I love this site. Mile High Report is a bastion of reason and logic for Denver Broncos fans all over the world. The staff and many of the members go to great lengths to research stats, draw conclusion based on those facts, and compile insight and opinions from all over the Worldwide Web in order to give readers a clearer picture of truth about our beloved Broncos.
Every year or so, however, an event occurs that piques the interest of Broncos fans, and they come to the internet in droves searching for information. The more popular MHR gets, the more people are attracted to it, thus, the more popular it gets. MHR's growth seems exponential. The events that drive the influx of new members, or that drive the conversion of lurkers (those who read the site without signing up and commenting) into contributing members are often controversial.
The initial period of membership was bolstered by the decision by Mike Shanahan to bench Jake Plummer and start rookie Jay Cutler. Controversey occurs, and MHR grows. Then, Mike Shanahan was fired, McDaniels was hired, Cutler was traded; it was the offseason from hell. Controversey yields more MHR members, in a wave, once again. This offseason. Marshall and Scheffler gone. Clady hurt. But the single biggest event this offseason in terms of fan base interest was the drafting of Tim Tebow. It seems half of Floridians are now Broncos fans. This is the one event that wasn't negative that increased membership at MHR. However, as we know, Tebow is a polarizing figure. The discussions surrounding him can get heated.
Heated discussions bring me to my point. Mile High Report is changing. I examine the change after the jump.
I originally came to MHR upon a recommendation from a friend. I started learning more about football than I ever thought there was to know. The features were insightful, informed, fact-based, and balanced. From HoosierTeacher's (Steve Nichols) Mile High University (a phenomenal X's and O's series) to the daily Horse Tracks, to the exceptionally well-written and researched articles by Styg (aka Jeremy Bolander), I never wanted for more. Then I realized there was more.
The comments. Oh, my... the comments. Members posted comments. And they were very different from other comment sections on other blogs. The most oft cited message board here on MHR is the Denver Post. ANd it's not cited for reference or for its soaring rhetoric. It's cited as an example of what many original members of MHR were trying to escape. The DP comments are rude, derisive, profane, obnoxious, negative, and overall a cesspool of intellectual vacancy. The DP audience is so disparate, that there is no community on that message board. Sure, there are repeat posters, but there is little mutual respect. One person shoots off an opinion, and the next person calls him names. Even the intellectual posters use their extensive vocabularies to verbally chastise other posters.
This is an important point. Posters are attacking other posters. They disagree, but they manifest that disagreement in a personal attack. Posters begin to get defensive when they are personally attacked. And the cesspool is refilled like a mountain spring.
MHR was originally a refuge from such counterproductive drivel. Because members were consistently reposting, and refuting arguments with evidence, there existed a great level of mutual respect among posters. Sure there was passion. Sure there was disagreement, but people kept an open mind and really paid attention to the points others made. Posters knew that, though they disagreed today, they might agree tomorrow, and that they approach understanding the truth through thoughtful discussion.
Opinions, Facts, and My Right to Swing My Fists
Every opinion is welcome at MHR, but there is a difference between your opinion that McDummy is an idiot, and your opinion that Josh McDaniels is in over his head. They are the same basic idea, but one can be defended with reason, while the other cannot. You can't prove McDaniels is an idiot. It's not a provable thing, and it's not even a valid opinion. You read it right. There are such things as opinions which are invalid. Unless you can get a hold of an IQ test (which is a sketchy gauge of intelligence anyway) for Josh McDaniels, the term "idiot" is not used in professional psychological circles any longer (to my knowledge) unless it's followed by the word "savant." The point is that vernacular terms of derision do not hold water in an otherwise credible argument.
On the flip side, disagreements with poster's ideas are encouraged here. You don't even need to go dig up a bunch of stats to support your argument. Just admit what you know, admit what you don't know, and follow a logical line of reasoning to arrive at your point.
For example, you think McDaniels is in over his head? OK. Let's discuss. There is plenty of evidence, and a reasonable line of logic to suggest that he may be in over his head. There is also plenty of evidence to suggest that he's learning, changing, and that he will not be in over his head forever. Leave it to the reader to weigh the pros and cons. But stick to the pros and cons, not to name calling.
