The quest for civil, intelligent and passionate comments

This article will have zero Mets content. But at the same time, it seems critical to the future of the site and worthy of being posted. Up until this point, the main worry in regards to the blog has been building an audience. Now that has been sort of accomplished, my concern is how to keep quality high. That’s quality on our end and quality on your end, too.

Writing can be a very lonely thing. It’s one of the reasons I love the Game Chatters – the chance to talk back and forth with everyone while the game is going on. The comments section is how that applies to each and every article and the main reason I have such a big interest in its health and vitality. Of course, only a small percentage of those that read an article will comment on it. That’s fine – I certainly don’t comment on every article I read, either.

The simple truth is that I want an active and thriving community of people chiming in on each and every story published here. Part of it’s vanity but an even bigger part is the desire to learn something. We have about 20 people who regularly comment on stories at the site and I’ve disagreed with each and every one of them at one point or another. But I’ve also learned something from each of them and I value that tremendously.

The challenge now is to how to keep the comments section growing without becoming – for lack of a better word – stupider.

For the most part, the comments section has been very democratic. As long as you did not get both very negative and very personal your comments hit the site and stayed there. But last night somebody wrote a comment and my only reaction was:

Why do I want to publish this and drag down the quality of the comments?

It’s always been my belief that an institution like talk radio gets the listeners it deserves. My completely biased point of view is that Mets360 deserves a passionate, intelligent and articulate audience. The question is: How do we get it and how do we maintain it?

We’ve all been to sites that have comments like:

Mets Rool
F*&k the Yankees
Your a d!ck

That’s the last thing I want to see here and I think the core audience would agree 100 percent with that statement. So, I throw this thought out to the readership – How do we continue to grow and foster an inclusive group and yet keep discourse above a fourth grade level? I say this with all apologies to my son, the fourth grader, who does not deserve to be lumped in with the lunkheads.

Perhaps it’s a hippie dream yet I think it can be done.

This isn’t about developing a site that employs groupthink. I am not looking for a bunch of yes people. It’s about having comments that make us think, rather than ones that make us cringe. Everyone should feel free to disagree (or, horrors, agree) with something written here and voice their opinion. But regardless of your POV on any issue, you should be able to state it in something resembling the King’s English and with civility.

So tell me how you think we should accomplish this. Leave me your thoughts in the comments section and from your ideas I will craft a “Terms of Service” that will appear as one of the buttons under our header image.

Thanks to all of those who make this a great site!

29 comments for “The quest for civil, intelligent and passionate comments

  1. February 7, 2013 at 12:09 pm

    At last check, my blog had over 7 million hits. I used to attempt to appeal to commentators to keep things intelligent and would spam out what I could but it quickly grew beyond any control.

    Now I have a few who will alert me to anything terribly offensive. I am not easily offended, so it is just those posts that are meant to draw attention to oneself in a negative manner that I delete.

    This is a great blog, and I read here daily. Keep up the good work. One day I will grasp the new stats that are so readily quoted.

    • February 7, 2013 at 12:50 pm

      Thanks for the feedback Peter! And congratulations on the success of your blog. Also, please don’t hesitate to ask for clarification on anything that puzzles you with regards to new stats.

  2. NormE
    February 7, 2013 at 1:12 pm

    Brian, I’ve been reading, and occasionally commenting, for a while now. I find the level of discourse usually appropriate, entertaining and enlightening. You, and your group of contributors, do a great job. The use of newer analytical metrics gives new insight into the value of players and strategy. Thank you for helping to educate me into this new world. As a baseball fan for over sixty years I enjoy the give and take of my fellow fans.
    Your quest to improve is commendable. My only thought is: Don’t screw it up!

    • February 7, 2013 at 1:18 pm

      Thanks NormE!

      I enjoy the give and take, too. I’m not afraid of having my opinions challenged and I love it when someone points out something smart to me that I hadn’t considered before.

      I just don’t want to deal with stupidity.

  3. Jerry Grote
    February 7, 2013 at 1:13 pm

    Just responding in lazy sort of way today … this is probably one of the three most visited sites for me. I haven’t written much lately with a sort of “only speak when you can improve upon silence” mentality.

    Look, I think the structure of your site is going to make it inherently impossible to herd us … I mean, I am not a “member” and I might as easily come back tomorrow as Cleon Jones if I offend you today (yeah, I know you can map my address). You do a pretty good job right now, and I’d suggest you not overthink the concept of “herding us cats”.

    Just think a TOS might be overengineering the situation. Your deal I guess, just my take on it briefly.

