Part of a host’s responsibility is to lay out and enforce ground rules that enable all guests to enjoy themselves. I’m afraid that as Ducksnorts has grown, I’ve neglected this duty and allowed us to stray too far from our mission, which is to discuss baseball in an intelligent and thoughtful manner. For that, I am sorry.
Over the past week I’ve had a chance to reflect, and I’ve come to realize that we really do need reader comments here. At their best, they significantly enhance the value of Ducksnorts for all of us. With that in mind, I’ll be reinstating comment functionality on Monday, September 1… with a twist.
To help ensure that everyone follows the Community Guidelines and Moderation Policy (read this, understand it, live it), all reader submissions will be held in a moderation queue until I’ve had a chance to review them. Yes, this creates a little extra work for me, but I’m good with that if it elevates the level of conversation, which I think it will.
Basically I’m adopting a strategy that is more proactive than reactive, that emphasizes quality over quantity. An ounce of prevention, and all that…
The downside, of course, is that we’ll lose some immediacy. It’s a small price to pay for my sanity, though, and besides, there are message boards for that sort of thing — if you’re looking for one, you might try these:
I don’t really do message boards much these days, so let me know if I’m missing any. I want to help you find what you need.
Say Goodbye to the IGDs
The IGDs have been retired. They were fun for a while, then they weren’t, and now they’re gone. If you wish to chat with fans during the game, I have two recommendations:
- Go to Gaslamp Ball. They do a great job, and I’m sure they’d be happy to have you join them.
- Roll your own. If some enterprising soul finds or develops a chat room/message board/blog for the purpose of talking about games in real-time, let me know and I’ll be happy to send folks your way.
Thanks to all who participated in the IGDs over the years. We had some good times in there, and I’ll not soon forget those.
If you run an online community and you’d like to learn more about what informed my choices in terms of direction, or if you’d just like to make yourself a better citizen of the interwebs, here are some resources I found invaluable during my research:
- On Moderating a Discussion Forum… (Arnold Kim)
- Moderating internet forums: What’s smart, not what’s new (Edward Tufte)
- All user-contributed Web content needs pre-moderation (Philip Greenspun; see also his comment moderation policy)
- Geek to Live: Lifehacker’s guide to weblog comments (Gina Trapani)
- Boing Boing’s Moderation Policy (Teresa Nielsen Hayden)
- How to Disagree (Paul Graham)
- Some Comments About Reader Comments (Marci Alboher, h/t ProBlogger; see also the New York Times Comments FAQ)
Start a Blog
I can hear a few people at the back of room yelling something about free speech. I’m glad they are because I’m a strong proponent of the concept.
For those of you who may feel the need to speek your mind about whatever, whenever, I’d encourage you to start a blog. My platform of choice is WordPress, although Blogger is also good and requires less technical expertise. Both are free.
If you do start one, and it’s about the Padres, let me know so I can add it to the blogroll here as well as to PadreBlogs.com.
Add Value, Not Noise
I mentioned a moderation queue. Here’s how it works: Periodically (I’m shooting for once every 24 hours, although it may be more or less often depending on what else is going on in my life at any given moment) I’ll read through whatever has come in since the previous round of reviews.
Comments that add value to the discussion and to the blog will be published; comments that don’t will be deleted. I am the sole editor at this time, although eventually the role could be extended to other trusted individuals as well. If you’re wondering what types of comments stand a good chance of being published, read the Community Guidelines and Moderation Policy.
My hope is that this more rational approach to commenting will not only encourage folks who have contributed in the past to continue doing so, but also maybe get some people who have had reservations about jumping into a free-for-all to join us. I know there are a lot of you out there who have great ideas and who aren’t sharing them with us because I haven’t done a good job of providing a safe harbor for said ideas. If you’ve got something to say, and it smacks of intelligent thought, I welcome and look forward to your participation.
Contribute in Other Ways
Ducksnorts has been around nearly 11 years, but even when it’s old and grey, it’ll still be my baby. Although I plan to provide the vast majority of original content for now, I’d also like to mix things up every so often.
One of the things I’ve learned from reading comments over the years is that many of you have excellent ideas. I’ve also learned that sometimes those ideas get overlooked in the frenzy of commentary, which is a shame for all of us.
With that in mind, I may be tapping some of you to contribute original content. The intent of our new process is to reduce the amount of crap, not the proliferation of good ideas.
If you’ve got a concept for an article and it doesn’t suck, drop me a line. If I like the idea, I’ll tell you to run with it; if I don’t, I’ll let you know that, too.
I have a few other thoughts on how to improve our process (Slashdot style rating of comments, for example), but I’m not sure when I’ll be able to evaluate and implement those. We’ll try this out for a while and see how it goes.
Thanks again for being a part of the Ducksnorts community and for bearing with me as I try to figure out ways to keep it strong even as we grow. The challenge may seem daunting at times, but I’m confident that we’re up to the task.