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Community Guidelines: Making the comment section a better place

An annual review of MHR's community guidelines, what's encouraged, what's discouraged, and what earns a community member a ban hammer to the face.

Denver Broncos Training Camp Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

We are off to a great start in 2016 for the MHR community and wanted to take the time to provide some clarity (and an easy article to link to) on the MHR community guidelines.

Welcome to MHR if you are new. If you are rejoining us after a nice vacation, welcome back! If you've been chillin' with us all summer, /fistbump. :)

Let's talk rules. Let's love rules. Let's embrace the rules that keep MHR a bastion of light among the murky oceans of troll that is the Internet.

Most of this stuff the more tenured members of MHR already know or have read, but there are two things I’d like to touch on first that are very relevant right now:

Unhealthy debate

The QB controversy stuff is absolutely old hat to everyone who’s been at MHR for four to five years or more. People taking sides and having favorites to be the future is absolutely normal and OK.

In my time, I’ve seen it with Plummer/Cutler, Cutler/Cassel, Orton/Tebow, Tebow/Manning (are you friggin’ kidding me, Tim Lynch!?), Manning/Osweiler and now with Siemian/Lynch.

It is OK to have a preference.

It is not OK to personally attack others because you disagree with them.

MHR is big on not wanting our members to feel attacked. We love the comment section and want this place to be considered that sports bar on the Internet everyone loves to come chill and talk football. We’ve tried to groom the rules to help fit that for years.

Everyone gets to have an opinion. No one can see the future. You might be right that Lynch is going to be a HOFer. You might be right that Siemian is the next Joe Montana (because if he’s the next Tom Brady, I may just have to puke).

But here’s the big deal -not everyone agrees with you and that is OK.

The idea is that we’re all eating lunch at a sports bar and having a good time. Stop being that guy (/gal) who makes others feel small because you talk too loudly and down to people and make them want to crawl under a rock.

Can we talk trash? Sure.

Can we talk trash at each other for bad past opinions? Yeah, but with a friendly smile, not an ass-hat raspberry like a 12-year-old boy with a Napoleon complex.

Even if you know that you know that you know that a player is bad and people disagree with you...just walk away if it starts to escalate. Trust me on this one...the schadenfreude is awesome when that player ends up cut and his fanbois don’t really want to talk about it much anymore. It is way more awesome than fighting that fight today and losing your commenting privileges because you had to be an Internet tough-guy and try to make someone else feel small.

Here’s something magical though - If people don’t make the conversation personal by saying things like “only an idiot would think Lynch should see the field this year” or “intelligent fans see that Lynch has the right stuff,” we can have healthy debate.

Healthy debate is people sharing opinions about things without needing to be right, making others feel small, or have their egos front and center (my personal challenge). Talk about what you see from your guy and why it makes you hopeful and stop there. Let someone else disagree and point out why he/she thinks the way he/she does. Talk about the talking points. Agree and disagree. But please stop with this:

My final thought on this - some people aren’t going to be able to walk away. Some people live and thrive off of Internet conflict. They will choose to be obnoxious and push the envelope no matter what. Just flag them if they cross any lines and walk away. Someone else making poor choices does not change the rules whatsoever for members here at MHR.

Addendum as of 12/12: No more “lynchmob” or “siemianite” labels. That just feeds into exactly what we are talking about here. Big thanks to FrenchFred for the suggestion and the community for the vocal support.

Proper feedback on content

One thing that we’ve noticed this past offseason is a lot of really negative feedback in the comments directed at the writers here that have been crossing the line into being personally attacking in nature.

Most writers love hearing from their readers. Most writers are also are big enough human beings to be able to hear some criticism. Please realize that there is a right way and a wrong way to handle that.

Email is the right way if you have some pretty strong negative feedback. Email for questions / concerns about moderation. Email to Tim is the right way if the feedback has to do with the overall direction of MHR.

Being a jerk in the comment section is the wrong way. Personal attacks aren’t allowed in the comment section.

And before anyone gets nutso about “rights” and “‘Murica!!!” please read that last FAQ below about censorship. No, there is not a God-given right here for you to act like a jerk to the writers or community members.

Please note, this applies to stuff that crosses the line. Pointing out a misinterpretation by a writer about what happened on a play is no big deal (NBD). Also pointing out typos is NBD either, just make sure to keep your thoughts about “they teach this is second grade” to yourself. If you feel really strongly about it and need to include that kind of feedback, take it to email.

