Hello and welcome to a refresher on LL Community GuideLLines. This is Eric aka sanford_and_son, your host, staff writer, FanPost Friday hustler, and sometimes vengeful mod. We decided as a staff to put this post together since we haven’t done one since 2017 and there are a fair amount of new readers out there and hopefully there will be more to come as the Mariners continue to improve. Also, we’ve all been living through a pandemic for over a year now and the online world has become an even more significant social outlet for many folks, and so we want to talk about how we can experience the coming seasons in a civil and engaging way in the comment sections.
First off, I want to point out our current moderators. If one of these folks asks you to tone it down, please do so or you’ll probably find yourself suspended or banned. Also, feel free to come to any of us with an issue you’re having with the site or with other commenters.
The Mod Squad
- Me (sanford_and_son)
- Tim Cantu
- John Trupin (Deputy Editor)
- Kate Preusser (Managing Editor)
Before I joined the staff in 2017, I was a long-time reader and frequent game thread patron like many of you. As you probably know, the site has changed hands several times since its inception, and I realize that it’s hard to keep track of who is who on the mast head since we have such a large staff compared to the days when Jeff Sullivan and Matthew Carruth wrote almost everything. A strength of having a large staff is that ideally folks don’t get burnt out as easily by covering a sometimes very bad team, day in and day out. However, the flipside for readers is that instead of reading a monologue, LL is like a Mariners blogger mix-tape devoted to service journalism featuring some top 40 hitmakers, some jokesters, some sad crooners, some stat-driven nerds, and a few rambunctious youths. We are proud to be able to provide a fairly diverse array of baseball and life perspectives, but we also recognize the myriad voices can be overwhelming or disorienting to both new and long-time readers. Hang in there, ask questions, and let’s keep the conversations going.
A message from Sweezo, site moderator: While I know the vast majority of you are familiar with these, it’s not a bad idea to gloss over them again in case you need a reminder. It’s also not a bad idea to keep this link handy and post it for new users now and then.
Enforcement of the rules takes many forms, so don’t freak out if you see a message pop up from the staff or myself. I’ve focused on using that method of communication more in recent years as I prefer it to calling people out publicly especially over smaller things such as using the subject line, avoiding chat speak, and so on. If a message doesn’t work, you’re more likely to see a public admonishment (although some issues are serious enough that you’ll see one of us go straight to “public admonishment”).
Moderators have several tools at their disposal including hiding comments and bans of varying duration. A great way to turn a temporary ban into a permanent ban is to create a new account to try and skirt the temporary ban. People do it, they’re caught doing it, and it only makes things worse.
Flags help us do our job, and they’re only seen by the select few on here that have moderator privileges. That is the quickest way to draw our attention to an issue, and I do not publicly divulge the contents of any flags. They’re also a fine way to vent a bit when you are extraordinarily frustrated with a comment(er).
Also, if you see a cat playing a string instrument in a game thread, it’s a good thing. Trust me.
2021 Community GuideLLines
Many of these rules and guidelines remain unchanged from our last post in 2017, but they bear repeating and have been updated here and there to reflect the current LL culture.
If you read nothing else:
- Lurk for some time to get a sense of the room. In fact, you can likely stop reading right here, just go back and read the comments for a few days or more, and get the idea. Read, read, read before you start commenting with any degree of frequency.
- No politics, no religion, be respectful in the comments. When Mariners or baseball news happens to vear into politics and/or religion (most recent example being the Kevin Mather Zoom call debacle), we will obviously be reporting on what’s happening and doing commentary, but that is not an invitation to go wild in the comment sections. I know, it’s a fine line to walk, but that is why we have mods who will gently guide the conversation if it’s going off the rails.
- Back up assertions with data, especially when it comes to old traditional v. sabermetrics arguments.
The simplest place to start is to follow the practice of the “gates of speech”; before you comment, ask yourself:
- Is it true?
- Is it necessary?
- Is it kind?
“Is it true?” - If you say something like “Pitcher X has looked terrible all month!” be prepared to cite sources, provide evidence, etc., to back up your idea. If you’re posting about a trade rumor, make sure you have a reputable source (and double-check to make sure that source isn’t a fake account). And bear in mind that some topics, even if there’s evidence or data, are going to be contentious (e.g. PEDs) and possibly not add much to discussion anyway. Which brings us to...
