Mr. Pickles

This site needs an ombudsman

406 posts in this topic

ESPN recently created a lot of buzz by hiring Don Ohlmeyer, former big shot TV producer, regional president, and current Professor of Television Communications at the splendid Pepperdine University in sunny Malibu. Ohlmeyer's first splash in his new role came when he posted a column entitled "The 'Decision' dilemma" on ESPN.com roundly criticizing the televised coverage (and obvious promotion) of LeBron James' free agency announcement.

Ohlmeyer was praised for his frankness in pointing out ESPN's virtual ceding of control to LeBron James' handlers, which raised obvious ethical issues and damaged its credibility as a media outlet and presumed source of unbiased journalism.

I think FBGs could use an ombudsman too, to "keep it real" and point out some of the fair criticisms that some of its users may have regarding the site, and especially the fora. Like you, I can't think of a better person to do this than BGP, but since he's currently off on some great adventure that I'm sure we'll all hear about on the news some day, I grudgingly nominate myself to fulfill the role.

What do you say, folks? And yes, this will require that I not only find my way onto EL GORDO, a.k.a. the payroll (salary negotiable), but also get an *** OFFICIAL *** footballguys.com email address (sorry, Ministry of Pain) and maybe a t-shirt, pending availability. Just think: me with luminaries like Wood, Yudkin, and Wimer cozying up at the annual FBGs Christmas party in Mazatlán*. Me calling out Joe for fishing on Fridays. It would be magical, and really, it's probably necessary for the long-term survival of great seasons, present and future.

I think this is exactly what this site needs and would restore a certain measure of, shall we say, credibility that this site so desperately needs. In the words of Beej:

It was in the investment world that I found my place. Here, the rules are different. You don't want to follow the crowd. When you follow the crowd you are, in fact, prey. What I discovered was that my purpose, my function, was to be a predator. Not a pack animal like a wolf, either. No, imagine me as the Lion, or the Tyrannosaurus Rex. In Jurassic Park when all the vegetarian dinos are flocking in the meadow and then the T-Rex swoops in and kills one, that's me. All of you who follow the crowd are those veggie-eaters. You've never tasted the flesh. You think you're safe as you run in the crowd and act like everyone else, but I'm just waiting to pick you off one-by-one. You flock to the tech sector, I'm there waiting for you. You run to pharmaceuticals, I'm laying in the weeds. You run to gold, I've cornered you again. I know your habits, and your tendencies. I know how you think. You may fear me, hate me, misunderstand me, or appreciate what I do but I'm prepared to fulfill my function just as you serve your place in the herd.

How true that is.

Take your pee.. and rawr,

MP

* proposed

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I nominate Bentley, he's drunk most of the time and he has a lot of guns. Nothing could possibly go wrong.

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2nded

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If we ever went for an ombudsman, mr pickles, I can easily see it being you.

J

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Not until you provide your chemistry related credentials.

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Not until you provide your chemistry related credentials.

:shrug:

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Hey Pickles, the bastards axed the Test Forum. It ain't right...

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If we ever went for an ombudsman, mr pickles, I can easily see it being you. J

this sounds an awful lot like how I broke up with my girlfriend in college.

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Not until you provide your chemistry related credentials.

:shrug:
:(:lmao:

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Not until you provide your chemistry related credentials.

:shrug:
:(:lmao:
:lmao: :lmao: :lmao:

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Not until you provide your chemistry related credentials.

:shrug:
:(:lmao:
:lmao: :lmao: :lmao:
Anyone seen Konotay? :(

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Ever think of not criticizing something? :shrug::thumbup:

How about I send you a delicious pizza or ham?

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Hey Pickles, the bastards axed the Test Forum. It ain't right...

