In the year since the NFL Lockout ended, the 49ers returned to the ranks of the NFL's higher quality teams. During that same timeframe, we've seen a surge in the number of visitors and comments at Niners Nation. We had steady traffic growth during the down years, but the rise of Jim Harbaugh has been huge for traffic. Now we're heading into a new season and traffic is picking up again after a relatively quiet summer.
Long story short, we have a lot of new commenters who need to be acclimated to our community. We are not hear to squelch your opinions. Rather, the idea is for people to do a better job in using the various tools on the site, whether it be writing comments, or posting FanPosts and FanShots.
Below are some tech tips mixed in with some things that make our community hum.
Please add in your own thoughts in the comment section. If something doesn't make sense, let me know in the comments and I'll try and clarify. Also, give it a rec so we can keep this up top for a while as we head into the season.
Okay. So you've registered for an account and now you're ready to really dive and maybe even start commenting yourself. Let me mention our comment quick keys here as well, which are really cool if you get into using them.
Press C to tab through new comments, Shift-C to tab backwards, X to mark a comment as read, and Shift-A to mark all read. Z will simultaneously mark and tab forward, and R will reply to the comment that has focus.
If you're going to respond to a particular comment by another user, you'll want to hit "reply" underneath that comment instead of just posting from the main box. That way, the conversation will be much more organized. When someone says something and you reply further down the thread without clicking Reply, it can create confusion. In our game-day threads, where we'll get 600+ comments in a given thread, that can be wildly confusing. And considering the awesomeness of the SB Nation commenting technology, why not take advantage of it?
As far as etiquette goes, I think we are more polite than your "average" message board (I hate saying that because there isn't really an average board but I think people know what I mean). We've had some problems off and on over the last year, but I think most people do a good job trying to maintain productive discourse.
Trolling: This is as big a problem as any that we have here, and given its recent prevalence, I wanted to address it first. We have two problems related to trolling. First, we have a problem with people hijacking a thread to talk about Alex Smith (positively OR negatively) when the thread is about another topic entirely. While it is true the success of Alex Smith and the offense will impact the defense, if somebody is talking about the defense specifically without referencing offensive improvement, there's a good chance they are not looking to talk about Alex Smith. I'm not saying that's always the case, but there are certain times where the conversation is clearly going in a different direction. And I'm using Alex Smith as an example because he is one of the primary topics that leads to troll accusations.
The second problem is people yelling at a troll when that person is not necessarily a troll. For example, If a thread is about the offense in general, bringing up Alex Smith is pertinent. Even if somebody spends all their time talking about Alex Smith, if it's related to the general topic, I have no problem with it. If you don't want to talk about Alex Smith, ignore the person. If they reply to your comments with Alex Smith comments and you don't want to discuss it, ignore them and don't reply back. Or, address the topic based on your initial discussion. It's as simple as that. If you find somebody annoying, talk to other people. Life's too short to waste time with people you don't want to talk to.
Swearing: The primary rule is our no swearing rule. Swearing is allowed in game threads and our live draft threads, as well as various other threads that are deemed as non-site decorum threads. My reasoning for installing the no swearing rule is that instead of just screaming out the first thing off the top of your head, it requires stopping and thinking for a second about what you're going to say. I'd like to think it will bring a bit more insight with the comment. It's not a perfect system, but I think it does a good job.
The main requirement we have is to not insult other users. As I repeatedly say, choose to ignore someone rather than insult them. If you think something may be an insult before you post it, don't do it. This is something we are always having to work on because opinions are extremely impassioned here.
When you signed up for an account at Niners Nation, you agreed to not insult any other commenter. Nothing will kill your credibility or the mood of the thread faster than that. Don't roll in here and type "thats the stupidest idea i've ever read lol you moron." Often people will put together a great comment, but include a personal shot on the original commenter. That is not acceptable and only detracts from the intelligence of a comment.
