The issue about comments posted here on the blog bubbled up – appropriately enough – in the comments last night. When I caught up on what had been posted I said I’d come back to the issue again and so here I am.
As I’ve said here repeatedly, the generally civil nature of exchanges amongst contributors here on the blog is due to two factors. The first is that, unlike almost any other online destination I’m aware of, comment moderation is taken seriously here and is enforced as fairly and consistently as I’m able to. But also, crucially, debate works here because the vast majority of contributors make it work, by ensuring that the comments they post are fair-minded and reasonable in nature and content.
Both of these factors are necessary to ensure that, by and large, the standard of debate remains clean. On their own, neither are sufficient but in tandem they make sure that this happens, at least most of the time.
Two things concern me right now, one at a more general level and the other specifically relating to the next few days in the run-up to our meeting with Dublin. Let’s take them one at a time.
Looking at the trend in the comments in recent months, I don’t think I’m the only one to notice that standards are slipping somewhat. Too many people – some newcomers but, disappointingly, some long-standing contributors as well – seem to think that it’s okay to (a) post baiting, abusive comments aimed at all manner of targets ranging from opposing counties, to specific players, managers or others and (b) engage in similar ad hominem attacks on other people who comment here. Others appear to think it’s perfectly okay to applaud, chime in, LOL or whatever in support of this kind of behaviour.
While such commentary is still very much in the minority, there’s an increasing amount of it. More worryingly from my perspective, a number of those who do transgress and get pulled up on what they’re doing then go on to abuse the comments facility in the same way again. While I don’t want to stifle debate, there is a limit to my patience and more than one contributor is testing what this limit is.
Which leads me onto my second concern, which relates specifically to comments posted in the run-up to the match against Dublin on Saturday. Traffic to the site is already surging ahead of the game and, as we get closer to Saturday, the levels of excitement and tension will rise. Some will inevitably head online to let off steam and that’s where the trouble starts.
I got a ringside seat in both 2016 and again in 2017 to where all this can lead. While the debate here on the blog remained restrained, comment moderation was close to a 24/7 job leading up to and after both finals. On other platforms, a tsunami of online bile washed over both deciders, echoes of which reverberate to this day.
I’ve no doubt too that the usual suspects will be on the usual platforms spreading the same toxic, hate-filled rubbish over the coming days. They’ll try to do the same here on the blog as well but their contributions won’t get published. If a few slip through by mistake, they’ll be quickly dealt with.
In light of all this, I’d make a simple appeal to everyone to keep a cool head and a fair mind when commenting here over the coming few days. The vast majority of you do this anyway – and I remain hugely grateful to you for this – but it’s that growing troublesome minority that concerns me.
Those of you who value this place and all it stands for should be equally concerned. Please do what you can over the coming days to keep the blog what you have helped to make it become. Together we can ensure that this happens.
Comment moderation on the blog is carried out in accordance with a set of house rules, details of which are here. If you’re not fully familiar with them or, indeed, if you’ve never seen them then please take the time to read the house rules and make sure what you post is in compliance with them. Thanks.