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Before I begin, let me make something perfectly CLEAR. The Station 8 Comment Room is NOT my comment room. It is the property of and under the management of Gorebash for him to run as he sees fit. Personally, I like the Comment Room as is. I'm not a big fan of forums. If the vote goes that way, and Gore decides to make a change, so be it. But I voted against the change. My problem/issues with the comment room is about the (occassional) bad behavior of some people who post and what I perceive as the over-reaction of other people (often the same people, I suppose) to what I perceive as innocuous (or only slightly bad) behavior. But to reiterate, I stand by whatever decision Gorebash makes.
So what follows is only my opinion. Not even that really. What follows is my brother's opinion. And it's not even his opinion on the Station 8 Comment Room or on anything Gargoyles related. As some of you know, my brother, Jon Weisman, has a blog: http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/dodgerthoughts/
This blog on the Los Angeles Dodgers gets more hits in a day then we get here in a week. Or two. Probably even three. One of the main features of his blog, one of the things that he has told me is a big draw for DodgerThoughts, is the comments that his readers post regularly, their exchanges and their dialogue with him and with each other. So Jon has developed some basic guidelines for commenting that I think are calm and intelligent and worth considering for what we do at Station 8. Here they are:
Dodger Thoughts Commenting Guidelines
Thank You For Not ...
1) using profanity or any euphemisms for profanity
2) personally attacking other commenters
3) baiting other commenters
4) arguing for the sake of arguing
5) discussing politics
6) using hyperbole when something less will suffice
7) using sarcasm in a way that can be misinterpreted negatively
8) making the same point over and over again
9) typing "no-hitter" or "perfect game" to describe either in progress
10) being annoyed by the existence of this list
11) commenting under the obvious influence
12) claiming your opinion isn't allowed when it's just being disagreed with
I think these guidelines are very common sense and with the possible exception of #9, apply directly to Station 8. #12 seems particularly applicable. I'd actually add a #13:
13) thinking that just because no one has responded to your post that you are unwelcome. (Your post may simply have inspired no comment.)
These guidelines seem SO straightforward to me, I was stunned to learn today that some people over at DodgerThoughts OBJECT to them. So here's the post Jon made responding to these objections:
Dodger Thoughts commenting is healed - in practice, if not in spirit
After nearly two months, the folks at Typepad have finally solved the bug that prevented comments at the bottom of a page at Dodger Thoughts from appearing until several had been cached. So in that respect, we're back to smooth sailing. Any of you who departed out of frustration, please feel encouraged to return.
On another commenting note, some have voiced to me, either on the site or in e-mail, dissatisfaction about the commenting guidelines and a feeling that only one point of view at Dodger Thoughts is tolerated. I'd like to address these concerns in this post. ...
Starting with the guidelines ... I realize that they are not everyone's cup of tea, but I still feel they do far more good than harm. Conversation can quickly become heated on the Internet, and I firmly believe the guidelines keep things from getting out of hand. It'd be nice if we were all mature adults -- but we're not. Myself included.
The guidelines are meant for everyone, and they apply to the most diehard regulars. If, for some reason, you feel that a comment has been posted that should be deleted, don't hesitate to let me know, either here or via e-mail. If you find the guidelines too confining, then consider the big picture of what they accomplish. If that big picture doesn't look attractive to you, well, I've learned all too well that I can't please everyone. Believe me, it's been humbling.
There are a few other points I'd like to emphasize:
*Although off-topic conversation is allowed at Dodger Thoughts, it is meant to broaden the discussion and the community here, not narrow it. If someone's talking about television when you want to talk about Chad Billingsley, then make a comment about Chad Billingsley. There's nothing stopping you.
*No Dodger Thoughts rule prevents a point of view. Every point of view is welcome.
*People who agree on some issues disagree on others. We're all human.
*There is no ban on any style of conversation that would be allowed in a civil, offline venue.
One quirk that occurred to me overnight is that the people who complain the most about the site's rules tend to be the people who, frankly, are most protected by them. A primary purpose of the comments is to safeguard those who have minority viewpoints.
Since more than one reader is encountering this problem, I take it very seriously. I want to remind people to treat everyone with respect -- especially those with whom you disagree. This is of the utmost importance.
At the same time, I'd like to remind those whose comments meet opposition that disagreement is not censorship. It's easy to become defensive -- it happens to me, like anyone else -- but if someone is rebutting with you without attacking you personally, the simple thing to do is respond to the rebuttal. Or write it off. The point is, we're all here for the same purpose.
If you feel you are being chased away, let me know. But first, examine if that's truly happening. It's not easy to be in the minority on an issue, but inevitably, someone is going to be.
My transition to The Times has not gone as smoothly as I had hoped, for three reasons that I can name (not counting the requirement to capitalize both Ts in "The Times"). One has been the technical problems, and another has been a bit of a culture clash between readers.
Perhaps the oddest wrinkle in the transition has been the effect of the Dodgers surprising all of us by having the best record in baseball. That itself has led to a divide between those who find some complaints about the team petty, against those who feel that no problem is too small even when the team is winning.
It's not so much that there's heated disagreement on the main issues, as there is disagreement about how to respond to those issues. For example, I would say a minority of readers believe Matt Kemp should bat low in the order, but a majority feel it hasn't been worth losing sleep over. A minority of readers think the Dodgers have a playoff spot locked up, but a majority don't seem to think it's time to panic. And so on.
I can see both sides. The level of negativity this season has struck me as remarkable and kind of depressing, not because I'm a knee-jerk defender of all things Dodgers (another accusation I've encountered more than once lately) but because I simply want to savor the good times as they happen. That being said, I should probably be more tolerant of the negativity and not make such a big deal of it.
But also, maybe that means that some other commenters shouldn't make such a big deal over some things as well. From the site's very first day, long before commenting was even a notion, I've wanted Dodger Thoughts to be a place to seek perspective on the team (and the sport, and life). That doesn't mean a "No Griping" rule. But it does imply that the gripes should have a sense of context -- and sometimes, I feel that is lacking.
In the end, I consider this site my responsibility. As we near the All-Star Break and I look back at the first half of the season, aspects of site management that I could have handled better shout out at me. I am going to do my best to improve over the second half of the season, which may bring us a breezy jaunt to October or a tense pennant race. I hope, win or lose, people continue to find this a nice place to hang out.
Greg again here. What strikes me is that even though Jon is discussing very specific Dodger-related issues above, it's stunning how much this seems to apply to us here at Station 8.
*Griping is totally legit. But griping without any sense of context does get old and leads to temper flare ups.
*The MORE you disagree with someone, the MORE respectful you should be. If you can't be respectful, don't respond. Or at the very least, GO AWAY for an hour or two until you calm down.
*Don't sink to the level of the most obnoxious posters. If we've got a troll, it does NOT help to troll back at him or her.
I think it would be a good idea, no matter what format the comment room takes going forward if some version of the DodgerThoughts guidelines were adopted and POSTED on the sidebar for everyone to see every time they post.
Again, that's merely my opinion. Gore can and should simply do whatever he wants.
Finally, I want to thank my brother, whom I admire to no end. I'm sure he has no idea of the problems we had here last week. It's not like I planned to post anything else on the subject. But there it was. This incredibly well-written common sense response to a problem he didn't even know I was having. Thanks, Jon.