BUMPfor the new ombusdman.C'mon Mr. P, set the wheels in motion to pave the way for the return of the :thumbup:

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Ever think of not criticizing something? :shrug::thumbup:

How about I send you a delicious pizza or ham?
I could use one. Lonely in Albuquerque. Went home to Austin this weekend and it's almost worse than I did. Workint an average of 16 hours a day, six days. Pizza would warm my soul Pickles.

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No offense to Pickles, but there's better candidates out there.

woz@footballguys.com - The People's Ombudsman.

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Ever think of not criticizing something? :shrug::thumbup:

How about I send you a delicious pizza or ham?
I could use one. Lonely in Albuquerque. Went home to Austin this weekend and it's almost worse than I did. Workint an average of 16 hours a day, six days. Pizza would warm my soul Pickles.
Give me all the info and I'll make this happen.

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Ever think of not criticizing something? :shrug::thumbup:

How about I send you a delicious pizza or ham?
I could use one. Lonely in Albuquerque. Went home to Austin this weekend and it's almost worse than I did. Workint an average of 16 hours a day, six days. Pizza would warm my soul Pickles.
Give me all the info and I'll make this happen.
Ladies and Gentlemen, our ombudsman.

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Well, since you're the only one who knows what one is, I think you'd be a great choice.

You're doin a heck of a job, Picky

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If we ever went for an ombudsman, mr pickles, I can easily see it being you. J

this sounds an awful lot like how I broke up with my girlfriend in college.
:lmao: at both of these posts

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I would think a requirement of the Ombudsman would be that he/she doesn't post on the site in order to maintain neutrality

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Like you, I can't think of a better person to do this than BGP, but since he's currently off on some great adventure that I'm sure we'll all hear about on the news some day,

:goodposting:"He seemed like such a nice guy. Kind of quiet and kept to himself, always on the internet and trying to sell me on gold."

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I'll support Pickles...but not as well as a FBG thong.

Skip the T-Shirt and make this an even deal.

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Just start doing the job. Eventually the checks just will start showing up. Isn't that how it worked for the rest of the mods?

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just me or did that first post not read like a Pickles post

4 Members: mr. furley, Ted Lange as your Bartender, trout :kicksrock: , Cliff Clavin

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Just start doing the job. Eventually the checks just will start showing up. Isn't that how it worked for the rest of the mods?

This is solid posting.

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On the Forum Moderation at Footballguys: A Grossly Selective Retrospective, 2003-2010

By Mr. Pickles

FBG (unofficial) Ombudsman

A key dilemma of any online forum is how to best moderate its users. When footballguys.com moved its forums to new and improved servers on April 14, 2003, it marked not only a defining moment in the site's history, but also introduced new and complex issues associated with the popularity of a highly trafficked forum. Gone was "Ol' Yeller," which had served admirably but was archaic, unkempt, and in need of upgrading, and in came "Baby Blue," a site that was fresh, dynamic, and dare I say, a little bit sexy.

Much like the California Gold Rush of the 19th century, over-eager users flooded the new forums with wide-eyed dreams of fortune and prosperity, eager to make an indelible mark on this nascent community. Some, like Zippy, were perhaps a bit too eager and posted recklessly only to burn out under the burden of lofty expectations. Others abused their new-found freedoms by embedding absurdly large pics of well-endowed starlets directly into their posts. Some sought to bring their unique personalities to bear and made outlandish statements about 33" verts and exploding sliders.

Quickly, within hours really, site moderators knew they weren't in Kansas anymore. Their pollyanna notions of "Ol' Yeller" had been obliterated, and it wasn't clear where things were going.

Behind the scenes, paid staff (Joe) had to determine how to balance the interests of the main site which provided "exclusive" fantasy football content, like AVT which was thieved from Kid C, with those of the user forums. Within the forums, there was a growing divide between the "Shark Pool" (SP), which dealt in the high value currency of whom one should start each week, and the "Free For All" (FFA) which was primarily interested in who had the best rack. Of course there were other subforums as well, such as the Test Forum and Secret Mod Forum, but these were largely populated by drifters and malcontents who barely merit mention. The critical question was: "what is best for business?" What level of moderation should be deployed? Was it better to let the inmates run the asylum, or should a community be held to a standard that mother would be proud of? And how will all of this mesh with Dodds' out-of-control gambling addiction?

