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New SBNation Community Guidelines: Lifted From Longtime FG Rules

The yearly refresher on our quirky regulations.

NFL: Seattle Seahawks-Training Camp Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

Rules. As it turns out, they’re good for something, sometimes, somehow.

Historically, one of the things that has set Field Gulls apart from most other places online is how we guard against the destructive and divisive elements of conversation that pollute most comment sections.

For that reason, we’ve got community guidelines that we take seriously. You agreed to them when you joined, be it in 2008 or last week. But our guidelines are not like the fine print in your iTunes contact, an avalanche of imposing, illegible, incomprehensible iMumbo-iJumbo intentionally crafted for you to click OK without actually reading it.

Instead, they are a faker’s dozen. That’s 11. Sequentially, as far as dozens, it goes faker-regular-baker. Don’t ask why. Just use this new expression, everyone, starting now.

If you’ve been here a long time you remember that there used to be fewer than 11 community guidelines. You remember correctly. The list was once quite short: Act classy, post links, and follow the site rules. That was about it.

However, this year, SBNation expanded its laws to encompass all the stuff that’s been on our local charter since John Morgan was running this place back in 2008. Basically, the mothership wants everyone to be more like us.

We’re flattered. Behold, your new SBNation-wide standards. They are effective right now. You’ll want to know most of them.

technically did not break the rule

Network Community Guidelines

The following are not permitted.

1. Comments, FanPosts or usernames that are intolerant or prejudiced (sexist, racist, homophobic, transphobic, anti-religion, etc.) in nature.

Don’t make fun of gay folks, trans people, or anyone who looks different than you. This should be easy but we’re continually banning people for homophobia. And believers are continually getting mocked for their faith. Neither of those should happen.

2. Personal attacks or threats on community members.

Another FG goodie from way back when. You might get a second chance if you lose your temper once and lash out at a fellow fan. Might. Don’t count on ever getting a third chance.

3. Gendered insults of any kind in comments, FanPosts or usernames.

What’s a “gendered insult”? Using female descriptors as pejorative. “He throws like a girl.” “What a pussy.” “Shehawks.” “Cowgirls.” “Don’t get your panties in a bunch.” That kind of stuff.

We are not messing around with sexism. You will be warned, then banned for sexist comments. It’s 2016. We’re not going to be as bad to women as previous generations have been. Fucking smell the roses already.

There are many, many thousands of FG members and many, many thousands more lurkers. If you’re going to go out of your way to call women inferior, then goodbye, and we will not miss you one bit.

4. Posting or creating FanPosts for the sole purpose of trolling or disrupting the community is not permitted. Posts made for such purposes are subject to deletion without notice. Creating multiple user names for this purpose is not permitted. Persons creating such user names will have those names banned and/or deleted without notice.

No patience for trolls or multiple accounts. One account per person. One username per person. Take your sweet troll moves elsewhere. I’ve said this before, in multiple threads this year, but if you want to troll, there exist several websites who will welcome it with open arms, so long as it generates mouseclicks for them. FG is not such a place. Go to the other places! They love you!

5. Offensive imagery of any kind is not allowed, including violent, explicit and demeaning imagery.

This is a new update. Cartoon violence, video game violence — those are probably OK if they’re not in terrible taste. Images depicting actual death or torture or nudity (even just bare bottoms) will disappear, however. Be smart. If you think the image is borderline, don’t chance it, right?

Seriously: if you’re in doubt about whether your post will survive a moderator’s eye, just forget it. A picture you think is clever but risqué is not worth collecting a warning over.

If the image is meant to arouse, it belongs elsewhere.



6. Comments, FanPosts or usernames that make light of serious crime of any kind; specifically domestic violence, DUI, sexual assault.

Are you a professional comedian? Like, with your own HBO show? No? You’re kidding. Me either. So yours, and my, joke about rape — it’s not going to be funny. Not remotely funny. Make other jokes. Sarcasm is good. Sarcasm is safe. Sarcasm generates whooshes and then you can laugh at other people instead of being laughed at yourself.

Let’s set up a farfetched hypothetical here. Say... say... a recent Seahawk quarterback were to be charged for aggravated assault and threatening his wife. With a gun. Good time for jokes, or bad time for jokes? Yeah. No.

