1. I am working my way back into the Ten Yard Fight this summer. Some people have accurately pointed out that I enjoy posts that require me to count to either six or ten, but trust me when I tell you that counting to ten some days is harder than it looks. What they don't tell you on Sesame Street is that on some days, it takes a lot of courage to get all the way to ten (this explains the mystery of why 57% of Sesame Street episodes are brought to you by the number four). I don't like to toss around the word "hero" capriciously...wait, I'm just going to go for it.
2. This marks the time of year when it becomes important to get all the loyal Hogs Haven readers and well-wishers on the same page. Our family gets bigger and bigger each year, and that makes it increasingly challenging to maintain the tone and atmosphere that have attracted most of you to this site. While it is absolutely harder to keep the exact same kind of civility that has made Hogs Haven arguably the best destination to talk about all things Redskin-related, it is unacceptable for us not to try.
3. Once a year, I roll out this post in an effort to get all the new folks up to speed on what we do and how we do it (as well as remind some of our more...energetic...readers/commenters). Believe it or not, there is a method to our madness. I'll cover some of the finer points but I encourage our longtime readers to contribute those "unwritten rules" that we tend to go by (don't worry...nobody is going to call you out for pine tar around here...but don't you dare bunt in the 9th inning of a no-hitter).
4. Our community has become a well-known destination for people who want to read, write and post about the Redskins. We cover it all here (and then some), and every time I bring on a new writer, the first thing they tell me is how surprised they are by how smart/informed the readers/commenters are on Hogs Haven. It is not this way at many, many other sites, and I am guessing that most of you know this. It is up to all of us to keep that level of discourse up. As you all know, it is the way the articles and comments sections work together that make this site what it is.
5. The "rec" has long been an underused tool on Hogs Haven. Short for "recommend," it allows us to see which columns are getting the best reception by our regular readers. My rule of thumb is, if you really like an article, "rec it." At the bottom of each article, there is a star you can click on next to the word "rec"...go nuts. You can also "rec" comments. If someone posts a comment that you either agree with or enjoyed reading, "rec it." When people are scanning the comments section of an article that has hundreds of comments, it is easy to pick out the green highlighted comments--after a few recs, a comment is highlighted green. I would like Hogs Haven to have the most rec'd articles in the whole network--but make us earn them.
6. The biggest problem with heated debate on the interweb is that it doesn't really allow for body language, tone, facial cues, etc. The written word is a naked, vulnerable thing, left to the interpretation of each and every individual. What is funny and obviously sarcastic to one person is an affront to all that is sacred to the next person. As satisfying as it can be to connect with a stranger who "gets you" and understands you are not assaulting their honor, it is very, very painful to be involved in a thread where things escalate because two or more people have taken the train to Snarkytown. Before you engage in a negative back-and-forth with a fellow commenter, try and remember that most of us are here because we agree on something: we love the Redskins. Find the common ground. It's there.
7. WE DELETE COMMENTS/THREADS THAT DETERIORATE INTO SNARKINESS AND STUPIDITY. Sure, we miss one or two here or there, but we did not work this hard to have our site degenerate into a daily shouting match. There are other sites out there for you if your sole purpose is to instigate others and provide one confrontational comment after another. I have seen some people wonder aloud where their comments have "diaappeared" to...I'll tell you where they disappeared to: Dallas and Philly...or some other place where idiocy is expected.
8. It should go without saying--and for many of you it does--but we don't tolerate intolerance on this site. (Come on...the Dallas/Philly remark was not an example of this.) Racist, sexist, homophobic and/or mean-spirited comments will get you booted. Deliberately inappropriate comments directed at fellow commenters will get you booted. If you have been coming here regularly for the last year or two or three, you know there have been some repeat offenders. We (the writers and managers) can't always be everywhere on this site, so if you see anything that strikes you as something that simply doesn't belong at Hogs Haven, let us know. In addition to that, if you see something that you know is inappropriate, "flag" it. It is the opposite of a "rec" and is located in the same spot at the bottom of each comment (in "actions").
9. We have limited resources to use to keep our site free of the people who insist on bringing down the daily commentary. We do have the ability to warn and/or ban folks, but this is not necessarily a permanent fix, as you have all seen. It won't keep us from continuing to weed out folks who persist with negativity.
10. The last thing I want to impress upon people is that Hogs Haven is really a labor of love. All of us work day jobs, lead active lives and have family obligations that restrict the time we have to spend on the site. I promise you that the last thing we want to be doing is spending that time worrying about banning people or policing the comments of the day. We have a team in place here at Hogs Haven that is capable of leading the daily discourse in a very positive manner. If there is something more you want to see or read about, just let us know. As the season gets closer, you will see us move to a more structured schedule. We hope that you will like what we are doing and we look forward to participating in the discussions surrounding our favorite football team and all related topics. On behalf of Kevin Ewoldt, Parks Smith, Mark Bullock, Steve Shoup, Phil Ramsey, Keely Diven and now Dan Ciarrocchi, I thank you all for helping to make this site one of the best NFL destinations on the internet.