A bit of common sense required

As of a few minutes ago, the cumulative hit count here on the site stood at 652,264 with just over 35,000 hits in the last month alone. Since the site first saw the light of day back in February 2007, there have been 6,791 comments posted here. I’m not providing these stats to make myself feel well but rather to underline the fact that what we’ve created here (and it really has been a collective effort – me sounding off on my own would just be some loon shouting into a void) is special and is undoubtedly unique in the GAA world.

The vast majority of comments posted here have been fine and the way that a community has grown up around here over the last few years is the most gratifying part of this whole project for me.  This site has always been and will always be one of and for supporters of the Mayo football team and I’ve been truly humbled to see so many knowledgeable football people (many of whom, I readily confess, know a good deal more about the subject than I do) come on here and share their opinions on the ups and downs of following football within the county.  Some of you have already crossed the floor and taken to the pulpit yourselves, a trend which I’d love to see develop more as time progresses.  Following a team is a collective experience and this is as true in an online environment as it is in McHale Park.

The reason I’m saying all this is because of last night’s issue which concerned a comment posted about a player, which, because I no longer moderate each and every comment before it goes live (I could, and used to do this, but I switched that functionality off ages ago, in order to stimulate a more freewheeling and open debate), was up on the site for a short while before I spotted it and removed the offending part. I’m obviously not going to repeat what the comment was but I will say that it was an outrageous and utterly unsubstantiated slur concerning one of the lads who currently wears the Mayo jersey.

There have also been a few comments in recent weeks (including one yesterday) that have been aimed in a critical tone at other contributors.  While lower down on the scale of unacceptable behaviour, this isn’t a trend I’m happy to see become established either.  Somebody last night cautioned that this site was heading in the direction of the Hogan Stand forum, which I have to say would horrify me.

Keeping the flow of comments going is, I think, important and I’ve no wish to go back to the days when I scrolled through every comment before letting it go live on the site. I’m all for free speech and I’ve no problem with robust debate and robust language, providing it’s in the right context.  But with free speech comes the responsibility not to abuse the facility and the comment in question from last night constituted a gross abuse.

Okay, enough of the preaching.  What I think would be useful for me to do is to set down some house rules for providing comments on the site which apply from, like, now. These include:

  1. Comments should not be of a kind that are likely to provoke, attack or offend others;
  2. Comments should obviously not be of a kind that break the law or encourage law-breaking of any sort;
  3. Generalised comments about particular players should be avoided, e.g. “he was never any good”, “when did he last play well?” etc. When discussing a particular player, especially when critiquing a player’s performance, stick to specifics, e.g. “Player X is rubbish/no good/a big tub of lard” is out of order, “Player Y was bad the last day because he didn’t  [add specifics]” is okay providing you’re expressing an opinion based on what you saw (or thought you saw) during a particular game, which others can, if they wish, challenge you on;
  4. When expressing a contrary view, don’t presume you know or invent any motivation for what the other person has said or make any inferences about their knowledge of the game, IQ etc. For example, phrases such as “only an eejit would say that”, “you must be saying that because …”, “you clearly know nothing about football” etc. etc are not acceptable.
  5. Bad language is perfectly fine, including the bad ‘f’ word, Mrs Doyle, but context is everything, e.g. “for fuck’s sake” is grand, “fuck you and fuck your mother” most certainly isn’t.
  6. Comments based on hearsay or rumour, in particular about supposed incidents involving individual players, are completely out of bounds and will not be tolerated under any circumstances.
  7. I reserve the right to add to or amend this list at any time at my absolute discretion.

That’s it. This isn’t a post I’ve particularly enjoyed doing but I feel strongly that what we have here is special and works for 99% of contributors 99% of the time so it needs to be preserved.  With a bit of common sense all round, there’s no reason to believe why this cannot happen.

31 thoughts on “A bit of common sense required

  1. I have to say, I pissed myself after reading the last part of No.5….

    Fair call WJ.
    I wouldn’t worry about this turing into the Hogan Stand. Any contributions like that tend to either get ignored or shouted down and the poster isn’t seen again on here.

    On the football side of things – As Keith Higgins was yellow carded for that sly dig, does that mean the CCCCCCCCCCCCCC can’t revise the incident? Can the ref not be asked to look at the incident again? It was a bad act from Keith alright, but to be fair it was completely out of character for him.

