’s worked for you is what makes the EX Community so valuable. We’re looking for you to share some of that advice to our members who receive EX text messages.   


We’ll keep your information confidential – you choose whether you want to stay anonymous, or have the tip attributed to your first name or EX Community username.  


Whether you have ideas rolling off your tongue right now or you need a little bit of time, the opportunity is here to submit your quitting tips, mantras, or strategies, whenever you’re ready. Go to the form to get started. 


Thanks in advance for your contributions! 

EX Community Manager 

I’ve noticed that there might some confusion to the purpose of Helpful Answer and Like when participating in Discussions, Documents, Questions, and Blogs. On Discussions, Documents, and Questions, you can “like” a response or mark it as “helpful.”  On blog posts, only “likes” are available.  


You may ask yourself, ”What’s the difference?” or “When should I use which one?” This post will give you some guidance.  


Marking a response as “helpful” indicates what responses or documents are helpful or not helpful. “Liking” a response means you valued or appreciated, or in some cases feel the same way, as the author of that response.  In the case of Questions, the Community can help vote which responses are most helpful.     


Why Marking a Response as Helpful Matters 

Jive is an advanced community platform and has a recommender algorithm that suggests relevant content when you’re viewing other content. It also uses algorithms to provide more relevant search results. These algorithms are based in part on how many times a response has been marked as helpful by different members of the EX Community. For these reasons, you should use “Helpful Answer” sparingly.  Use it only when you’ve found that member’s contribution actually helpful! Otherwise, the value of helpful answers is diluted.  


Why Liking a Response Matters 

The EX Community thrives on the interactions and relationships between members. Liking someone’s response is an easy way to show that you found that response engaging, useful, funny, or maybe just that you feel the same way, or empathize with the author. It can be akin to saying “Me, too!” or “I feel the same way!” Liking other people’s responses lets them know that other Community members read and value their contribution. 


What Happens When You Mark a Response as Helpful vs When You Like a Response 

When an answer is marked helpful, an email and Inbox notification is sent out to everyone subscribed to the document, discussion or question. When you like a response, however, only the person who originally wrote that response gets notified in their Inbox. Before you interact with a response, consider who you want to notify: the author, or everyone who has participated on that thread! 

Any questions or comments about this? Leave it in the comments below! 


Celebrations and Events Stickers

Posted by Mark Employee Apr 19, 2017

We have some wonderful traditions (Freedom Train, Daily Pledge and Bonfires) that occur on EX. These traditions really set EX apart from other online communitiesThey wouldn’t be possible if it weren’t for the volunteers who have inspired, led, and organized them. Thank you! 


We’re adding the Role Stickers to the profiles of the members who lead those traditions so you can easily identify them at a glance 

Bonfire Leader 

Freedom Train Conductor 

Daily Pledge Leader 

 Bonfire Leader

 Freedom Train Conductors

 Daily Pledge Leader


If new traditions are established and added to Celebrations and Events, we may add additional Role Stickers to the list. 

You may have also seen that EXProductManager, scha and I all have icons as well, so that members can identify who the EX Team is on the site.  


EX Team
EX Team


We hope these Role stickers will make it easier to see who leads these traditions and connect with them, and continue the vibrancy of our EX Community traditions and events! 

EX Community Manager 

When you read blogs, discussions and questions, you may see the Related and Recommended Content widgets at the bottom of the page. These widgets are populated at the bottom of the page to introduce other content that may be relevant to you and related to the content you’re viewing.  There are a lot of different factors that contribute to this content showing up in those widgets.


Relevant and Related Content

Since we just moved to this platform in January 2017, the algorithm that helps to select relevant/recommended/related content has very limited information to select the best similar/suggested content related to what you are viewing. As time goes on, this content will become more relevant. Some of the related content is already very similar as it compares the text of the posts to find similar ones that may already contain helpful responses. 

You may also see older discussions appear on the home page in the Recent Activity widget.  These appear if someone comments on a discussion. While the original author may no longer be active on the site, other active members of the community may still be active. So be aware that you might not get a response from the original author unless you @Mention them 

Recent Activity

Not everyone is ready to post as soon as they arrive. That’s okay! It’s completely fine to continue a discussion that happened a while ago or comment on a past blog that speaks to you.  We want as many people getting involved in the Community if it will help them quit or keep their quit.

EX Community Manager 
Updated: Added missing word.

Have a question related to this topic? Post a reply below!

Greeting EXers!



As we promised, Friday night we migrated over the historical profiles you had on Elgg into the new community as a personal blog. 


You can see your previous profile in your blog titled as [Username] Archived Profile, with a date of January 23rd 2017.  Please note that your profile won’t look exactly like it did on your Elgg profile as we couldn't bring over everything.  Scripts and other coding may have been removed for security reasons and certain media you may have included may no longer supported on the internet.



EX Community Manager


Your Feedback, Delivered!

Posted by Mark Employee Feb 16, 2017

The EX Team has been combing through the many posts made across the website since we migrated to Jive. Thanks for providing feedback! We’ve made some adjustments already and want to share them with you.


Making it easier to find “All New Content”!

Overwhelmingly we received feedback about getting to the latest created blogs, discussions, documents, questions and other content you’re able to author across the entire community.  We’ve updated the homepage tile, outlined below, to take you specifically to that page.

All Content Tile

If you navigate through the “Content” tabs in Communities and Social Groups throughout the site, you’ll still see the content sorted from Newest to Oldest by recent activity. We’re not able to change the default.


You’ll still be able to get to recently active blogs, discussions, documents and questions through the My EX Feed tab from any page on the site.


Video guides!

We’re developing video guided tutorials to explain different elements of the community to supplement the help documents in Community Help.


