It’s a tough time to be the admin of message boards.
That’s actually always a true statement, but since mid-March, when the country was shut down, it’s been even more of a slog.
Our message boards are, of course, sports boards. Normally, we do our best to prohibit discussion about the hot-button issues of politics, religion, and race. But in the spring/summer of this pandemic and social unrest, political and racial issues have bled over into sports in a big way, blurring the lines.
For example, discussion about national political issues usually has nothing to do with sports. But the virus discussion, which has been heavily politicized, has a lot to do with sports. The pandemic is determining whether or not sports will be played, and if so, how they will be played.
Here’s the fundamental problem with trying to properly moderate a message board in this era … there are two major reasons people visit our boards: (1) to commune and discuss with others in our Hokie community about important issues of the day, especially VT sports; and (2) to get away from discussions of important issues of the day, and just talk about sports.
Those two viewpoints are sometimes directly at odds with each other.
We do our best to foster a sense of community on our boards, to bring people together and create a place where people can discuss, share, and bond. A ton of you are virtual message board friends, and some of you are even personal friends. These are difficult times, and you want to navigate through them by discussing them with your (real and virtual) friends. This group wants to talk about the social and political issues of the day, not just the sports issues.
But the other, sports-only group, doesn’t want to see any discussion of the virus on the boards, because they’re coming here to get away from it.
If we delete non-sports-related coronavirus discussions, some visitors get mad that we’re clamping down on the ability of the community to discuss, and they threaten to quit visiting the site and to cancel their subscriptions. If we don’t delete those discussions, others get mad that we’re allowing those posts to stay up, and they threaten to quit visiting and to cancel their subscriptions. We can’t win.
So we ask that you be patient with each other, and with us here at Tech Sideline. This isn’t easy for anyone, and there are no right and wrong answers or easy paths for us to take here at TSL.
To give us a feel for how to proceed, please answer a few poll questions. Thanks, and hang in there.
Poll Questions for Users of Our Message Boards
We have prepared six poll questions about the message boards. If you don’t visit our message boards, there’s no reason to bother answering any of these questions. We’re looking for feedback from people who visit the boards, whether you’re a poster or just a reader.
As always, we have done our best to capture salient points in a poll format. We understand that these questions are more nuanced than what you see here, and polls do not capture nuance. Please do your best to answer the questions honestly.
For the time being, the pandemic has had a much bigger effect on our boards than the social unrest around the country, so the questions center on the virus.
What is your overall opinion of our boards and board moderation since coronavirus shut down sports (mid-March)?
- The Same (60%, 1,230 Votes)
- Better (6%, 130 Votes)
- Worse (22%, 445 Votes)
- Don't know/no opinion (12%, 239 Votes)
Total Voters: 2,044
Do you think there has been too much non-sports-related and non-Virginia-Tech-related discussion of the pandemic on our boards?
- Yes (46%, 924 Votes)
- No (42%, 848 Votes)
- Don't know/no opinion (12%, 252 Votes)
Total Voters: 2,024
Do you think we should delete all discussion of the coronavirus, unless it relates to sports or Virginia Tech?
- Yes (41%, 834 Votes)
- No (50%, 1,026 Votes)
- Don't know/no opinion (9%, 178 Votes)
Total Voters: 2,038
Do you think we should let the board community openly discuss the pandemic, even if it's not sports related or Virginia Tech related?
- Yes (42%, 852 Votes)
- No (48%, 971 Votes)
- Don't know/no opinion (10%, 192 Votes)
Total Voters: 2,015
If you're visiting the boards less these days, what is the primary reason? (If you're not visiting less, don't answer)
- Because there are no sports going on (65%, 1,039 Votes)
- Because there's too much discussion about the virus and politics (23%, 364 Votes)
- Other (13%, 204 Votes)
Total Voters: 1,607
If you're a subscriber, are you considering canceling your subscription because of the current state of the message boards?
- Yes (8%, 132 Votes)
- No (85%, 1,492 Votes)
- Not sure (8%, 136 Votes)
Total Voters: 1,760
Thanks for the feedback. Remember, we just host these boards. They are your community, and you are responsible for the direction of the community. If you want people to speak more kindly, then speak kindly. If you want people to discuss sports more, then start a thread about sports. Our boards are what you make them.