FREE SPEECH ON AN
AN believes strongly in free speech and in celebrating a diversity of people, and of ideas, on the site. Users are, in general, free to express their opinions without fear of retribution. The diversity of personalities, beliefs, and styles is appreciated as being part of what makes AN strong. Blez, Nico, baseballgirl and AN's committee of moderators all operate within this belief system.
However, AN is a community, and free speech does not mean "the right to say what you want, when you want, how you want," without being sensitive to, and respectful towards, the community as a whole. In a community, speech is not "free" -- it comes with responsibility.
The following are simply not acceptable on AN (excepting, in some cases, for obvious humor between people with an existing rapport); they violate AN's Community Guidelines, because they violate the all-important principle of "mutual respect for all," and are subject to sanction as outlined below:
RESPECT FOR ALL COMMUNITY MEMBERS
Personal attacks on community members, directly or through sarcasm/belittling, e.g., "You're an idiot," "You don't know what you're talking about, dumbass," "Apparently, you've never seen a baseball game, or you'd know...", "My Chihuahua knows more about baseball than you do," etc.
- Comments that are intolerant or prejudiced (sexist, racist, homophobic, etc.) in nature, e.g., "Why don't you go play with your dolls?", "The A's shouldn't sign black players," "Doesn't Coco look like a fag?", etc.
Harassing/Baiting of users, e.g., "How about that Daric Barton; isn't he great?" posted five consecutive times that Barton makes an out, "The A's will never win this game" posted 10 times in 30 minutes, etc.
Relentless negativity will not be tolerated. What constitutes "relentless negativity"? It's simple: simply posting the A's suck 100 percent of the time without reasoning or proposing solutions. There is nothing helpful about someone who constantly says that their team "sucks" and complains. We're all fans and we all get frustrated when the team doesn't perform or has bad luck, but regurgitating the same venom over and over again doesn't help anything or anyone. AN is aiming to be better than that. If you continue to do nothing but post negativity, you may lose posting privileges without warning. There's a difference between someone who aims to point out flaws and be constructive and someone who is destructive. 10 Fanposts, or 10 comments, in a row about how the A's stink with no reasoning or proposals is basically trolling and that's how it will be treated. The goal is to make this community fun for everyone.
- Comments that bring politics, or other highly inflammatory non-baseball related topics, onto AN (which is a non-political blog), e.g., "Bush/Clinton ruined this country by...", "Check out this link about the war in Iraq," etc. And just so that all ANers are clear, AN does accept political advertising as long as it is not offensive in any way, shape or form, but we subscribe to the belief that advertising and editorial are separate. So there will occasionally be political ads that run. Just like any other media outlet, just because a political ad runs, it doesn't mean we endorse or support whatever cause it happens to be.
NO "INFLAMMATORY META" (added 1/17/12}
Inflammatory comments, discussions, or complaints about AN's process, e.g., how a "strike" or "banning" or "policy" is/was fair or unfair, why AN sucks, whether there is free speech or oppressive censorship on AN, what "desperately needs to change around here," what user or administrator did what horrible thing, what really happened with (insert past internal drama here) - are not allowed on AN.
- Photos and images need to follow the guidelines that "body parts normally covered by a bathing suit" are covered and that sexual acts, or excessive nudity/objectification, are not being displayed. This still allows for a lot of freedom in posting photos and images, while respecting that many of the readers viewing an image may be young, or may prefer modesty in posted images, or may be reading at work.
- As a courtesy to readers, photos and images should be reduced to a height of 300 (or less). Here's an example of how to resize a gif to a height of 300" by adding "height=300":
- Finally, as a courtesy to readers all photos, images, and animated gifs need to have a subject line (because this allows them to be "collapsed"), even if the subject line is just a single character.
AN does not seek to eradicate all profanity from the site. Rather it seeks to find a reasonable happy medium between "pushing the limits" and "crossing the line."
Some swearing, especially in game threads and most notably in heated response to the events of a game, is fine. Occasional sexual references are acceptable, too, especially when written only in suggestive, rather than explicit, language. However, repeated gratuitous profanity and explicitly obscene descriptions, can constitute CGVs if flagged and deemed by the mods to be excessive or over-the-top.
Again the purpose is to give the community a lot of leeway, but at the same time to make AN a comfortable place for a wide range of people.