“Is it necessary?” - If what you want to say has been said, rec the comment and move on. No need to add “THIS”, “+1”, etc. without further expansion on the topic. I cannot stress enough how simple it is to rec a comment and not feel like you have to add onto it. Don’t deface someone’s funny joke with some “well, actually” nonsense. Make comments that move conversations forward. If there’s been a long debate or a heated argument, read the whole thing and think carefully before adding comments that might seem like piling on or restarting a closed thread. If it’s about the guidelines themselves, see what the reguLLars are replying with, and/or flag the comment and send a message to moderators that way. And sometimes - even if you’re right, even if you don’t feel you’re being heard - the best idea is just to let a thread end.
“Is it kind?” - If you disagree with someone, that’s fine. One of the best things about this place is it’s an easy place to disagree and still know we all have a shared value/interest (the freaking Seattle Mariners). Provide evidence for your point without being snarky, and definitely without engaging in any kind of ad hominem attack. As far as the players go, if a pitcher blows a save or a batter has a game-ending strikeout, refrain from saddling them with death wishes and the like. Critique the player, not the person. Athletes and their family members are more online than ever, so even if your comment is buried in a game thread, you never know who might see it and how it will affect them. (But also, see note below about gamethread emotions…)
LL is a sabermetrics-friendly community. If you don’t know stats, that’s fine, but comments like “ugh statheads are ruining the fun in baseball” or “I don’t think a stat can capture the important parts of the game” won’t go over well here. Same for analysis based on pitcher wins, ERA, or RBI.
You may want to learn the basics of looking up a player’s stats in Fangraphs or Baseball Reference, and be aware that they calculate some advanced stats slightly differently. If you can only spare 5 minutes, look up wRC+ and WAR.
Other topics to be familiar with include sample size, when various stats stabilize for a player in a season / their career, projection systems, gambler’s fallacy, and how to use minor league stats.
Asking questions about how an unfamiliar stat works is always encouraged, of course, and between the community and staff, earnest questions should always be met with eager assistance.
- Lurk hard. The waiting period is there for a reason. Take that time to read the comments and learn the community culture—what kinds of things people respond well to, find funny, etc. Learn some names and observe how people interact with each other. Integrate yourself into the community: start by responding to people. Don’t over-comment right out of the gate or people will get annoyed. Act like you’ve been invited along to a party at a friend of a friend’s house.
- No politics, no religion in the comments. You can go to almost literally anywhere else on the internet for that. More and more often, it’s difficult to figure out how to handle topics in the comments where baseball interacts with politics. Give it a good faith effort, and maybe use as your starting point, “is my comment directly addressing baseball and how this topic comes into the baseball arena, or is this a jumping off point for things I have to say in other arenas?” If it’s the latter, it is likely better suited for another place.
- Be a human being. We have a diverse community here; sexist, racist, homophobic or transphobic language is not tolerated. Don’t use the word “retarded” to mean “stupid.” Don’t use “gay” to mean “bad”. Don’t make fat jokes, which are as tasteless as they are unfunny. Don’t objectify women. Don’t make leering comments about a player’s wife and don’t make shitty comments when the telecast shows women fans at games. Don’t assume others necessarily share your worldview when making jokes.
- Use the subject line. This makes it easier for the mods to moderate and improves readability, especially for mobile users.
- Use standard grammar, punctuation, and spelling - especially when making a longer comment or argument. Avoid empty chatspeak comments such as “lol”. (If you’re an English language learner, don’t worry about making mistakes, but also know there are lots of people here who would be happy to help you.)
- Stay on topic. Comments should stick relatively closely to the topic of the article. If major news breaks, expect there will promptly be an article about it; don’t hijack the comments section of a different article to talk about the news (if you can’t wait, discuss in the daily links article.) The exception to this is the recurring off-topic thread, where you can talk about anything except politics and religion. You can find this in the Fanposts section, usually at the top of it. If you don’t see a current OT thread (they close after two weeks), feel free to start one using previous threads as a template.
