GoVolsXtra goes to a subscription model; Rocky Top Talk remains 100% free

Streeter Lecka

Rocky Top Talk -- War room and VIP clubs conspicuously absent.

So GoVolsXtra and the Knoxville News Sentinel have apparently erected a paywall and gone to a subscription-based system (at $12 per month or $13 if you want the paper, too) one week before football season starts. This would be a good time to remind y'all that Rocky Top Talk is completely 100% free. Always has been. Volquest is not. The Tennessee 247 site is not. We are. (UPDATE: In the interest of full disclosure, most of us here at RTT are paying subscribers to both Volquest and 247. We like those guys, and they have great sites. Not a dig at them. It's just that  -- you know, we're FREE. ;-) )

What coverage can I expect at Rocky Top Talk?

If you're new here, here's what you can expect during game week from us: On Mondays, we generally have three posts that look back at the prior weekend's game. One monitors Tennessee's improvement (hopefully it's improvement), a "trending report" post that looks at key players and whether their stock is rising or falling, and a post reacting to the Monday press conference.

On Tuesdays, we take a look at what UT's future opponents did the prior weekend, take a look at the Top 25 in college football, and have a live podcast at 9:00 p.m.

The rest of the week is basically previewing the upcoming game. On Wednesdays, we have a statsy game preview and take a stab at predicting the outcome (along with some recruiting news), and on Thursdays the preview turns more toward Xs and Os. Then on Friday, we have a sort of storytelling game preview, a community Guessing Game, and a discussion of odds for the weekend's slate of football games.

Things really heat up on the weekends, when we have open game-watching threads using the internet's absolute best commenting system. It's auto-updating (no need to refresh) and threaded (so replies and responses stay stuck to each other so that they're easier to follow. Really, it's like the best of Twitter (auto-updating without having to refresh) but with the ability to keep things organized. And it's full of Vols fans.

After the game, we'll have an immediate reaction piece and a place to either celebrate or commisserate, and then on Sunday, we'll have another in-depth recap by our master Storyteller, Will Shelton.

All of that is our regular stuff and doesn't even account for the breaking news, recruiting, and other spur of the moment stuff we'll do throughout the week. (Teaser: Stay tuned for something extra special tomorrow or Wednesday.)

Aren't blogs on the internet full of trolls? I mean, the comment section at GVX was bad enough.

Yes and no. Yes there, no here. The reason newspaper comment sections are so ugly is because they are mostly unmoderated and almost universally ignored by the writers themselves. The columnists write their column and give it to their editor, and then go have coffee and never talk to readers. We're extremely active in our own comment threads and believe the front page post is just the beginning of a two-way conversation.

We also have community guidelines that we actually enforce:

    - Sense of Humor. Required.
    - Decorum. Discussion is good. Disagreement is good. Trolling, flaming, and personal attacks are . . . not so good. Pretend you're in the room with whoever you're talking to or about. If you'd hesitate to say it in person, don't say it here.
    - Profanity. It doesn't have to be all fairy tales and princesses around here, but let's keep it PG, please. Editors have unrestricted access to the Fulmerizer™, a proprietary device designed to substitute one of a list of former coach Phillip Fulmer's favorite G-rated alternatives for dirty words.
    - Criticism of players and coaches (and bloggers and commenters). Hey, have at it. It's what fans do, right? Just keep a couple of things in mind as you're venting. First, you just might regret critical words when you find out after the season that the guy you were hounding all year was waging a private battle with cancer or something the whole time you were critiquing him from the comfort of your couch. Second, each coach and player should be viewed as one of Roosevelt's "doers of deeds," who "if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly."
    - Rivals. Gator fan? 'Bama fan? Fan of any other team? Welcome! Seriously. Come on in and join the discussion. You can even talk a little smack as long as it's good-natured.
    - Material. Don't rip anybody off. If you find something somewhere else and want to post it here, quote an excerpt and link to the source. It's only right.

Just who are you guys, anyway?

The first thing to know about us is that we're fans. You will find no pretense of objectivity here. We want the teams to win. We also aren't "professional" journalists, but part timers with day jobs. We do this for fun. We sometimes neglect to correct typos because we're off to a meeting right after hitting publish.

And yet we try to be as professional as we can about it. SB Nation's tagline, after all, is "Pro Quality. Fan Perspective." That's us. We also like to have fun, so don't expect us to be all serious all of the time. Or even very often.

The site's been in existence since 2006, and our writers include me (Joel Hollingsworth), Will Shelton, Brad Shepard, Jay Brantner (who goes by Incipient_Senescence here), Chris Pendley, and a host of other folks who also contribute somewhat irregularly. David Hooper hasn't written here in awhile, but he's a nuclear engineer, and we're afraid to take him off the masthead. I'm a former attorney and current business owner, Will's a pastor in Athens, Brad's a former journalist now working in defense or something, Jay's getting a Ph.D. in Philosophy at North Carolina, and Chris . . . well, nobody knows what Chris does, exactly.

What else have we done?

Well, we've put out the only Tennessee Volunteers preseason magazine that is All Vols and no ads for the past five years. And you've probably heard Will on WNML with Josh Ward and Will West Friday afternoons at 1:45. But mostly we just quietly go about our business here.

So thanks for stopping by. If you're looking for a new place to read about the Vols and hang out with respectful Vols fans, welcome. Have a look around. A great place to start is the 100 Days of Vols series that we're winding up this week and our annual Idiot Optimist's Guide to the 2013 Season.

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