On diversity and civility

I've been waiting a while to weigh in on this, because I really wanted to see what everyone else thought and felt without too much influence from Ryan and me.  I basically agree with madherb's premise, which will not surprise those who know me.  It is ultimately a question of balance.  I wrote this in the discussion following the Ground Rules:

... we all need to vent, and venting together is a positive function of this forum.  The bottom half of the list is the kind of garbage printed in the PD, which can be found in any number of other web sites.

If that's what you want to read, my sincere advice to is to go find one of them.

I don't believe that anyone does want to read that stuff.  I believe that beyond a certain point, is self-indulgent on the part of the author and antagonistic of other readers.  In my view, it is really not any different from trolling (see #3 above).  More to the point, it is destructive to the goal of having a site with high quality Tribe talk.

In other posts, I've tried to make the case that the problem comes when hyper-negativity is combined with outright irrationality.

  • Rational positivity -- okay.
  • Rational negativity -- okay.
  • Irrational positivity -- okay, though a little irritating after a while.
  • Irrational negativity -- not okay, other than immediate venting.
  • Why is irrational positivity okay?  Because it's part of being a fan of a team.  It's hope and faith.

    Why is irrational negativity not okay, even though that too is part of being a fan?  Because it's a buzzkill.  Because it's easy, so easy that those posts far outnumber all others in any un-moderated sports forum.  Left unchecked, it will kill any good forum in its sleep, 100 percent of the time.  And as above, it's self-indulgent -- it's purely about wanting to post it, and not at all about wanting to read or discuss it.  And this is, ultimately, a community.

    It helps to take a moment to remember why we're here, which is:

    1. To revel in our Indians fandom, by
    2. Writing and reading more Indians content, and
    3. Having great Indians discussions that you can't have anywhere else, and
    4. Generally enjoying the company of fellow Indians fans.

    Our goal is not to have an open forum on the Indians per se -- while that would be ideal, it is the means and not the end.  Our goal is also not to wallow in misery or indulge in defeatist nonsense per se.  Though if I thought Indians fans truly enjoyed being defeatist, I'd be all for it.

  • The site has to be enjoyable to Indians fans, and in particular to fans who are both passionate and thoughtful.
  • The way it should be enjoyable is by being a home to great Tribe talk and original content.
  • Here's the thing, though.  You can't have great Tribe talk without some diversity of viewpoints.  We might as well just be posting "+1" and "dittos" all day long.  And the Indians do have problems -- and recently, very serious problems -- and you can't have an intelligent Tribe site without discussing them.  Discussing them a lot, in fact!  Even if it's negative!

    Roger Dorn is absolutely right in pointing out that the positivity gulag is, at best, an offshoot from the way Ryan and I moderate the site.  We do not sanction it, and in many ways, it has in fact gone too far.

    I also want to talk for a moment about E5.  I have noted before, E5 almost never baited anyone and never had a protracted argument to piss people off.  He wrote a thoughtful apology here as he was being suspended, and he wrote me a very thoughtful e-mail afterward.  He did not complain, he did not blame anyone else.  Notably unlike others who have been banned, he did not go on long rants about how he's right about everything, and he understood what he'd done wrong, and he promised not to do it again if he got another chance.  (And by the way, let's not kid ourselves, people, the Indians play in Ohio, so there are going to be plenty of Indians fans who grow up feeling perfectly free to make certain kinds of comments -- I know I did.  Doesn't make it okay, but I do think we should be willing to give someone a second chance.)

    Which he will.  And when he does, things are going to be a little different.  In the last few weeks before E5 was suspended, things had gotten pretty ugly around here.  There was a group of users basically in a little circle around him, blatantly insulting him, grandstanding by publicly calling for him to be banned -- very Lord of the Flies.  It was not appropriate, and it was not appreciated.  Of course I am not above a little smacktalk around here -- everyone knows that.  But relentlessly insulting someone is different than ridiculing a single idea or post.  Everyone deserves to be treated with baseline respect, and when E5 returns, I will be holding other users more accountable for civility.

    I don't like the rank negativity, but basic respect and civility have to come first.  They just have to.  With that in mind, let's review a few comments from the last recap thread.

    i am "positive" that casey blake is part of the problem.  while blake has certainly filled the bill as far as being a stop-gap for the failed andy marte experiment, he is just not a long-term solution and has proven that over his years here in cleveland.  watching him just take so many fat pitches down the heart of the strike zone only to flail helplessly at curveballs in the dirt is the mark of a true journeyman, which is exactly what casey "blank" is, he's nothing, he's nobody, he's nada, zilch, zero, he's a blank.  he is at best a "aaaa" player who is too good for the minors, but not good enough for the majors.  his role is best suited as a utility player and when he is counted on to be a full-time vital piece to the puzzle, he is often found to be nothing more than a square peg in a round hole.  his inability to hit in clutch situations, especially with runners on base is a microcosm of what ails this entire team.  unfortunately, casey is not the least of our worries, especially when they have eric "the genius" wedge as a manager.  'nuff said,  dave . .  .

