Some housekeeping today...
First, if you scroll all the way to the bottom of the site you'll see we've welcomed three new mods into the fold. Corvid, Douglast, and Southern Oregon will all be moderating along with some of your modding greybeards. Please welcome them and make their jobs as easy as possible. Thanks to all the moderators who help keep the community strong.
As the new folks came on board the entire modding staff had a long discussion about points of emphasis. We came up with three in particular. I'd like to share some of the thoughts we shared.
All of Blazer Nation is going through a difficult time. It appears to many as if a dream held for nearly four years--an entire generation of players--is slipping away. The future is uncertain but doesn't look positive compared to previous seasons. That's generating a lot of grief and angst.
People tend to deal with grief and angst in different ways. Some react with anger, lashing out at the source and anyone who gets in the way. Some evidence anticipatory grief. To assimilate the experience they throw it into overdrive, talking about future losses as if they were a certainty, feeling everything all at once to get through it. Some try to seize control over the experience by being unkind to others, taunting and lording over, grasping for one kind of power when another has been robbed beyond their ability to retrieve. Others are just honest about their sadness but need to pour it out and talk through it, sometimes repeatedly. Finally there are some who just plug their ears and pretend it's not happening at all (and woe be to anyone who tries to convince them differently). We've seen all of those responses at Blazersedge this season. We've also seen plenty of folks trying to make relatively normal comments amidst this sea of different responses and getting caught up in the mess, sometimes getting their feelings bruised in return.
As you can imagine, it gets tricky trying to sort through all of this. It's difficult to define the line between letting people work through their stuff and allowing that stuff to impede someone else's working through. That's the task these mods face.
From the very beginning we identified what this would look like if it went wrong. You only have to go back five or six years to the heart of the Jailblazer era to see ugliness in full bloom among Blazer fans. Back then there were two camps. One group would drop by discussion forums and drop bombs, insulting players, fans, the team, disparaging everyone involved in the process. The second group saw themselves as guardians of the faith, so to speak. They'd lambaste the critical folks, some of whom deserved it and others of whom were making legitimate critiques of the team but were still shouted down as "haters" or "not real fans". Stepping into a forum in those days meant you were in for a lot of yelling and bitterness from crusading, short-sighted people stuck in the ruts of their fandom or non-fandom. That's part of the reason people stopped caring about the team and its fans after a while.
Since the team's fortunes since the Jailblazer era have traveled along a generally upward arc, we've not had to deal with that same scenario. That means that the last standing memory of how to deal with ill-fortune is a profoundly dysfunctional one. We never learned to do it differently because we didn't have to.
Sadly, it appears we might now have to. If the misfortunes of a team also tear down the relationship between its fans, the team dies when it loses. That's too steep of a price to pay. We need to learn to cope with grief and bad tidings without tearing each other apart, else how many of us will be left (or will the team even be left in Portland) when things start going good again?
The three-fold emphasis of our mods involves upholding this process. They can't create a new, good process on their own but they can help cull out some of the obvious bad. To that end, we have come up with these guidelines.
1. People are allowed to work through their grief and react to bad news, but there are limits. Everyone at this site should be as understanding as possible towards folks who are upset, even if their disappointment occasionally comes through in harsh words, particularly after tough losses and the like. But there's only so much we can allow before one person's grief encroaches on another person's good time.
Generally speaking we're adopting a phrase coined by Matt from our sister blog--BlogaBull--that we find helpful (even while recognizing that the conversational standards are, and will remain, quite different at each of our sites). Matt lets his folks know that you can probably get away with being stupid and you can probably get away with being a jerk, but you can't get away with being both.
People are free to offer their opinions. If they think Wesley Matthews is a huge bust they can express that even though that opinion probably falls under the "stupid" category, as long as they do so in a civil manner. People are also free to be somewhat pointed, even a little bit jerk-ish. You can say, "Here is the way things are and I won't be convinced otherwise" as long as you back up that assertion with some quality analysis. Ideally every comment would combine the best parts of both: phrased in a civil manner and full of quality analysis. But we understand that doesn't always happen and we'll often take one or the other.
What we won't take, however, is comments that combine the worst facets of both. If you are being stupid AND being a jerk--for example, "You guys don't know basketball. Wesley Matthews is an idiot, a bust, and will never amount to anything"--your comment is going to get deleted. If you keep making comments that don't add anything substantive to the site except getting people riled, we're going to cut your commenting privileges. Be the best commenter you can possibly be, but even on those days you know you'll fall short of that, have a care how short you fall. This place exists to foster great and informative discussion, not as a repository for garbage.
2. People are not allowed to belittle, disparage, attack, or slight each other on this site even in the name of "fandom".
This falls under the general "no ad hominem attacks" rule at the site but people tend to skip over that rule when they feel their honor or fandom is at stake. That kind of comment will be deleted as well. People are permitted to post comments about trading Wesley Matthews as long as it's done in a civil and informative way without being shouted down or called stupid. People are permitted to criticize the team or its players without being called unfaithful.
In particular, comments that start with, "I'm so sick of all you..." or "I know all you fair weather people are going to..." or involve words like "haters" or other sweeping negative generalities are going to be deleted. Comments that are overly-cynical and tear down others are going to be deleted as well. The basic rules are these:
A. You may comment about someone else's points but you may not include negative commentary or assumptions about the commenter themselves.
B. You may not take shots at groups of people any more than individuals. Thus no comments with "haters" or "everyone on this site" or "bandwagon fans" or "Blazersedge is so...". There's nobody to hold accountable for your comments because those monolithic groups don't exist. If you can't make a point without having to drag someone through the mud you can't make a point here.
C. The way to show something positive about the team is to say something positive about the team, not to say something negative about people who are negative about the team. This is true even in the face of something you disagree with or upsets you. Comments are not multiplicative and a negative plus a negative does not equal a positive.
If you cannot hear criticism about the Blazers without getting really upset, especially when things are going poorly, you can't really participate in an honest discussion site. Fandom comes in all stripes. Some like to analyze. Some like to root. Some are baldly honest, some like the rose-colored glasses. They're all fans.
(Hint: If your response to this post says, "I'm SOOOO glad they're getting rid of all the negativity!" you have completely missed the point.)
3. Where and when you make your comments matters as much as how.
In general we talk TO and WITH people here, not ABOUT people. Single conversations are kept in single threads for a reason, so everyone can hear each other and it's fair to all. Discussing one thread or its participants in a different one, not giving the people you're talking about a chance to respond, will not be allowed.
This rule also applies to those who repeat similar arguments in multiple threads. We need to hear things a couple times but not dozens. Responding with the same argument every time someone brings up a given subject gets tiresome and quickly becomes a form of conversation-stifling intimidation. In this case you're not talking to people, but over them.
To help our mods I'm going to remind you that every comment, Fanpost, or Fanshot can be flagged. When you flag you are offered the opportunity to explain what you think is wrong. The mods might not be able to scan flags instantly but they do look at them. Honestly most comments with just one flag tend to stand but if a few people think something is off-kilter it usually is and it usually gets deleted. If you have a problem with something don't flame. First give as much leeway as you can and muster as much understanding as you can. Once that is exhausted and you're still upset, flag and have a little patience.
Thanks for your assistance and understanding. Good times or bad for the team, it's worth our time and energy to keep the conversation here as productive as can be managed.