Ask your doctor if steroids are right for you

DMZ · September 8, 2005 at 10:31 am · Filed Under Site information 

Hi all, Derek here. Given the horrible train wreck of a recent thread, I wanted to say a few words about the site’s policy on steroid posting and commenting, and how it’s not working.

It’s really awful. I want to open and honest about this: it doesn’t work. Starting years ago, we essentially had a line which was “no steroid speculation”. So Jamal Strong tests positive, that’s fine. Saying anyone is taking steroids based on appearance gets deleted. This becomes muddied quickly: we’ve been lax on Jason Giambi and Jason Giambi-related speculation though he has not openly admitted that he’s used steroids, because his apology (which did not include an admission) and other information, while I’ve killed Barry Bonds comments because Bonds has denied taking anything, accidentally or otherwise (I’ve written about what a load of hooey that is, too).

So Barry Bonds, until he tests positive or admits something, gets moderator protection, while Giambi doesn’t? That’s crazy. I freely admit this sucks.

The other big issue is that we’ve essentially tolerated what appears to be steroid speculation in some cases for one reason or another, and this has generated much hostility and resentment.

In particular, take Morse. Morse got suspended twice. A USSM author made some comments about how it was a personal thing and they weren’t going to say anything about it. Huge protests. Later on, stuff starts to come out, it’s a huge mess, and now we’re where we are.

Part of this comes from a question we asked a long time ago: if we know something but can’t reveal where it came from, or can reveal only partial information, should we say anything? The overwhelming response was “reveal what you can when you can”. But let’s say I know some Mariner player’s tested positive and his case is in appeal because (I don’t know) I’m on the arbitration panel or something. What’s my obligation now? What’s the tasteful thing to do?

And at the same time, there’s a great amount of hostility in those who do disagree with the “reveal what you can when you can” policy. Some, like Mr. Thomsen, have deep-seated fears about the nature of disclosure drawn from a journalistic background. Other people think we’re acting like know-it-alls and resent that. Both have good reasons, though obviously I’m a little more sympathetic to the first one, if only because they’re much more polite about it.

If we know something, we’re screwed unless we reveal everything or nothing, which is sometimes neither possible or appropriate.

Which leads to the second untenable situation, which is that Dave has said things I haven’t deleted whereas if some random passer-by left them, I’d have deleted them. This is entirely true, and a valid criticism of the way we (and in particular, the way I) have handled moderation and steroid speculation comments. And, given the conflicting demands, I have no idea how to resolve it. From my standpoint, if Dave wants to say “I think you’ll find that if you open up T.J. Bohn’s head you’ll find he’s a android made by a secretive cybernetics company in Korea” I’d take his word for it. And if he says “T.J. Bohn will never be injured in a normal way, but I can’t tell you why because cyborgs will kill my family” I’ll shrug and be okay with that.”

This leads to a bizarre set of site policies: if an author decides they want to stake their good name on something, that carries as much weight as a public admission of guilt by a player or a positive drug test. That’s clearly nutty, and I understand entirely why people see this as hypocritical, or patronizing, or arrogant. Because it is.

But I don’t know how we can resolve the problems. Given the basic parameters:
– No steroid speculation (with a pretty stringent definition of what that includes), for both site management and site existence reasons
– Steroid discussion of known positives/admissions okay
– Should disclose known information
– Would like to keep comments viable

I don’t see a way out of either of these problems. Anyone with a knack for puzzles, please drop me a line. In the meantime, until we figure out this Gordian Knot, please accept my admission that this sucks, and know that I know how fully it sucks. I hope that understanding why this sucks is in some way helpful in reconciling why USSM can seem badly screwed up when it comes to handling steroid issues, but (I hope, anyway) pretty reasonable on other issues.


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