Let's talk about the Defending Big D community, shall we?
This season has not been an easy one. It hasn't been an easy one for the team, an easy one for the writers here at DBD and it hasn't been easy for Stars fans or the readers here at our site. After everything that happened over the summer, and all of the expectations and hype, the way this season has played out has not been anywhere close to what had been hoped for.
With those disappointments come frustration and anger for some, sadness and depression for others. Everyone deals with this type of a season in their own way and on their own terms, and the worst thing that can happen is for one fan to dictate to another the manner in which they should be enjoying the team they root for.
I have become very concerned with the overall disposition and attitude in our comments section these past few months, and it's now reached a point where it needs to be addressed. It's understandable that when the Stars are playing like they have been the overall tone of comments and conversation will be negative; our writing and what we've been posting has been negative as well, it's just the nature of what's happening with the team and can't be controlled.
What can be controlled, however, is how we treat each other in this community. Frankly, I am absolutely appalled at what I've seen the past few weeks and especially what occurred in the discussion threads from over the weekend.
When I started Defending Big D, it wasn't just so I could write about the Dallas Stars -- I wanted to build a community that was welcoming to Stars fans from all over the world where discussions and debates could happen in a supportive environment. Not everyone is going to agree and the entire comment system here at SB Nation is built around the ability to debate, but there is a big difference in debating or arguing a point and then flat out denigrating and insulting anyone who disagrees.
Defending Big D has gained a reputation now where the discussion threads are a place people do not want to join or take part. I have seen this on reddit, on Twitter, through emails and even in person, and this is very alarming to me and goes against everything that we wanted to build when DBD was launched.
Numerous times this season I have talked with Stars fans and DBD readers in person, and almost always there is a remark about "I love to read the articles, but I can't stand the comments section and never feel like joining in on conversations."
I've heard this from both new readers and ones that have been reading the site for years, who have now stopped commenting because every thread is overwhelmed with abject negativity and attacks on anyone who may have a different opinion.
This is unacceptable.
I approach what people say on Defending Big D as a bit of a matter of free speech: As long as there are no personal attacks, whatever someone wants to say is fine. Everyone has an opinion and just because it may not be the "normal" opinion or may not be what you agree with, does not mean that person should be railroaded because of it.
I'm not here to censor anyone with a negative opinion or comment, but what I'm seeing more and more of is that negativity being thrust upon any and every thread -- no matter what the content of the article may be. I'm seeing personal attacks, vulgarity and the one thing I wanted to get rid of the most -- people being attacked because their opinions might be a bit different.
What was most disturbing to me was the reaction to Graham's Postgame Video Blog, where fans were showing up and running loose with strawman arguments and how to even begin to celebrate a win was a stupid, bad thing -- because the season still sucks and the Stars still suck and Lindy Ruff still sucks and how dare anyone even begin to outwardly enjoy a nice home victory.
What has happened here? This is, once again, unacceptable. This is NOT the community that DBD is supposed to be and NOT the community that I once knew DBD to be.
From this point forward, we will start policing the comments much more closely and much more harshly than we have in recent past. I thought that letting the community "police itself" would be a good way to open up the comments a bit and not be so harsh about cursing, or strongly-worded debates, but this has reached a level that needs to be addressed immediately.
As a reminder, the community guidelines -- which everyone agrees to when they sign up for this site -- state this specifically:
At DBD, I believe strongly in free speech and in having a diversity of people participating, and sharing ideas that are relevant to the community. As a DBD member you are, in general, free to express your opinion without fear of retribution. The diversity of personalities, beliefs, and styles is exactly what will make DBD the strong and vibrant community that I want it to become. As proprietor of this site, I want to keep DBD free and open to everyone. However, I will remind you of what you all agree to when you first sign up for the site:
When posting at this blog, please follow this one simple rule: Before hitting "post" to post your remarks, ask yourself: "Would I be embarrassed to say this in front of strangers who were physically present in the room with me and could respond to my face?" If the answer is "yes," then don't post. DBD encourages and welcomes all opinions, no matter how strong; however, personal attacks, vulgarity, and other uncivilized forms of expression are not welcome.
That is all.