Welcome, and Re-Welcome, to Field Gulls: A refresher on the site guidelines

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Site guidelines are an important part of how we interact here. Here's a refresher on those rules, plus a request for your input going forward.

Perfect commentors, stop here, quit reading, go do something else.

The rest of us, so, all humans, are invited to take the next few minutes to "enjoy" a refresher on the site guidelines. This is a chance to get some clarification on how the Field Gulls rules are applied, and for you to fill the comment section with your suggestions on how they might be improved.

After all, Field Gulls is a benevolent oligarchy. (No politics!)

Anyway. As new users arrive by the truckload, and as more experienced commentors bask in the glow of the journey traveled since 2008, so does the need for maintenance grow. To make sure we're all on the same page, this post explains how the conversations on this site work, from the user's perspective. The idea behind the application of these guidelines and rules is to make Field Gulls a great place to talk football, and we believe it's worked thus far.

Time to get serious.

SECTION 1

PARAGRAPH 1: SITE GUIDELINES, CURRENT

This is what you agreed to when you joined Field Gulls. Both of these sets of rules:

1. The Community Guidelines (full list here)

Act classy, post links and don't pick fights.

This is not a chat room or message board. Your contributions help make the blog. Please be respectful of that. Proper spelling and grammar are required.

2. Field Gulls Rules and Standards (full list here)

The Five No's: No sexism, racism or other bigotry; no politics or religion; no name-calling; no spam; no hoaxes.

The Four Standards: use links for news and quotes; attempt proper spelling and grammar within the best of your ability; use the subject line; use the reply button.

Site Etiquette: no belligerence, fault-finding or trollish behavior; no judging the fandom of others; respect the moderators; keep front-page posts on-topic; use the rec button; never root against the Seahawks; fantasy comments outside a fantasy post may be met with sarcasm; no rosterbation; no chatspeak.

PARAGRAPH 2: PRACTICAL APPLICATION

So what do the rules mean? That certain comments are simply bad. You should avoid making bad comments, and moderators should hide them. You should not take it personally. Mods should not make things personal.

A table, to illustrate what I'm talking about:

Topic Acceptable Unacceptable
Politics "There are three branches in the U.S. federal government." "There are three branches in the U.S. federal government and all three of them are corrupt."
Religion

"Jesus Christ, Turbin, hang on to the friggin' ball."

Literally almost anything related to religion.

Off-Topic OT remark in Coffee & Cigarettes or OT Fanpost OT remark in front-page post. Make your own fanpost or fanshot instead if you don't want to talk about what the author posted.
NFL News Widely circulating rumor Fake rumor
Women "My mom is the best."

Any remark that implies female characteristics are inferior, even in jest; .gif of cheerleader with close-up on bouncing boobs.

Personal attacks

Sarcastic

"This comment is stupid."

Serious

"You're stupid."

Swearing "Fuck, you guys, amazing play by Beast Mode." "Fuck you guys, go back to Niners Nation."

As the guidelines say and imply, there are plenty of additional instances when your comment might run afoul of the rules. For instance:

1. Proper spelling and grammar are required... to the best of your ability.

What this means: If you post multiple times in a row with multiple major language errors, you should get corrected. If you persist in ignoring basic conventions, your comments may be hidden. There are standards here that we attempt to uphold for the health of the conversation.

2. Trolling other SBN sites... will get you banned.

It might take multiple infractions, but Danny and the mods will eventually give you the boot. We'd rather keep you, though. Remember that.

What this means: Don't go to Niners Nation and act like a dick. You will be caught. If not the first time, then eventually.

So yes, if you're wondering, please 'tattle' if you see one of our own trolling another site. It reflects badly on Field Gulls, which is you and me, when one of our members flames another blog. So, it's less "tattling," and more "protecting the team."

3. Being unnecessarily rude and argumentative... is something the site doesn't need.

We like discussion, but if you refuse to drop an argument, or your tone is unnecessarily hostile, or you seize every opportunity to disagree with someone, you'll exhaust your welcome pretty quickly.

You can argue. But Field Gulls' readers did not visit the site to watch you press your point over and over and over again.

Which leads us to:

4. Over-commenting... is essentially narcissistic behavior, trollish even.

Sometimes less is more. If a 300-comment thread has 100 comments from you, you're doing it wrong. We don't run into this much, but "thread jacking" is a no-no. Speaking of thread-jacking,...

5. Don't dredge up exhausted topics... let sleeping Hawks lie.

We mean things like the officiating of XL, or the Redskins name, or Michael Vick's past, or the drafting of Rick Mirer, or resolved legal issues.

If you want to talk about those things, it needs to be because they are in the news AND you have something insightful and original to share with the whole class. Don't drop in and say "That Locklear holding call was bullshit."

6. Finally, presenting unsupported material... will invite ridicule.

Not the mean kind. That would fall under personal attacks, and I'll see even experienced commentors make the mistake of correcting or challenging statements in an unkind way. They get warned too. :)

Prepare to be dismissed outright if you present an argument that is easily falsifiable, or present speculation or your opinion as fact. "I know Marshawn Lynch is holding out for $2 million more in guarantees" will get you laughed out of the thread. So will "I don't need stats to tell me Player X is better than Player Y." This is a football blog and we're going to present opinions every single day, but attempt to back up your claims with supporting examples or analysis.

