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Fixing the comments: A battle worth fighting

Mar 8, 2012, 2:17 AM EST

Sisyphus Sign

This post might not be for many of you. From the numbers that this website attracts daily, it’ll actually apply to less than five percent of you. But as this site has evolved and grown over the past few seasons, it’s finally time for me to address the comments section that lives and breathes below each story. After trying to patch up a small leak here and there, it’s finally time to deal with the ugly reality that the comments on most of the articles here have become unreadable. Because of that, I’m putting together some on-the-record ground rules for those that want to continue commenting on articles posted here.

First off, I’m thankful that so many of you take the time to share your thoughts and opinions under just about every one of my stories. (Believe me, even signing up isn’t easy.) Whether it’s after a heart-wrenching loss or landing a huge recruiting commitment, the communal aspect of sharing your thoughts with fellow Irish fans is a great thing, and one that I certainly don’t want to stop.

That said, over the past few months, the comments have gotten more and more toxic. Whether it’s personal attacks on other commenters, beating a dead horse while hammering home a personal agenda, spewing vulgarities that don’t belong on a football website, or other annoying habits that come along with people hiding behind monickers while typing anonymously on the internet, I’ve decided to be a little proactive and try and turn the comments section into something people actually want to read.

Call me an optimist, but I truly believe there’s a way to turn this around, but it’s going to take some getting used to and some effort by all of us. Believe me, this isn’t me trying to regulate opinions. I’m all for them, and they make this website far more interesting to read. As always, if you’ve got a bone to pick with me, voice it below. Better yet, if you have something unique to add to the conversation, I’m all for it. But after watching too many good readers and commenters get run out of town because of unpleasant comments, I’m going to challenge everybody to raise the bar.

Here are a few bullet-point ground rules for commenting:

  • Saying something or someone sucks is not a comment. Don’t waste our time.
  • To borrow from Jim Rome, avoid the Triple-U: Uninspired, Unreadable, Unfunny. We’re better than that.
  • Attacks of fellow commenters are going to get pulled. We’ve put up with it for too long.
  • Zero tolerance for racist, sexist, or vulgar posts. If you wouldn’t say it in front of your mom, don’t say it here.
  • Let’s keep religion and politics off this board, too. This is a football website.
  • Don’t promote your own agenda. If you’ve said it a half-dozen times before, it doesn’t bear repeating.

The very best websites have comment sections people love. Many times, they’re much better than the actual article. (Believe me, it shouldn’t be that hard here.) I’ve heard from too many people that the comments on the site were starting to actually drive people away from the blog, and that’s just not okay with me. So consider this a brave new world. After all but ignoring the comments, I’m going to do my best to pull a true 180, and hold everyone to a much higher standard. Let’s all rise to the challenge.

  1. chicagoirish23 - Mar 8, 2012 at 2:21 PM

    Keith –
    First I appreciate the changes you are making. I’ve been reading your post for sometime now and always appreciate your articles. I’ve also read the comments section but never cared to comment because it was pointless, maybe that will change. But my real motivation for posting is to ask you a question. The sports section used to have a link to your blog from the top where you see the links for PFT, HBT, PBT, etc. How come yours was removed?

    • Keith Arnold - Mar 8, 2012 at 9:19 PM

      Not sure why the change, but believe me — I noticed. Think it’s because the bigger blogs are sport specific, and this is just ND specific. Just go to the URL: irish.nbcsports.com

      Very easy.

      • Jennifer - Mar 9, 2012 at 11:58 AM

        Keith, thanks for the URL link, and also for the posting sanctions. I look forward to getting back to solid discourse from the best NDFB blog out there. Much appreciated.

      • chicagoirish23 - Mar 9, 2012 at 12:22 PM

        Are you telling me that there are bigger blogs than Notre Dame Football? I can’t believe that to be true! ;)

        Thanks for the response and the URL, Keith. Keep up the good work.

  2. mmcss690 - Mar 8, 2012 at 2:24 PM

    Look forward to Irish-focused articles and insightful reader comments! Keith, welcome to the world of moderators!

  3. oldestguard - Mar 8, 2012 at 3:58 PM

    Big fan here, Keith.

    The right move at the right time…bravo !

  4. bernhtp - Mar 8, 2012 at 4:06 PM

    Keith: Given that we will now (ostensibly) have a higher quality of discourse and that you will be here periodically to monitor/ensure it, it would be great for you to occasionally answer questions and otherwise comment on posts with new information. It would also be wonderful if you did a podcast. Given the NBC affiliation, it should be even easier to get good guests that the other Irish football services such as ISD and B&G.

    • Keith Arnold - Mar 8, 2012 at 9:18 PM

      Mulling over the podcast idea. And am always available for Qs. Best place to do that is twitter: @KeithArnoldNBC

      • bernhtp - Mar 8, 2012 at 11:39 PM

        I’m an admitted podcastaholic. I subscribe to a bunch in a variety of subjects that I listen to when working out, walking the dogs, driving distances, flying, and the occasional insomnia. I would love to add you to my list.

    • nudeman - Mar 9, 2012 at 9:41 AM

      I have made the same suggestion (that Keith stays engaged in individual threads). I don’t know all that he has on his plate, but hope he can find time to work this into his schedule.

