It's hard to believe, but six years ago today, the AZ SnakePit opened its doors for business. As we head toward the 2011 season, it thus seems an appropriate point to re-welcome visitors, old and new, and provide a handy introduction to the site. We were one of the earlier members of SB Nation, which I humbly submit is the finest aggregation of sports blogs in the world, and from early days when I was delighted to get any comments on a post, the 'Pit has grown into the biggest independent site devoted to the Arizona Diamondbacks. If you haven't been here before: welcome. After the jump, you'll find some helpful tips for getting around and about the place.
[This will also be placed in the side-bar, as I revamp the 'Useful Links' section, so if anyone has tips for navigating, etc. please feel free to lob 'em into the comments. Note: there'll be a separate, "Hello, my name is..." post going up next week, in which we can introduce yourselves, so let's keep this one on-topic]
A SnakePit road-map
The layout of the site overall should be fairly intuitive. New stuff is at the top, the right-hand side bar contains Fanshots and Fanpost (more on which shortly), links to the rest of SB Nation, our co-blogs here in Arizona, the 'Pit Facebook page and other useful places are on the left. [I've heard tell there are adverts here too, but let's just say, AdBlock Plus is my friend]. Note that for many of the stories, you will only see the first paragraph or two - this is to keep the page a manageable length. You can click on the title, the 'Continue Reading This Post' link or the 'Comments' link, to see the full-length version of the piece and to talk about it.
If this is your first time here, you probably want to sign up for a login. While you can read all you want without registering, commenting, creating Fanposts, recommending, etc. is only available to those who are members - though you can sign in with your Facebook account, for example. It's the difference between pressing your nose to the glass of a restaurant, and having a reservation. Go on: we'll wait for you here.
Right, now you've signed up, a plethora of possibilities open up. The main one you want to use is commenting. For registered users, there's a box at the bottom of every piece, where you can give your thoughts, opinions and responses. If there have already been comments, there's a 'reply' button beside each one, so you can use that to answer a previous comment - that way, your response will appear closer to the original, rather than all the way at the bottom, where no-one will know who you are talking to.
When reading comments, the Z key is your friend. After you go into a story, hitting it will take you to the first new comment. Hit it again, it will mark that comment as read, and take you to the next new one. Keep going, and it makes it easy to go through and see the latest thoughts - it's particularly helpful in the Gameday Threads, where new comments are frequent and can appear anywhere. Comments update in real time - you don't need to hit refresh, they just automagically appear on your page, for as long as you are on it. When you click somewhere else, all comments on the story at that point are set as read, so won't appear as 'new' the next time you go back into it.
Under a comment, if you click on 'Actions', you'll see a 'Rec' button. If someone has said something you agree with, is amusing or interesting, click the Rec. Popular comments appear as green, and in each Gameday Thread, we award a 'Comment of the Game' to the best contribution: the number of recs is taken into consideration. You can also recommend stories, Fanshots and Fanposts, and popular entries in the last two categories will appear in a special section on the right sidebar. The 'Actions' section also contains a 'Flag' option, if you find a comment offensive, or one that's spam [though the latter is much less an issue].
As well as comments, you can contribute Fanshots and Fanposts, through the block at the top-right of the site, just below the banner. Fanshots are typically quick and self-explanatory: links to news or interesting pieces elsewhere, photos, videos, quotes, etc. Fanposts are if you want to discuss something in more depth. For instance, if you see a story headlined "Diamondbacks to trade for Albert Pujols" and want to bring that to our attention, you'd do a Fanshot. If you want to write a story about the reasons why the Diamondbacks should (or should not) trade for Pujols, then you'd do a Fanpost. Good examples of either may get promoted by myself or another editor to the main page.
What happens when?
During the season, the regular structure of a day at the 'Pit centers on three posts. Kishi opens up with SnakeBytes, a daily dump of links and news, both Diamondbacks-related and more general, from around the Interweb tubes. About half an hour before first pitch, the Gameday Thread (GDT) is posted. That's where we follow the day's contest as it unfolds: imagine hanging out in a sportsbar with a bunch of fairly-opinionated and chatty friends. That's the atmosphere we're aiming for. Finally, after the game is over, one of our crack writers will post a Game Recap of what happened, including a chart showing how things fluctuated, and a roll-call of those present in the GDT.
