Helping Us Help You

Welcome to 2010, everyone. Gone to the gym yet? Are you having trouble coming up with some more resolutions to pay attention to for a week and then disregard? If so, boy are you lucky to have surfed here this afternoon because I will be providing you with a pair!

Over the past year, the sheer size of traffic that LL receives has grown tremendously. Despite a large increase in the number of users and comments, I think everyone did a fantastic job in working to keep the tone polite, the site informative and welcoming. Thank you.

The work isn't over though and with a better team, the trend of growth is only going to continue. In addition, some of the new traffic comes to us via sites like Yahoo!, and with the ease of joining SBN blogs, we're bound to face a tougher time maintaining the community standards that I think we all appreciate here. Pursuant to that, we have two suggestions for the community at large to assist us mods in continuing to foster our little garden of reason amidst the vast wasteland of the internet.

Situated east of the "reply" link in comment threads is the "actions" lin4209849370_24dffa0064_o_mediumk. On the screen capture provided to the right of this paragraph you can see the "actions" link highlighted and above that, an example of what happens when you click on it; the actions link goes away and is replaced by a couple other links: rec and flag. Don't worry about the delete or hide links, they only appear to those with super powers and a decoder ring.


Comments that get flagged appear to us in red just as comments that get five recs "go green" to everyone. That makes such comments very easy for us to spot when moderating threads and a great help when such threads are long. In addition, our moderation dashboard keeps track of all flags and creates a link directly to said comment via the subject line.*

In case you missed it being mentioned elsewhere, that's one of our biggest reasons for mandating subject lines on all comments. Without a subject, a comment can still be flagged, but we no longer are provided a direct link to it.

How do you flag a comment? Clicking on the flag link pops up an input box which you can use to spell out the reason you are flagging a comment. There is also a drop down with three choices: spam, troll or inappropriate. We don't really care about the category, as the display of the flag does not differ based on that choice, but we do appreciate a quick couple words or sentence explaining the reason for the flag. If you find yourself writing out paragraphs, you should probably just e-mail one or all of us.

Why, or when, should you flag a comment? Essentially, whenever a comment breaks a site rule* or violates one of the principles covered in:

here, such as LLLJ (see link for examples),
or here, such as: non-use of the reply link, URL link button or image height excessiveness
or here, such as being an ass

it's a good candidate for a flag. We do not want flagging a comment to take the place of gently reminding people of the site rules - we mods rely on the community to self-police a lot - but in the case of repeated violations or comments you think are inappropriate, off-topic, needlessly hostile, etc., we'd prefer you use a flag instead of creating a flame war inside the thread.

As a refresher, the site rules are:
--Politics and religion are off limits.
--Utilize proper capitalization, make an effort at correct spelling (meaning no chatspeak) and comprehensible grammar.
--Trolling other SBN blogs gets you banned here if we find out.
--No unwarranted hostility.

Besides the obvious short-term benefits to us that flags provide, there are useful long-term benefits if flags are utilized well. Because we are able to inspect user profiles and see a history of all flags the user has received, proper flagging helps us to quickly ascertain any patterns in behavior that need to be remedied. For example, if we see someone has multiple flags for trolling, it helps us to decide if said person needs to be reprimanded. Without that history, our job is much more judgmental and time consuming.


I imagine every regular contributor here knows the rec link and what it does. It's fairly self-explanatory as well, you can see the rec count on every comment. I am not going to get into the gritty details like for the flag link, but I do want to take a moment to ask for expanded use of the rec link as well, but in a slightly different manner.

I ask you all to consider using the rec link whenever you come across a solid logical comment as well as humorous or informative comments. If someone gives a good answer to a baseball question, rec it. That both highlights the answer and gives positive reinforcement to those that take the time to help educate.

For example, if a user drops in on a Jose Lopez discussion and comments "You people are all idiots. Lopez is our only clutch hitter. Look at how many RBIs he had!", that comment* is likely to get a deluge of responses pointing out various criticisms of RBIs, clutch hitting, and so on. A large set of responses validly attacking the user's comment can cause said user to become defensive and lash out, leading to more criticisms, more lashing and an inevitable flame war.

Comment provided for illustration purposes only. In an actual comment from this hypothetical user, there would probably be more spelling errors and exclamation points.

What I'd prefer to see is someone respond with the valid criticisms of using RBIs, clutch hitting and so on and for subsequent users who see the subthread to just rec the response instead of adding their own if they feel that response adequately sums up their thoughts. A highly recced response (especially one that turns green) should send the same message as 15 similar responses and it carries the benefit of both removing some clutter and diffusing possible flame wars.


These are pretty minor (the flag link is a slightly bigger one) issues. And that they're about all we came up with as areas of improvement for 2010 speaks massively to the greatness of this place. Y'all are awesome.


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