MGoBlog's community is like a bear crossed with a piranha crossed with, naturally, a wolverine: noble, powerful, mean, vicious, and capable of turning an unwise traveler into bone within 15 seconds. Perhaps the most common interaction on the message board is this:
n00b: I say something n00by. Maybe I've been infected by Rome or Bayless or whatever and I have a "take" which I "bring strong", i.e. overreact to something.
Old Guard: You are wrong in these seven ways, which I will explain to you in a fashion 150% as condescending as you deserve.
At this point there's a fork. Some people take it personally and resolve to hate the "cool kids" or whatever. Other demonstrate coachability.
Examples of this process often concern recruiting, because recruiting is something you can get really worked up about without having any information whatsoever. The latest came in the aftermath of LA WR Drew Dileo's commitment, about which I was lukewarm. Others were somewhere between lukewarm and hysterical, which annoyed people less prone to questioning, which caused arguments to erupt, which caused everyone slightly on one side to become very much on one side or the other for purposes of the argument, which led to this diary from ShockFX…
Question 1: How do I deal with Michigan recruits dropping places in the rankings?
A) Bitch about them dropping for being already committed.
B) Fret about not having any top 100 recruits in May.
C) Get enraged that Rivals sucks at ranking players and isn't fair, then shamefully realize my last post was demeaning Rich Rod for offering 'middle of road' WRs, where middle of the road is determined using rankings like Rivals. Oops.
D) Point out RR track record in excelling with recruits that are low ranked, and hell, it's only fucking May, these kids are juniors in high school and this addiction is borderline pedophilia even to the greeks/spartans (the ancient ones, not the rollerbladin' brahs in the EL).
E) Just D.
…which led to this message board thread…
so I wonder, in light of the diary that is the self test, what is okay for us fans to pay attention to recruiting wise that isnt crossing "The Line?" What do you consider crossing the line?
But how much is too much? Because when I read things like this, a WLA post from our friend ShockFX, and others like it, it's clear that people think a line exists. This is a recent mgoblog thread about recruiting and "the line."
…which led to this post you are reading right now. Here we are. I liked the bear/piranha/wolverine metaphor. Did you?
There are two separate lines of questioning I'd like to address and will do so separately. Line one:
At what point do you cross the line from being a passionate fan who follows recruiting to being a creepy guy?
A hilariously/awfully outdated post on the general ethics of following recruiting still holds true even if it chose literally the worst possible example:
2. Do not disparage recruits except in extraordinary circumstances.
This goes quadruple for uncommitted recruits--a recent flagrant example on Rivals occurred when someone posted some idiocy about how he doubted Justin Boren's "love for Michigan" because he hadn't committed yet. Boren committed soon after and then expressed his love for Michigan. How do you feel now, anonymous internet moron?
Except for that, though, the post stands up remarkably well for something I wrote four years ago. Just don't do anything that you wouldn't do if the 300 pound heaving mass of mobile death was standing in front of you. I don't think many people come anywhere near that, but there are some.
Speaking of Facebook: whenever a recruit or player post something that seems newsworthy as his status, people immediately report it on message boards across the internet. This is followed by a round of recriminations by people who don't like the idea because it's a violation of privacy or something*. The above-cited thread has an example of this:
I refuse to look up recruits on facebook/myspace because that is just over the top, i do wonder sometimes why we are allowing for so many wr recruits to commit, and i do pay attention to the stars on rivals but i dont complain about it here at mgoblog.
Which… uh. Either you're the kind of person who has 2000 friends because you're a football player (or blogger) and auto-approves anyone who adds you, or you're the kind of person who has 200 friends because you add that guy you met at that party one time. Either way, you don't have an expectation of privacy when you post "GOING TO COMMIT TO MICHIGAN WOO" as your status, or when you trash talk a goat.
If it's on the internet, it's public. There is undoubtedly someone employed by the Michigan athletic department right now whose main task is to beat this fact into athlete's heads.
What you absolutely should not do is annoy someone. Back to Maize 'n' Brew:
Some people obviously think it's not crossing any line to post on a recruit's facebook page. A recent post on Anthony Lalota's page says "Good luck tomorrow - from Tony in Columbus - Go Blue." Does this seemingly innocent wall-post cross this mythical line? What if that wall post had said "Yer gonna suck for 4 years, go blow - ha. buckeyes4lyfe"?
Wall Post A: No. I think it's a little weird that you're seeking out the ability to toss meaningless yay go yay words at someone you don't know, but whatever. That's probably the kind of interaction you'd have with LaLota if you met him IRL. Wall Post B: Yes. Obviously.
From a media standpoint, I regard anything directly relevant to a player's football career as fair game but won't report on irrelevant things unless they're harmlessly awesome like the above goat trash-talk. I like Facebook's ability to humanize football players like that. Johnny's posts at RBUAS were greatly improved by the addition of various slice-of-life photos gathered from Facebook. It's a delicate balance best undertaken with a sense of respect for the subject, and I'm sure there will be various incidents that make it seem like a bad thing. It can be a powerfully good one, too.
*(This is mostly a feature of premium message boards, since people on those message boards take their cues from the moderators and the moderators want to discourage people getting information straight from the source for obvious reasons.)
Why do people keep crushing my face on the message board?
Because you're annoying. (Not you, specifically, guy who posted the thread.) In an information surplus economy people want things that are clear, to the point, informative, original, and/or entertaining. If you're posting in a near-illiterate pidgin or continually overreacting to minor news events people are going to get their dander up. You're wasting their time, and on the internet that time could be spent watching keyboard cat play someone off.
This is valuable time.
I get the frustration when someone posts something that has none of the above positive qualities, but I also get the frustration of the n00b when everything that does not meet exacting standards of netiquette gets the piranha treatment.
The answer is probably for everyone to just take it easy, man. This will probably not happen.