(Note: this and the following posts elaborate on each of the items in the Comment Policy. The intent is to help clarify the meaning - NOT to try and define exactly where the boundaries are. When in doubt, stick with the simple statements in the main policy statement, and try very hard to avoid probing the limits.)
1. Respect for others is expected in everything we write, and personal attacks are not allowed.
This means respect for fellow TD members. It means also showing respect for players, team staff and ownership, journalists, the other teams and their players, player agents, players’ wives… everybody!
It means giving others the benefit of the doubt; it means not being combative, nor looking to take offense at someone else's supposed "tone"; it means not labeling and classifying other posters or groups of people, or applying disdainful nicknames; it means turning the other cheek even when we feel we’re not being treated with respect ourselves. If your purpose in posting is to belittle someone, think twice. If you're trying to express your utter exasperation with another poster, think twice again.
We talk about what has occurred with our favorite team and players, we debate past moves and speculate on future actions, we dissect ideas, we sometimes make jokes and kid each other. But it crosses a line when it becomes overly personal - questioning manhood, courage, honesty or intelligence, or pretending to know how another person’s mind works, or telling somebody to learn baseball. We don't get into arguments about who is a "real fan" or a "true student of the game". We don't use dehumanizing terms like "garbage", "animal", or "thing" in regard to a human being. The line is crossed whether it is about a fellow TD member, or about someone in the public eye.
It's much easier to be accidentally disrespectful to other members (or unnamed groups of members) when you make it be *about* them. That doesn't mean it's always improper to address someone else personally; part of the fun of the site is the sense of community, and we can also joke with each other if it's not likely to be misinterpreted. But when in doubt or when it's contentious - especially if you somehow think you can correct someone else's behavior or change their opinion - just stick to the topic under discussion. It's usually more effective to find a way to say "this is wrong" instead of "you are wrong." Again: the single biggest way posters run afoul of posting respectfully is when they start worrying as much about to whom they are responding as about the topic being discussed.
One reason to be wary of making it personal is that you can not control how someone else will interpret what you say. No matter how clearly you try to write, shades of meaning can creep in. When someone misunderstands your statement of fact, they will usually say something that makes clear where the problem is. By contrast, when they misunderstand what you perhaps meant as a gentle joke at their expense, it becomes much harder to recognize and bickering may result without meaning to.
The other side of the coin is to be wary of making it be about yourself. If you laud your own credentials, or tout some past record of predictions, etc, you make it very difficult for other posters to avoid responding in a way that is also personal. If you choose to make it be about yourself, grow some thick skin, while at the same time not assuming that the others around you have that same hide; and please don't come running to the moderators over minor affronts, nor turn it into bickering.
Sometimes it is difficult to separate the person from the subject being discussed. Maybe someone's opinion is truly stupid or laughable; it's still better to say "I disagree because..." rather than "that's stupid/laughable because...". Trying to maintain that "I said the idea was idiotic, not that you are idiotic" is too fine a distinction to make in a thread with multiple posters and hundreds of readers. Words like "silly" and "ridiculous" are going to catch a moderator's eye, likewise a response consisting only of "lol". Explain why an idea is mistaken, don't just lazily attach an adjective, epithet or emoticon to the idea. And don't imply that the other person isn't being honest, or is not arguing in good faith. The appropriate response to a "stupid" post is either to rebut it respectfully, or to ignore it and move on - attacking the "stupid" poster will draw moderator attention and action.
Affecting an air of superiority when you are certain that the other party is incorrect is not only contrary to TD policy, it rarely has the desired persuasive effect anyway. Even seemingly innocent phrases like "let's all just..." and "I think we all agree...", or repeating someone's turn of phrase mockingly, can have the effect of talking down to your audience. Keep the discussion to the facts as you see them, and avoid being dismissive or condescending, when you feel the urge to assert your superior analytical powers.
The opposite of respect might be "contempt". Here is an illuminating 3+ minute audio essay by a relationship counselor on that topic. While it is aimed toward helping couples, the overlap to posting in a public forum like TD should be evident:
Here is another audio by this counselor, on "emotional intimidation". It too is aimed toward couples, and is aimed even more toward the physical cues in interactions, but the part about bullying contains several nuggets that also apply surprisingly well to a written forum, such as getting caught up in the intensity:
The hard part is recognizing yourself in these descriptions; as this counselor states at one point, "who ever calms down when they're told to calm down?"
Edited by ashburyjohn, 25 September 2018 - 10:11 AM.