    • Jerry Grote
      February 7, 2013 at 1:17 pm

      side note … one of the things that appealed to me about this site was that there weren’t 17 hoops for me to make my voice heard. Type a name into the box and start writing.

      It is a simple thing, and welcome. If you do anything, don’t lose that. On top of some generally very good writing and research, it is a calling card … a “competitive advantage” … that makes the site distinctive.

      My two cents expended.

      • February 7, 2013 at 1:25 pm

        Thanks JG

        I agree with what you write above. I’m not looking for barriers to entry – I just want people to know up front that you’ve got to bring something to the table besides a complete lack of curiosity and a rotten attitude.

        I don’t want to approve comments that are dumb, stupid and lazy. Or needlessly mean and vulgar. It might be a stretch to think that the dumb people will actually read a TOS before posting. I just think that it’s a good idea to have in writing some goals and viewpoints.

  4. Charles
    February 7, 2013 at 3:46 pm

    I just come to this site for my old pal Phlavio.

  5. AJ
    February 7, 2013 at 7:39 pm

    No ideal solution to this dilemma, brother. It’s the Internet – freedom of speech in action, sloppy as can be. Put up barriers and you restrict the free flow of ideas, and the dungheads will still get in. It’s a drag that you have to play class monitor sometimes, removing stupid and pointlessly incendiary comments, but that approach seems to be working at present. Of course, as the traffic on the site grows that becomes more of labor for you, which makes running the blog less enjoyable, and I know that’s why you made this post looking for suggestions. Maybe you can give your 4th grade son the job of monitoring the comments… ah, wait. Maybe that’s not such a good idea.

    One thing everyone who values Mets 360 can do to help is to completely ignore the people who have nothing useful to say. At the risk of being an armchair psychologist, I think there’s truth to the contention that people who post the kind of comments you want to avoid are doing so to draw attention. Giving them attention in the form of response, however dismissive, only encourages more of the same. Getting no response whatsoever is the best deterrent. That, and having their comment disappear.

    Good luck!

  6. February 7, 2013 at 8:18 pm

    You’ll always have that one person(can’t say fan) who demonstrates their lack of humanity. It comes with the territory. It’s still a free country and if someone chooses to show off their ignorance then you should leave their post right on top so that we can all see who the classless individual is.It doesn’t matter what level of education one receives if that person wishes for us to know that he or she is void of intelligence then so be it. I probably read 90% of the blogs and if I find the subject boring or not to my taste I simply delete it. The person who made those disparaging remarks actually took the time(several seconds) to formulate their opinion in the only fashion they understand.

  7. Snurb55
    February 7, 2013 at 8:37 pm

    Evening gentlemen & ladies….First comments to this site from a veteran (since 1964) Mets fan. I find this particular site very informative and insightful, and I too am learning the language of the new statistical analysis for evaluating players. In private, I do tend to rant & rave regarding questionable and/or stupid decisions by team management + bad luck/karma that has seemingly followed this franchise. When reading vulgar, stupid comments on other sites, I realize THAT is not the direction I wish to take. Thank-you for this site and the contributors to this site for the format you all strive for.

    • February 7, 2013 at 8:41 pm

      Hi Snurb55 – thanks for reading and commenting!

      I hope you’ll become one of our regular commenters and be a regular around these parts.

  8. Chris F
    February 7, 2013 at 9:08 pm

    Hi Brian and Company,
    Like virtually all others that come here, I find Mets360 the most vital of the intellectual exchange sites for all things Mets. I can say this place has made me a better fan. As a whole, disagreements have more or less stayed on the high road and we have been spared a lot of people coming to flame. I think you need to recognize that in a completely open web environment, Mets360 commenters have been overwhelmingly populated by knowledgeable, interesting, and passionate individuals. I think that stems from the routinely high level of discourse initiated by you and the regular contributors here. Occasionally something rotten creeps in, but it’s not common, and it’s not stoppable. It’s also not something I would get too upset over. It mostly seems self correcting largely because most here won’t act as enablers for it. We are all following your lead as best as we can! Keep up the stimulating research and writing…it’s the best way to keep commenting civil, intelligent, and passionate!



    • February 7, 2013 at 11:25 pm

      Thanks Chris.

      I guess the thing is that I don’t want to accept it. I’m not going to shrug my shoulders and chalk it up as a cost of doing business.

      And I’m very grateful for Akismet, which does such a good job of keeping spam from showing up.