There will also be other pieces posted, as and when necessary and available. We might look at the progress of our prospects, analyze a particular player's performance, discuss a trade rumor in depth, a preview of an upcoming series, that kind of thing. We want to provide a constant flow of interesting information, even when the team is not playing that day, so check back often.
How to Play Nice
Do not make the mistake of thinking this is an egalitarian democracy, or an anarcho-syndicalist commune, where we take it in turns to be a sort of executive officer for the week. Think of it more as a house party thrown by a generally benevolent but irritable South American dictator, and his military junta. Er, it's more fun that it sounds. What I mean is that the rules of behavior here are vague, arbitrarily enforced and
violators are likely to "disappear." constantly being revised. This is the best defense against Internet trolls, because any fixed set of standards would be taken by them as a challenge to circumvent.
soco has, however, put together a list of principles, which also includes a glossary of common terms and phrases you'll see around here. While a lot of it is common sense, and can be summarized in four words as "don't be a dick", I will freely admit that chunks of it make no sense. However, whether you agree with, disagree with, or don't understand the concepts expressed therein, it doesn't matter. Just abide by them. It's easier for everyone that way, m'kay? Penalties for their breach will vary: a quiet "Oi! You! Stoppit!" from one of the mods or editors, up to a formal warning, and on to a temporary or permanent ban.
That said, 99% of you will never even know any rules exist: we have close to 2,000 members, and outside obvious spammers, I doubt we've dropped the ban-hammer ten times [most of which were one guy who kept creating new accounts]. Again, a good rule is to treat this as you would being in a sports bar: don't say anything to anyone here, you wouldn't be prepared to say to their face. With your mother listening. Criticize people's opinions, by all means, rather than the person. For instance, in response to "The D-backs should totally trade for Pujols!"
Bad response = "You're a jackass."
Good response = "No, they shouldn't."
Best response = "No, they shouldn't, and here's why..."
You should note that, as in a bar, regulars will get more leeway, and also that sarcasm is unlikely far off. If you have to think "Is s/he being serious?", the odds are, no, we're not. Like any Internet forum, it's probably best to lurk and get a feel for the place, and the personalities. Gameday Threads might be a good place to dip your toe in the water, they're fast-moving, informal and off-topic, random chat is more generally
Stuff you should know
Also like any online community, there are a lot of in-jokes and references which are hilarious [okay - mildly amusing] to those who understand them, but will leave outsiders baffled and scratching their heads. There is no definitive list of these, because they rise and fall with the speed of Charlie Sheen's pop-culture profile [see, there's one, right there, that will probably have historical researchers baffled, when they pick over the Internet bones of the 'Pit, a thousand years hence]. See soco's piece, linked above, for some of the more important ones, but sticking around and asking questions is the only way to understand things.
No, really. Ask. I know it's embarrassing to go "What does X mean?", but it's either that or try and work it out for yourself. That applies in particular with regard to baseball stats, where we'll drop terms in pieces and comments, assuming - or, at least, hoping - people know what they mean. Newcomers might want check out our series of three articles which explain the abbreviations you'll see most often, and discuss what baseball numbers are 'meaningful'.
* Part 1: Hitting
* Part 2: Pitching
* Part 3: Fielding and miscellaneous
I want to contribute!
Sure! We are always looking for new voices and opinions. Almost everyone who is now an editor or moderator started off by posting Fanposts or Fanshots which were interesting and well-written [the exception is 'Skins, who simply hung about so often - those 70,000+ comments he has here didn't write themselves! - we decided we might as well give him something useful to do. :-)] We also have open recaps on Sundays, where anyone can step up and offer their services to cover the game. Drop me a line, or keep an eye open for requests on that front, if you are interested in doing one.
We're also happy to help out with advice, pointers, criticism and links to sites for information you can use when writing your pieces. We all started somewhere, made (or in my case, continue to make!) embarrassing mistakes along the way, and got better as a result of it. Writing, writing lots, and throwing it out there for public comment, is really the only way to get better. The more people we have contributing to the community, offering up their own thoughts, the better it is for everyone: fresh input, in whatever form, is the life-blood of any site, and we look forward to you being part of that.
If you've any questions, comments, concerns, criticisms or whatever, all the editors and moderators can be reached through email by clicking on the envelope icon next to their nemaes in the footer. Please do reach out to them, for whatever reason. And with that, have fun. Play ball!