Anyone who knows me knows that I like a pub, and a metaphor. So given the nation’s tentative excitement about pubs re-opening on Saturday I thought I’d write a note about our beloved-but-behated comments section👇
I like to think of the comments section as a pub. We are the bartenders. We keep the drinks and crisps flowing but we don’t get involved, unless a fight breaks out. In which case, we break it up and move on. Some of our regulars are a bit gnarly, but it just wouldn’t be the same place without them. If you don’t like the atmosphere, no one is forcing you to attend. Frankly, the only viable alternative is to shut down, which no one really wants…
A few years ago we launched the FPL Forum, but had to shut it down after two warring factions hijacked every thread with alleged sniping and innuendo. We received complaints from both sides, the deciphering of which was near impossible given the subtlety and sheer volume of material. We lost some of our dearest FPL veterans (please come back Boss Bitch), who wouldn’t forgive us for shutting the forum down, or not taking their side.
We still receive highly detailed complaints (usually coincided with counter-complaint) which, nearly every time, amount to simple disagreements, with no discernible foul-play. We have a full-time Community Manager who spends a lot of time reading and considering whether our forum guidelines have been breached – they are not being ignored. It puzzles us why adults keep clashing like this. It’s a free lottery for flips’ sake!
I blame the limits of textual conversation. I cannot recall one occasion where I’ve written a strongly worded email and had a conciliatory response. It always escalates. Emoji’s really help, but nothing beats speaking to each other in person, something that is not an option for us, particularly at the moment.
Maybe thinking of it as a pub will help us all grow thicker skin. Perhaps we should rename it the PMP Arms. I quite like that.