  9. Metsense
    February 7, 2013 at 9:21 pm

    Brian – this is my favorite site for discussing Mets baseball, and pretty much the only one I comment in. The intelligence, respect and cordiality of the fraternity of commenters (especially the game chats) make it a pleasure to read and relax with. This winter the commenters have increased and with only an exception or two (you must be editing well) the respect has remained. I too appeal to all commenters to be respectful, present your arguement intelligently and refrain from name calling. Opinion, backed by fact, has always been a trademark of this site. I implore all to keep up the integrity of this site. Thanks Brian, Dave, Dan , Charlie and the rest of the staff for a great site.

    • February 7, 2013 at 11:27 pm

      Thanks Metsense.

      I’m looking forward to the Game Chatters starting up again.

  10. J
    February 8, 2013 at 12:44 pm

    I agree with the posters above who have said that this is one of the best sites for discourse and intelligent commons on all things Mets. I’ve read a few others that made me so frustrated I had to rite a blog about Mets “fans” that actually came across as Mets haters. You shouldn’t bash people for intelligent opinions and you should write your own intelligent counter if you don’t think an opinion is correct. But just posting “It doesn’t matter because the Wilpons are poor,” or “The Mets suck anyway,” or “Phuc the Phils” does not add to the conversation.

    Sometimes I dread scrolling far enough to see the comments after an article, but on this site, not so much.

    • February 8, 2013 at 1:53 pm

      Thanks J!

      The example I use is MetsBlog. Now, I don’t mean anything bad towards either the site nor its main guys. Both Baron and Cerrone have been very, very good to us.

      But it’s painful to read the comments section. Or it used to be – maybe it’s gotten better. I used to read the comments faithfully and now I can’t remember the last time I did.

      And I don’t want that to happen here.

  11. Brian
    February 8, 2013 at 1:22 pm

    It’s funny to me about the timing of this article. I just started reading this blog in lieu of another one because of the amount of anger among the comments section at the previous blog. The comments there were disrespectful and repetative. The comments here are mostly well thought out and constructive even if they disagree with the previous posts. A comment section where posters bash and intimidate each other is not interesting to read. Well done Joura.

    • February 8, 2013 at 1:56 pm

      Thanks Brian!

      Ideally the comments section is as good to read as the article.

  12. jerseymet
    February 8, 2013 at 5:02 pm

    Kudos on your call for self editing. This site has largely avoided the name calling strings of some other sites. May you always enjoy the view of the high road.

  13. February 8, 2013 at 8:45 pm

    In response to J. Opinions are neither right or wrong. We draw our own interpretations based on our biases and observations.It’s not a derogatory remark to say the Wilpons payroll expectations have been stymied by their poor judgement or indifference to Bernie Madoff. It is affecting their ability to compete. It’s unfortunate that some people rely on vulgarity to express their opinions. They are few and rare on this web site. Whether someone writes a blog that I agree or disagree with I believe the majority of us respect the time and effort it takes an individual to write and research their information. The website is an exchange of opinions and ideas. There’s no point in responding to a few illiterates who pass by infrequently. Just toss them out with the garbage.

  14. kjs
    February 8, 2013 at 9:24 pm

    Sometimes people get emotional or misinterpret. Can you get a system that allows people to edit their posts if they realize they’ve been wrong or too harsh?

    • Name
      February 8, 2013 at 10:58 pm

      YES! I would support that so much! and for people (like me) who constantly have typos and are embarrsed because we can’t change it.

      • February 9, 2013 at 5:10 pm

        I’m going to make a typo on purpose. If a reader can still figure out what a person meens then there is no reason to worry about the typo. If the typo obscures the meaning, then just follow up with a clarification.

  15. Metsense
    February 9, 2013 at 11:33 am

    Just a thought Brian incorporate an agree, disagree, and unacceptable button for each comment. 3 unacceptables and the comment is automatically deleted. A little self policing with the old baseball adage of 3 k’s and your out.

    • NormE
      February 9, 2013 at 5:04 pm

      Great idea—3 unacceptables and your out!

    • February 9, 2013 at 5:06 pm

      I could see maybe having some type of comment rating system but I would be uncomfortable adhering to a strict 3 strikes approach. Then you open yourself up to having perfectly good comments taken away because some goofball went to three different computers and voted a comment down.

      • Metsense
        February 9, 2013 at 6:12 pm

        if any unacceptable are deleted then they would go to your box to see if they should be re-posted. It could save you reviewing time. Brian you have a great blog and I would rather your time be spent on the writing and not on the knuckleheads.

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