The Community Guidelines

Here they are if you ever need to refer to them.

What we dig:

  • Talking football. Especially the Denver Broncos
  • Being respectful of every member of MHR, even members who are fans of other teams
  • Keeping comments apropos (this is a fancy word that means "concerning or in reference to"...take that, Laurie) to the topic of the post
  • Discussing whatever you like when appropriate (Horse Tracks, Calikula's Imperial Weekly Thread, or any general open thread)
  • Keeping cool even when trolls and idiots run rampant (this is the Internet, after all)
  • Taking the high road (walk away from slap fights regarding starting QBs)
  • Flag trolls (Seriously...always)
  • When debating, talking about opinions instead of community members
  • Leaving room for opposing views and opinions to your own
  • Use the subject line, reply button, and rec button

Specifics on open threads

  • Horse Tracks is our daily link aggregation thread. We try to consistently title it that way. Conversations off topic are allowed and encouraged there, but all other community guidelines apply.
  • CIWT - Calikula's Imperial Weekly Thread is more of an open bar sorta post. It has its own rules that are more lax than our guidelines, which has the blessing of MHR's staff to work that way.
  • Open Threads - On game days we post threads called "Open Threads" for people to hang out in and discuss the game as it is going on. Much like Horse Tracks, talk is allowed to go a little off topic from the game (think of it like hanging out at a sports bar while watching the game), but all other guidelines apply.

What can pound sand and die in a cold, dark hole:

  • Personal attacks, insults, or harassment toward any member or members
  • Excessive vulgarity
  • Lewd content (we are SFW, Safe For Work)
  • Going off-topic during a football-related discussion or thread
  • Wishing for or celebrating player injury
  • Trolling of any kind, but also including celebrating Broncos failure
  • Belittling or dismissing fans of other teams
  • Discussing comment moderation
  • Using multiple accounts
  • Racism
  • Bigotry
  • Politics (feel free at the CIWT as long as it adheres to that post's specific rules)
  • Religion (we don't have anything against it, but it rarely relates to the posts. Again, feel free to discuss at the CIWT as long as it plays by that post's rules)
  • Wrecking threads with huge images, excessive gifs, or walls of text

What is the process?

And how does the moderation get handled?

  1. If your activities are kinda light, sometimes the staff will just send you a message (it will be obvious and require you to click a button to get past it and open articles the next time you visit). Please read it and pay attention. Please email us for clarification. Please do not ignore the direction given.
  2. If you have crossed a line, a warning will be sent to you. Again, please don't ignore it. Please do email us if you want clarifications. The email you can always use for moderation is If you want to email one of us in particular, see our masthead for email links or ask us for it in the comments.
  3. Pay particular mind that if you do get a warning, an infraction of any type whatsoever will result in your account being banned. At that point, the only way back on is by emailing us and working it out. We do believe in 2nd chances. We rarely believe in 3rd chances. We will not allow trolls, punks, and punkettes to jack with the fantastic community of Broncos Country we enjoy here at MHR.
  4. If you do get banned and don't want to change, fret not. You can still read the site. You just can't talk. It is kinda like being stuck at the kids table at Thanksgiving...when you are 25 years old...without kids or anyone to play with. :(

Site Etiquette

Avoid fights. Don't troll. Stay on topic. Expect good natured trash talk and appreciate it for what it is. Emphasis on "Good Natured." Don't come over here spewing epithets against our team and expect to stay long. Discuss and debate. Realize that people don't always share your opinion. When that happens, feel free to argue about the point, the player, the scheme, etc. Just don't make it personal.

Use the "flag" button.

This is your voice for how MHR is moderated. We pay attention to every flag that happens. Please add notes on why you flagged it - share your thoughts with us so we can clearly understand why you think the comment is out of line. This is how we take out the garbage. If you don't ever flag comments, then you absolutely have zero room to complain or whine about moderation here.

Use the "rec" button.

This is your way to share some love with your Mile High brethren here. If someone said something you really liked or you thought was very clever, hit the rec button.

FAQ (yes there is an FAQ section, and we may even expand it with stuff from the comments)

"Can we swear?"

Yes, but there are limits to good taste. Don't be the 13-year-old who just discovered a place to drop four-letter words without any consequences. Don't type the C-Bomb or the F-Bomb. Don't think you can sneak an ethnic slur in, even if you're of the ethnicity being slurred. No one here knows your heritage. And if you're cussing in half your comments, you are doing it very very wrong.

