to MDC. I'm not sure about the background of the reporter incident, it didn't happen to me, but I remember it happened last year...
You have some great questions....
It is tricky with chicken pox because one can't meet in public places if their child is exposed. We had some people over when my dd had the pox that I had never met before but I did check them out through the forum and felt comfortable because other people I knew knew them.... or they simply seemed knowledgeable about the forums and participated. (Ie. they were not just on MDC asking for help with things, but also contributing and answering questions). Of course, that is hard for you just coming in, but maybe the phone is a start. Also, stay with us and if it doesn't work this time there may be more exposures.
BTW, everyone has to figure out what they feel safe with. I tended to have a time when multiple moms were at my house at the same time. The moms I met were wonderful and respectful- both in answering my questions, getting back via email or phone, etc. I wouldn't post my phone on the forum, but did sometimes email it to the person so I could talk to them.
If you click on the users names on the left side of the screen it will have a drop down menu where you can pm (private message) the person, send them an email (if they have this enabled, and even see what posts they have written. If a mom had a low post count I'll admit I looked around to see what she was posting about. It just made me feel more comfortable that the mom was indeed a member of this community and shared some of my same values and wasn't someone just coming on for whatever reason. Not that that is a foolsafe method, but we all have to use our judgment at some point. Also, I didn't just feel someone was fine because they had 100's of posts... I did look around a little bit even then if I didn't know them.
Cara- how did you find MDC?? And what general area are you from... some of us know each other through some of the local forums.
Hope that helps!