7. Comments, FanPosts or usernames that make light of any physical, mental, behavioral or psychological disorder.

Like, don’t say “retarded” and don’t make fun of the people with disabilities. Don’t be that asshole.

Ooo, perfect segue into...

8. Excessive profanity is not permitted. Different SB Nation sites have different guidelines regarding profanity -- i.e., some do not allow it at all -- but across all of our communities, please keep use of profanity within reason.

Within reason. There exists a grand tradition of free swearing at FG. Just don’t overdo it. Game threads? Sure. F-bomb away. Elsewhere? It’s fine. Tone it down is all we ask.

9. Posts created for the sole purpose of advertising or other commercial purposes will be deleted without notice.

As SBN grows, so does the temptation for others to abuse it by spamming us. Spam is for cans only, and maybe nutritional emergencies during a zombie apocalypse.

10. The sharing of illegal game streams is not allowed. Legal streams (via NBC Sports, WatchESPN, etc.) can be shared freely, but links to or requests for illegal, pirated streams are not allowed.

Plus, those things are full of malware.

11. The “first post” rule: if you break any of the above guidelines in your first post at the site, it likely means that you are creating an account just to disrupt the community, and that won’t be tolerated. We will ban your account, and you can reach out to us via email if you believe there was a misunderstanding.

As a guy who loves to give second chances, this new directive catches me off guard a little but I’m ready to enforce it. Sometimes we ban people who don’t deserve it. We all make mistakes. And we can all learn from them. Life.

Yes, all the above also applies to NN, and TST, and ROTB, you heard me right.


One Step Farther

Our rules here at FG still include some stuff not already mentioned. And you thought we were done! That is so adorable.

  • No politics or religion.
  • No hoaxes or false headlines or misreported news.
  • No trolling other blogs.
  • A link must be provided for all news and quoted material.
  • You must attempt proper spelling and grammar within the best of your ability.
  • Use the subject line.
  • Use the reply button.

One Step Fartherer

Holy shit this is a lot of rules already but the final upcoming section, called site etiquette, is where most of the back-and-forth takes place in moderation chats. We can all pretty well agree to not bring up politics, to not demean minorities, to refrain from trolling. The subject line makes the page look nicer. Almost nobody will fight those rules. And then there’s chatspeak... oh boy. We’ll get there.

  • No judging the fandom of others. (Even 2012’s!)
  • Respect the moderators. (Please. We’re volunteers doing this for the community.)
  • Keep front-page posts on-topic. (Exception: C&C)
  • Use the rec button. (It’s like an e-fist-bump.)
  • Fantasy discussion in fantasy posts only. (Or risk a snark attack.)
  • No rosterbation. (Keep roster moves reasonable.)
  • Avoid exhausted topics. (XL officiating, Washington, D.C team name, etc)
  • Chatspeak: no longer permitted. (See question below.)

One brilliant piece of writing that has survived for seven years goes like this:

“Rudeness can be couched in the nicest words and divisive and destructive commenting can be framed as civil discussion. Persistent negative comments, thread-jacking, fault finding, petty correction, stubborn ignorance or illogic, meanness, calls to perfection, refusal to drop an argument, unfounded claims of prejudice and other acts of self-importance will be dealt with on a case by case basis. ... Don't be a jerk because you're behind the internet cloak of anonymity.”

Legendary FG mod/writer BrianL wrote that back in ‘09 for a site rules refresher article. Re-read it. Especially the final sentence. He could have written it yesterday. It’ll probably still be golden seven years from now.


The rules against discussion of politics and religion are self-explanatory. But all forms of bigotry will also result in a mod stepping in. Don’t use sexist terms, don’t even hint at homophobic jokes.

We take those kinds of offenses seriously. “I was just kidding around” or “It was just a movie reference” are not going to fly if an off-color or demeaning remark shows up.

Because We’re Twelves...

Help yourself to twelve questions, the ones I hear most often. Forgive me if this repeats info from above.

“Can we swear here?”

Yeah. No ethnic slurs and nothing that demeans women. That's the language you want to avoid. Otherwise, yeah, every four-letter word is okay here. I'm not a foul-mouthed person in real life but I drop a few swears here and there on FG to help explain that profanity is cool here. Just don’t overdo it.

“How come so-and-so’s comment stayed up while mine was removed?”

First, you’re not doing yourself any maturity favors when you ask that. Seriously. “Mawwm, why did Bryttny get the bigger slice of pie it’s NOT FAIR MAWWM—” Your Mom has better things to worry about, like what happened to all your sister’s vowels.

