In response to a request for a more clear statement on what resulted in the first bans, I present this. It’s been through a couple revisions already, and will go through more. Last revision was May 17, 2007, to better incorporate our capriciousness.
The U.S.S. Mariner extremely simple comment guidelines
With the launch of our new site, we added a bunch of cool stuff, including comments. I also implemented fun technology that allows us to ban or moderate commenting from certain people. We did this largely because we didn’t want to spend time and energy on building or deploying a registration system, and wanted people to be able to swing by and say what’s on their mind. We ended up deploying registration eventually.
However, this is not a public street corner. While I am a rabid free speech supporter, your natural right to self expression does not require us to publish your opinion and spend bandwith and resources doing so.
We will ban for any reason and for no reason. In order to ban people who are lame, we will inevitably end up banning people who have done nothing wrong. There’s no appeal process. Bans may be permanent, and they may be adjusted to better target specific people, or repealed entirely.
Seriously: no reason will be given. No explanations will be given on who’s banned, why, or when.
The “no reason” section done, here’s my guess at the kind of things that will get people banned.
Abusive behavior towards others. When you post in reply to people, pretend that you are arguing with an umpire.
“You blew that call, he was safe by a mile.” = Okay
“You blow.” = Ejected
Or, if we had a U.S.S. Mariner get-together, we were all eating pizza and drinking beer, having a good time, would yelling your comment get you punched, then or later?
As with anything relating to tone, this is obviously a subjective and lame standard. It will be applied inconsistently: you may see someone get away with something one day and the next week someone’s gone for the same thing. It’s going to happen.
Possible reasons for deletion or banning
What else… posting illegal copyrighted material, spamming links in the comments, whether it’s your site or whatever. Pointing to other sites is fine, and even pointing to related articles on your own site’s been tolerated sometimes, but “come eat at Joe’s” isn’t. There are some sites we particularly don’t like, and we’re not going to say much more on that. Speculation on any player’s use of steroids, that’s going to be gone as soon as we come across it in almost every case. Speculation about another person’s motives for taking a particular position, particularly in a negative and derogatory sense. I hate first/last/nth-comment posts, so just don’t do that. It’s really annoying. So are “I’m drunk/high/whatever right now” posts. And “test” comments are right out – if you’re not sure if a comment’s going to work, assume it will.
Again, though, that’s a non-inclusive list and is intended for you to get a general sense of what kind of comments get sent to the great message board in the sky. There will be posts that seem to violate these guidelines that are up, and posts that are deleted that seem innocous. If you can’t live with that, then this is not a place you’re going to be happy posting at.
With all that said, this not freep: I do not intend to ban anyone from commenting because they disagree with anyone else, everyone else, or specifcally the viewpoints of any (or all) of the authors. You’re not required to even like me, or Dave, or Jason, or Jeff, though you should like Dave and Jason and Jeff because they’re great guys and I highly recommend them. All you’re required to do is be civil.
On and off-topic comments
If you want to see a link or something discussed posted, email us.
Please, please, don’t just post it in the first thread you come across. This is rude and annoying. It will, almost always, get deleted and make someone mad.
If you’re considering starting a comment with “I know this is off-topic, but–” please, just email the link or topic to us. Don’t hijack a thread.
Except! There are threads where random thoughts, new topics, and events are perfectly allowable. These are the semi-daily game threads during the season. Also, if there’s a thread on, say “news of the day” or “random trade rumors continue” it’s perfectly normal to throw new news or new trade rumors of the day in there. Use your best judgement.
Editing or deleting posts
Comments will be deleted for the same reasons etc. as we’d ban someone. Posts may be deleted but the poster not banned, and a poster might get banned while the comment that provoked it remains up.
Comments will not be altered by editors unless there’s no other way to fix something, and I don’t see how that would be possible.
In some cases, we may edit a post that contains one particularly egregious violation within a larger post that is good enough that we don’t to delete it entirely. This is a judgement call, and we’re going to be inconsistent about it.
Sometimes, we’ll leave a reason for alteration or deletion of the post, in brackets like this:
This depends on how swamped we are, and our current mood. Comments are frequently deleted without explanation, particularly in cases when a comment thread has been derailed and it’s unfeasible to do so.
As a courtesy, we ask that you do not fake moderation notes within your comments.
Fake names are fine. Offensive names and assuming the names of public figures is not, and will get your posts and account deleted. If you’re famous and want to use your real name, email us, and we can work something out.
In particular, pretending you’re a current Mariner player/coach/front office member is not cool. That includes taking their nickname. No “Felix Hernandez” no “King Felix” or anything. If you pick an obscure former non-M’s player, it’ll probably take us a lot longer to get around to asking you to change, since we have more important things on our plates.
Having said all of that stuff about random acts of deletion/banning, I would bet that in almost all circumstances where we have a valid email for your account (which does not show up on the site, please note) and I can drop you a quick note that says “please watch tone” or something, you’re much more likely to get off the hook.
“Why don’t my posts show up?”
There are a couple of reasons. Most likely — especially if you’re a member of a large ISP like AOL or AT&T Worldnet — your comment is sitting in a moderation queue because of a recent spam attack. Or it may be something to do particularly with you: given a couple of deleted posts, for instance, you may be tossed into the moderation queue. There may also be particular one-time characteristics about your post that made the system suspicious.
Either way, a USSM author has to come by, see that you have a comment in the queue, and wave it on into production. Obviously, this is unlikely to happen quickly.
“Regulating tone and civility, especially on the internet, is doomed to failure”
I will not concede this point yet. If I ran a nice sports bar and threw the jerks out every night, I think it’d be a place people who don’t like to be around jerks and want to watch some baseball and have a beer with like-minded people might hang out at. This was our experience without comments: I found the people who read the site and sent us email were almost to a person kind, generous, and intelligent. I have faith that, as at our outings, conversation and debate between our readers can be interesting, civil, and friendly, and if that means I have to hire a particularly aggressive bouncer… well, so be it.
I recognize that at some point if bans are ineffective that the site will be forced to go to registration, or drop comments entirely. We’ll see.
“But I want a good fight with hair-pulling and name-calling!”
Then this is not your site. Major sports web sites have message boards. There are forums all over the place. They offer different crowds and debate flavors, and if this doesn’t sound like your pint of beer, I hope you find one that’s more to your tastes.