Feeling like a pro, or like you just “know where to go” to do the things you like to do on EX? You could be featured in one of these videos! Join the EX Community Advisory Board to get in on the action.


EX Community Advisory Board sign-up link is re-posted!

Speaking of the EX Community Advisory Board… the link is back up! If you’re interested in joining, you can find the link to sign up in Community Help


We’ll continue to review feedback, issues and questions posted in the Community Help area. Where the Jive platform allows and in the best interest of the community, we’ll continue to evolve how things work or content that we have.


In some cases, there are limitations outside our control. Just like how you give feedback to us, we’ll do our best to communicate those ideas over to Jive, too.  


Mark and Megan

The EX Team

Feel free to leave a comment below about the most recent changes!


Thanks for Your Initial Feedback

Posted by Mark Employee Jan 31, 2017

Hello EXers 

Nearly one week into the new Jive Community and we’ve gotten a lot of feedback.  We love it!  It’s great to see how many of you are embracing the change and helping each other.  We’ve spent a TON of time preparing help documents in the Community Help section and Getting Started Guide, and it’s great to see that so many of you have been using them! 

We’ve been discussing your comments and suggestions, and will be making some initial changes based on your ideas. We fully expected to be making these kinds of “tweaks” and adjustments over time to make sure this new platform fits our unique Community. There are some limitations to the ways in which we can tweak things, so unfortunately we won’t be able to act on all the changes you have suggested. Here are 3 changes that you will see over the next week: 

Change 1: Easier to send Direct Messages 
We’re removing the requirement for members to be following each other in order to send a Direct Message (formerly known as Private Message). We weighed the demand for this feature against the risk of our members getting solicited by spammers. We will be watching closely to see if this becomes a major problem, but we think based on your comments it's for the best to enable freer messaging. If you encounter a Direct Message that appears to be from someone with intentions other than quitting please forward the entire message to You can also send me a Direct Message with a link to their profile.  

Change 2: Clarifying Leaderboard 
We heard loud and clear that leaderboards were giving the wrong impression, that they were somehow about user’s quit status. That has never been the intention. Points are simply a tally of each person’s activity level on EX. Someone may show lots of points because they have been an active member for many years, regardless of their smoking status. As you know, active members are the lifeblood of any community; the intent was to make it easy for others to identify active users using this point system. Nevertheless, we will be removing the Leaderboard from the Home page and looking to revise the Your Progress from the Conversations, Community Help, and Events & Celebrations Communities. We’re evaluating if points/leaderboards can be downplayed in other places as well, but this is a more advanced configuration that may take a bit more time to investigate. We’re learning the new platform too! 

We’ll be hosting a live chat on Thursday, February 2 from 10-11am EST to discuss how leaderboards can work best for everyone on EX, new and long-time members alike. Please RSVP and attend! It’s free, you don’t have to download anything, you can stay as long as you like, and we’re looking forward to hearing from you. 

Change 3: Adding Status Updates… Jive’s version of Message Board posts! 
We’re enabling Status Updates (formerly known as Message Boards). On Jive, there isn’t a concept of a Wall or Message Board but you can accomplish something similar by creating a Status Update and mentioning the people you want to reach out to.  They will be notified of your message, and you can have short conversations via this method. The advantage of Status Updates is that your message and others’ replies will all be visible within one thread rather than the somewhat disjointed experience from the Elgg Message Board postsYou’ll also be able to link to places on the site and upload images!  As Amanda noted in her Warm Welcome post, your previous Message Board posts will be migrated at a later date. 

We recognize there is a significant learning curve and that many of you are working hard to find your way. We hope that you will reach out with questions – big or small – so that we can help you get settled in quickly. All of us are working hard behind the scenes to be as helpful as possible! 

Thanks again for providing your feedback. Please continue to leave it in the Community Help community. 

Have a question about these changes? Please leave it in the comments below.  If it is related to another topic, please join a discussion/question already in progress in the Community Help community or start a new discussion/question if one doesn’t already exist. Be sure to mention me with @Mark or @Ex to select Mark  in the "suggested" list.

EX Community Manager


We noticed a number of people(Thanks Christine_Aka_legend and sophia-22) were reporting that they were unable to insert an embedded video into a Discussion and Question.  We've fixed that.  You can do it now in Questions and Discussions by following the directions below.  Please note that you cannot yet do it in a Personal blog but we're working to also make that possible as well. You should be able to include them in a blog that isn't in your personal container.


  1. Create a Discussion or Question in the Community Help or Conversations community and then look for the icon seen below.
    Click Video Insert Button
  2. Click Embed a Video buttonInsert Video
  3. Paste in the URL field the video you want to embed. Then click button to Import Video.
    Insert Video 3
  4. Complete your post by including any other text you want to and then post it.


Leave any questions or comments as a reply below.


EX Community Manager


The Migration is Starting Shortly

Posted by Mark Employee Jan 24, 2017

The day is here. Please finish up any blogs you are writing. The site is about to go into maintenance mode so we can migrate the community. You will not be able to use the site until it comes back online as a Jive Community. Join us on Chatzy while the site is being migrated.

See you on Jive!

EX Community Manager


Mark Archived Profile

Posted by Mark Employee Jan 23, 2017



EX Community Administration

Welcome to the EX Community!
Have a question, comment or complaint about this community? Please send a PM, leave a comment on this wall or send a friend invitation. You can also use the Contact Form.

This site is Sponsored by the Truth Initiative | Schroeder Institute. As the Community Manager, I curate, administer and maintain the community. Most of the support is provided by past and current Quitters that are here to help you quit smoking.

Want to refer someone to the site? You can request some wallet cards to share with people you meet.

Have a question? Check our FAQs.

Be sure to read the EX Community Guidelines so you know how to appropriately participate on the community.

Check out your Community Stats.

EX Community Manager

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