    Well done to the lads on Sunday by the way. Agree with most of the other comments. Shite first half, much better 2nd and it was a very bad Galway side that we beat.
    Fair play to the backs though. I’ve been critical enough myself of them, but they were solid on Sunday. How much of that was to do with how poor Galway were, we’ll soon find out. But only fair to give them credit.

  2. As I said, Dan, context is everything!

    I understand that Keith is in the clear, due to a rule change at Congress last time out, which means that if the ref has dealt with the incident on the day, then it can’t be revisited. I agree it was out of character but Keith would need to watch himself as justice GAA-style can happen well after the event.

  3. Pity thit had to come to this but needs must im afraid. Well said WJ
    As for Keith, well Gearoid have him his marching orders last year in longford (twitch!) so there is a small bit of a record there. He just needs to watch himself….the next 50/50 call will defo go against him knowing the way GAA/referees operate.

  4. Good to hear this won’t turn into a Hogan Stand style forum, a great website providing honest from the heart supporters views, which may or may not be correct but generally sum up supporters thoughts fairly well. Keep up the good work WJ!
    Mayo for Sam! – Is that allowed??!

  5. It is sure is, Red, and thanks for the kind words. It’s absolutely the case that views expressed here (not least my own) can be wide of the mark at times but as long as opinions are being expressed honestly and are in the right spirit, then they should be viewed as such.

    Re Alan Dillon – I can’t see why this debate got going in the first place. For my own part, I thought he underperformed on Sunday, with his freetaking and his inability to make the distance with shots at the target the main frustration. But then again Midwest had him down as MOTM, which goes to show that opinions on players can vary wildly. I think Sunday was just a blip, though, and I can’t see how we’d seriously consider dropping him, for all the reasons that kevmy has laid out. I’d be confident that he’ll be one of our stronger performers in Hyde Park, though I hope he keeps a bit in reserve for the post-match formalities!

  6. Good to see that your site is so popular, WJ; you are doing a mighty job here.
    But, since your site is so popular, it was inevitable that posters like the one you referred to last night were going to turn up.
    Obviously, I don’t know what was in the post but I could make a good guess; that sort of stuff is all too prevalent on sites that allow public comments nowadays. Dunno what can be done about it really. Censorship goes against the ethos of the Internet and besides, for every discussion site or blog that’s moderated, there are ten others that aren’t.
    I just hope that this spate of irresponsible postings marks a passing phase and that, when the laitchekoes concerned realise they are not getting the attention they crave, they will go back to playing with their PlayStations or with themselves— or most probably both.
    I’m thinking here of ratemyteachers.com: when sites like this first appeared, teachers in general got very upset and in making a fuss about it, they unwittingly gave the guttersnipes the attention they were seeking.
    Certainly, there was a big hullabaloo in the beginning but it didn’t last long. The fear that little onanists everywhere would pollute those boards with vitriolic comments about their teachers never materialised. As most of those posters were of the illiterate variety anyway, they got pissed off quickly when they found their literary efforts were being ignored by all but their own kind. The craze died out in a remarkably short time.
    From talking to teenagers around me, I’d say most are unaware of ratemyteachers.com’s existence.
    I know much of the crap being posted on GAA boards at present is upsetting many of the players who are the targets. But overreacting to it will only bring on more of the same. I’d expect that if the little (and not so little) shitehawks find they are not getting the notice they anticipate, they’ll shag off elsewhere.

  7. That’s fine, Lar, and I appreciate your sentiments but I fear you could yourself be accused of breaking my shiny new rule no.1 (and possibly no.4 as well) by referring to others and their alleged personal habits in the way that you’ve done …

  8. Well Willie Joe unfortunately unmoderated sites like anfearrua, gaaboard and gaatipster will attract the calbre of people that post slanderous stuff for the rise. I hope this site doesnt go the way of them three. Maybe the way to go is some type of hero system, those with the certain number of posts can post unmoderated and those who dont cannot. This looks like a wordpress site and I havent a clue if it is even possible to do.

  9. I must also point that I think people are being very hard on hoganstand, bit of snobbery I think but on no other site can you discuss Mayo club football or have people willing to discuss it, so it does the job for me with good informative disucssion on the Mayo junior championship etc.

  10. With 652K hits WJ you are always going to get 1 or 2 comments that would be deemed undesirable. (Very careful with my language there). On the positive side you have a fantastic hit count; your next milestone will be the 1 million mark! Well done – it’s a fab site with some great characters and comments.

