As you may have realized, there are a lot more readers interacting on our forums lately. That's no mistake. From this point a year ago, this site has seen traffic triple. In that time, we've added a lot features, many of which I imagine go unnoticed.
With these two things in mind -- and this being a slow weekend -- we felt it might be a good time to both go over some of the ground-rules here, as well as explain some of the site's features:
Getting to know the sidebar
There is lots of good stuff in our sidebar. Scroll down far enough and you'll find everything from results for every game (that includes MLS, U.S. Open Cup, CONCACAF Champions League, Reserve League and even academy games) to the Golden Boot standings.
We also have conference standings and the week's schedule of games and results, which we update after every gameday. Both of those are in the right sidebar. Farther down the sidebar is our Points Per Match standings, which we update once a week. That will give you a better indication of how well each team is playing while taking into account the differing number of games played. One last "standings" widget is our SBNation Power Rankings, which are updated every week, usually on Wednesday. There's even a weekly schedule for all the soccer matches around the Puget Sound.
Hopefully you're by now aware that Sounder at Heart has a podcast, as well. Near the bottom of the right sidebar, you'll find our complete library of episodes. In the left sidebar, you'll find links to the latest episode, a button that will allow you to subscribe via iTunes and the RSS feed. We've also made available our favorite "sound tweets" from @pain_machine, as well as our ads that run on CSRN. Links to other podcasts generated by various SBN contributors are also provided.
One of the more fun features you'll find in the sidebar is all of our various Twitter links. One of them is simply a feed of every Sounder at Heart contributor's Twitter account. (By the way, there are about seven Sounder at Heart Twitter account, most of which are pretty distinctly different.) Maybe my favorite Twitter feature is a feed of everything tagged #thoughtsfrommyyacht. At various times I'll swap that out for other Twitter memes, but that is the one that seems to have the most lifespan.
Among the other useful sidebar features are a "formations guide" that shows you how various formations are supposed to look, our weekly attendance update that shows this week's attendance as well as each team's average and the Sounder at Heart store (which is due for a thorough makeover).
None of this is to mention the other sidebar features that are more standard around SBN such as recent FanPosts, FanShots and most commented stories.
If you're new to SB Nation, and from the look of it a fair number of you are, you'll want to know about some of the features that make SBN unique. The most obvious of those is the ability for you, the community member, to write your own stuff. This is a feature we call "FanPosts" and it's basically a simplified version of the tool our editors use to post stories. It works very similarly to any WordPress or Blogger posting tool and is pretty straightforward. Just write and post. If you're really good, we'll probably ask you to start posting on the front page regularly (that's how Dizzo, Malcontent and myself all started). FanPosts should be used anytime you have an original idea or if you want to link something but have a fair amount to say about it. Use FanShots when you are just providing a link to a story, photo or video. The best of these FanPosts/FanShots will be promoted to the main editorial section by editors, but other community members can push it up the list by recommending it.
Which brings us to our next subject "recommending." At the bottom of every story, FanPost, FanShot and even comment you'll see a button that says "recommend." It doesn't really do much to front-page stories, but it can be a fun interactive tool elsewhere. When a comment receives three recs, for instance, it turns green. When a FanPost or Fanshot receives three recs, it's moved to the top of the list. (As people use this tool more often, we may change those cutoffs to five.)
Sounder at Heart on Social Media
As I've already discussed, Sounder at Heart has a pretty strong Twitter presence. But you can help make it stronger by tweeting out our stories using the "Tweet" button. You can also help spread the word by hitting the "like" button and sending our stories to Facebook.
Our Facebook presence, by the way, is also growing a little. We like to use it whenever we organize meet-ups and are trying to get more social content on there. If you have suggestions for how we can improve the page, by all means let us know. As it is, we always appreciate it when people "like" us on Facebook because we are totally vain like that.
Finally, I wanted to go over some of our rules, as the Manchester United match brought out a lot of strong emotions that resulted a in a couple bannings and a lot more warnings. Just to clear up any confusion, we do not intend for this site to become like so many other sites around the web that are filled with anger and frustration. We certainly respect your right to criticize the team, players, coaches and whoever else you want, but please keep it under control. Repeating yourself is one of our pet peeves and people who do nothing but bitch have a tendency to get little notes from the administrators here.
Along those same lines, we will tolerate a lot of stuff, but will not tolerate name-calling or the questioning of allegiances. If you are a fan of a team, whether it's the Sounders, Manchester United or even the Canucks, you deserve to have that fandom taken at face value. It is not cool to express your disagreement with someone by questioning their sincerity.
What I think should probably go without saying is that this is not the place for political or religious discussions. Aside from a few examples, this generally has not been an issue. Let's keep it that way.
The general guideline here is to assume that you are talking to these people. If you would not say something to someone's face, don't assume it's appropriate to say it here. This site has gotten to where it is, amazingly enough, without having to be overly controlling of our community. I think most people feel welcomed here and that's the way we like it. Thank you for making this the best soccer community on the internet. Let's make it even better.