    Actually, not that bad for a one-and-done guy.  He's exaggerating but not entirely off-base.  This guy got jumped on a little, somebody posted Blake's stats -- which were, surprisingly, arguably, below-average ... so while this was a little troll-y, was it inappropriate?  Hell no.  And it actually sparked some good discussion.

    Like all tribe fans, I found this a disgusting weekend. Rolling over for the Yankees. Ridiculous. Where is the fire? I miss Riske. He would have made sure some juiced Yankee would have to hit the dirt.

    This post from a well-known oldtimer (which means all of two years here).  The gulag let it slide.  But just a few minutes later, another oldtimer weighs in here:

    people who outright deny the existence of clutch get under my thin skin.

    it's such i'm-a-baseball-know-it-all snobbery, and it wouldn't be your opinion if it didn't happen to be billy bean's in moneyball.

    clutch exists. it's simply blown out of proportion by baseball-media douches.

    A little feisty, but well reasoned -- I daresay balanced -- and of course this guy got totally mugged and openly compared to a negativist newbie moron.  Despite the fact that a mere four minutes earlier, the very same guy posted this:

    i logged on just so i could say: oh, bill glynn, you simply have it all wrong. oh, sweet, sweet bill glynn, my boy.

    it reminds me of '05, last game, at the jake. you know, the one against the sox, no W/C, wickman tossing balls into the crowd, his fat ass off to retirement.

    i'm standing behind this lady who, after a tribe hitter walked, said, oh, good grief, enough with the walks.

    oh, sweet, sweet, bill glynn, my boy.

    Really?  The same guy, cheering for walks?  Maybe right now you're thinking, "Geez, man, pick a side -- are you with the idiots or are you with us?"

    But you shouldn't be.  There is no us vs. them, and if there is, it isn't on this site.  There really is a diversity of viewpoints here -- yes, even among "the 20 smartest people" or whatever you want to call it.  (And guess what:  I believe in clutch hitting, too, and don't think I can't change your mind or at least make you wonder.  More to the point, don't think I'm the only one who could.)

    Then we have this: flash!!!  

    "Our offense is fine...they are one of the top run producing offenses in baseball."

    -heard by optimistic Indian fans a million times a year for the last 3 years


    One hates to generalize, but I think there is no good point that ends with "HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!"  HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!! is basically saying, "I am full of hate for you and for myself."  Same guy posted this gem:


    Yes, that is right -- it is all he has been saying, so he may not last long here.

    Different user, different thread:

  • So, how many runs do we score today?  2?  3?
  • Hey, the Yankees will pass us for a better record after tonight.  Who woulda thunk that two months ago?
  • It's just not meant to be for us this year folks.  Sorry, but we're just an average team.
  • BALLGAME and GOODNIGHT!  Another losing series for the Tribe.
  • Haha, go Nixon!
  • Another great AB by Peralta.  That's the way to get this offense in gear!
  • We're running out of days to say "We'll get em tomorrow"
  • You sound like a Cavs fan.  "We won the Eastern Conference"
  • (And then I accused him of having a psychological disorder, which, by the way, I meant seriously.)
  • There wasn't anything wrong with any one of his posts -- any of us could have made any of those posts.  But the problem here is that this was entire contribution to that thread, and that is pretty much the norm for this guy.  And that is where we enter into the territory I described last year, "self-indulgent on the part of the author and antagonistic of other readers."

    If all you are contributing is hating, then you probably shouldn't be here, and it probably is appropriate for others to let you know that.  But it is a fine line, right?

    Ryan got here two years ago, I arrived a month or two later.  Very quickly, a nice little group started having great Tribe talk all the time -- nice little threads of 17 messages, maybe 40 for a really raging one.  Some folks would like to go back to those days, but it isn't going to happen.  We aren't going to keep new people out, and we aren't going to stifle new people without first giving them a chance to see if they can really contribute -- and want to.

    You could say that we believe in the brushback pitch, but we don't believe in beaning people.  And we believe almost everyone deserves quite a few at bats to show that they belong here.

    Keep on making great Tribe talk.  Keep on supporting respect, and respecting support.  Keep on holding people accountable for what they're posting.  But keep it civil, and try to give the benefit of the doubt.

    And once in a while, maybe even consider an opposing point of view -- really consider it.  It won't kill you.  And clutch hitting really does exist.

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