Originally Posted by BaggagePatrol
Often people come here in an extremely vulnerable state, lost, confused and needing guidance.
Frankly, the only things anyone should expect from anonymous voices on the internet are opinions. Even in the most close-knit online communities I belong to, it's pretty much understood that all you can really count on getting is another viewpoint. And seeing what other viewpoints are out there can be very valuable. Not everyone is going to pat people on the head and say, "there, there, everything will be alright." There is nothing wrong with a dissenting opinion, even a harsh one. To an oyster, a grain of sand is an irritation, but it eventually becomes a pearl.
Sure, friendships can develop online, and sometimes people actually meet some other members face-to-face after a while. And yes, advice is given but people have to take responsibility for themselves and their own choices, and realize this isn't a place for free therapy. If someone needs guidance about life-altering decisions, they should seek out professionals, friends, family, clergy, etc., and not expect strangers on the internet to give serious advice, help ground them, or do anything for them.