  5. smurphdoggy29 - Mar 8, 2012 at 6:11 PM

    Keith,
    Always have enjoyed the blog and I commend and support your action here !

    Here’s to a resounding success !

    GO Irish !

  6. Picked_Off - Mar 8, 2012 at 6:31 PM

    You sir, get it. Thanks Kieth.

  7. tersignind - Mar 8, 2012 at 7:27 PM

    Great move Keith, I have been a long time reader of this website, I don’t post much at all but this was the first place I would go to after a ND game not only to see what your view point was but to read the comments below. I’m glad you made this move, the site became unreadable. Good to see it get back on track. Go ND!

  8. txirish2 - Mar 8, 2012 at 8:21 PM

    Thanks Keith, keep it up!

  9. turknd - Mar 8, 2012 at 10:45 PM

    keith, just curious, is there any infornation out there that tracks 3,4 and 5 star recruits that tells how they do in their progressio in college and, or if they go pro?

  10. txbeej - Mar 9, 2012 at 12:32 AM

    Long overdue. The prohibition of vulgarity alone will make the comments section much more readable.

  11. akirish - Mar 9, 2012 at 1:42 AM

    To Keith and all my fellow posters and ND fans:

    I applaud this Keith. I am 100% behind you. Due to my time zone and work, I’m often late or unable to post in a timely manner, but this is always one of my first destinations in-season and and out. I appreciate your work and this site and the chance to inter-act w/ other members of the ND Nation. I feel I am in two categories: I have both limited my posts due to many of the reasons for which you posted this article, and I have responded to posts directed at me w/o it being either positive or football related. For the latter, I apologize to you and to the majority of the people who read and/or post here. I welcome this “new era”, and look forward to the more insightful and free discourse it will promote. I pledge to eliminate any comments not fitting this platform. Thanks again for all you do.

    On a football note, the Matuska verbal is,in my opinion, another example of how Kelly is building this program the right way. In addition, taking a kid of this talent from OSU’s back yard and from UM, OU, and Nebraska is a great sign. This seems like the type of kid of which champions are made.

  12. jonathanfesler - Mar 9, 2012 at 8:29 AM

    One thing that all of us have in common is that we are all big time ND fans, our opinions on certain subjects may vary! I think we all have the same common goal and that is to see the fighting Irish become relevant again in collage football! Personally I believe everyone is entitled to their opinion and should not knock others for there’s!!! (GO IRISH)!!!

    • nudeman - Mar 9, 2012 at 9:39 AM

      I’d LIKE to believe we’re all ND fans, but at least one jerk comes here and never talks ND football, EVER.
      His commentary is not funny or clever, and has no value.

      No name(s) because Keith and others know who they are. Hopefully he/they get the message and takes his “talents” to a punk rock board.

      Or if he continues Keith should remove his ability to post.

  13. irish4006 - Mar 9, 2012 at 6:38 PM

    Thank you, sir! A very timely move. I will recommend calling out the offensive posts that do not add any value to any conversation before removing them so that there is no confusion as to why the comments are being removed. I like the passionate arguments we have here and hope we continue to have them, without the vulgarity and pointless personal attacks.

  14. barneysbullet - Mar 9, 2012 at 8:19 PM

    Thank you Keith…this was overdue!

    • bostonjan - Mar 10, 2012 at 11:25 AM

      +1.

      I’ve often found myself (irrationally) compelled to respond to posters that repetedly trash the players, coaches, program, and recruits & their families for fear that the players or recruits would read the comments and conclude that the majority of ND fans feel/think that way.

      It’s tiring (admidilly a silly response) and has lead me to avoid the site and comments.

      Glad to hear of Keith’s new policy.

  15. 1historian - Mar 10, 2012 at 8:08 AM

    Keith – Being one with very little computer savvy I must admit that much of what has been said so far is way over my head, but I do enjoy this blog more than any other, and as I said a few days ago – it’s your blog, so it’s your rules.

    2 questions – not only to Keith but to all – Does anyone know where that TE from Pa. (Brenneman?) is going? He was supposed to announce yesterday. Since there is no story (yet?) about his announcing for ND I have to assume he’ll be going somewhere else.

    And – Is there any chance that the bookstore will sell those striped practice jerseys?

    • nudeman - Mar 10, 2012 at 9:50 AM

      Breneman is the TE from PA and he announced for Penn State last night.
      Not sure ND, or any other school really had a chance.
      He’s been very public about his lifelong love for PSU.

  16. bleed4philly - Mar 11, 2012 at 1:27 AM

    Isn’t Notre Dame a catholic school? Just saying…

  17. NotreDan - Mar 11, 2012 at 10:29 PM

    Keith,

    Thank you… I’ll come back.

    GO IRISH!!!!

  18. leftcoastirishfan - Mar 13, 2012 at 2:03 AM

    Wow, hope it lasts after the pain in the knuckles wears off

  19. rcali - Mar 18, 2012 at 5:47 PM

    Very much agree. As golden domers we should be able to articulate how we feel without swearing or coming out and saying” the coach sucks”, or “a player sucks”, or the “QB situation sucks”, or the “recruiting failures suck”…etc. How about a little more research into why all these items are letting us down.

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