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i'm not big on rules, particularly when it comes to rules that delimit what people can say and how they can say it. i am raising a 5-year-old and a 3-year-old, and regulating what they say and do is exhausting enough. so i'm tempted to adopt the succinct "Code of Conduct" that ken arneson implemented over at his excellent blog, Catfish Stew:

"There is no ‘Code of Conduct.’ In civilized conversations between mature people, codes of conduct are not necessary."

about 99 percent of VEB’s members already abide by this fundamental ground rule. act like a civilized adult, and you can say whatever you want at this blog. that includes criticizing the team, praising the team, questioning the manager's decisions, defending said decisions, expressing frustration with individual players or worshipping same, and disagreeing sharply with the opinions of the blogger and/or other posters. it’s not required that we always "play nice"; it is required, however, that we always stay within the bounds of common civility.

VEB is the equivalent of a sports bar or a section of the bleachers; it’s a public place, and obnoxious behavior is not tolerated. if you were interfering with other fans’ enjoyment at the ballpark by harassing, baiting, insulting or mocking them, you would be asked to leave. ditto if your behavior was so offensive that it was driving customers away from a sports bar.

the same principles apply at VEB.

i’m proud of this community; the vast majority of our members are insightful and respectful, and the diversity of personalities, beliefs, and styles makes this a great place to talk baseball. to ensure that it remains so, i insist that the following community guidelines be observed.

Follow the Golden Rule of blog posting: before hitting "submit" to post your comment or diary, ask yourself: "would i be embarrassed to say this in front of strangers who were physically present in the room with me and could respond to my face?" if the answer is "yes," then don't put up the post.

When you have a difference of opinion with another member of the community: attack the opinion, not the person. a guy isn’t an idiot simply because he disagrees with you. if you think flawed logic, faulty premises, and/or factual errors underlie his opinion, point those things out; try to persuade him (and the rest of us) that your view of things makes more sense. the entire community can learn a lot from that type of exchange. but we learn nothing --- and you make yourself look stupid --- when you simply taunt your adversary or call him names. flame wars will not be tolerated.

On the subject of cussing: this blog is written for adults, not children. adults get to cuss -- but most of us know where to draw the line. that is, most of us know how to cuss without being vulgar and offending everybody around us. if you’re unsure where that line is, then just err on the safe side and don’t cuss at all on this blog. also: do not not make your cussing personal. don’t cuss at anybody, be they a member of the community or a member of the cardinals. you can write "taguchi just took the shittiest route to a ball i have ever seen," but not "taguchi's the biggest piece of shit i have ever seen." and if you're swearing up a blue streak in the comments thread, and any member of the community asks you to tone down the language --- then tone it the f**k down, immediately.

Criticizing the cardinals: well-reasoned criticism is always welcome. some of us will disagree with it and rush to defend the home team, but the community almost always benefits from a critical point of view. however, nobody benefits from infantile ravings; these are not welcome. what are "infantile ravings"? they’re comments or diaries posted in the heat of the moment for no reason except to vent frustration. for example: if La Russa makes a questionable pinch-hitting decision that doesn’t work out, comments such as "FUCK YOU LA RUSSA !!!" or "You moron Tony! You couldn’t manage a little-league team!" are infantile ravings. a comment like: "Can anybody explain to me what the hell Tony was thinking there?" would be an acceptable expression of frustration --- the sort of thing a grown-up might say. before you blast away with a critical post, ask yourself these questions:

  • what is my true motive in posting? there’s a difference between making a critical point and pounding your fists on the floor. if all you have to offer is the latter, do not post.
  • can i back up my criticisms with some evidence and a line of reasoning? when scott rolen struggled early in the 2006 playoffs, we got dozens of angry rants about how rolen is a habitual choker with a longstanding history of playoff failure. those posts were factually untrue and easily disproven; they detracted from the discussion about rolen’s struggles, rather than adding to it. don't post criticism that you can’t back up; but if you can back it up, bombs away.
  • does my post attempt to explain why a given player (or the whole team) sucks? to stick with the rolen example: we all got aggravated watching rolen pop out 36 times in a row, so posts like "rolen --- DFA that piece of junk" added nothing at all to the discussion. but it did make for good discussion when people advanced theories about why he kept popping up --- "he’s lengthened his stride" or "he’s trying to pull every pitch." and it made for interesting discussion when people debated whether or not the team should bench him, move him down in the order, or just leave him alone and ride out the slump.
  • does my post convey a sense of humor? making fun of a player's (or the team's) struggles with humor -- even bitter, barbed humor -- can be entertaining. it helps our collective blood pressure drop; it also demonstrates a healthy and mature sense of perspective.
No political discussions: there are other blogs where you can discuss politics. this one is for talking about baseball. we want everybody to feel welcome here, regardless of his/her political beliefs.

No overt religious messages: ditto --- we want everybody to feel welcome here, regardless of religion.

Respect for copyright: if you see an article at another site that you want to share with the VEB community, don’t paste the whole article into your diary or comment. post a few sentences or a few short paragraphs, and then post a link to the site that generated the content. appropriating content without consent is the equivalent of stealing; it’s not only the wrong thing to do, it can also be the subject of a prosecution or lawsuit. with respect to posting photographs, artwork, and other copyrighted images: while creativity and visual flair are appreciated, be very careful to ensure that posted images are in the public domain. if they’re copyrighted --- for example, a photograph you lifted from the post-dispatch’s website, or from --- you can’t post them here without the consent of the originator.