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The 12 Commandments of Field Gulls

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wait no religion

what do you mean I can't say smh
what do you mean I can't say smh
Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

After a long, long, lengthy, long, interminable, offseason of considerable length, it's time to watch football again. If you've taken some weeks or months off of Field Gulls, for sanity or even "family,"  welcome back. If you're brand new, welcome period. If you've been here all summer, go get some fresh air you frickin' idiot. Yes, I mean you, with the guilty look on your face.

Time to talk rules. My inner dentist, who lies, assures you we'll make this experience as painless as possible.

Existing FG Rules: Go!

These instructions will shepherd you through the 2015 season without getting banned. You don't want to get banned. Every week some people get banned. Don't be those people. Instead, try following...

1. The Community Guidelines

These are what you read and agreed to when you first signed up. Look, I even linked it. John Morgan wrote these words in 2009.

"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 is required."

Straightforward enough. You don't get to do what ever you want whenever you want. What do you think this is? The Internet?! Reading on:

By joining Field Gulls, you agree to Field Gulls Rules and Standards.

Let's go there.

2. The Field Gulls Rules

Or, if you prefer, the longer version of what you read and agreed to when you signed up. If you never got far enough to see these in the first place, now you have 'em in full by clicking here. But read on, because they're about to be summarized. Twice.

Zero tolerance exists for sexism, racism, bigotry. No politics, no religion. No name-calling, spam or hoaxes.

Standards are to source news, "attempt proper spelling and grammar within the best of your ability," and to use the subject line and reply button.

Site etiquette is to avoid belligerence, fault-finding and trollish behavior, to respect the moderators, stay on topic, and use the rec button. No chatspeak* allowed. Keep fanposts realistic (no rosterbation), never root against the Hawks, and expect sarcasm when you bring up your fantasy team.

*If you read through the comments from the link above, you'll discover that six years ago, John Morgan intended to change the rule to allow chatspeak in moderation. If he ever did follow through with that idea, the rule has since been changed back and currently stands as "no chatspeak."

3. Our Rules Trimmed Even Further, To 24 Words Because Beast

no politics

no religion

no bigotry

no personal attacks

no trolling

no spam

no chatspeak

subject line!

stay on-topic

provide sources

follow language conventions

4. Therefore, I Present To You, The 12 Commandments Of Field Gulls.

Twelve don'ts, each paired with their own do. Based on the rules, but phrased differently.

Why 12? Um

Topic :( :) Oh, and...
Keeping your cool Don't escalate; Do take the high road. ...snark is accepted, even encouraged, as long as it isn't mean.
Trolling by others Don't feed the trolls; Do flag trollish posts. ...flagging feels sooooo good, you should totally try it.
Trolling by you Don't troll here, or any SBN site, and keep your spam to yourself; Do troll your heart out anywhere outside the SBN network. ...I'm obviously thinking of ESPN. Get it out of your system over there. They want your mouse-clicks anyway.
When a comment sucks Don't attack the commenter; Do call out an element of the comment as lame. ...if a person courteously says "your comment makes no sense," accept the feedback without lashing out or taking it personally. Refer back to Commandment 1.
Opinion Don't state your opinion as fact; Do leave room for the opposing view. ...it's just part of the culture here and the sooner that sinks in, the better.
Knowledge Don't pretend to know everything; Do try and learn something here every day. ...you get way more cred here from being humble than more being a know-it-all anyway.
Presence Don't over-comment in every thread; Do use the "CANCEL" button daily. ...you'll thank me later.
LOL's Don't use chatspeak; Do use acronyms instead. ...this is really just a tool to improve dialogue and keep trolls at bay.
Spelling Don't make your reader wade through multiple errors per post; Do use your spell-checker and bookmark the active roster. ...punctuation and capitalization are not specifically in the rules but they are implied. You have to at least acknowledge the existence of the shift key and the . key. Do it for your reader.
Isms Don't bring up divisive topics or make bigoted remarks; Do look for ways to be clever without bringing up religion and politics. ...especially in the coming 2016 maelstrom, people. Get a brain, morans.
Functionality Don't wreck threads with huge images, excessive gifs, or walls of text Do use the subject line, reply button, rec button to cut down on clutter. ...the whole site gets more more user-friendly that way. Think of mobile users. And line breaks are your friend.
Negativity Don't be an Eeyore; Do retain, and exercise, your right to rant responsibly. ...hyper-negativity will eventually get you banned. It might take a while, but it'll happen. This is a fan site, after all, designed more for entertainment than for complaining.

5. FAQ (yes there is a FAQ section of course there is)

"How about emoticons and emoji's?"

They're fine. They're ugly, but fine. The rules don't prohibit them.

"And acronyms? How do I tell the difference between chatspeak and acronyms?"

If it's normally capitalized (ASAP, FBI, RSVP, NFLPA), or refers to an organization, or is more than 30 years old, it's an acronym and you're probably safe. If it's an established expression with roots in business or the military, you're good.

If it's a shorter way to say "what the fuck," it's not an acronym, it's chatspeak. If it's a recent expression with online roots only, you're probably not safe.

