How To Use This Forum Effectively


#1

We set up this forum so that NoSurfers could have their own community.
We envisioned the forum as a positive, supportive place where members could find support for their internet addiction and know that they weren’t alone in the struggle.

Here members have intelligent and thoughtful discussions on topics like overcoming internet addiction, neuroscience, technology, and positive habits like meditation and journaling.

This forum has the potential to have a great positive impact on your life. However, it still is a place on the internet and therefore also has the potential to be a source of mindless browsing, the exact kind of internet use that we are seeking to eradicate.

This means that this forum should be used with clear awareness and intention, so that it functions as a tool to better your life.

I’ve outlined a few strategies below on how to use this forum effectivly.

Set Guidelines For Yourself

Examples:

“I will only check the forum in the evenings.”
“I will check the forum only on weekends.”
“I will allow 20-30 minutes of forum use everyday.”

Use Software So That You Meet Your Guidelines

  • Use browser extensions like StayFocusd on Chrome or LeechBlock on Firefox to limit your time.

  • For more robust blocking use self control software like Cold Turkey or SelfControl

With the software type in:

discuss.nosurf.org

Then set the block until the evenings, or the weekend, or whatever schedule you prefer.

With the paid version of cold turkey you can create schedules as well as setting yourself allowances. E.g. Blocking until 8pm every night or allowing yourself 20-30 minutes a day

Handling Mobile Use

This forum has a great mobile interface which makes it tempting to check on your smartphone when bored or trying to pass time.

iPhone:

On iPhone you can block specific websites by going into your Screen Time settings. Have someone set a PIN code for you so that you can’t override it.
Then click “Content & Privacy Restrictions”, then click “block adult content”. This option blocks adult content and it also gives you the ability to block specific sites.

Click “add site” then type in “discuss.nosurf.org

Android:

As far as I know, there is no way to block specific sites on Android. However I believe you can block entire apps, with apps like AppBlock. You can try using this to block Chrome entirely.

Note: I don’t own an Android so my knowledge is limited, if anyone has any better strategies please share.

Write Posts Elsewhere

Write your posts in a notebook or document, then transfer them into the forum rather than typing them up in the forum itself.

Be Mindful

Bringing our attention to what we are doing in the present moment can be very helpful in using the internet in a disciplined manner.

To do this, bring your focus to each action you perform on this forum to ensure that those actions aren’t mindless. Read each post in a deep, attentive manner rather than merely skimming through them. Train yourself to read word by word, line by line so that you engage your “deep” mind rather than your scattered “internet” mind.

Ideas For The Future

The software this forum runs on, Discourse, features the ability to add plugins. I don’t currently know if this is possible but one idea I have is to create a plugin that allows members to set a time limit for their forum use. After their time limit is reached they are automatically logged out.

To prevent members from continuing to browse while not logged in, there is already a plugin that blocks non logged in viewers of the forum from browsing more than X topics without signing up.

Combined these could be very effective strategies to ensure that all our members use this forum in a positive manner.


#2

This post is a long time coming and very much needed. I was even thinking of writing up one soon but I was too busy. This is a great place but unfortunately we are in fact internet addicts, so we must practice responsible usage.

Sometimes I want to post about other things in my journal but I withhold it since I don’t want to waste people’s time with information that I believe would be useless to them.

I believe newer members are especially vulnerable since anything new is exciting and anything exciting online could be potentially addictive to people like us. I’m busy with school and working on many new things in my life (anger management, improving my diet, app development, confidence building, and more) so it’s slowly losing it’s spark for me but for those who are still in the thick of an addiction, it can be difficult to deal with.

Also as a heads up, it’s possible to remove some notifications here by going to Preferences (click on your profile picture then on the little gear) > Notifications then changing the settings to:

Also… here’s an outline for removing most of the addictive features from this forum with code. You could write up a simple Chrome extension to pull it off. I don’t have the time for it though. I used javascript below but it would be much more effective to simply load up different CSS files for each type of page here (/u/, /t/, /unread/, etc.):

Other strategies I’ve used for websites I regularly interact with is that I still literally add “Reply to ___ on NoSurf”, “Post ____ to Twitter” in my daily TODO list. I also schedule when I will be engaging with these websites and for how long. It’s essential that you have a specific intention for being on these social websites rather than just passively browsing and LOOKING for something to do.

Finally, my experiences over the past few months have proven to me that: The more time one spends on a website, the more addictive it becomes. At the same time, the more addictive a website is, the more time you spend on it. Spending an excessive amount of time on a website is both a symptom of addiction as well as the path to addiction. While changing my habits toward food and music I’ve witnessed a similar pattern. The more donuts I eat, the more addictive they become. The less donuts I eat, the less addictive they become. It appears to be a universal rule. Therefore, regular detoxes (lasting at least 24hrs) are necessary to prevent addictions from forming and can also be used to break addictions that have already formed.


#3

On Android it is possible to change your hosts-file and add sites that should get blocked. Your phone has to be rooted for this, which can be tricky and risky. A more legal alternative would be to install the Adguard app and that allows to show certain sites as just a blank page and works on every Android phone.

I write most of my more long-form replies in a program called Write!, which isn’t free, but for students I believe it is. The main feature I like about the program is the option to play mechanical typing sounds as you type. On my desktop at home I do have a mechanical keyboard and it is just a lovely feeling to type on it, and the noise makes it so that it is easier for me to get in the flow. It drowns out all my other thoughts that I might have that could interrupt my train of thought. On my laptop, I have a standard ‘flat’ keyboard and there I think the program really shines. Furthermore, it is more of a distraction free environment, although it doesn’t block everything like the ColdTurkey Writing program of which I forgot the name. So a little bit more self-restraint is required.

I would be very interested in such a plugin. Hopefully it would work on any browser, including Colibri, which I use for this site mainly, to read like you said in an attentative manner.