Welcome to CougCenter.com! Here are some of the things we expect if you're going to participate in the CougCenter community by commenting or writing FanPosts and/or FanShots. Don't worry about us immediately dropping some kind of giant metaphorical hammer if you run afoul of these; they exist more to ensure everyone's enjoyment of the site -- something we can point to if someone needs a reminder about what we value:
- This is not a message board. Every guideline that follows flows out of that understanding. If you've ever spent any time around a message board, you know what we mean.
Whenever you write, make sure you bring something to the table. Part of our stated mission for the blog is that "we aim to bring – and encourage – the kind of smart, thoughtful analysis about Cougar athletics you won't find anywhere else." That goes for you guys, too. When you leave a comment or write a FanPost, it should be done with the goal of enhancing the conversation -- don't waste everyone's time. We'll be a little more strict about FanPosts than comments with regards to this.
- Have some evidence for your assertions. Simply saying this guy or that guy sucks/is awesome is not enlightening, and does not enhance the conversation. Give us a reason why said guy sucks/is awesome. Subjective observations are OK, but objective analysis is better. If you don't do this, expect to get challenged.
- Avoid tired memes. There are certain topics that have been beaten into the ground. Broach them at your own risk. Read this for a non-exhaustive list.
- Be willing to engage. If you make an assertion and it's challenged, don't shy away from the conversation. You might learn something!
- Be respectful. Disagreeing is OK. Insulting is not. This extends to name calling of other schools. (I'm thinking of one school in particular ...) Call schools by their proper mascots, rather than demeaning nicknames. It just makes you -- and by extension all of us -- seem small and petty, and it becomes much easier to engage visitors from other schools in our discussions when we leave that stuff out. It might seem good natured, but it irritates people. Let other sites have that stuff. Let's be above it.
Be coherent. This means using reasonable grammar and spelling, abstaining from chatspeak ("lol," "ur," "brb," etc.), avoiding the use of all caps (unless done for a specific purpose, usually in Game Threads), and refraining from the phrase "in my opinion" (this is a discussion site; we know it's your opinion, silly!). We don't expect everyone to be perfect, but let's be honest: Most of us are either college graduates or college students, so it's not unreasonable to expect comments to feature complete sentences (with proper capitalization) and FanPosts to utilize these things called paragraphs, which also come in handy on long comments to make them more readable. Take some care with what you write to make sure you're communicated your thought effectively. It usually only takes about 60 seconds to re-read your writing before clicking "post." The "preview" button can come in quite handy on this front.
Use the proper forum for your expression. Comments are for discussion of that particular post. Avoid hijacking a thread with something off topic. If you have something else you want to talk about, write a FanPost or a FanShot.
Use the forum for your expression properly. A FanPost is for an extended thought (75 words or more -- pretty much your way to write a blog post like we do), while a FanShot is for a quick passing along of link, photo, video or quote. FanPosts have a minimum word count of 75 words. If you have something to say in a FanPost, make sure that it contains 75 words pertaining to the topic which you want to discuss -- a FanPost should not be "Bench Abe Lodwick" followed by "75 words" repeated over and over again to hit the 75-word limit, or any other random text as filler after your five-word FanPost. If you write a FanPost, make sure it includes a developed thought, which usually will require multiple paragraphs. If you don't have that much to say, consider a FanShot.
- People should be nice to you if you're a newbie. No. 5 should make this clear, but just in case it doesn't, here you go. Many sites go through a cycle: Site launches, site is inclusive as it tries to grow, site develops devoted followers, site attracts new followers, devoted followers haze newbies, some newbies get offended and never come back, other newbies stick it out and become one of the initiated. It's a silly cycle, and we don't like it -- we want more people to join this community. Let us know if someone isn't gentle with you if you deviate from one of these guidelines.
- Avoid politics and religion. We're here to talk about the Cougs, not health care. If it's relevant, then we'll let you know it's OK to head that direction. But expect us to shut down any such unsanctioned conversations quickly.
One final thing, something that's hugely important: You'll notice that a lot of the members of our community beat the authors to the punch and like to pass along news that they run across via either a FanPost or a FanShot. That is highly encouraged, and one of the things that makes this place great. However, if you do post some news to the site, ALWAYS link to the source. This allows all of us to verify the credibility of that source, and thereby the news. Any news passed along without a link will be promptly removed until the news can be verified.
That about covers it. Thanks again for being a part of this community. It's what makes it worthwhile for all of us.