Second, different mods enforce the rules different ways on different days. We’re not the same person. Five of us remove comments and message people and warn people and yes, ban people. Sometimes shams deals with an issue in a different way that I would. If you want robot mods, well, wait a generation.

Third, sometimes I leave a terrible comment up just for it to be smacked down publicly. It’s useful for people to see that they should think first and write second.

Fourth, if a comment looks like it’ll start a train wreck subthread, I’ll sometimes nuke it ahead of time to ward off the wreck.

Fifth, a comment that’s totally benign will sometimes get misinterpreted. Yes, by me. I’ve done it. And I’ll hide your clever snark because it sounded like a personal attack, and I’ll be in the wrong. That’ll happen. Probably soon. In advance, I’m sorry, but it just will happen. Tone is hard, and I’ll screw up sometimes. It comes with the territory. I’ll own up to it, and hopefully we’ll both move on. Because we’re adults?

“Will I get banned for forgetting the subject line? Or (gasp) using chatspeak?”

No. But if we remind you five times, and then instead of accepting the hints and suggestions, you lash out or throw some self-important tantrum, then maybe we’ll eventually send you to the read-only version of Field Gulls. But not for forgetting some subject lines. For being the guy who peed in the pool.

Mods are instructed to hand out gentle reminders, then use warnings and/or hide comments, and only if those methods fail, should they proceed to ban users.

From the FG rules, verbatim:

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

All bets are off, however, if you sign off with “that is SO GAY.”

“Got it. Now. Can’t we get rid of the chatspeak rule? It’s an outdated site rule and nobody can even define it all that well.”

Feel free to rebut this in the comments below, but — no. The rule remains in place. Site leadership declined to remove it. It’s a good rule anyway. It serves as a gatekeeper. If you can’t follow a simple enough rule like “stop using ‘omg’ in the future please” then you probably aren’t meant for FG anyway.

Besides, we don’t want our comments to start looking like

(no subject)

wtf rw lol pfffff smh

by 12hawk12 on Dec. 12, 2012 | up reply rec flag

Of course, 12hawk12 is right, you know. Russell is responsible, by himself, for multiple chatspeak moments each week. So click your mousey and drop those kinds of comments on facebook, twitter, instagram, instahot, snapbook, clash of grams. Heck, go over and deposit a giant smhelly turd on the doorstep of theworldwideleader-dotcom. All they want is to harvest your clicks anyway.

Here, we’re different and kind of weird. We’re looking to foster real dialogue, smart, witty, inclusive, attractive dialogue that keeps returning users engaged, that creates community instead of division, that uses eloquent language instead of shortcuts.

“Fine. What counts as chatspeak then?”

Anything that was invented in the digital age to eliminate keystrokes or to accelerate communication via texting and chatting platforms.

Acronyms and football abbreviations are OK. OK is OK. FYI.

Quick guideline: If the expression originated in the business world, or military, or general culture decades ago, it’s probably fine. ASAP, MIA, FUBAR, ADHD -- all these are cool. I’d even accept xoxo.

If the expression came around after 1990 and is usually expressed lower-case, it’s probably not fine. On the short shit list:

lol, smh, lmao, omg, j/k, btw, wtf, rofl, imo, imho, ty, fwiw, tfw, brb, ur, ttyl, dgaf, ppl, nvm, ffs

As always, we’re open to feedback on the rules.

“How about emoticons? How about emojis?”

Those are fine. Use them sparingly. If you wonder whether you’re overusing them or not, then wonder no more: you’re probably overusing them. Like the swears: If you’re using them every day, that’s too much.

Except for the fire icon. Use that to demolish hot taeks.

“My comment disappeared but I didn’t do anything wrong. Explain please.”

This is a good question most of the time. Could be any one of a few reasons:

A comment above it was hidden, which meant yours had to go too. A reply comment cannot survive without its parent comment.

You were dominating the conversation and it was time for the rest of the class to get a chance to talk.

You broke a site rule and the mod didn’t want to start a giant thread about it.

Your comment contained one or more falsehoods.

Your take was so ridiculous it dropped the IQ of all who read it.

Or even: a mod has seen that exact comment before, and nine times out of ten it leads the conversation down a rabbit hole in which users eventually break multiple site rules.

