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Note on Community Guidelines: Best practices on building an even stronger Bullets Forever community

Here are some tips on how to keep Bullets Forever as the top Wizards site and online community on the web.

Honorary Bullets Forever moderator John Wall blocking a shot from Goran Dragic
Honorary Bullets Forever moderator John Wall blocking a shot from Goran Dragic
Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

In case you missed it, Mike Prada stepped down as Bullets Forever's site manager this past Monday in order to focus on his duties as the NBA Editor of SB Nation's national site. In the interim, the rest of the staff here is pitching in together to ensure that we are still giving you the best Wizards coverage out there, by fans, for fans.

One of the greatest accomplishments that Mike had on Bullets Forever was that he developed a strong online community of Wizards fans who discuss various topics surrounding the team. Per his first post on the site, the "Pradamaster" said:

I really want to create a community atmosphere here. As you can see, the new setup gives you the readers plenty of places to actively participate in the community. All you need to do to create an account is to provide an e-mail address. Once that happens, you can easily comment on main posts and create diaries of your own. These features allow every topic presented here to be an ongoing discussion, and my hope is that we can together create a comfortable community for Wizards fans everywhere.

The best way for us to continue creating the community atmosphere that Mike wanted is by following some guidelines (our guidelines page is here). After all, we all joined this site because of the online community. By following these guidelines, it will continue to foster the community we already have, and make it larger.

Who are the moderators on Bullets Forever?

Good question. They are: Jake Whitacre, Amin Vafa, Umair Khan, Nick Bilka, Bullet Nation in Exile, Thomas Pruitt, and myself. We check the comments regularly and enforce guidelines as appropriate.

What to do

Guidelines tend to focus on what not to do. So I will start out with things we want to see.

Comment! - An online community won't be a community when bloggers write, and there is no interaction on what they write. Blogs are meant to be a two-way communication. We write, you comment, and often times, we will comment back. So when you have something (ideally below 300 words) to say, please comment!

When you want to respond to another user, hit reply so the other user knows that you are talking to him or her.

Rec posts and comments that you like - When you like a post that we write, go ahead and click the "green rec" button after reading it through.

When you like a comment, click the star to rec it. Three recs will make a comment green.

FanPosts - When you have a thought that is going to be more than 300 words, and/or want to write on a Wizards-related topic, this is your place to do so. Click here to write your FanPost, and let your thoughts out.

FanPosts are a way to spawn more discussion and engagement within the BF community. If there's a FanPost that we really like and is of high-quality, we will put it on the cover and share it on our social media accounts, which is something I don't think we have done enough. Just remember that FanPosts on the cover and/or our social media accounts will also have both good content AND good prose (proper grammar, punctuation, etc.).

I'll finish this with some blogger's advice, especially if you are a community member who would like to write on the front page of an SB Nation site in the future. The FanPosts are where a large proportion of SB Nation writers started finding their writing voice before they were writing on the Front Page. In fact, you are reading the post by someone who is a long-time BF community member and commenter that now is writing on the Front Page, largely due to writing FanPosts that were well-received in the past. FanPosts were also what got me writing on Swish Appeal, where I was writing for some time before being brought aboard on Bullets Forever.

Since I have made this progression from lurker to commenter to FanPoster to a writer on two SB Nation NBA sites, I really enjoy reading the FanPosts that you write, even those that aren't getting on the Front Page. So remember that the writers and other community members do read your FanPosts every day, even if they are not getting commented on. Don't be discouraged from writing a FanPost in fear of not seeing them get comments.

FanShots - If you found a quick link that you'd like to share, make it a FanPost by sharing a link on the FanShot section on the front page or click here. It's really simple and takes literally just one minute to do. We may put these on the front page as well if we haven't gotten to them yet.

What not to do

Personal Attacks - This is rule number one of what not to do. Disagreements are welcome and encouraged when you are disputing facts and opinions of others. But don't call another user a retard in the process. That's when debates start going downhill. Fast.

