Fixing the comments: A battle worth fighting

65 Comments

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.