Oliver Wendel Holmes said, "Your right to swing your fists ends where the other man's nose begins." It's a good rule of thumb for posting. Stick to the topic, not to personal attacks on the other posters, the players, or coaches. It's still open season on insulting raiders and chargers.
Trolls and Name Calling
A troll is someone who posts something on a message board that is provocative enough to start an unreasoned, insulting argument. The term is usually reserved for fans of other teams who come here during a blowout and rub salt in the wound. However, if a Broncos fan member posts something insulting, they can be a troll, too. If your comment adds nothing to the discussion, but gets people riled up, you are a troll. And that's calling a spade a spade, not name calling.
That said, trolling behavior should not be justified with a response. There is an "Actions" link at the bottom of each comment. Click that, then click "Flag" if you think the person is trolling. Don't respond to the troll, i.e., don't feed the trolls.
The McDerisiveNickname habit preempts intelligent discussion. If you are trying to contribute to the site, use correct names or euphemistic nicknames. Neckbeard is a term of endearment. Orton is better, but don't call him Noodle Goose or some other derisive nickname. It's not a double-standard. It's respectful. It's polite. It's civil.
Positive, Negative, Neutral.
There's little to feel positive about right now with the Denver Broncos. But there is always a silver lining, and there is always someone willing to point that out. And there are plenty of people who just don't feel all that rosy about a 3-8 season. I don't think any Broncos fan is happy with that. But part of what made MHR great in the past was that posters had enough respect for the team and the process to offer solutions instead of just restating the reality of how bad things are. Everyone knows the reality. How do we move forward? What would you suggest? If the answer to that question is "Fire McDaniels," that's not necessarily negative. But you should have someone in mind to replace him, and a reasonable expectation for what will happen after he's replaced.
Labels, labels, everywhere, and not a one to fit
Kool Aid Drinker. Pessimist. Realist. Optimist. Doom-and-Gloomer. We've all seen them thrown around. How about Broncos Fans? Look, I have gotten into arguments plenty of times with people who disagree with me. But then I find that the next day, on another topic, I agree with them completely. Labels divide this community. We can improve our collective experience by limiting their use.
It's funny to me that over the past year, MHR has been referred to as a haven for McDaniels apologists, and a well of negativity about the team. Why the dichotomy? Because MHR DEFIES labels. It's constituent members have outlooks running the gamut. To classify MHR as positive or negative is as senseless as classifying the United States as liberal or conservative. It's called United for a reason. Focus on what e have in common: our love for the Broncos. Don't focus on differences of opinion or outlook to define a person.
In the last wave of posters coming out of the beginning of this (thus far) losing season and in the wake of the Spygate II situation, I have seen a simple unfamiliarity with the way things have been done at MHR. Some of the Denver Post mentality has made its way into MHR. I don't like it, and I will fight for the MHR I believe in.
That being said, I understand that change happens. There are places on the web I can go for the style of blog I like, and for my Broncos fix, if the membership of MHR has changed so much that my image of MHR is dead and gone. But I think it can be saved, and yes, I do believe it needs to be saved. The namecalling needs to stop. The personal attacks need to stop. We are a family. We are not strangers who attack others and never see them again. We are here almost every day, and we interact every day. Once you realize it's a community, not a flame zone, you will appreciate it, and we can get down to some insightful dialogue.
The wrap up
I'm not on staff here. But I've been a member for a few years, and a lurker before that. My only stake in this site is wanting it to continue to be as amazing as it was when I found it. So I believe it's worth fighting for. This post is not a list of rules. That's John's job. I'm not trying to scold anyone. I'm trying to describe what this site was and can be, and to articulate that it has changed. This post is my plea for rational thought.
-Be respectful of coaches, players, and other members
-Value opinions, and feel free to disagree with civility
-Support claims with facts or logical reasoning
-Keep an open mind and be willing to change your ideas based on new information
-Remember each contributor is a person.
-Question all you want. Joke all you want. Just don't insult.
Several of you have been around longer than me. If you have anything to add, please do so. This site is not as fun to be on as it once was. But it's worth fighting for. And it's worth saving. We as "old timers" have a responsibility to educate others on how things are done at MHR. MHR is what we make it.
MHR is YOU, Broncos Country.