You're new in town. You want to throw a party to meet some cool people but you don't know who to invite. So you put up some flyers, tell people you know, and do whatever you can to get the word out. At first, it's just you standing in your living room fiddling around with your iPod, jumping at any noise that could be interpreted as a car in the driveway, a knock, or people chattering out front.
Then, slowly, people start coming. And at first you're super stoked. The people are rad and interesting, you're hanging out, you're having a great time. But then all of a sudden you realize that way more people than you'd ever expect have arrived, they're drinking your liquor (even the good stuff that you've hidden out of sight), they're breaking shit, they're whining about the music on the iPod, they're telling you to go make a liquor run, and when you tell them to be cool they call you an asshole and break your mom's Waterford crystal vase. They're just generally acting like they're somehow entitled to your shit even though they don't know you and don't act like they care to. Meanwhile, you and your newfound friends are running around cleaning after these disrespectful douchebags and lamenting the fact that the party used to be cool, but now it kinda sucks and you wish you had just thrown a quiet Wine & Trivial Pursuit party instead.
So you go up to your room, kick out the nasty hobags that are having sex on everyone's shit, close the door and cry a little. "This party has gotten way out of control. It wasn't supposed to be like this. It was just supposed to be me and a few friends having a good time. Woe is me. What have I done to deserve this?!?!?"
But then you have an epiphany:
And then the fun begins.
Well that's basically where I've found myself a few weeks ago. You guys have to understand a very basic ideal that I have for this site. I don't have ads here. I don't need a huge number of hits and I don't need to drive traffic to my site. This ain't a business venture (though...just wait for FD Fashions, coming to a Hot Topic near you in 2010). I think this is an important thing for people to understand so that what I'm about to say doesn't come off as bitchy as I intend for it to.
Starting this week I'll be instituting new site rules that are specifically aimed at cleaning up the comments and steering them to a more useful and productive purpose. Most of these rules aren't going to affect the long-time FDers, who for the most part, abide by these already. But the goal here is to eliminate "drive by" commenting and to force people to think before they write. I'm all about quality over quantity.
- Commenters must be registered with Typekey in order to post a comment. This eliminates "anonymous" commenting, which I think is the most chicken shit thing ever anyway. Pick an online alias and go with it people. But if you write something, stand by it.
- Read all the comments before posting. I hate it when peolpe chime in with a question or comment that has already been addressed by the prior comments. If people make the effort to comment, you should at least make the effort to read what everyone else has said. That's just good manners.
- Comments must use proper capitalization, grammar, punctuation, and spelling. I'm not expecting you to have to pull out Strunk & White everytime you post. But 8 exclamation points is not proper punctuation. Six ellipses are not proper punctuation. Using ellipses instead of a period or comma? Yeah, you show me where you learned that and I'll show you an idiot. I'm not going to be a grammar nazi on this, but if I can tell from your comment that you're not even trying to write in complete sentences and that your pinky finger just can't find a shift key to save your life, yeah, I'm going to crack down. Obviously there are a lot of non-US commenters here who I value immensely. Again, I'm not asking for perfect English. But just make an effort to try.
- There is a difference between being irreverent and snarky and being just plain offensive. I've noticed that the comments as well as the conversation in the chat box have been crossing that line lately. If you don't know the difference I don't know what to tell you. Basically, if you think Perez Hilton is funny, chances are you're probably being offensive in your comments.
- Respect each other. Everyone has their favorite players and their not-so-favorite players. Don't rub that in each other's faces. That's not to say you can't trash talk in good fun, but let's be cool about it. There is a difference between saying "I don't understand how anyone could like Andy Murray's game. It's so boring." vs. "Sorry guys. I just find Muzz's game boring." Would I delete the former? Not necessarily, but if it happens enough times you can see how that can start to grate on people.
I have a gazillion other rules that I'm contemplating but let's start with these and see how it goes. For those of you who have read/commented over at TwoP, you'll recognize these rules and understand the guidelines.
I love the community aspect of this site. I want that to continue, even if that means readership goes down. Having comment threads that are insightful and funny as opposed to juvenile and idiotic, only help strengthen the community bonds that have already formed and they make the site more accessible to people who are looking for that tone.
And let's face it, it makes all of us Forty Deucers look good. I'd rather this site be known for intelligently snarky commentary than as a gathering place for trolls and idiots to jerk off.
They'll always have Perez Hilton.