Other reasons exist. Other mods should feel free to chime in below to fill in where I failed.

“I got a warning and now I can’t access the site. HELP”

You guys. All you have to do to re-enter the conversation on FG is click the OK box that appears below your message or warning. It can feel jarring to be sudddenly interrupted, mid-conversation, with a private note from Kenneth, shams, smb, Matt or me. We get it. We know. We’ve been there. But read the words and click the box and move on. It’s not that hard.

By the way, you’ll get messages from me or another mod from time to time, just as a means of communication. You might not have done anything wrong. Sometimes I just want to tell you something without everyone seeing it and making the thread turn meta.

If the box says “you have received a message from the moderator,” read it and don’t worry. If it says “warning from the moderator,” sure, be careful. You don’t want to collect too many of those.

“Lighten up, it’s fun to troll NN.”

It also makes the rest of us look bad. Don’t do it. When they ban you there, we get notified. Dozens of FG’ers have been expelled for trolling. It’s really not worth it.

“What counts as “politics”?

That’s tricky, right? Is discussion of race a political issue? Can be. How about 9/11? Is history politics if it’s recent?

A sliding scale seems in order.

Politics, will get removed every time: “Vote Gary Johnson!”

Politics, will almost always get removed: “That’s political correctness for you.”

Politics, will usually get removed: “Typical. The Seattle City Council doesn’t ever know what it’s doing.” (Something can be true and still get deleted.)

Politics, borderline: “State primary today, everyone.” (Posted in C&C)

Politics, will almost never get removed: “Just like the government, the Seahawks FO has a system of checks and balances.”

Politics, will survive every time: “Beast Mode for President!”

All of these depend on context, of course. And then sometimes a Seahawk will “helpfully” engage in current issues but that does NOT override our site rules.

Just because RW makes a statement of faith on Instagram doesn’t mean we can talk about the merits of his post. Just because a player shares an opinion about white privilege doesn’t mean we can discuss Black Lives Matter.

“But I was talking about poverty and a mod shut me down.”

There’s a lot of stuff that’s tangential to politics. Race. The military. Income inequality. All of world history. Farming! The line is squiggly. We’ll do our best to draw it with compassion and consistency.

Last one. What kind of stuff should I flag? I feel bad flagging people.

A) You’re not flagging a person, you’re flagging a comment. The comment is not the person. If a FG’er is so invested in what he wrote that he can’t separate his identity from his comment, he’s not FG’ing right.

B) It’s semi-anonymous. The other person doesn’t see who flagged what, but I do.

C) It helps mods. We like help.

D) Flag anything that breaks a community guideline or a rule.

E) The flag categories have been improved so it’s easier to get your point across.

But to circle back to A). While personal attacks are not allowed, the annihilation of a bad comment is fine. Don’t make it personal, but if it needs destroying, destroy it.

If someone leaves a terrible take in your path, then call it uninformed, disprove it, flag it, and maybe even spice it up with a scathing soupçon of snark. Don’t be rude. But also don’t be patient with obvious idiocy.

Finally, A Call To Self-Moderation

Hey guys. Before I finish, one final suggestion that will improve the user experience for your fellow Gulls.

Use the ‘cancel’ button. It's right there. Next to the ‘post’ button. Notice it. It’s there for a reason.

If your comment doesn't add anything of substance to the conversation, or if it's your 40th remark of the day, or if you're involved in a couple other comment sections already — just forget it and sit a subthread out.

Try and refrain from over-commenting. Unless you are an actual Seahawk, you are not the star of this (side)show we call FG.

If you’ve already said your piece several times on the right guard competition, the pros and cons of the scramble drill, Michael Bennett’s proclivity for penalties, maybe it’s time to shut up for an hour, a day, a week on the topic.

Field Gulls is at its best when it is less cluttered. Sometimes your comment is just clutter, just vanity, just a ‘hi’ to the crowd, just noise. One of the ways we can stay content-heavy is by cutting down on empty comments that simply say ‘cool’ or repeat the same point that’s been made hundreds or thousands of times. Please consider canceling a post and trying again tomorrow, if you catch yourself in one of the above traps. We’ll still be here the next day.

I practice what I preach and cancel about 20 percent of my comments. (Some of you wish it was a higher amount.) Simply something to keep in mind as the season gears back up and the Hawks party like it’s 2013.