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The annual Field Gulls rules refresher for 2023

Some commenters need a reminder of what is and is not allowed in the comments section as we root for the Seahawks.

Seattle Seahawks v Cincinnati Bengals Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images

The Tennessee Titans and Pittsburgh Steelers kicked off Week 9 of the 2023 NFL season on Thursday Night Football, which means the midpoint of the season is just around the corner. While teams across the league, including the Seattle Seahawks and Baltimore Ravens who face off Sunday in another edition of Battle of Birds, are reaching midseason form as they take over sole possession of first place in their respective divisions.

For Field Gulls this brings one issue front and center: The corporate mods have been far busier than normal recently, and it’s time for a Field Gulls rules refresher. Jumping right into it, here are the prohibited activities on all sites under the SBNation umbrella:

  • 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.
  • Attacks on staffers: It’s fine to critique a post, disagree with a take, or point out errors. We draw the line, however, at personal attacks (see above) about writers, editors, moderators, etc.
  • Discriminatory or derogatory language: This includes racism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia, ableism, or other forms of discrimination. This includes nicknames for teams/players used in a derogative way (e.g. “Dallas Cowgirls”).
  • 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. Don’t go out of your way to negatively reply to most or all of a particular other fan’s comments or an author’s work.
  • Wishing harm on athletes: Don’t root for an injury, don’t root for harm to befall a coach or athlete. You can want someone to get fired or released, but please do not hope for bodily harm.
  • Misinformation and disinformation: Sharing demonstrably false information about news or world events, beyond the scope of reasonable sports opinion or analysis, can be harmful to our communities. These comments will be removed and may result in a suspension or a ban.
  • 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.

None of these are new or groundbreaking, as they’ve all been in place for long enough that most fans are well aware of them, and there’s no great mystery behind any of them. In addition, the following are Field Gulls specific:

  • No politics; no religion: We do relax this a tiny bit when there is a dedicated article on something politics- or religion-adjacent about a Seahawk, the Seahawks, the NFL, whatever. That said, the site and its userbase have changed following the adoption of Coral in 2020 and the elimination of the 48-hour waiting period before a new user can comment. That change has materially altered the way discussions take place, as topics that inflame emotions are the most likely to drive unregistered users to set up an account and participate in the discussion. This means that while there have certainly been enjoyable debates on hot button topics, it’s far easier for those discussions to go off the rails under the current set up, and when things go off the rails, they will get shut down by the mods.
  • No chatspeak: Yes, this is a little gatekeepey. Yes, there are some things that really are communicated more accurately with a lol. But in general the restriction has kept the comments more thoughtful and easier to read. No one has ever gotten banned for a stray smdh. A good comment with a wtf isn’t going to get hidden, but a “Haha lol” probably will. FTR is always fine. And, no, I don’t care how much you dislike this rule or how stupid you think it is.
  • Follow language conventions: Please grammar good and spell good too. Really, like the chatspeak guideline, just take an extra moment before posting to make sure your comment is understandable. If you’re unsure about the spelling of a player’s name, look it up! Don’t fret too much if you’re a non-native English writer.
  • Don’t judge the fandom of others: Just because someone is (more positive/more negative) towards some aspect of the team doesn’t mean they’re not a real fan, or are a spoiled bandwagoner, etc.. That said, excessive or constant negativity can be a drag. Be sure you’re critiquing and not just complaining. If there’s another commenter whose repeated negativity/optimism you simply can’t stand to the point you don’t want to see it, take advantage of the “ignore” feature built into Coral to ignore that commenter and, voila, you never have to see that commenters posts again.
  • Stay on topic: General conversation goes in the daily Post-Snap Reads comment section. If there’s an article about, say, the defense, you can mention the offense but do trust that there will be another article coming about the offense and keep the discussion mostly on defense.
  • Keep your comment length reasonable: Field Gulls has long been known for particularly intelligent analysis in the comment section, but if you’re getting close to article length, please trim it down a little or submit it as a Fanpost.

Absolutely nothing groundbreaking or earth shattering here, but if we didn’t need the rules we wouldn’t have them. In addition, here are some extra tips from Alaric’s rules post two years ago.

Context matters. Jokes that may be fine in Post-Snap Reads may well be hidden in an article about an off-field incident. If a particular topic has been discussed a lot for 4 days in a row, consider not bringing it up for a 5th day. Gamethread Emotion™ can spill over a little into the post-game articles, but not a lot, and definitely not in the middle of a Wednesday analysis.

Use the Report feature to help bring stuff you feel is inappropriate to our attention. Keep in mind that we may not be refreshing the moderation queue all the time, and just because something has stayed up for a few hours doesn’t mean the commentor hasn’t been warned behind the scenes. If you have one of your own comments disappear that you don’t think was breaking any rules, try not to worry about it too much. We read hundreds of comments a day. Mistakes can happen. Even if you’re formally warned, we’re really not itching to ban anyone, try to think of it as a reminder of community guidelines instead of a penalty.

Consider using the Cancel button. Even if you’re technically within the rules and guidelines, are you frequently right up against the edge? As John Fraley said particularly well a few years ago, does your comment “illuminate discussion, or inflame tension”? There can be some value in being inflammatory, but if it’s most or all of what you do, are you contributing to the community, or just fulfilling your own ranting needs?

That’s about all there is to it, so now it’s on to Week 9 and the Ravens.