Site News: Community Guidelines or “Don’t Be An Ass”

Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to another year of Calgary Flames hockey!

On behalf of the owners, management and staff of FlamesNation and the rest of the Nations Network, we’d like to thank all of you in advance for visiting us and contributing to what we think is one of the most vibrant and exciting hockey communities around. (Admittedly, we are a bit biased.)

That said, with the season kicking off, we want to have a quick chat about some ground rules we’d like to lay out regarding participation in our community. I’d like to sum up these ground rules with a simple maxim: don’t be an ass.

We’re excited that so many of you are passionate enough about hockey, analytics and/or the Calgary Flames to be so boisterous and active in our comments sections. However, sometimes that boisterousness steps over the lines.

Here’s what we won’t accept in the comments sections:

  • Personal attacks on readers or staff members
  • Generally hateful remarks (sexism, racism, homophobia, etc)
  • Contrarian posts created to start arguments (disagreeing with us is fine – we’re basically referring to “trollbait”)
  • Engagement of the above types of posts

At the minimum, these comments will be deleted. If a member
continues to be hostile, they can and will be banned, both by username
and by IP address
. We had a bit of stupidity in the comments to close off last season and rather than let this small group ruin the party for everybody all season, we felt we’d lay out the ground rules up-front and then start bouncing people. It’s either that or shut down the party, and we think our party is generally pretty fun, so we’d rather not do that.

Simply put: don’t be an ass, and we’ll have a great time together all season.

If you have any comments or concerns about this (or anything else site-related) during the season, feel free to reach out to myself (via e-mail at ryan(at)thenationnetwork.com or via Twitter), Kent (via Twitter) or Thom (via Twitter).

Here’s to another fun season following the most fascinating team in the NHL!

  • Bean-counting cowboy

    here, here.

    I’ve always felt the Nations Network is and should be held to a higher standard. Thoughtful, intellectual hockey discussion. When discussion denigrates to HockeyBuzz or CalgaryPuck level, my appetite for the site diminishes and everyone is left feeling irritated and a little more stupid.

    Quick question on this though… in the past folks have made appeals to the moderators to deal with incessant trolls in the comments section. It seems there has been little done in these instances. As a readership, can we expect timely response in such cases? Will action only be taken if mods are emailed or tweeted? Or will appeals to the mods in the comments section be acknowledged?

    • Greg

      I second this question. The only thing more frustrating than the types of comments to be banned is a lack of response to requests for action from the mods.

      If it’s a matter of manpower, id be happy to volunteer to help mod. Also have some ideas on how to change the comments features to make the community more self policing so it can happen automatically and without depending on the interpretation of sole individuals. Will code for beer! 🙂

  • Colin.S

    I want to apologize if I have annoyed anyone one here.. I have been sucked in by many a’ trolls, over and over again.

    I will try my best to ignore the troll bait.

  • Reidja

    Yes, kill the trolling. I only hope that the resolve lasts throughout the season and that when trolls are banned, it is indicated in the comment thread so all can see that moderation is in fact occurring.

  • Colin.S

    Awesome, does this mean we can go into the comment section of a Lambert article and actually talk about the article instead of reading dozens of comments attacking Lambert?

        • Cfan in Vic

          His comment doesn’t fit into any of the categories of offenses. It doesn’t say you can’t be suggestively rude, just not attacking, hateful, or trolling.

          Calling him a Putz is probably more along the lines, than what he had posted.

        • SmellOfVictory

          It’s not hateful, contrarian, or trollbait, so I disagree on that point. They didn’t say we aren’t allowed to be less than serious; besides, what sort of discussion is there to be had about the rules? They laid down the rules, and we will follow. There isn’t really anything else to say that would be considered directly on topic.

          Your comment is actually the type they want to ban (personal attack). So all I’ll say is: the irony is delicious and I won’t engage any further in this discussion.

    • MattyFranchise

      Hopefully not…that’s always the best part

      People stopped reading Lambert’s drivel a long time ago and instead jump straight to the comments section

  • Cfan in Vic

    This is a good step.

    Is this an initiative across all the nations (ON specifically)? I notice a similar article hadn’t been posted over there. An ounce of prevention, pound of cure, etc…

  • mk

    Good call. I appreciate seeing commenters destroy a post or article through logic and evidence, but y’all are right that it shouldn’t get personal like it does at times.

  • prendrefeu

    Hi.

    What happens when a person comments on the quality, merits and arguments of an article yet the author takes it personally even though it was written in a non-threatening manner?

    I appreciate the effort to address the issue with personal attacks between commenters, authors, and otherwise, but what about when an author makes attacks against commenters? A few instances of this come immediately to mind this past season – Lambert did it a few times, as did another author (whose name I can’t remember right now, but had an avatar of an argyle(?) sweater) who made personal attacks against commenters who had valid questions in regards to the viability, or fallibility, of ‘Advanced Stats’ or however you’d like to call it. Because that author (and actually a number of authors) did not appreciate the counter arguments and considerations to the articles they had written, their reaction against the commenters did, at times, come off as acerbic and demeaning. How will this issue be addressed as we are mutually part of this community, both authors and commenters?