- Use gifs sparingly, when they relate to the topic at hand. This goes double for non-Mariners memes, which are almost never necessary. If you need to include images in your comment, make sure they’re appropriately sized. You can shrink them down by setting the height of your image: just add height=”250” at the end of the code. Basically, be respectful of other people’s bandwidths.
- Constructive criticism of site content is welcome, but drive-by complaints and non-specific snipes are not. The staff works really hard to make interesting, smart, and fun content while covering this silly team we love. We do it because we’re passionate about it, not because we get paid big bucks. So, drive-by comments like “This post sucks” or “This is unnecessary” or “I wanted a real recap” will not be received well and will lead to warnings and banning if necessary. Constructive criticism like “I’m surprised you didn’t consider that pitcher A throws a slider X amount, etc” is totally fine and welcome. If you think we missed something important that no one else seems to be talking about, let us know! The same “gates of speech” rules apply to posting criticism:
- Is it true? (this is obviously a bit more squishy here if it’s an opinion)
- Is it necessary?
- Is it kind?
Open game threads:
Simply put, the game thread is like getting together with a bunch of your friends (or if you’re new, at a friend of a friend’s house) to watch the game. Lurk in a few game threads to get the sense of the room, but some of the basics:
- No politics, no religion, just like any other comments section.
- Make meaningful contributions. Everyone is watching the game, so no need to narrate the game action; instead, focus on analysis/commentary. Refrain from asking factual questions easily answered by checking an app/Googling.
- Avoid posting images or gifs. They kill low-bandwidth and/or mobile usage, and game threads tend to get pretty long, leading to lag for those users. Be thoughtful.
- On positivity: Sometimes it’s fun to do the equivalent of the roar of the crowd by seeing a whole series of e.g. SEAGER!!!!! after Kyle hits one out. Sometimes it’s excessive and unnecessary. Use your best judgment, especially if it’s a 500-comment thread.
- On negativity: Sometimes a player, game or season has kinda gone pear-shaped. Some grim or wry acknowledgement of that is to be expected. Sometimes GTE (game thread emotion) kicks in and people get exaggerated in their doom, frustration or even exuberance and joy. That’s ok, sometimes. Frequent pessimism, commenting with nothing but negativity, overreacting to one early inning, etc. is not ok, and developing a reputation for such is a good way to get boxed (a temporary suspension) or banned.
- Conversation: Side conversations about non-baseball things are welcome (and to some folks, is the entire point). Think about how you’d chat at a ballgame about most anything.
- Use the recs and especially the flags.
Reminders for reguLLars:
- Be welcoming. Remember, you were also new once.
- Don’t pile on. Especially if you’re coming in late.
- Use your best judgement in posting under the influence, or excessive reference to controlled substances. In other words, the traditional drink roll call and discussion about different types of beer or weed? All good. Constantly talking about how intoxicated you are and being annoying about it? Not cool. Also, keep in mind that we have a wide readership, including people who may be in recovery or have struggled with addiction issues (and also minors!).
- When offering criticism (especially on FanPosts), be specific about what kind of research, writing or formatting was needed to make the piece better. Don’t criticize just to criticize. Consider the PQP strategy: Praise, Question, Polish (Lead with something the writer did well, question something that didn’t work for you, end on an overall suggestion for improvement).
- Google overall is probably going to help you find ancient posts much better than SBN.
- Many of us have spilled all kinds of things about our lives here over the years; some of us have met in person. Remember that all of us are people on the other ends of these internets here, and this is a public forum. Be discreet in revealing personal information about other users or yourself.
- We all know what topics, debates, points of view and philosophies about LL have come up over the years. Think before rehashing these. Use flags to help mods head them off when they come up if the same old stuff is coming up again. Try not to shut people down instantly if they just want to make one respectful point about something, even an old topic, before moving on. Remember not everyone has been here as long as you, and their points of view might change and evolve just as yours have, but a good way to ensure that doesn’t happen is to be excessively harsh and drive them away forever.
- Be welcoming. Seriously, after the year we’ve all been through, we can all use a little more kindness and grace in our lives and if you’ve been a part of this community for a long time then you know how fulfilling and fun it can be when things are humming along and folks know each other and are having constructive debates and conversations. Let’s keep building this community and show new folks the way.