Everything is below the jump. This is for everybody.
One of our goals with Rocky Top Talk is to create an environment where people can discuss news, events, and opinions about all things Volunteer. Fandom is a very subjective thing, and opinions are always going to be all over the map. That's why we try to give an extremely wide berth on opinions and ask only for a bit of graciousness and courtesy (e.g. be polite when presenting opinions and be tolerant when receiving them). The only real hard and fast rule that gets uncompromisingly enforced is the language rule, which we believe is necessary to keep the site above the mindless squabble of unmoderated boards. Other than that, we as site administrators know that our opinions and tendencies may be very different from others, and we don't want anybody to feel like they have to shoehorn themselves into our mold in order to be a part of the stie.
But over the last few weeks, there has been a decided increase in the hostility within various discussions on Rocky Top Talk. A lot of the debates originated from offsite sources - various postings and opinions across the web - and subsequently migrated here by various means (which, on one or two occasions, was by myself). But it's been something that has escalated over time, with small actions leading to slightly stronger reactions, which in turn lead to more slightly stronger reactions, and so on. And now we're at the point where discussions are getting completely bogged down in accusations and defenses of the one thing that's supposed to differ among us all: our opinions.
At some point in time, the arguing begins to reflect on Rocky Top Talk as a whole, and too much chatboard flame-warring can actually shut down outside opinions - especially from the huge influx of new readers we've been experiencing over the last few weeks. So...
Certain threads are being shut down. A few of our 'Posts and Stories have devolved into nothingness. Those will be closed for comments once this particular post goes up. Let them go. The Record of Wrongs will stay up, and it's ok to have fun in there, so long as everybody remembers that the whole thing is supposed to be silly fun in the first place.
Ad hominem attacks/accusations need to end. Humor regarding fan stereotypes is a part of being a fan, but we're getting a little too personal with it. Find ways to agree/disagree/poke fun without going down the road of "stupid" or "classless".
SBNation has a built-in system for flagging trolls and spam. Use it. I'll freely admit that, as a moderator, I haven't tracked the flags as consistently as I should, but a part of that is because we went for such a long time where we'd only get one flag every few months. Even during the Fulmer firing and the Kiffin-Pahokee phase, trolling wasn't an issue. We need to work our way back to it. So if you suspect a troll (and not simply a disagreement of opinion), flag the post or comment and don't respond. (Or, if you do respond, simply try to engage them in discussion. Not all 'trolls' are really trolls; some just need to acclimate.) You can fill us in on your opinion via the flag mechanism and keep a troll/spammer from killing an otherwise good discussion thread. The flag option is under the 'actions' button below every post and comment.
Nobody's in trouble here. This is something that has built up slowly over time; we're just toning down the heat a bit. You don't need to apologize or look at somebody and say I-told-you-so; just keep it civil. We really do appreciate having all of you on board (fans and rivals) and, like I said earlier, we really don't want to come across as internet dictators (even if this is our site to run). There is no rear-view mirror at play.