PARAGRAPH 3: TONE AND FLAGS

Tone is really hard to convey on the Internet. Your fellow Field Gullers might not be able to tell if you're being sarcastic, ironic, serious, intentionally obtuse, a reverse troll, so guess what: your comment which you found quite clever might be misinterpreted at times.

Despite your best intentions, this will happen to you. So It's good to give people the benefit of the doubt. But if you feel that someone has crossed the line in a comment, then the best thing you can do is click the little flag thingy that sits next to the rec button.

When you do that, a message box will appear asking you to justify the flag and place it in a category. You can be as vague or specific as you want. If you're not sure, just check the "inappropriate" box and write a blurb explaining why. "Troll" or "sexist" or "what the hell is this" are all you need to say sometimes.

Flagging a comment does not cause it to be removed. It simply turns it a different color for moderators, who then can pick it out of the thread easily and take any appropriate action.

Please flag. All us moderators encourage you to use flags more liberally. They really help us get a pulse of what -- and how -- the community is thinking. Please flag.

SECTION 2

PARAGRAPH 1: DISCIPLINE

Don't get tooo excited. We're not talking safe words here.

Moderators are instructed to operate within a three-strike system. First, we're encouraged to correct bad behavior, then to warn habitual offenders, before finally deciding to ban them if necessary.

What this means: you probably won't get kicked out of Field Gulls for a single sexist remark, or for losing your temper that one time, or for veering into political discussions.

But once you make a habit of doing those things, you'll get warned, then exiled to the Seahawks' facebook page and ESPN.com, and you don't want that because ewww.

Bannings are rare. But they have happened before and they will happen again. No sense in having the fun of many ruined by the excesses of the few.

Note: Guests from other SBN blogs will be subject to the same rules, only applied with greater ...leniency. If an unfamiliar username shows up blurting chatspeak and spelling everything wrong, click on the user profile before delivering a rebuke. Be welcoming, and give guests a longer leash on community etiquette. Politely make them aware of any guidelines they're forgetting.

Note 2: Don't act like a child. Act like an adult and you'll be treated like one. If someone mocks your bad comment, don't get personally invested in it. Don't lash out or rebel just for the sake of rebelling. Instead, learn from your mistakes; don't make the same error repeatedly. A healthy blog is one that challenges the article and commenters in a respectful manner.

Thank goodness that lecture's over. Oh wait:

Note 3: Celebration threads exist. During big wins, or when a big signing is announced, we're going to go a little nuts. There will be many .gifs, many caps locks, many profanities posted. And probably a ceremonial pants-burning or twelve. Moderators are usually less stringent in these instances. We are happy people too! With emotions and everything! Look for a different level of enforcement in these rare instances.

PARAGRAPH 2: WE LOVE YOU (d'awwww)

Field Gulls is only as strong as its readers. Yes, the dozens of writers here produce Seahawks content that is unrivaled in the galaxy, and probably among other galaxies too. But if the conversations suck, then the site is weaker.

That's why the rules and guidelines exist. We take pride in the fact that you can find some of the most intelligent football conversations on the internets going on at Field Gulls.

Remember: the site's writers and caretakers love you. In a very platonic-Seahawky sort of way. At our best, we're kind of family, all of us, with the same storms of disagreement and dysfunction washing over a foundation of respect and friendship.

At our worst, we're the rest of the Internet. No thank you.

SECTION 3

PARAGRAPH 1: FEEDBACK WELCOME

To quote John Morgan, the readers of Field Gulls are Field Gulls. Because of this, you can be part of the process in making the site guidelines. We want your feedback, although...

PARAGRAPH 2: NO BIG CHANGES PLANNED

No matter what kind of ideas you guys/gals submit below, Danny and the Dannettes are not going to make wholesale changes to the site rules. These rules work when enforced. They can be tweaked, but it's not likely that we'll rewrite them completely.

All that to say, your input is valued. Do you want to see, for example:

  • Stricter enforcement of the chatspeak clause?
  • More moderation in general? Less?
  • A certain rule tightened? Loosened? Abandoned?
  • A ban on fantasy football conversations?
  • More ostriches?

That's quite enough for now. Thanks Field Gullers. It is an honor to serve as one of your moderators, because you guys are pretty awesome, even you, ____________.

----------------

A Note from Danny:

First off, thanks to John Morgan for establishing many of these site guidelines and rules, and thanks to the Field Gulls community for being a part of the creation of them. For the most part, Field Gulls comment sections are self-policed so we mods actually don't have to do a ton of moderating, which is great. That said, I'm extremely appreciative of John Fraley, Kenneth Arthur, Jacson Bevens, Thomas Beekers, Shams and a few other moderators for helping keep an eye on things and by deleting unsavory comments and giggly boob .gifs and things like that. That's what twitter is for.

