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Let's talk about the P&T community.

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Good afternoon, friends. Before I open this thread, I should point out that we already have a set of community guidelines. They are brief and were hewn when this blog still had relatively few commenters, though, so I think we need to talk some stuff over.

I've been in and out of town for the last week or two and have been watching some of our threads (and I read damn near every comment, in case you were wondering) from a distance, SMH all the while. Most of you are 100% excellent, but things have gotten ugly in more than a few threads. A number of you have contacted to me lament the current state of the P&T comment section, and some of you have openly considered leaving entirely. This saddens me deeply. Thus, the time has come for me to make clear some of the tenets of the P&T experience and for y'all to lend your two cents and say "Kumbaya".

If you use the P&T comment section, then I insist you take the jump.

Posting and Toasting, like the sport it covers, is a diversion. We are here to enjoy ourselves. If you're not enjoying yourself, then you're doing it wrong (or the Knicks just shat the bed against the Kings). Here, in no particular order, are a few suggestions on how to enjoy your time at P&T:

When writing a Fanpost, take the time to make it excellent. Use proper punctuation, capitalization, and grammar. Do some research. Check out other threads and determine whether or not you're retreading. Write with an open mind and expect/embrace disagreement from others.

That said, Fanposts aren't all going to be well-written, well-researched, and intelligent. A lot of them, particularly when the team is playing poorly or when there are rumors flying, are going to be dogshit. This is where you can make a difference. Here's a little primer on how to deal with different kinds of Fanposts:

If a Fanpost is enjoyable and/or agreeable: USE YOUR RECS. Comment, but also don't forget to recommend posts that you enjoy. At the bottom right of every post is a little graphic of a star next to the word "Rec". You are allotted one "Rec" per post (and also one per comment, if you're so inclined). If you feel that a post is worth reading and discussing, then go ahead and use that Rec. Once a post receives a certain number of recs (I think it's four, but I may raise that in the future), it gets bumped up to the top of the sidebar and stays there for some time. That way, the post is easy to find, the thread stays alive, and everybody is full of delight.

If a Fanpost is technically good and well-meaning, but you disagree with it, BE CIVIL. There will be absolutely no personal attacks. Isolate the parts to which you object, and express your objection clearly, intelligently, and with the utmost respect to the person who wrote the post. This really shouldn't be difficult. If it is difficult, then consider the next option:

If a Fanpost is poorly written, poorly researched, hostile, or just idiotic, IGNORE IT. Silence is your best weapon. Don't call somebody a "troll". Don't tell them their post is stupid. Just move on. I'd bet that a lot of you are as compulsive as I am and are compelled to click on anything that has "new comments". Thus, keep in mind that expressing your distaste for the quality of a particular post will, in fact, draw attention to it. In an ideal community, the most excellent posts would get rec'd to the top and hang around there so people can fondle them for weeks. The shittiest posts would be glanced at and then dismissed, without any futile attempts to engage or denounce the poster. Ignore, ignore, ignore.

Most of the above also applies to comments and commenters. I'm not as in love with the "rec" feature for comments (although you're welcome to use it), but I do think the "embrace the good, ignore the bad" rule applies here as well. Avoid shitty commenters. If you find somebody agreeable or worthy of your attention, then engage them. Good for you. But here's where I think we as a community are failing: If somebody is obviously stupid or hostile, DO NOT ENGAGE THEM. One stand-alone asshole remark or idiotic assertion really isn't a problem. You can just scroll right past it. What IS a problem is when somebody chooses to reply to that comment and it becomes a dialogue. By engaging a shitty commenter, you are encouraging them to comment more and multiplying the percentage of the thread that is unpleasant. The tricky part is that we welcome dissent and disagreement, but not hostility. Thus, when you read something disagreeable, ask yourself the following question: "Is this commenter a decent, respectful, and civil individual with whom I happen to disagree, or does this person just suck?". If the former is true, then feel free to disagree with the appropriate degree of civility. If the latter is true, then ignore them. If you see a guy on the sidewalk screaming and waving an "I AM TEH SECOND COMING OF CHRIST!" sign, you don't stop to tell him he's in the wrong, you just keep right on walking. Think of the P&T comment section the same way. Trolls are here to provoke you. If they don't get any response, they'll get bored and leave. I promise this is true.

If you really think somebody is causing trouble, then you have a couple of other options: 1. Flag the post. Next to the "rec" button is a "flag" button. This tells me and others that there is something objectionable about the post WITHOUT inviting dialogure. 2. Email me. I'm open to your thoughts and how better to manage the community and will usually respond to them. I have a sense of how I'd like things to look around here, but I'm always open to suggestions. I have the power to ban people, but really, really, really don't want to do that. I've only banned a couple of commenters who weren't trying to sell us Air Jordans.

On that note, leave your thoughts on all of this in the comments. Tell me what I can do to make your P&T experience more enjoyable.

Final word: When you created your P&T account, you agreed to terms that included the phrase "Check your hate at the door". Follow those instructions. Be nice to one another, pay no mind to grouches and fools, and enjoy your time at P&T. Thank you.