May 02, 2008

Guess I didn't get the memo: Newbies have to take a sports quiz to join SpoFi, but they can't view a chunk of the site "guidelines"? More inside.

posted by lil_brown_bat to editorial policy at 11:16 AM - 22 comments

Hey, admins, when did you start having new members take a quiz in order to sign up? And what exactly is the purpose of it? Right now we have a brand-new newbie getting feisty in a thread because someone corrected his diction. The problem with criticisms such as the one leveled at him is that we still don't provide a link to the "no AOLisms, check yer spelling" business in the new user message or posting guidelines. This means that a chunk of the so-called "standards" of the site are completely hidden from a newb's view -- from anyone's view, unless they do some pretty determined hunting around, and how would a newb know that they even needed to hunt? I've raised that issue before and for whatever reason, the simple and easy step of making a link to that set of "guidelines" hasn't happened. Yet it apparently made sense to someone to create a quiz that they have to pass before they can sign up. Does this make sense?

posted by lil_brown_bat at 11:17 AM on May 02, 2008

If memory serves, the quiz came about as a minimum-intelligence hurdle, to keep mouth-breathers and youtube-level comments off the site. It goes back about a year, and there was no small amount of discussion about it when it went down. I agree, however, about the guidelines & wiki needing to be more prominently displayed. They're guidelines, not rules, and that needs to be reinforced, but I'm with you on that. (That correction was a tetch picayune, though, wasn't it.)

posted by chicobangs at 12:25 PM on May 02, 2008

To clarify, I'm not objecting to the quiz -- just to the situation where we give them links to a "new user message" and "posting guidelines" that make no mention of the "write right" stuff. Assuming they're diligent enough to read these documents, isn't it reasonable for them to assume that they're up to speed on the site's standards? I hate posts with crappy spelling, diction and so on, but how can we criticize them if we don't ever point people in the right direction?

posted by lil_brown_bat at 12:31 PM on May 02, 2008

No matter where this goes, I'm with lbb. It makes my skin crawl when I read a post wherein every word that isn't monosyllabic is misspelled. I'm guilty of more than my share of typos, but damn. If you look at the angry response posted there, it's freakin hilarious. After misspelling at least 10 more words (I'm going to go back and count now) the author gleefully points out his one intentional misspelling. Just a quick spellcheck might make posts infinitely more palatable.

posted by tahoemoj at 01:10 PM on May 02, 2008

O.K. it's eight more as I see it. And if the entire post was tongue-in-cheek, then it's actually pretty damn funny!

posted by tahoemoj at 01:12 PM on May 02, 2008

The membership quiz was added in February 2006 in response to a flood of hit-and-run new members who were treating the place like a message board. Our thinking was that asking new members to jump through a three small hoops might weed some of that out. Are you suggesting that new members be shown this?

posted by rcade at 02:37 PM on May 02, 2008

I agree with making the guidelines more readily available, but I think pointing out that "irregardless" isn't a word was a bit much. The abundance of ellipses in that post seemed to be more of a problem. On preview, I think more specifically they should be shown this.

posted by goddam at 02:45 PM on May 02, 2008

O crap I fail d quiz so I hav 2 quit. U r rite lbb. we cant spel 2 gud so we shut up. OK, I really agree with you. It does make it a lot easier to read a comment when it is written with some idea of how to compose an English sentence. It is also a lot easier to understand a commenter's point, in order to agree with it or make an argument against it. This said, we are not all competent writers. I'm old enough to have been painfully taught how to construct sentences (remember diagramming them?), and I've also taken a couple of courses in technical writing. I say that we need to cut some of the poorer writers among our newbs a little slack. If they are not blathering, flaming others, or otherwise causing pain to our eyes, then gently correct them IN PRIVATE via their e-mail. If they are causing offense through their language or flaming, then cut them off (temporarily) from the discussion and let them know why. One of the things I was always taught was to praise publicly but criticize privately.