Within days of the new forum roll out, "Baby Blue" was a baby no longer. Restrictions were put in place to ensure that users did not abuse the system. Initially these changes were small, like the restriction of the IMG tag, where justification was related to things like "server load." However, users started to suspect something different was afoot, and over time there were time outs issued for content, and even bannings. Now, to be fair, this was nothing new. Ol' Yeller had its share of heavy-handedness at times, but perhaps against the backdrop of the new color scheme, the actions of the moderating team seemed a bit over-the-top given the vim and vigor of its ADHD user base.

As the site reached the toddler stage, a reasonable precedent had been established where line-steppers were dealt with, and most were able to abide by the request to keep things to ESPN standards. That is, if Stuart Scott can say it and likely butcher it, it's probably okay for the site. And so it went. Cliques were formed, posters were ridiculed, Joe T's paranoia grew, people were stalked, marriages were broken up... all in the name of good fun.

So when did things change? On or around April 2007 when Shick!, the self-proclaimed "board cop," left the site*... sorta. Of course his exit was loud, it was bombastic, it was public, and honestly, it was probably long overdue. However, Shick! endured an ugly incident where a rogue poster decided to play some real-life werewolf with everyone's favorite math teacher:

Phone rang. Someone called my classroom. That's pretty messed up. They had some choice words for me and my tactics. I hung up pretty quick. They called again shortly thereafter. I unplugged the phone after that. When I got home that night I couldn't not tell my wife. We're best friends and just can't keep secrets from each other. We agreed the best thing was for me to stop being the board cop. I'm currently the lightning rod for criticism of our board moderation. Will somebody show up at my door someday looking to take out their frustrations? I doubt it, but why take that chance? There are some fairly unstable people out there.

Anyone would be shaken up by an incident like that. Anyone. Even a T-Rex like BGP. Was this an indictment of Shick!'s practices as "board cop?" It was not. Sure the guy got a little jazzed up at times and exacted some personal vendettas on posters, but for the most part he was semi-to-mostly fair, he was pretty careful, he sure as heck meant well, and he was maybe even respected. The job isn't easy.. it's thankless, and very few could probably do it with any proficiency, but for four years, Mr. Factorial did a pretty good job and gave it his level best. Not everyone knows when they've lost their fastball, but Shick! knew it and he got out. Sure he might have threatened to fight a guy or two, and maybe he made a few false accusations especially after a Seahawks loss, but you try being a mod; the pay is lousy and your approval ratings are usually below that of Congress.

With the exit of Shick! came the end of what can only be called the "High Renaissance" in the FFA. The late night clique parties, the spontaneous milker drafts, the serious talk of Marshall Faulk's ball cancer: all gone. Sure, Napoleon self-exiled to Elba, but what did we get in his place? Louis the flippin' XVIII: the faceless mod. The boogeyman. Your worst moderating nightmare. Gone were the personalized, usually antagonistic, PMs vaguely informing you about your offense. There was no pleading for mercy here. He wanted to crush his enemies, see them driven before him, and to hear the lamentation of their women. One day you make a comment about a Bush Twin (even the fat one), and the next day you're clipped for a year (ed: please don't clip me for a year). That's how faceless mod rolls, and you'd best get out of his way. To this day, no one really knows who or what the faceless mod is. Maybe a Drinen Markov-chain algorithm? Maybe Wimer on a bender? It's kind of a mystery, but what's known is that things changed. "Same as day one" was a myth. Welcome to the serious business era.