    Thanks.

    • SmellOfVictory

      Admittedly I may have missed something, but I’ve never seen Lambert react acerbically to a civil challenge to his articles. I have seen him react acerbically to rude challenges to his articles, though, and I think wording plays a major role.

      There have often been comments in Lambert’s articles that, at the heart of them, you could say are on topic; they may state that there are potential issues with the usage of analytics in a certain context, or something else of the sort. However (at least from what I’ve seen), when responding to Lambert, the great majority of these comments are worded in an unnecessarily offensive fashion. Rather than “I think the use of Corsi in this situation leaves a lot of holes in the analysis”, I tend to see people say things like “Oh look, it’s Captain Bringdown. Why don’t you actually watch the games instead of throwing around numbers and raining on everyone’s parade?”

      This isn’t to say that your concern isn’t valid, since I definitely haven’t read every comment in every article, but I do think that, in 99% of cases, the issues stem from certain commentators rather than the authors, themselves. And I believe that some of these users aren’t aware of how insulting they come across as being.

      • ChinookArchYYC

        The issue with Lambert wasn’t his response.its the way he always acted like he was better than the readers and belittled them at every oppotunity he had in his articles. That’s also why so many readers reaxted negatively to him. At one point, RL even went so far as to a post an artile on ON attacking the FN readers. The commenters were out of line. So was RL though.

  • SmellOfVictory

    Agreed this sounds like a good idea. Not all trolls are created the same though, and having the odd Oilers fanatic sneak under the fence can liven up the joint (as long as they are funny)

    Does the same protocol apply to moderators? I have seen some comments from Justin that would definitely run afoul of this policy. What is good for the goose is good for gander….

  • ChinookArchYYC

    Wull writers be held to the same standard. On more than one occasion last season Lambert intentionally belittled and antogonizedt the readers. I appreciate his articles, but his attitude towrds readers last year was completely unacceptable. Commenters treated him badly as well, but there was no excise for his holier-than-thou attitude he had all season long.

  • RedMan

    I think we are entering that time of the year when trolling would have diminished some anyway, naturally. the REAL season has officially begun (with the prospect tournament and camp), and if we know anything from history, it is that the big talk ends at the beginning the real season.

    yay for new troll rules!

  • Captain Ron

    Well I am all for this. Nothing wrong with a couple of people poking fun at each other in a light hearted and humorous way but wading through pointless peeing matches in the comments section gets boring pretty quickly.

    I don’t comment nearly as often as some of you but for me a good part of the experience from the day I came here (at the urging of Steinburg on The Fan back when he was allowed to promote the site) has been reading some others take on the game and the players etc. The analytic’s part is interesting and has been a good learning experience but I’m admittedly not that big a fan of breaking the game down like that as much as some of you are. Still this is one of the better places to read about, and discuss Flames hockey.

  • Derzie

    The trolling lately has been of the Oilers vs Flames variety. Easy to police.

    At the end of last season, the theme was “gee the stats sure look wrong in the face of the Flames playoff success” variety. That resulted in a fine line between hurt feelings of the stats-faithful and personal attacks. Mods need to remember that disagreements that run deep are not trolling. I stopped coming to the site once the Flames made the playoffs because every article was how because of the stats, it can’t be possible.

    We’ll see how it goes.

    See Comment #30 for an example of both. A disagreement on stats and a ban-able trolling.

  • Wanyes bastard child

    Well done!

    Now if you could convince my pops to come out of hiding, hopefully they instill the same over at ON 😉

    I too have always felt that the nation network should be held to a higher standard then the many other blogs and sportsnews sites.

  • SmellOfVictory

    Just throwing the out there as a warning to the fn moderators. Doesn’t banning people for “trolling” contradict canada’s charters of rights and freedoms. In a public forum Canadian citizens have the right to freedom of speech only excluding hate speech. Personally I.dont care for the trolling comments and choose not to read them. But unless this is somehow a “private site” I don’t think it’s fair to banish those who a writing things they feel are probably funny.

    Slippery slope guys lets all just remember our elementary school days, they only do it for the reaction, ignore it and they will stop.

    • Greg

      Pretty sure any website is privately owned is considered a private forum and allowed to have their own rules and regulations about what its users can and can’t say on it. The internet is a public forum and anyone is free to create their own site and say whatever they want. FlamesNation is private and the owners (and community) can set and enforce any “code of conduct” they wish.

  • Thanks for the feedback thus far, guys. This IS something that a bunch of the sites seem to be doing, but it’s independent of each other largely. We want this place to be a safe space for people to discuss ideas. A lot of what has advanced the discussion of analytics is reasoned, thoughtful commentaries on what people have gotten wrong (or right) in their usage, and I think something that’s set FN (and the Nations) apart is that we’ve tried to engage the commenters in discussing those things critically.

    But for us to have a space to have these discussions, we have to be able to trust that it’s a safe place to have those conversations.