    As to how much people know about football, well it’s a fact some people know more than others but so what? I got shot down a bit myself for talking up the strength of the London team, but I stand by it and they’re still in it after beating Fermanagh well.

    Anyway well done on the stats – the site is an asset to Mayo football.

  11. It’s funny how things work. Only a few weeks ago I signed up to Twitter against my better judgement (at the time!), and typed in Mayo GAA to discover that Willie Joe is a prolific tweeter, which led me here, and it draws you into, as you say, the ‘collective’.

    I post regularly now on hoganstand and while its all god and grand, your point no.4 I find is a concern there. Ever since I started getting involved in the online discussion, I found myself amazed at how various dedicated football fans can have such varied views on the same things, and how one person sees things is not how another does. As long as everyone is tolerant that another person’s view is as valid as their own, then there shouldnt be a problem.

    As for Keith Higgins, in analysing the match when rewatching it on the old Sky Plus, he was very lucky not be spotted lunging in and pushing Michael Meehan in the throat to the ground after Meehan’s yellow card incident. It would be a shame for indiscipline to get in the way of his performances which up till now have been good.

  12. On a lighter note-what kind of a mess are the county board making of McHale park.
    The goalmouths were a disgrace–never like that when the Mitchels owned it.

  13. I have to say Willie Joe that while I wouldn’t be a regular contributor – more a reader – I would be a great fan of your site. I enjoy very much the well informed, thought-provoking and good humoured contributions. It would be a shame if censorship were to enter the equation – the list of rules you have drawn up could best be summed up by having a common sense of decency coupled with consideration and respect for the individuals we dare to criticise. However having said all that – – Jaysus we can’t be too politically correct either or we won’t have any craic. It’s important to shoot straight from the hip every now and again but not to go over the top – – all a matter of getting the right “balance” which brings me back to James Horan. With the players he presently has at his disposal he seems to be finally getting the “balance” right – – on each line of the team he has individuals who compliment one another. If only he could implant a “sat-nav chip” into Dillon’s or O’Shea’s boots to guide them in the direction of the posts – then we could be heading for Croke Park. Onwards and Upwards – – Sam is getting closer.

  14. Great stats WJ, well deserved.
    I would check the site every day for your posts and would post the odd comment. Or as the callers to Joe Duffy say “long time listener 1st time caller Joe!”
    I think censorship would not be a bad thing imho.
    I used to go on Hoganstand every day until I got sick of the mudslinging/abuse bandied around. You could not start a thread without it turning into a slagging match.
    Really enjoy reading the comments on this site, from very knowledgeable folk (of which i’m NOT one)… no snobbery here i tellsya.

  15. That was a cheap blow on young Hehir and he should get a lenghty ban. Simple as that. Sign of a coward if he has to ‘lash out’ in such a sly manner.

    Apart from that, well done on Sunday and I think it will be a mighty tight Connacht final (I hope 2001 doesn’t spring to mind).

  16. Well said Willie Joe, even if you gave me stick about not knowing the difference between aidan and kieth Higgins. Too long watching football!!!

  17. I only discovered this site looking for a bit of team news for the Galway game and have to say I’m delighted with the jovial set-up of it all. I didn’t read any of the incident which this post refers to tbh..

    Re: Alan Dillon the last day, I was shocked to hear MWR announce him MOTM, poor enough by his standards throughout, set up a good few attacks but not MOTM. McLoughlin was the standout performer for me the last day, himself and Andy Moran got through a ball of work at midfield; they were as much to praise as the O’Sheas for our dominance in the middle. Also delighted to see Vaughan perform well at centre-back.

    What in God’s name were the full-forward line trying fancy pick-ups for in them conditions either? I was hoarse from roarin “will ye get down on it?!” from the stand!

    The Rossies will provide a sterner test but I’m hopeful; especially if the weather is fine I think our forward line will be much more threatening. Free taker anyone?

    Mayo Abú!

  18. Lad whats all this about the Keith Higgins incident,do they expect some sort of apology? Where was the apology for all the filthy play done to us over the years when our problem was we were “Too Nice” I remember Derek Savage headbutting our corner back off the ball in Salthill or Damian Burke stamping on Conor Mortimer, don’t even start me on Roscommon. Lads if your expecting some sort of apology of us then fuck of to Castlerea or Loughrea or whatever other hole ye came out of. I’ve never wanted Mayo to win a game as much I do the Connacht Final. I know they’re firm favorites after beating the mighty Leitrim and New York. I really really hope we do it!