The internet is a weird, untamed place, and Field Gulls' comment sections are a fun and sometimes informative, educational place to be, which I think is exceedingly rare. Hell, read one of my articles on SB Nation if you'd like to know what it's like Beyond the Wall with all the wildlings (sorry). Anyway, as a member of the Night's Watch Field Gulls moderation team (sorry), I'd just like to thank the Field Gulls commenting community for being so awesome, like 99% of the time.

For the other 1% of the time, we get it, football stirs passions, ignites rivalries, and incites anger, and every once in a while we have "likes to fight guy" show up. We hope you understand that our goal is to keep the conversation on football and keep things friendly without infringing too much on your ability to express yo'self.

On a personal note, I'm glad to be able to be a part of such a great community. Field Gulls is an enormous, central part of my life. You guys truly make all the work I do here -- and just in general, being a fan of the Seahawks -- infinitely more fun.

A Note From Jacson:

One of the best things about Field Gulls is our insistence on having good takes. It comes off as pretentious to some, I'm sure, but not liking coherence and supported arguments is more of a reflection on a commenter's laziness than it is of our rules, in my opinion.

I'm glad you brought up trolling other sites. It is probably my least favorite internet thing. Nothing does more damage to thoughtful discussion than some jabroni from another site showing up to cause trouble. It bugs that shit out of me when I see FG members rattling cages on other sites. Conversely, one of the coolest things is when i see a non-native commenter add to the discussion or at least enter it complimentary, i.e. aware that it's not their turf and not their rules.

This is a great site. I'm glad to be a part of it and I'm happy to see the effort to protect it.

A Note From Kenny:

I was driving the other day and listening to Bill Nye the Science Guy being interviewed on a podcast, and the interviewer, Pete Holmes, had brought up a point about what the character Rust had said about the universe in True Detective. You could tell that immediately Nye thought that what Rust had hypothesized was stupid, but he didn't say that. What Nye said was, 'I'm highly skeptical of that argument.'

I immediately began to apply that sentiment in my head to the last comment I had read and replied to. It was on the guest piece I did over at Turf Show Times where I had said that 'you could argue that it was the best defense of all-time.' I didn't say that they were, but people could have a reasonably sane discussion about it. A commenter (on their site, not ours) said 'Ugh, that's so stupid, I stopped reading after that' or something to that effect. I thanked him for his help and moved on.

It occurred to me then that there really are two types of commenters: The skeptics that may vehemently disagree (or secretly think you're dumb) and use an evidence-based discussion to find real answers -- the ones that don't use emotion-based arguments to create noise -- and then there are the people that just create noise. They add nothing to the conversation. They're useless and their existence in this universe, is entirely pointless. At least, that's my hypothesis.

I think that readers and lurkers can do whatever they want, but commenters and people that think they should add to the discussion, should do just that: Add to the discussion. Bring up points of contention if it is your heart's desire, but don't just create noise and distract the rest of us from finding more answers and thinking more deeply about a subject. The comments on a blog become part of the blog post itself, so please don't ruin that with 'Ugh, wah, I'm going to cry about this because my mom left notes in my older brother's lunchbox but not mine!'

I want people to by highly skeptical, I want people to tell me that I have forgotten something very important, I want people to say, 'I would also add this bit of evidence!' Jason Drake is an example of a good commenter that has a lot of his own evidence that I often don't consider in my analysis, whether he agrees or disagrees. I don't want people to just take up space on the page without a purpose. If I spend six hours researching a topic for a post, all I ask is that someone spends more than 15 seconds writing a response to the contrary by using 'what their gut tells them.'

If the Seahawks don't belong in the argument for best defense of all time, tell me why. With evidence.

From Shams:

There was an episode of Pawn Stars where this guy brought in some old badges worn by dudes that were basically like the deputy sheriffs of casinos in the Wild West days of Vegas. Rick and crew brought in the Beard of Knowledge (as you do) and he explained that the guys who wore these badges weren't full law enforcement officers but nevertheless were granted by law special powers within the casinos and their curtilage (best word you learn in Property Law class).

I mention this because in the few months I've been a mod this is sort of how I've seen myself-- occupying kind of a middle tier between user and admin. For one thing, last time I checked my donkey was in a category all to himself on the masthead page; for another, I'm not sure how one normally goes about becoming a moderator but I doubt the usual practice is to send Danny a breathless emergency twitter request three minutes before the Seahawks play in a title game. So as I've mentioned before I'm reluctant to ban or gag people outside of game threads wherein prompt action is required to avoid having everyone's fun spoiled.

Nevertheless reading Jacson and Kenny's remarks on this thread kind of hit home for me; it's been a long time since I've actively trolled an SB site but that doesn't mean I haven't let my snarky and combative side out a little too much. Just yesterday I made the mistake of commenting on one of Danny's positional ranking threads when I wasn't in a great mood and I ended up accusing a Niner fan of drinking kool-aid. Not the worst thing in the world but not the most upstanding either (not to mention that it's criminally cliche writing). You guys are more measured, both on FG and other sites too, and it reflects well on you; you've inspired me towards a little more rectitude in my comments. That's all.

Onward and upward.
Taima ripens all things.

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