This one has been on my mind for some time but the recent manner in which things have turned a bit ugly on the comments side of the site means that I can’t put it off any longer. I know there’s plenty of anger, frustration, disappointment and all the rest swirling round the joint since Sunday week but I feel it’s now gone past time to call a halt to a number of undesirable practices that have taken hold in the comments in recent weeks.
First, a few background stats to set some context for this. The very first comment on this site was posted back in April 2007, just over two months after the site’s inception, by the redoubtable An Spailpín Fánach and since then a total of 22,035 comments have been posted by an ever-widening online community. Concomitant with the rise in the number of comments being posted is, of course, the volume of traffic on the site itself – over 2.4 million cumulative hits with almost half a million of these recorded during the third quarter of this year and over 217,000 in the month of September alone.
Every time I’ve raised the issue of the house rules for comments, I’ve been at pains to stress that this place would be much the poorer without the lively online community that has built up around it. As interest in the site has grown, so too has this community, some of whom have been posting comments for years, others for just weeks. People come and people go, as happens in all walks of life.
What concerns me now, though, is how the tone adopted by those commenting – and I’m speaking here, in the main, about those who have come on board more recently – has become significantly more tetchy and argumentative. Several spats have broken out (more than one in the dead of night) and more than one person has, despite having been given fair warning about what’s acceptable and what’s not, ended up on the comment moderation naughty step. It’s all getting more than a little ugly and it’s a trend I want to see reversed and fairly sharply.
Back to those stats: with those kind of numbers, I think it’s now fair to assume that any comment made about specific players or the management team will be seen by people close to the person involved, perhaps even by the person himself. It was never my intention in creating this site that it would provide a platform for those who simply want to abuse or engage in trash talk about Mayo GAA people (those involved on the pitch and off it) but it’s been depressingly clear to me since Sunday week that there are plenty of posters out there with this agenda. My advice to these posters is simply to take your vile product elsewhere.
So in aiming to right this particular ship, I’ve done a re-write of the house rules for comments and the updated version is here. I’d appreciate it if everyone posting comments on the site could take the time to read, digest and abide by the rules. The debate that takes place here will be all the healthier as a result.