  19. Fucksake!,i must have missed the craic last night.Does anyone hear feel that Dillon is overrated to begin with.A decent player for sure but not as good as people (especially in Mayo) make out.Dont want to sound like a broken drum but when we were direct last sunday to the FF line we were very effective.Dillon isnt direct,in fact hes very poor on the ball,takes way too much out of it.Anyway,bring on the Towbars and the smelly Hyde!

  20. Right WJ will have to keep referring to the rules to make sure I don’t f**k it up! And apologies to anyone I might have slagged! Never fear about this site turning into a bitchfest, there are too many sensible souls committed to it for that to happen.
    And lads, give Keith Higgins a break, it was a dig but he didn’t shoot the lad, we don’t know what provoked it and it’s been dealt with so let it go I’d say. He will need to mind himself tho because refs do like to keep an eye on bucks that appear to have gotten away with stuff. Still and all, the Meath teams of Sean Boylan never let that bother them!
    Keep up the good work and can anyone advise what the story is in Scotland with watching GAA games?? Will be near Glasgow on the day.

  21. If you’re heading into the city, try the Tollbooth. It’s in Glasgow Cross, just before you come into the Gallowgate.
    It was about the only place I could find when I used to go up there that had an Irish Sky card.
    Whatever you do, don’t go into the nearby Bridgeton area and ask if they’re showing any GAA games! You won’t be walking out in one piece…

  22. Thanks Dan, will do that alright! I think we were in the Tollbooth for the draw with Fermanagh in 2006 but could I feck think of the name of it, all visits to Glasgow a bit hazy as the suppin begins in Prestwick never mind the time!

  23. Never be afraid to be a ruthless mod(erator). I’ve more or less given up on AFR because of his refusal to eject trolls from the site.

    Oh, and you may not be posting the stats to make yourself feel good. But they should do. Well deserved too

  24. Great figures WJ. Whilst we are gone in the Minors in Connacht up here I see Meath are in the Leinster final with a win over Kildare yesterday. Now Kildare beat them six weeks ago in the first round. How come Connacht dont give a second chance or losers group. Young men need games not aspirations.

  25. Christ, I must have bumped into you there.
    We were 2 of only about 5 Mayo men in the pub that day. The rest were all from various counties in the North and were cheering on Fermanagh from what I remember.

    I’m sure you’ll be able to find other pubs showing GAA now though, as I think there is a channel on UK Sky that shows all the games.
    It used to be Ch 433 (MSK or Premier Sports I think), it’s Setanta in another guise. It’s a subscription channel though so a lot of pubs up there probably didn’t bother getting it.

  26. Did anyone see the RTE pre match blurb on the Galway manager Tomas O’Flatharta. It was just going over the manager’s achievements to date and how he hopes to continue to build with Galway. I was trying to listen but was distracted by the most ridiculous music going on in the background. It was a slow haunting melody you would hear on a show about a sick children’s hospital or a tragic made for TV movie. It was surreal. Their next piece was on the Dublin manager, suddenly the music changed dramatically. It was all banging drums and chest beating marching music – I pissed myself laughing. It was really badly done. I think it feeds into the whole “Poor Connaught” thing. Did anybody else notice?

  27. I hope that we have something to shout about on the 17th. I have a feeling that the Rossies are looking for a bit of revenge for the ass-whupping in 2009. I know a few and the manner of the defeat really shook them.
    On another note:
    I was looking at the census results on RTE this morning and it’s truly shocking to note that Mayo was the 3rd biggest county in Ireland population wise in 1926 after Dublin and Cork and now we are down to 11th in the list. That’s a lot of young men and women lost to the county and something that I didn’t realise before.

  28. I think you might be waiting, John – sure aren’t we still holding out for an apology from the Dubs for the assault on John Finn (which was way worse than the thump young Hehir got the last day) back in 1985?

  29. Ara now. Il be writing a strongly worded letter to the county board. You wouldn’t see this type of carry on occuring in any other respected footballing county.

    For shame.

  30. Well done WJ – perfectly right to moderate the site under the rules you outlined. We all have a duty to care for the young fellas who burst themselves for Mayo – despite the fact that at times they’d drive you to drink! But they are our lads and anything we can do to support them is what Mayo needs and not a site that would undermine them in any way. They are only young and very vulnerable and sites like this are very powerful indeed. Again congrats and very well done.

    As for Keith Higgins – lets hope he has learned a lesson and will not let himself down again like that.

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