As a recovery community, we are somewhat unique here. Why do I say that? Because most recovery fellowships maintain a sharp distinction between addicts and "anons" (the loved ones affected by the addiction). Spouses of alcoholics don't go to AA meetings; drug users don't go to Nar-Anon meetings. They wouldn't necessarily be kicked out if they did, but both "sides" recognize that it is best for people to be among "their own kind," where they can talk and vent and share without the judgments or emotions that might ensue from crossover.
Here, we do maintain something of a "chinese wall" between users and anons, in that we maintain "members-only" boards for people who belong to these groups. However, people don't always post in these areas, and frequently posts appear in forums that are available to all our users. Because many people use the "recent posts" function, it isn't even immediately apparent what kind of forum they're posting in.
As our board traffic has increased greatly as of late, I have also noticed a sharp increase in the number of folks "crossing over" to advise people on the "other side." Now, some of us are, actually, here in that dual capacity. However, most of us aren't. This leads to lots of posts saying things like, "I don't have kids but if I did..." or "I'm not an addict but if I were..." This isn't sharing ESH, it's giving advice about a situation that is purely hypothetical (to the poster, anyway). And, thus, it is of fairly limited utility to both the recipient and the others on this board.
I think it can be extremely useful for people to get the chance to see how "the other side lives." In particular, I have heard many times from addicts that the posts from anons, discussing the pain of living with addiction, were extremely eye-opening for them. The possibility of useful crossover is one reason we don't split these boards entirely.
However... before you post on a crossover basis, ask yourself, am I sharing my own ESH? If not, what am I doing?
Jane in CT