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SITE NEWS: A Request For Some Civility

About a month ago, I updated the BRB Community Guidelines for new users. I also asked existing members of the community to read the newly amended guidelines. I did this because I (along with several other community members) had noticed a deterioration in the quality of the commentary here at BRB, and I hoped that addressing site rules/decorum/etc. before the regular season started would mean I didn't have to talk about that stuff for a good long while.

Judging from many of the comments and a FanPost or two I've read over the last week, that hope was totally misplaced and amazingly naive.

Being the heavy isn't my thing. I don't come to BRB to act like some sort of tyrant who's desperate to exercise an authority that's likely absent in his everyday life. Like virtually everybody who takes the time to read and comment here, I come to BRB because it's a great place to interact with other Texans fans. We're fortunate enough to have a staff of tremendously talented writers here, and they, along with countless other fans who chime in with their opinions and analysis, make this place very special.

Lately, however, I've noticed a marked slippage in the quality of what people are saying and how community members are dealing with others (both fellow BRBers and visitors). Stuff that just isn't tolerated anywhere else--like slurs, "jokes" about sexual assault, blatant personal attacks, name-calling, and so forth--has become increasingly prevalent, and I don't like it. At all.

I'm about the most hands-off guy around, but things have gone too far for even my taste. Some of the garbage has been so far out of line that I'm embarrassed to be associated with it. We've had to ban a handful of non-spammers, and that's something we'd never done until the last few weeks. I really, really loathe that development, and it speaks especially poorly of the current environment.

I've always said BRB isn't my blog. It's the community's blog. Therefore, how I feel isn't determinative on the issue. So I'll ask you: Do you folks think the level of discourse on BRB is where it should be?

Talking football doesn't require one to conform to Victorian etiquette, but I don't think it's asking too much to request some semblance of civility. I believe we can have productive discussion about the Texans without calling each other douchebags or wishing any players or opposing fans harm (even in purported jest). We can be passionate fans--interacting with fans of opposing teams, or in the game threads, or any other time--without devolving into complete buffoons simply because of the perceived anonymity and/or lack of accountability afforded by the internet .

I figure things can go a few different ways from here, depending on how you all feel. We can start enforcing the guidelines with an iron fist (e.g., deleting comments, warning/banning users with far greater frequency, asking users to flag comments that are out of line as soon as they read them in order to bring it to the attention of the moderators as quickly as possible, instituting a waiting period before new users can start commenting, etc.; basically, making this place a whole lot less of an open forum than it always has been), or we can all make a concerted effort to avoid the type of offensive conduct discussed above.

For what it's worth, I would really prefer the latter, because I have no real interest in doing the babysitting that the former would require. I've always said that I'll walk away from BRB when it becomes more of a chore than an enjoyable hobby, and I feel like I'm approaching the line in the sand on that front. I'm no more important to BRB than anyone else, however, so if the will of the community is such that the majority would like to initiate a new way of doing things around here, so be it. I can respect that.

Yours in the Comments, BRB. Where do we go from here?