A bit of housekeeping. This time about comments.
One thing I take a bit of pride in is that, for a large website, our comments are pretty good. Oh, sure, there’s some jackassery going on below the fold in every post — and if you simply don’t like comments on blogs on general principle, the HBT comments aren’t so different that they’re going to change your mind — but they’re pretty solid. They tend to be on topic. They’re often pretty funny. It ain’t the Algonquin Roundtable, but I’d put their quality up against what you see at some other major sports websites and would be pretty confident that HBT’s are a cut above.
When I woke up this morning and read the thread about the fan’s death at The Ballpark in Arlington, however, I was pretty disappointed to see that a commenter had left some pretty offensive stuff. It’s gone now — I deleted his comments and banned the commenter — but I’m pretty angry about it all the same. This wasn’t some guy who surfed on and left a one-shot jerk comment. It was someone who has been around here a while.
Our commenting rules are pretty permissive. We don’t shoot down comments or ban commenters simply for being idiots. Or for using bad language. Or for being insensitive or controversial. It’s actually good when people argue or disagree about things or when others are taken out of their comfort zone. That’s when you learn things. And no one has the right to go through life without having their sensibilities offended from time to time. So the last thing I want is for some phony level politeness, some hyper-orthodoxy or some brand of groupthink to rule the comments. Mix it up, and if you can’t stand the heat, get out of the kitchen.
But there are some simple rules that should go without saying. I’ll say them anyway. I won’t tolerate the following:
- Homophobia or gay bashing;
- Excessive personal attacks on other commenters.
This doesn’t mean you can’t talk about religion, homosexuality or gender issues. It doesn’t mean you can’t be critical of other commenters. And an honest slip-up, a poor attempt at humor, sharp irony or a simple misunderstanding among commenters that touches on these things will be given latitude because we all make a mistake from time to time.
But I will not tolerate this stuff when it is clear, has no redeeming value and especially when it is infused with ire. You’ve all been to school or have jobs. You know what flies in a social setting and what doesn’t. And if you ignore that — or simply can’t figure it out — your contributions aren’t really wanted around here anyway.
I don’t ban people often, but I will ban you for these sorts of transgressions. You don’t get three strikes. You don’t necessarily even get a warning. There is no formal appeals process. Behave yourselves, or be gone. It’s pretty simple.