I wanted to take a timeout from our extensive coverage of the Dallas Stars and address some concerns that have started to come up during discussion between myself and Brad, as well as among the rest of the writers here at Defending Big D. It seems that despite a great start to the season, there is some increasingly volatile conversation happening between not only readers of the site but between us (the writers) and you the readers.
While some other sites around SBN allow pretty much free reign in the comments section, I launched Defending Big D with the goal of providing a safe and friendly zone for Stars fans to interact and yes -- even debate. What I didn't want was to create a community that was based on anger, hate, snarky attitudes, or any of the other attributes you find elsewhere. When I created the Community Guidelines it was with that goal in mind: to foster a community where anyone's opinions were welcome without feel of personal attack or anger.
I feel that we have lost sight of that goal.
After the jump, I want to address some very specific issues that have come up lately. Don't worry, this isn't me lecturing anyone or coming down on the community with negativity, I just want us all to get back to where we should be; supporting the Dallas Stars as a loyal and dedicated fanbase.
Before I continue, I want to point out that none of this is directed at any one individual. This is for all of us -- including me.
These are not tolerated. I know it's near impossible to keep things completely civil on the internet -- especially when it comes to sports -- but that is my goal. I don't want anyone fearing they can't express their opinion without someone firing back and attacking them personally.
This includes name-calling, ridicule, directed sarcasm and continued back-handed compliments throughout the blog. This also includes giving your own opinion with the express goal of tearing down someone else's. If you have an opinion on something -- great. That's why we have this wonderful blog technology and FanPosts. We encourage FanPosts and we're ecstatic to see some many used.
What we cannot have, however, is FanPosts that are created -- or comments -- that are specifically directed back at other posts or people. Snarky headlines or posts that try to discredit someone else's opinion are an attack in their own right and make people feel that their opinion doesn't matter.
I said this in the guidelines and I believe it still: do not say anything here on this blog that you wouldn't say to someone's face. I know this is the internet and being anonymous is sort of the point, but here at Defending Big D I want people to feel welcome.
Thoughts on "negativity"
Lately I've received feedback -- both here on the site and via email and Twitter -- that Defending Big D has become too negative. That myself, Brad, Art, Brandon and Pat all focus too much on the negative side of things instead of focusing on what is going right. I don't believe this is the case at all.
First of all, all of the writing staff here are in constant communication throughout the day -- everyday. We discuss writing and posting schedules and we also discuss various ideas amongst ourselves. We also talk about the balance of being a news-reporting site and a fan-based blog and it's not easy to strike a balance between the two. All five of us are some of the most die-hard Stars fans you'll find and all of us care very deeply about this team, these players and this organization. I've been involved with the Dallas Stars since they came to Dallas in 1993 and I feel a very personal connection to this team -- I take things very personal when it comes to the Stars.
We are also realistic writers and bloggers. Pat is well on his way to becoming a successful journalist. I've covered the Dallas Cowboys as well as the Stars, and after building this site up from nothing I also launched a very successful hockey website for NBC Sports. Brad is one of the most dedicated Stars fan and hockey blogger I've ever come across and I don't think anyone understands how much personal time he's sacrificed for this website. Art and Brandon have unique voices of their own and both have been blogging longer than I have.
We bring our perspective and experience to this site as fans of the team as well as -- what we hope -- responsibility as bloggers. We don't sugarcoat anything. We don't sensationalize anything. We report the news and we don't speculate on any of it unless we have confirmation on the facts. We also want to present as even a balance as we can between the positive and the negative when it comes to the Stars.
I understand that when the Stars are playing so well readers don't want to come to this site and read nothing but negative. While this week may seem more negative than others, you have to separate the coverage of the sale of the team from our coverage of the Dallas Stars current season on the ice. It just so happens that on the day I post a very depressing -- but realistic -- look at the Stars fanbase the Dallas Stars suffer through one of the most frustrating games in recent memory.
We are going to look at and analyze the "negatives", just as we'll look at the positives as well. If you point out any negative post I can instantly point you to three positive ones as well.
The fact is, however, that the goal of any season in sports is for the team to improve from the start until the finish. We don't want the Stars playing their best hockey in October; we want the Dallas Stars playing their best hockey in April. For that to happen, however, the team must improve upon the areas in which it isn't playing so well.
Right now, the Stars are not playing well to start games and they can't score on power plays on the road. Last night and in Columbus these two issues with the Stars hurt them more than any referee. We'll focus on the good that happened, but we won't ignore the bad.
The Dallas Stars have raised the bar for themselves this season. We now hold them to a higher standard than we did when the season started. Before, I would have been content with fighting for a playoff berth; now I want this team to be fighting for the division when March comes around. For that to occur, things need to be improved upon and we're going to point them out.
The goal here is to improve from now until the playoffs and the simple fact is there is plenty for the Stars to improve upon. If we only posted the great stuff that was happening and ignored the rest, then we wouldn't be doing our jobs. It's easy to say "the Stars are winning and that's all that matters" but if that's how we approached this site there wouldn't be anything to talk about. We can't ignore the bad and only focus on the good because just like in any aspect of life -- that's a dangerous game to play.
We're also going to be using statistics to back up our analysis, so don't expect that to change. None of us believe that statistics tell the entire story, but the do enhance our understanding of what is happening. It's not all stats, however. Check out my post from this weekend where I harp on the team's ability to fight through their own imperfections.
No team is perfect, and we certainly don't expect the Stars to be either. But we are going to provide as close to a balance in our coverage of the Stars as we can; we wouldn't be doing our jobs if we weren't.
This became longer than I planned, and I apologize for that. My goal here is to sort of reset everyone here and get us all back on the same page. There is too much anger and frustration in the comments and it needs to stop; we're all fans of the same team. I also don't want people thinking that they can't criticize myself or any of the other writers; if you do, however, then expect us to defend ourselves and our opinion. Just because we do, that doesn't mean we don't want you saying your piece and that you should go away.
We are all fans of one hell of a sports franchise, I don't care what Tom Hicks says. I want us all to be supporting this team together through all the ups and all the downs.