**"If you only read one ranting manifesto this week, make it this one!"
1. Hogs Haven has turned into quite the busy place lately. The hope and optimism that has been awakened by certain, recent draft picks is swirling around along with the kind of negativity and pessimism that one would expect to see, hear and read from a battered fanbase. Our regular readers now number in the tens of thousands--a far cry from the hundreds that frequented this site daily just a few years ago. With the added traffic has come the added discourse each day in the comments sections. I feel strongly about doing everything in my power to preserve the environment that people have come to know and love since Kevin and I assumed the leadership of this site. As I believe this team is in for positive days and years ahead, I aim to make sure this site continues to also be a positive place for all of its members.
2. That brings me very quickly to my message: from here on out, I intend to clean up the comments sections as I see fit, and I will direct the other editors and managers/moderators to do the same. I am sick and tired of seeing tedious and annoying banter below my tedious and annoying posts. I am not going to single out anyone in this column, but that day might not be too far off. This goes for everyone--authors included.
3. I have asked a few of the longest-tenured readers at Hogs Haven to take on advisory roles. I am asking that they represent the interests of those members who have been consistently coming to this site over the years to engage in purposeful debate. I am asking that they report to us anything that they read and/or see that causes them grief. I am asking that they report to us anything that they read and/or see that causes them to think less of our community. hey, major newspapers and magazines have ombudsmen...why can't we? Their scope is not limited to the readers--I am asking that they also pay close attention to all of us writers as well. We will take their input to heart and we will act decisively to ensure that this community lives up to its billing as the #1 destination for Redskins news, commentary and analysis. If and when these individuals accept my invitation to perform these duties, I will make sure to introduce them--they will be people you know and have seen on this site for years.
**Everyone can play a role in this. If there is a comment that is causing static, or a member who is constantly dragging down the debate, flag those comments. We can see that and it will help us regulate, Nate Dogg-style.
(for more of my manifesto, make the jump y'all)
3. If you constantly badger someone for a "source" on their opinions, I am talking to you. Everyone on this site is entitled to an opinion, and they are entitled to share it (assuming that it is not derogatory to anyone and that it is in decent taste). Nobody in the comments section is obligated to source their opinions. Nobody in the comments section is obligated to defend their opinion with the opinion of "someone more famous." I am tired of seeing people get badgered because their opinion doesn't mesh with what some talking head at ESPN reported. Who cares? It is the comments section of a fan site. We are fans voicing our opinions. Offer yours, respectfully agree or disagree with others and move on. It certainly helps people understand where you are coming from if you can offer some of your reasoning, but quit beating each other up because every thought is not accompanied by a hyperlink to CNN. The ridiculous bickering that certain threads have degenerated into is kind of shocking. This isn't Philadelphia or Dallas, guys. Cut it out. (And PLEASE don't carry over a fight from one post to the next.)
4. If we--the writers--post something in an article that requires documentation or a source, we will be sure to get it in there. If you see or read something on Hogs Haven that should be sourced and is not, that is worthy of a comment or email. Keep in mind though, that we will also be putting out our opinions in our posts.
5. Don't shut each other down just because a person has a bold prediction that is unsupported. I love this comment: "I think Mike Shanahan knows better than you." OF COURSE HE DOES! That is not the best way to refute an opinion, though. If someone is suggesting something that isn't evident by the actions of our head coach/owner/general manager/whomever, they will either be proven right or wrong in due time. I think we can all live with that. Just let people say what they have to say. Let the words that are written drive whether they merit a response or not. If you choose to respond, do it and move on. If someone responds to your comment, read it and move on. The bickering has to stop--it just doesn't get us anywhere.
6. If you have to remind us that you think Robert Griffin is going to the Pro Bowl every ten seconds or in every other thread, I am talking to you. Have your opinion. We all read the site. If you have said it once (or twenty thousand times), we know how you feel. The constant reminder of your opinion (even if it is that you think the Redskins are going to the playoffs) comes off as completely frustrating and it causes insanity. I am going to start deleting comments that I deem to be unnecessarily repetitive--the positive ones and the negative ones. Have a fresh take. Restating the same thing over and over in the comments sections only draws people into miserable conversations.
7. Don't come on this site and kick the dog. You know who you are. If you are having a bad day, or have no other outlet for your frustration, don't stop here and make this that outlet. If I see two or more commenters going at it in an unconstructive way, I will simply delete those comments. The world does not need that crap memorialized on this site.
8. Don't get me wrong--pessimism is perfectly welcome here. I don't agree with most of the pessimistic mindset, and it pains me to read the same cynical outlook from the same people--every single day--but I am not going to censor out opinions because they aren't rosy enough. That said, don't rain on someone's parade just because they believe something different.
9. "Snark" will equal "delete"...at a certain point. Sometimes...it is funny. If you don't know exactly where the line is though, don't dance around it. Try and remember that most of you go by fake names with crazy pictures. Some of you seem to find it very easy to launch attacks against each other. It is as if you completely forget that there is a person on the other end of the conversation. Confrontation, denigration and defamation are not tools that should be used on this site to make your point. Treat people the way you would want to be treated...pretty basic stuff. When you run afoul of this, you will be asked to leave.
10. I am sure I am going to miss a few things here and there. This community is so big and strong, it would be difficult to make it 100% free of snarkiness and confrontation. It is unacceptable not to try, though. There is such a thing as healthy debate, where all sides become more informed even when positions are unchanged. This website has been consistently rated as one of the best homes for DC sports debates. We intend to do what we can to keep it that way.