"Can you teach me the sarcasm font?"


"Why did I get a mod message when other people are doing worse things all the time?"

Welcome to the really real world, where YOU are responsible for YOUR actions. When the staff message, warn or ban you, it is about your actions. It isn't a comparison or a contest with anyone else in the community. Worry about yourself.

Maybe we did message others. Maybe we didn't. That is OUR job to handle. If you want input on what others are doing or saying, use the "flag" button and make sure to enter notes. Emailing us about something someone else said after you've been warned or banned does not help your situation in any way, shape, or form. Whining at this point only hurts your case and seriously damages our calm. What you come across as saying in this situation is, "Why do you suck at your job?" Think about how you'd feel if someone said that to you while you were at work/school. Ruminate on that a bit...yeah we don't like it either.

"Will I really get banned for calling a jerk a jerk?"

No. You'll get a mod message or a warning, then maybe a short ban, then possibly a permanent ban for breaking any of the rules. Of course, depending on severity, a mod will skip past one or more of those steps -- or repeat some of the steps.

We don't want to exile people. We like you! But we're also not going to let someone piss in our Post toasties and steal our cigarettes every morning. So you're not "in trouble" if you drop a light curse word or two. You're still even not "in trouble" when you get your first mod message. What does happen is that users eventually are sent away because they can't handle being told how to post and escalate things because they have silly assumptions about how this stuff works (hopefully this post helps minimize that issue).

"But I didn't know the rules!"

Now you do. The rest is up to you. I can only show you the path, I can not walk it for you.

"You removed my comment?!"

Yep. There are three mods here -- Tim, Scotty, and yours truly. In addition to those three horsemen, who are volunteers, certain other writers and editors also have the ability to remove comments. If your comment disappeared, it's because one of those people decided it should go.

After you shed a tear for your vanished sliver of brilliance, realize:

A) You'll live; B) The mod probably had a good reason; C) If the reason was bogus, one mod can overrule another, and we can unhide the comment.

Seriously, just live with it. Be an adult. Even if you're secretly 14 years old. And while you're at it, accept that we're doing our best. We will screw up, that's for sure, but we know what we're doing the vast majority of the time.

"But my comment was misinterpreted."

Yes, that's possible. Likely, even. If I read every MHR comment in a given week during the regular season, the final tally will be between 5,000 and 10,000. Chances are I'd misinterpret one, or ten, or 50, each week. So will the other fine gentlemen and ladies on staff. We're sorry in advance. We also suggest moving on.

"If you don't mind me asking, why even have these rules?"

Go to another football site, read the comments for a week, then come back and ask me again. Seriously...check out the four letter leader's web site comments or the local paper site's stuff. Unchecked banter can absolutely ruin the comment sections of a site. I've seen it and it absolutely sucks.

"Why can't we discuss moderation in the comments? Are you guys from North Korea or something?"

We have that rule in place for a couple of very good reasons:

  1. Less drama - discussing moderation in public ALWAYS leads to bad blood somewhere. When we handle it in private that still happens, at times, but at least it doesn't suck others into it in the comments.
  2. Direct contact - in the comments it is easy to feel like you are the little guy talking to some nebulous over-reaching big brother. With direct email contact, it becomes apparent that you are talking to real people who will listen and work it out. We then find a place where people will listen and comprehend much better than the comment section.

We are more than willing to look like North Korea if that means less drama and negativity in the comment section. The behind the scenes process is not a dictatorship. When issues get hairy, the voice of the group outweighs the voice of any singular moderator. The process works very well for MHR. If it didn't, then we wouldn't use it. As always with moderation, listening and understanding are key. Sometimes the moderator is wrong...we're all humans here. When that happens, please remove the tin foil hat and work it out with us using the methods we have in place.

"Aren't strict rules just another form of censorship? Internet! America!"

Nope. There is a very big difference between having the right to say whatever you want in your living room and on this blog. Private blog. Our place, our rules. Your choices are to abide by them or just don't comment. If you can't make that choice, we will be more than pleased to make the choice for you.

Appeal to authority, which is you!

You guys are the lifeblood of Mile High Report. Writers might generate the content, but readers do the heavy clicking. If your concern didn't get addressed above, let's hear it in the comments below. Do you want even more rules? Can I get you another beer? Is there an important void in the rules? An apparent inconsistency, or an overreach, or an obsolete directive? Speak now or for a year hold your peace, because we're not doing this again until next year. :)