Talk about sensitive topics - Your views on hot button political and religious issues are something that's best left on blogs and forums that focus on those topics, not here.

Excessive profanity - Most of the time, you can say something without resorting to the use of profanity. Some SB Nation sites, like Blazers Edge, have a zero-tolerance policy for profanity. Even saying "bullsh*t" is unacceptable there.

While we won't have a zero-tolerance policy on profanity, leave your cursing to a minimum.

An occasional "HOLY SHIT! HOW THE FUCK DID JOHN WALL DUNK ON LEBRON LIKE THAT!?" is fine in a game thread in the heat of the moment when Wall posterizes "The King." But a profanity-laced tirade every other comment isn't.

Sexist/Homophobic/Racist comments - All Wizards fans, regardless of sex, sexual orientation, race, or religion deserve to feel equally welcome when on this site. Comments and pictures that make various groups (women, LGBT, racial and religious groups) feel unwelcome will be taken down.

Troll (and get banned) on other Vox Media sites - Your user account on BF is good on the over 300 online communities in the SB Nation network. Your account is also good to go on other sites part of SB Nation's parent company, Vox Media. This allows you to use the same account to comment on Vox.comPolygonThe Verge, and Eater. Soon, you may be able to post on Curbed and Racked too with that same account. This is overall a positive.

The negative is that if you are a troublemaker on those sites and banned from there, we can see that too. Members who troll other community sites on SB Nation and the rest of the Vox Media family can easily hurt our community's reputation. Users who are known to troll other sites will be subject to discipline. Speaking about discipline, let's talk about a

Progressive Discipline Policy

As a general rule, we will adhere to this progressive discipline policy when users are breaking the guidelines:

  • First offense (A message will be sent to the user - this is a one-way communication)
  • Second offense (A warning will be sent to the user)
  • Third offense (A ban will be given)

Note that not all violations are equal. Therefore, the moderators can send a warning or a ban right away. These violations will earn an immediate ban:

  • Racial slurs (Example: The N Word). I know this will raise a question about whether you can mention the Washington Redskins by name instead of recent politically correct versions given their current name change debate. Here's your answer: you are fine mentioning the Redskins as a football team (ex. - Jay Gruden is the Redskins' head coach), but NOT in another context. That said, this is a Wizards blog, not a Redskins one (Hogs Haven is our SB Nation site for them), so I don't anticipate the Redskins being a main topic on our site for the most part.
  • Sexist and Homophobic slurs (The C Word, F word that rhymes with maggot, etc.)
  • Comments with spam (Don't sell erectile dysfunction drugs or pirated NBA jerseys here)
  • Comments with pornographic pictures (Minors do read this site, and a good amount of them may be perceived as objectifying women)

I see a violation! What do I do?

As community members, remember that you are an essential part of this site. While the moderators do moderate discussion, we don't spend our time looking for every possible violation out there. After all, we'd rather create more content on this blog than worry about handing out warnings and bans.

When you see a comment that is breaking guidelines, flag the comment and move on about your day. One of the moderators will take care of it from there. That said, don't flag comments excessively, especially if it's just because you're in a debate with another member.

And as writers, we too will be held accountable to these same standards.

I have a moderation question/issue to clarify/want to get unbanned. How do I contact you?

For moderation issues, email bulletsforevermoderators AT gmail DOT com and one of the moderators will be happy to talk with you on the issue. Do not talk about moderation complaints in the comments. They will be taken down.

If you are banned and would like to see your commenting privileges restored, we get that people make mistakes and sometimes don't even correct them right away, so on a case-by-case basis, you may be reinstated. Just remember that if you are reinstated, you also will be on a shorter leash. A second ban will be permanent.

And that's it!

Thanks for reading this long piece on community guidelines and best practices. We haven't done one of these in long while, but that's also because you've been a great group of readers and commenters. Often times when these posts are made, it's because someone did something wrong.

However, now that we are in moving into a new era of Bullets Forever, we also wanted to clarify guidelines and emphasize things that we want to see.

Thanks again, and carry on!