I have not done nearly a good enough job reprimanding people for personal attacks and that will change. Effort is key here in the comment section. If you don't want to make that effort, there are plenty of other place you can go to talk about the 49ers.
At this point, the you'll be warned once, then have your account suspended for 24 hours, then banned if necessary. We've had a limited number of bans in the time here. That has often been because I prefer to bend over backwards to avoid banning somebody. Lately though, I've been tempted more than ever to ban a few people who flipped out in a post within days of signing up for their accounts. Remember- this is a sports blog. Take a deep breath and step away from the keyboard if you are genuinely angry at a comment on here.
Keep your comments intelligent and you'll be welcome with a vigorous and respectful debate.
Writing your own FanPosts
So you've made a few comments, now you're ready to do your first FanPost. Here are a few tips. Make the topic interesting. Put some thought into what you're writing. We have a character minimum (150 or 300 I think) which means that you can't just throw out one line (unless it's really long). You'll be rewarded with a good stream of comments if you make the effort to proofread and fill it with good info.
Do not post entire articles from other sites. A link, which is always necessary to any article mention, and a snippet of the article is the max you can do. We can get in trouble for reposting entire pieces. Always link to an article or source you mention. Like I said above. It's part etiquette and part requirement.
Entertain questions from commenters and follow on what they say. Defend your new turf with vigor but while still following our commenting guidelines.
Utilize the formatting buttons above the text box. Use paragraphs. The quotes are for highlighting text and converting to a nice shaded background blockquote. The picture frame is for images, which are always nice.
Never write a FanPost or comment in ALL CAPS or without formatting paragraphs. You may have just written a great post but if it's a huge block of text with no formatting, nobody is going to read it.
Finally, once you're writing a FanPost, you'll see Show Editor Help on the bottom left of the text box. Click that and up pops a great users guide that goes into much more depth than I am now.
Here are a few more tips about FanPosts:
- Browse the FanPosts already written to see if you are covering a topic that's already been posted about. Do your best not to duplicate topics in the FanPosts. Unless you have a unique angle on the subject, join in the current conversation on another post.
- Try harder than "Here are 8 one liners about what I think about the 49ers" without any thought or analysis behind them. You'll generate more conversation and it will benefit everyone. How else are we supposed to kill time at work?
- Utilize the "Rec" feature which is on every front page post, FanPost and FanShot right above the begining of the comments. If you like what you're reading, hit the "Rec" button. Once that FanPost or FanShot goes over a certain number of recs (which we can change at any time) it moves in to the "Recommended" section.That way, the best posts don't get lost in the shuffle.
- Before you post, check over your writing for typos and other errors. If you use the browser Firefox, there are add ons you can get that will put a red line under misspelled words, making it really easy to pick out typos.
Basically, FanShots are quotes, video, pictures or snippets of chats that are posted via a bookmarklet. If you don't have the bookmarklet installed, it's really easy. Click here and drag the link to your bookmark section.
Then, let's say you found a cool 49ers YouTube video. You go to the YouTube page of the video you want, click the bookmark link you just made in your browser and a window will pop up.
You'll see that the bookmarklet automatically grabs the code for the YouTube Video and allows you to send it to Niners Nation, in the upper right hand corner. It does the same for pictures.
If you want to do a quote FanShot, simply highlight the text you want on the page you want it from, and click the bookmarklet. It will automatically fill in the link information and you can send it on to NIners Nation.
Here are few more points about FanShots:
- Use FanShots for breaking news and make sure you quote the most relevant section of the article you're linking.
- If you have a thought that doesn't meet the 75 word minimum of a FanPost, put it in a FanShot.
Click here right now and take two seconds to drag the FanShot bookmarklet to your browser's favorties. Once you do that, you'll begin using the feature a lot more.
Have fun on here. I liken this place to an online sports bar, where you come in, see who all is around, and start talking about the San Francisco 49ers. No insults, no pressure. Just 49ers fans talking about the team they love.
Have fun. Read. Comment. Dream about a 49ers Super Bowl with the rest of us.