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How to not get banned from Field Gulls: A guide for 2019

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Rules are terrible, except when they’re great.

NFL: Preseason-Oakland Raiders at Seattle Seahawks Steven Bisig-USA TODAY Sports

Another season of excruciating, compelling, unpredictable, irritating and enthralling Seattle Seahawks football rolls back onto our screens this weekend, but this is a fact you knew and adjectives that are true. What the return of the regular season also means is that our “little” Field Gulls community will hum with increased activity as new users arrive and FG veterans check back in for the nauseating roller coaster ride on which you are a willing hostage.

So if you’re new here or you haven’t checked these out in a while, you might as well keep going and get a load of the blog rules. I mean, you clicked on the story, you’re already here, it’s more work to leave, just keep swimming reading.

Although I no longer moderate the site — it’s not very productive to contact me about warnings and bans — its comment sections remains one of my favorite places to lurk and get insight you wouldn’t necessarily receive from Facebook, Twitter, or ESPN message boards.

Fine. No reason to pull punches. FG has the best comment section in football. It’s because the people are smart, but it’s also because the place is run tightly by the editors and moderators. It’s because we have commenting standards, some imposed on high by SBNation, and some that have been part of the site culture since Shrug and John Morgan.

Rules suck, until they don’t. Here are ours. Gonna start by copy-pasting the SBNation community guidelines. They’re long. I underlined some of the most pertinent ones.

The rules below extend to our SB Nation communities everywhere: in our comments, on social media, and in real life.

We do not allow any of the following:

  • Personal attacks: This includes name-calling, insults, threats, hurtful comments about someone’s appearance, voice, or style, and all other forms of attacks. We want our communities to be welcoming and fun. Personal attacks are the opposite of that.
  • Discriminatory or derogatory language: This includes racism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia, ableism, or other forms of discrimination.
  • Harassment: This includes, but is not limited to, intimidation; stalking; unwanted photography; inappropriate physical contact; use of sexual or discriminatory imagery, comments, or jokes; and unwelcome sexual attention.
  • Illegal activity: Don’t promote, encourage, or make light of any kind of illegal activity, including DUIs, domestic violence, or sexual assault.
  • NSFW images and comments: Keep it PG-13, or you will be removed. This includes language and images that are sexual, violent, or generally offensive in nature.
  • Excessive profanity: Fans get worked up on game days, and we’re fans, too. We understand that. As a general rule, keep profanity to a minimum. Some communities prohibit profanity, so be sure to review guidelines for the individual communities you participate in.
  • Multiple accounts and throwaway emails: These are a signal that you’re not interested in being a productive member of our communities, and we do not allow it.
  • Trolling: We know it when we see it, and we’ll remove it. Don’t go to a rival team’s community for the sole purpose of riling up their fans, either. Moreover, you should never publish any private or personally identifiable information. Doxxing is strictly prohibited.
  • The “first post” rule: If you break any of these guidelines with your very first post or interaction, it signals to our community managers you’re just here to be disruptive. Violators may be banned, blocked, or removed.
  • Spam: We have a zero-tolerance policy on spam, which includes sharing links to illegal game streams or downloads. Spam will be deleted and spammers may be banned, blocked, or removed.

Anyone who doesn’t follow these rules when engaging in our communities will at best be removed from the conversation, and at worst will end up banned from that community. These decisions will be made at the discretion of our community managers and other SB Nation personnel.

Nice work surviving the wall of text. You earned a gif. Doug Baldwin congratulates you.

Now let’s trim all that down to a manageable size, not once, but twice.

Short list of Do’s

Do use the subject line, do listen to the mods, do swear some, do proofread, do bookmark the roster. Do consider the opposing point of view. Do flag. Please flag. Your moderators (again, not me anymore) will thank you. If only silently.

Short list of Don’ts

Don’t steer the conversation to politics or religion, don’t comment in every thread, don’t harass. Don’t make others excessively uncomfortable. Don’t be a jerk.

Again, the Do’s and Don’ts stem from community guidelines and site rules set up more than a decade ago. I can distill them even further into 24 words, a special kind of Beast Mode, or, if you prefer*, a Beast Mod moment.

*narrator: they did not prefer

no politics

no religion

no bigotry

no personal attacks

no trolling

no spam

no chatspeak

use subject line!

stay on topic

follow language conventions

That’s still a lot, dude

It’s a long list to remember and there are two problems that tend to trip people up. The first is... it’s a long list to remember! A comment you make will run afoul of the rules sometimes, and you might do it accidentally or out of ignorance. That’s why mods are instructed to first send friendly reminders if you step out of line, then eventually warnings, before proceeding to a ban, as a final resort.

The second problem is that folks often mistake “freedom of speech” for “you’re not allowed to censor me.” The freedom outlined in the First Amendment is intended as a check on the government, to prevent it from suppressing speech it would prefer left unspoken. It does not apply to a private entity. FG is a private blog. We’re not the government. Our place, our rules, and as free as you are to join, we are just as free to remove you.

BUT WE DO NOT WANT TO. Believe it or not, the editors and their bosses want to make money, and they actually want you to click on the stories, more of you doing so, every year. They want your eyeballs, figuratively, and your fingers, from a distance.

So people don’t get banned for innocent mistakes, for little screw-ups, for chatspeak. Nobody has been kicked out for a few stray lmao’s. However, they do get banned for being belligerent multiple times, for being racist fucks, and for operating as if they’re above the rules.

OK that’s done

Questions? This is literally the time and place for them. Healthy debate, in this comment section, about the chatspeak rule and what constitutes sexism is encouraged. That way we don’t have to keep hashing it out all the time.

Go Hawks, if that’s still a thing.