It was around this time that Footballguys started toying with the idea of advertising. While the management of this site protested vociferously about the relative value of the FFA forum and often threatened to shut it down with all of the seriousness of Fred Thompson's 2008 presidential candidacy, the facade of that threat eroded even further with the implementation of a direct revenue stream tied to forum traffic. No longer was it necessary to talk about the theoretical connection between forum use and increased subscriber fees, you could suddenly put a dollar sign on all of those aliases, threads about one man playing Madden, and metrosexual fashion talk. And really, all the better for the two or three guys that get paid by this site, but at least one of the shadowy curtains obfuscating this operation had been pulled back. The Tin Man may not have gotten that heart he so desperately wanted, but he probably could have bought one on the black market.

So where do we stand in 2010? Is this the change we can believe in? I think it's safe to say that "same as day one" is more dead than Generalissimo Franco. The standard of ESPN, and recently "PG," has devolved into "whatever you can tell your grandmother without making her blush." Now, surely there are habitual line-steppers and people that need to be "dealt" with, however the vast majority of people in this forum are adults with real responsibilities and families of their own. They're used to engaging in grown up conversations and reasoning with people through meaningful discourse. It's been a while since they've been told to "cool it," "find a new board," or "go no avatar for now." And really, the hyperconservative content policy is a little out of step with the current state of internet communities and businesses. Of course there are considerations to be made about the product and how its represented, even some legal issues to factor in, but when someone can go to Yahoo or Facebook and read countless spam posts about people being "first," solicitations for hot tranny pr0n, and offers of human trafficking, I think it's safe to say that people don't expect to be nannied to death and that most clear thinking adults realize that your users aren't necessarily a reflection of your product. The idea that you're sheltering anyone from the big bad world or somehow upholding this site as some kind of internet utopia is a bit myopic and naïve.

Should we then advocate for an "anything goes" style of moderation? Absolutely not, but let's be reasonable here. We'll get quite far with a common sense approach. If the content is clearly out of bounds to the point that many object, that's a good starting benchmark. The language filter should be calibrated in accordance with this. Most appreciate the "safe for work" vibe of the site, but not the odd censoring of weird things like STEU into "be quiet please" (try it yourself), which makes not a lick of sense anyway. When people are openly laughing incredulously at various policies and editorial choices, it might be time to rethink them. And it's okay to say you're wrong. Really. Use Thomas Alva Edison as inspiration. Sometimes, against your better judgment, things turn out to be not only popular at large, but good for business too.

In the end, this site, and this forum in particular, are the property of the owners, and that is what everyone understands and appreciates implicitly, to the point that many posters have that line programmed as a macro on their keyboard. It is the conclusion of this ombudsman, however, that relatively small and targeted changes would not only improve the general user experience, but the bottom line as well, without sacrificing that 99.44% level of purity that we've all come to expect. Consistency should be a goal, along with a more personal approach. Perhaps a user roundtable would be productive? Or maybe an expert consultant? Or nothing could be done, and things could continue to be "the same as day one" much as Rome is still the dominant world empire.

Until next time...

* Member 6, formerly held by Shick at the time of that post, was later auctioned off.

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On the Forum Moderation at Footballguys: A Grossly Selective Retrospective, 2003-2010

By Mr. Pickles

FBG (unofficial) Ombudsman

solid work here

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Earlier I was going to post that anyone who nominated himself should automatically be disqualified but darned if Poodles didn't find somebody to write a pretty good piece for him. We need that guy to get his own user name and post more.

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Pickles,

Will you date my sister?

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On the Forum Moderation at Footballguys: A Grossly Selective Retrospective, 2003-2010

If one was to start assembling a notebook, this is would be post 0 of where to start. Bravo.

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One day you make a comment about a Bush Twin (even the fat one), and the next day you're clipped for a year (ed: please don't clip me for a year).

:X

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...but also get an *** OFFICIAL *** footballguys.com email address (sorry, Ministry of Pain) and maybe a t-shirt, pending availability.

You should hold out for the FBG thong...

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