B/R Helpful Hints: Comment Thread Etiquette

Dave MorrisonSenior Writer IMay 8, 2009

As Bleacher Report’s resident Community Manager, I deal with comment threads on a daily basis. I felt like it was time to share some of my thoughts on how to be an effective commenter, as well as an upstanding B/R member.

When most people join B/R, they quickly appreciate the camaraderie in the comment threads where everyone loves the same team…and players…and like-minded fans agree…and everything is peachy.

Then a rival fan, a troll, or someone who just wants to cause trouble shows up—and the conversation shifts away from sports and onto who is the bigger d-bag.

Proper commenting is beneficial because name-calling and flaming weaken credibility and can hold our community back. 

If everyone is making personal attacks in a comment thread, no one is going to want to join that community.

So we can all get on the same page, I wanted to lay out some information for our fan-experts on what is and what is not acceptable commenting etiquette.


People are allowed to not like your team

This is probably the biggest misunderstanding on Bleacher Report. Writers who are new to the community are put off when an opposing fan jumps on their article and says something to the effect of “your team sucks because blah blah blah blah.” They flag this comment as offensive because in their eyes, any insult to their team is offensive.

However, on the Open Source Sports Network you are allowed to express your dislike or even your passionate hate of a team as long as you do so with out using profanity or personally attacking the writer.

You might hate the Yankees, but remember: the writer (probably) doesn’t play for the Yankees. So no need to personally attack them. Which brings me to my next point…


Personal Attacks versus Debating

Despite popular belief, there is a difference. First, let me explain what constitutes a personal attack.

A personal attack involves insulting the member you’re debating with in some derogatory way. As soon as you drop a “moron,” “idiot,” or “dumbass,” you have personally attacked someone.

Now I know we all feel very passionately about our respective teams and players, but if you drop an insult on another user, you open yourself up to having your entire comment deleted.

Name-calling and talking about someone’s mom is not only immature, but it also detracts from the credibility of your argument.

Now I’m not saying you can’t disagree—quite the opposite. Intelligent debate is encouraged on B/R. Most sports junkies are competitive by nature, so B/R is the perfect place to say what you think and defend your point of view.

My best advice when it comes to debating with your fellow users is to stick to sports. Think of it as B/R’s new acronym: “STS.”   You can’t go wrong.  

If you have an opinion about a team, player, game, match, or league, it belongs on B/R. As long as you can express that opinion without making it personal or dropping any profanity, that makes not only your comment valid, but your point as well. 

An example of what you can say: 

“The Lakers are a horrible team with horrible coaching and Kobe Bryant will never win another MVP and Phil Jackson is the most over hyped coach ever!! THEY SUCK!”

An example of what you cannot say:

“The Lakers suck just like you! You are probably as retarded as Phil Jackson and he is REALLY retarded. How do you lose a championship to the Pistons when you have Kobe AND Shaq douche bag!”

If anyone does personally attack you, please flag the comment as offensive.  This will automatically notify me and I will take proper action. Do not respond to personal attacks—there are no winners in a comment thread profanity war.


Critical Feedback versus Writer Bashing

One of the bigger problems in comment threads around B/R is writer bashing.

Comments like the following:

 “This article is horrible you should never write again”

 “You should probably learn English before you try and write an article”

“It’s spelled PUJOLS not POLHOLS, you have zero baseball knowledge”

We are a community of sports writers. We want our fellow Bleacher Creatures to succeed, not fail. At the same time, we can acknowledge that there is always room for improvement.

The trick is to encourage without being condescending. If someone’s article has glaring writing mistakes or maybe just one typo, there is the right way to go about notifying the writer and then there is the wrong way.

We all understand it takes a lot to put yourself out there, especially when you’re just starting out. Having people criticize your work and provide negative feedback can cause writers to shy away from B/R or come back with even more aggression.

In an effort to keep the peace without losing the value of feedback, here are some helpful ways to provide constructive criticism without bashing the writer.

First, if you notice some mistakes, post a note on the writer’s bulletin board so it does not come off as though you are publicly calling them out. 

Start off with something you enjoyed about the article. For example, what made you want to read it?

Explain the writing mistakes that were made without being condescending or mean spirited. Be supportive and make sure to let the writer know you appreciate the effort they put forth.

An example:

“Hey Dave Mo,

I read your article about Comment Thread Etiquette. I thought it was an interesting topic for you to write about.

I did happen to notice a few grammatical mistakes; some punctuation problems and a few words were misspelled as well.

Here are the corrections: ‘change X to Y,’ ‘this comma goes here,’ ‘you used the wrong form of ‘your’ here, it should be ‘you’re.’ 

I really think you can improve and I am looking forward to your next article. Keep up the great work! Good talk, I’ll see ya out there.”

Or if it were something very simple, an example would be:

“Hey Dave Mo,

Just a heads up, you missed a comma. Good article. Keep rocking and rolling.”

If you run into a situation where you do not know how to respond, you can always post on my bulletin board, and I will be happy to help you out.

Now on to everyone’s favorite comment thread topic…



We all have dealt with them before.  We know they can ruin people’s experience on B/R. For those that are not familiar with what a troll is, I’ll explain.

Trolls are users who join the site just to get reactions out of people or spam them.

But here is the simple secret to getting rid of trolls: ignore them.

When you come across a troll, you should follow this super simple two-step process:

Step 1: Report to Will Leivenberg, B/R's Community Coordinator (wleivenberg@bleacherreport.com)

Step 2: Ignore them

If you don’t feed the troll, the troll will go away. Every time you respond with a witty in-your-face comment, it just fuels the troll even more.

Nothing good will come out of engaging a troll, so why do it?


Before I go…

I just would like to say how incredibly proud I am of our community’s interactions to date. B/R is not only a great place to grow as a writer, but a fun place to hang out and participate as well.

I hope this article helps clear up a lot of the debate around commenting and that we as a community can go onwards and upwards.

As always, please let me know if you have any questions. Great working with all of you guys and gals!

Thanks for reading.