posted by Howard_T at 02:47 PM on May 02, 2008

It goes back about a year a little over two years There, fixed my own statement. Jeezus, tempus fugit.

posted by chicobangs at 02:54 PM on May 02, 2008

...but I think pointing out that "irregardless" isn't a word was a bit much. I don't think DudeDykstra meant any harm and I believe him when he told knowsalittle that he enjoyed his story. I think knowsalittle just took the grammar advice the wrong way.

posted by NoMich at 04:15 PM on May 02, 2008

To clarify again, I wasn't criticizing DudeDykstra either. We do have a higher standard than the rest of the web, which I think is good. I think we want to encourage it. It's just that we need to make the noobs aware of it in a more proactive way (the page goddam linked to is the one I was thinking of, although also having a link to spofiwiki would not be a bad thing). On most of the web, you're a lamer if you say anything about someone's spelling or grammar or punctuation, so given the context, I can't blame knowsalittle for getting irked.

posted by lil_brown_bat at 04:46 PM on May 02, 2008

This situation is inflammable, or flammable. Irregardless, I think punctuation and grammar are important. Oh, and what tahoemoj said about them there non-monosyllabic words.

posted by tommybiden at 08:28 PM on May 02, 2008

The guidelines have been written and rewritten over the space of a year, so I think they're ready for prime time. Terrapin did a great job with the wiki. I've wanted them on the website for a while now, but including a link in a welcome email or even when given the quiz is also a good idea. I could post them in the sidebar but rcade or kirk putting them permanently on the site is a better solution.

posted by justgary at 08:53 PM on May 02, 2008

I welcome the enforcement of proper grammar, or at least decent communication skills. This is another reason that I enjoy coming to this site. In some ways, this site represents more than just sports. It's sometimes a celebration of communication in the short, written form. But teaching the lesson should be handled with a certain amount of grace and consideration for the person who may be struggling with it. If they choose to ignore or become abusive of someone or group of someones who has tried to be of assistance, then give them a tour of the guidelines once again (which ALL SpoFites should have to read and agree to before being allowed to comment). If they continue their beligerance, then let 'em have it.

posted by THX-1138 at 10:55 PM on May 02, 2008

Gary: Let me know where you want to post them here on SportsFilter.Com, and I'll make the change this weekend.

posted by rcade at 08:38 AM on May 03, 2008

I find the international quiz to be easier than the American quiz.

posted by Ying Yang Mafia at 09:15 AM on May 03, 2008

BTW, the guidelines and the FAQ on the wiki are the only pages locked down from being changes by anyone except wiki admins... right now that is me and justgary. The idea being that guidelines, etc need to be discussed before being altered... or at least be approved by those who run the site. I do not make changes to the guidelines unless asked to by a SpoFi admin.

posted by scully at 09:20 AM on May 03, 2008

Also, if you are adding the wiki/guidelines to the navigation, rcade, can something be done about the way it displays in Firefox? At least on Mac the "search" link drops below the orange field and is hidden in the white below ... and invisible unless moused over.

posted by scully at 09:26 AM on May 03, 2008

Also, if you are adding the wiki/guidelines to the navigation, rcade, can something be done about the way it displays in Firefox? At least on Mac the "search" link drops below the orange field and is hidden in the white below ... and invisible unless moused over. It does that on the "profile" page as well. I thought it was fun, ya know, you have to search for the ability to search.

posted by BoKnows at 09:29 AM on May 03, 2008

Rcade, it doesn't really matter to me where. In the side bar at the top would be fine, or the link guideline pages. Where ever it's easier and looks better to you.

posted by justgary at 01:36 PM on May 03, 2008

Thanks for fixing the search link!

posted by scully at 05:08 PM on May 04, 2008

Idea* Why don't we make a quiz based upon the guidelines already setup? This would mean they have to read them, and might actually understand them more throughly. (Even though most of them are self-explanatory.) An example question would be something like "Whats rule states that use of AOLisms isnt allowed"... etc...

posted by Kendall at 05:27 PM on May 30, 2008

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