AN's moderators are, in alphabetical order, baseballgirl, Billy Frijoles, Blez, coffee roaster, dwishinsky, gigglingone, Lone Stranger, LongTimeFan, mrod, Oakland Si, paris7, and Tutu-Late. Whether a comment is initially flagged by a moderator or a non-moderator, two other moderators must agree in order for a "warning" or "full strike" to be issued.
CONSEQUENCES FOR VIOLATING AN'S COMMUNITY GUIDELINES
Consistent with its baseball roots, when it comes to violations of the Community Guidelines, AN works on a version of "3 strikes and you're out." Complaints about possible violations of the Community Guidelines should be flagged for review and consideration by AN's moderators.
The moderators aim to balance a high tolerance for the importance of free speech and low tolerance for minor or petty complaints, with enforcement of the stated guidelines, on behalf of the entire AN community.
Strike 1: If the moderators agree that a violation has occurred, the offending user will be contacted privately and issued a formal "strike 1". No other action is taken. Users wishing to appeal a "strike" may contact baseballgirl to explain why they feel the "strike" is not a correct decision, and the appeal will be considered.
Strike 2: A second violation through this process triggers "strike 2" from the moderators, with the same processes in place for an appeal.
Strike 3: A third "strike" through this process is forwarded directly by the moderators to Nico for administrative action at Nico's discretion. However, a third "strike" will not be issued without weigh-in from all the moderators to ensure it is a decision the moderators, as a group, believe to be appropriate.
ROLL-OFF SYSTEM FOR STRIKES
* If a user has one strike, 4 consecutive "strike-free" months will cause that strike to roll off.
* If a user has two strikes, 6 consecutive "strike-free" months will cause that strike to roll off.
* A "strike three" never rolls off: it is incumbent upon any banned user to apply for reinstatement (whenever they feel it is appropriate) by contacting Blez, Nico, or the moderators with whatever correspondence they wish to make.
If a user repeatedly flags complaints that fail to meet the committee's standard for a violation, the user may be contacted by baseballgirl and asked to "chill out".
When evaluating a complaint, each of the moderators weighing in makes a "Yes" or "No" judgment, and it takes three "Yes" votes for action to be taken on a complaint (or two, if the complaint was flagged initially by a non-moderator). However, in voting "Yes" a moderator can vote "Yes--but just a warning" or "Yes--full strike". As for which prevails, among those voting "yes," if as many as two moderators vote "full strike" it defaults to a full strike. Also, a user cannot get two "warning strikes" in a row, so if his/her last strike was only a warning, then a "yes" verdict from the moderators is automatically a full strike.
The site's chief administrator may, at any time, choose to bypass the three-strikes process and ban a user if he feels the circumstances warrant it. If a user's offense is judged to be exceptionally grievous in nature, that user may be banned immediately and unilaterally.
If a user establishes a persistent pattern of interacting in a way that is disruptive or upsetting to the community, the administrator or moderators may ban that user for a 30-60 day "cooling off" period, after which the user may return.
PROCEDURE FOR LODGING AN OFFICIAL COMPLAINT
If you believe a user has violated the Community Guidelines and you wish to bring it to AN's moderators for review, flag the offending comment, choosing "inappropriate" from the drop-down menu selections, and include a note about why you feel the comment is a CGV.
Complaints are evaluated, and any appropriate follow-up action taken, internally. The user who made the complaint should not expect any reply unless the moderators have specific questions.
The only Community Guidelines for Fanposts are:
- A Fanpost must be a minimum of 300 characters or it is considered to be unsubstantial and is deleted as a violation of the Community Guidelines (and could be ruled to be a CGV).
- A Fanpost must in some way belong on AN--in other words, it generally must relate to the A's, or to baseball, or to the AN community, or to an existing thread or Fanpost, etc.
- A user may not post more than 2 Fanposts in a given day.
TIPS ON WRITING GOOD FANPOSTS:
Some of the qualities that the most popular Fanposts often have in common are:
- They expand upon the main idea with supporting examples, or statistical data, or a link to a relevant article, or a "thinking question" for others to consider, etc.--something beyond just the main idea itself.
- They explore a topic, idea, or question that has not been explored recently, or at all, on AN.
Keep in mind that if your Fanpost contains only one point or idea that is not developed, expanded on, or supported with arguments or data, it is really not a Fanpost--it is a comment that should be posted in an existing thread or Fanpost.
General Disclaimer: What is written above are guidelines that help to explain the policies, procedures, and processes AN generally uses. This is a private blog and it is entirely at the administrators' discretion how to interpret and implement these guidelines. AN is ultimately a "benevolent dictatorship," not a democracy.