"Well, that answers my next question: can we swear?"

Yes but there are limits to good taste. Don't be the 13-year-old who just discovered a place to drop F-bombs without any consequences. Don't type "c*nt." Don't think you can sneak an ethnic slur in, even if you're of the ethnicity being slurred. We don't know your heritage. And if you're cussing in half your comments, you're not doing it right.

"Can you teach me the sarcasm font?"

No.

"Why did I get a mod message when other people are doing worse things all the time?"

Why did the cop pull you over for speeding when the guy next to you was going faster? (FYI, don't ever ask a cop that question, you'll get immediately upgraded from a warning to a ticket. Any officers reading, feel free to corroborate.) So don't ask a mod that same question.

Maybe the other guy did get a warning. Maybe not. Worry about your own bad self. Whining that "it's not fair" is annoying and hurts your cause. What you're really saying is, "How come you don't do your job well?" Imagine being asked that question at work. Search your feelings.

"Will I get really banned for saying LOL?"

No. You'll get a mod message, then a warning, then a final warning, then maybe a short ban, then possibly a permanent ban for breaking any of the rules. Of course, depending on severity, a mod will skip past one or more of those steps -- or repeat some of the steps. But nobody has been banned for a series of lmao's.

All because the rules tell mods to be generous:

"Mods will enforce rules through a three-strike system: correction, warning and finally banning. Mods will not punish innocent errors, but habitual abuse."

We don't want to exile people. We like you! But we're also not going to let someone piss in our coffee and steal our cigarettes every morning. So you're not "in trouble" if you drop a subject line or two. You're still even not "in trouble" when you get your first mod message, which should sound courteous. What does happen is that users are sent away because they can't handle being told how to post.

"But I didn't know the rules!"

Now you do.

"You removed my comment?!"

Yep. There are four mods here -- shams, smb282, Matt_J, and yours truly. In addition to those four horsemen, who are volunteers, certain other writers and editors also have the ability to remove comments. Like Danny. Remember him? If your comment disappeared, it's because one of those people decided it should go.

After you shed a tear for your vanished sliver of brilliance, realize:

A) You'll live; B) The mod probably had a good reason; C) If the reason was bogus, one mod can overrule another, and the comment will re-appear. That has happened to me, and I've done it to others.

Seriously, just live with it. Be an adult. Even if you're secretly 14 years old. And while you're at it, accept that we're doing our best. We will screw up, that's for sure, but we also know what we're doing most of the time.

"What's a concern troll? I got called that once."

A concern troll is a fan who has trouble enjoying success, and seeks to bring other people down with persistent negative comments that might or might not be valid.

Questioning the FO, the coach, the conventional wisdom -- that's good. Imagine how boring the blog would be without criticism. However... doing so on a daily basis, shifting topics every day or clinging to a pet theory -- that's concern trolling.

Also trolling: making outlandish statements over and over, day to day. If you drop in just to get a reaction, expect to be warned, then suspended for a day or a week, then banned permanently, as a last resort.

"But I'm a contrarian. I even play one on TV."

If you're not gifted at presenting your contrarian ideas, then you've smudged the line between contrarian and troll. Don't try and get away with riling up the troops unless you're exceptionally good at it. Free hint: you, specifically you, are probably not very good at it.

"I got cited for sexism but I didn't do anything wrong. What the hell?"

Sexism is tricky. And pervasive. If I took the time to dig through every FG comment in depth, I'd find several instances of "soft" sexism here daily, in addition to the obvious misogynistic missteps. So maybe refrain from any borderline comments when it comes to women and girls.

I'd estimate that 20-30 percent of our readers are female. And so one of the strong emphases here behind the scenes at Field Gulls recently has been to make the place as welcoming as possible for female users. We're not there yet, but we're getting better, a little bit at a time.

Field Gulls is not a frat. Again, many other sites beg for your mouse-clicks, and would welcome your semi-bigoted comments with open pixelated arms. Like the Commandments Chart says, at the very least go make your off-color comments elsewhere, then come back when it's out of your system and you're ready to act like a decent human again.

"But my comment was misinterpreted."

Yes, that's possible. Likely, even. If I read every FG comment in a given week during the regular season, the final tally will be between 5,000 and 10,000. Chances are I'll misinterpret one, or ten, or 50, each week. So will the other guys. We're sorry in advance. We also suggest moving on.

"If you don't mind me asking, why even have these rules?"

Go to another football site, read the comments for a week, then come back and ask me again.

"Aren't strict rules just another form of censorship? Internet! America!"

Nope. Private blog. Our place, our rules.

(If you recognized yourself in one of the above questions, don't feel too special -- those are simply the complaints I've heard the most often over the last two seasons. Nobody's singling you out.)

Appeal To Authority, Which Is You

You guys are the lifeblood of Field Gulls. Writers might generate the content, but readers do the heavy clicking. If your concern didn't get addressed above, let's hear it in the comments below. Do you want even more rules? Should we abolish the chatspeak clause? Can I get you another coffee? Is there an important void in the rules? An apparent inconsistency, or an overreach, or an obsolete directive? Speak now, because we're not doing this again until next August.