Clean up time for message boards

IN ORDER TO PROMOTE a higher level of discussion on message boards, we've adopted a revised code of conduct for our various forums. Since the founding of BF.C, we've strived in our oversight to err on the side of free speech. But given the downward spiral in decorum, our moderators will now make it a point to sweep out distracting, distasteful and juvenile postings and posters.

Let it be clear: The majority of posters here will not be affected by the change --- many already post well within reasonable bounds. It also remains our desire not to be compelled to remove posts nor ban users.

Guiding the process will be questions such as: Is the post's content suitable for the workplace environment? Would you say the same thing, in the same way, to someone's face who disagreed with you? Is the post obnoxious, threatening and/or more about a poster's desire for attention...than it is about the Beavers?

If the answers to those questions aren't what they should be, then the post be removed and the user also risks losing his posting privileges on the boards.

The aim is to replace vitriol and petty hokum with more lively, meaningful discussion about our shared passion for Oregon State. If successful, it stands to reason that many fans who currently don't post -- but whose insights can help promote healthy dialogue -- will start joining in.

Postings on the board asking/complaining why a post was removed -- or any other customer service related topic having to do with the boards themselves -- will also be removed. Posters are welcome to email us their questions/opinions/complaints, but the boards themselves are about Beaver Football and Beaver Athletics and that's where the focus needs to be.

DOES ALL THIS MEAN we're cracking down on critical commentary? Will we be deleting opinion based posts we don't agree with? Are we trying to create a place THAT IS populated by strictly Beaver fans?

Absolutely not -- as long as the information is presented in a tactful, reasonable way. The key words here are tactful and reasonable.

If in need of guidance, pick up the editorial page of any major daily newspaper. There, you'll find lots of critical commentary on a variety of issues, but presented in an appropriate, business-like way that adds to the discussion without resorting to name calling, baiting, or worse. Here's just a sampling of what we're getting at:

Bad post: Joe Schmoe sucks on the field and is incredibly stupid in the classroom. He must have compromising pictures of one of the coaches.

Good post: Joe Schmoe showed Saturday that his release point is too low and that he doesn't have the velocity to hit receivers in a timely way on sideline routes. I'm also not impressed with his footwork on his five-step drops or his read progressions. Here are some of the other rules that posters will need to be mindful of:

• Posting profanity is not allowed, nor is a thinly disguised effort where a * or similar has been substituted for a letter so the profane word, or words, remain crystal clear.

• Calling fellow posters, players, coaches or school administrators the following names (or something similar) will not be viewed favorably: Idiot, liar, moron, dumba$, etc.

• Trying to hijack a thread with inflammatory or flippant comments is bad news, as is hijacking threads in general. Annoying subject lines in all caps, calling another poster an IDIOT for example, won't fly either. More tolerance for others' opinions, as long as they are presented in a tactful and reasonable manner, is needed here, not less.

• Creating one or more alternate handles to post inappropriately will result in those handles being banned, and is likely to result in an "original" handle being banned. Those users who have already created 5, 15, even 35 alternate handles with the express purpose of posting inappropriately will not be viewed favorably.

• Circulating false rumors, such as "I know the family and _____ _____ won't be back because he flunked out" will not be looked upon favorably.

• As always, copyright infringement precludes the cutting and pasting of stories from other news sources. What you can do is link an article, and/or cite the source and offer up a brief summary of the information. Spam, and or flood posting, will not be looked upon favorably.

• Posts directly addressed to a recruitable athlete are verboten.

• Photos and signature icons should always be in good taste.

To the degree the rules of decorum aren't followed, we'll sometimes email a person why a post was deleted, edited or moved. Sometimes we won't provide an explanation at all -- common sense mandates that no explanation would be necessary at times depending on the transgression.

If you see a post you find inappropriate, please bring it to our attention by clicking on the report link (located in the upper right of every post) so we can take a look at it. However, posters attempting to abuse the feature (by reporting 20 posts for no reason for example) will not be looked upon favorably.

In regard to banning people, BF.C over the years has tended to be looser than many fan sites. That will change to a degree. Depending on the infraction, an offending poster might get one warning. Or they might get a ban, ranging from between three days to one month. A permanent ban also is possible.

These changes are the result of feedback and also reflect a desire to better the site. It's also true that of everything we've seen posted that was over the line, 100 percent of it could have been easily reworded to fall within the bounds of a reasonable post.

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