I've always tried to make it pretty basic to participate here. There's nothing worse than plodding through pages of rules, after all. That said, while the site in general has two main rules, I figured it was time to expand a little and lay out some general guidelines.
1. Respect Other Opinions - Nothing annoys me more, perhaps, than a blatant disrespect for others. It's fine to disagree with someone as long as it's done respectfully. Jumping down the throats of others, name-calling, etc. to prove a point isn't cool, though. There's a way to do things with respect and a little courtesy towards others is all I'm really asking for.
2. Don't Make it Personal - This one's pretty easy - no personal stuff. No racism, no sexual orientation blasts, religion cracks, no jokes about someone's personal appearances, etc., none of that garbage. It's not cool and you just look stupid by resorting to it. Oh yeah, and no mama jokes, I guess.
3. No Excessive Swearing - While I don't mind an occasional swear word if you think you really need it (or if you can't help yourself), I don't want to see rampant F-bombs, GDs, or sentences surrounded by a slew of four-letter words. This site has grown in popularity and we have people from all ages and walks of life reading. Comment as if 12-year old kids are reading because, guess what, they are. Let's make it enjoyable for everyone.
4. No Politics - I'm a fierce Independent, so chances are that no matter what side you're on, you run a fair chance at pissing me off with some political agenda. We don't need to hear your views on how Dubya was behind 9/11 or how Obama is a Communist. Take it to FOX or CNN.
5. One Username - This community is built on trust. Part of that means, participating under one username. Signing up under multiple accounts and using that to support your own arguments (yes, it's happened several times ... don't ask), etc., is off limits. That doesn't mean you have to use your real name, etc. I get that most of you want to remain safely anonymous. But creating multiple usernames for things that aren't valid reasons is a way to get yourself banned without warning.
6. No Trolling - Fans of other teams have always been welcome to come and participate, and 95% of them do it the right way. But if you're a fan of another team and you read this site, you should treat it as though you're walking into an enemy territory. Coming to the site five minutes after your team just beat Pitt to offer a 'good game' or well-thought analysis of sorts is always welcome. Coming to the site five minutes after your team just beat Pitt to ask us if we saw it is not. Use common sense.
7. Respect the Writers - I'm not asking you to agree with us all the time or that you not criticize the things we write. Just realize that we do this because we enjoy it and because we love Pitt. None of us does this full time or for any significant amount of pay. I started this site years ago with the hopes of sharing my own misguided opinions. People started reading and before you knew it, we had a whole staff of writers sharing their own. Just take it easy on us, will ya?
8. Don't Make us Look Bad - By 'us', I mean Pitt fans. This isn't so much a rule since I can't control what you say/do elsewhere. But when you visit other SB Nation sites as a Pitt fan and give them an unsavory opinion of yourself, you give us all a bad name. And, indirectly, if you post a lot on our site, it just makes the site's readers look bad because then other fans get the impression that they all share your views. It's perfectly fine to visit other SB Nation sites. And since this is an SB Nation blog, you might even say that you're encouraged to do so. In the words of The Rock, 'know your role' when you do - just as I ask opposing fans to tread lightly here, you should do the same. Nearly all SB Nation sites will welcome you with open arms if you go there and are respectful. But going to other sites just to stir up trouble doesn't help anyone.
The tl;dr version: 'Don't be a jerk'
Alright, so consequences. In the past, I've deleted some comments that skewed towards the things above but often left it at that. However, I'm going to start dishing out warnings as well. If you receive one, you should see it the next time you log into the site. If you do it enough, you're likely headed for a temporary (or permanent) ban.
One final word here. I don't have the ability to police everybody and everything that's said. I'm also human - if someone lobs what you think is a personal attack and I miss it, don't take it personally. It's not that I don't care, but I either didn't see it ... or I don't care. In all seriousness, if you've got a beef with the way someone is treating you, let me know.
I say that because, while I will try my best to be fair here, things will slip through the cracks. The warnings and, if necessary, any bans will be somewhat arbitrary and left up to me. As always, though, I will try to be as fair as possible.