1) Take your time: it’s not a race to post comments. There are no prizes for being the first one to post a comment in a news article. If you have something worthwhile to say, someone will read it and reply to it.
2) Don’t be afraid of length: some of my best comments (in my opinion) have been my longer ones. It’s a simple equation: the more material you include, the more opportunity there is for discussion. The more discussion we have, the better the forums and the blog.
3) Tell us what you really think: don’t just post a sentence and leave it at that. If you think that Driver X did this better than Driver Y, tell us why you think as much. People may not agree with you, but give them something to respond to rather than a broad statement.
4) Keep your emotions in check: Formula 1 fans can be pretty passionate. And I admit that some of my comments of late have been fuelled by that passion, which has gotten me in trouble before. Fortunately, some of them – mostly critical of Ferrari – have never made it to the public site of the blog. Getting carried away with your emotions can lead to trouble.
5) Don’t be afraid of you emotions: at the same time, don’t let your fear of repercussion dictate what you do and don’t do. Don’t like Ferrari? That’s fine – people will have to accept that you’re not a fan. Think Alonso is a better driver than Hamilton? That’s just as okay.
6) Common sense rules: seriously, this one speaks for itself. If you think it’s a bad idea to say the sky is green, it probably is. Don’t go posting stupid stuff because you want to be funny or to have people reply.
7) Stick with it: you might not get replies to begin with, but give it a little bit of time. Once we see you’re becoming a regular, we’ll welcome you with open arms. But don’t run away if you don’t get a comment in the first ten minutes.
8) This is Keith’s party; we’re all just guests at it: I shouldn’t have to say this, but Keith has been gracious enough to set the blog up for our enjoyment. The least we can do is show each other some respect. So don’t swear. Don’t troll. Don’t go upsetting people because you can. Don’t go making jokes about Keith’s receding hairline (seriously, don’t). Be respectful, polite and all those other things your mother taught you when you weren’t listening.
9) Don’t be afraid of Steph: she doesn’t bite. Not unless you ask her to.
10) Don’t argue with me. Ever.
But most importantly:
Be very careful as to what you type: I speak from experience here. I’ve been around a while and I like to think that I’m one of the posters who people pay attention to when I say something. But I got caught out a while ago with some faulty fact-checking and made some claims that weren’t true, and I was challenged on several of them by the very people I’d made those claims about. In the end, I had to issue a public apology and retraction of my comments, which I’m still very embarrassed about. I’ve also seen it elsewhere on the internet, relating to the USF1 debacle in particular, with people claiming it was a fraud and a hoax. These are serious criminal accusations (that were were not backed up with proof), and the website can be held liable for it – and we don’t want that. If you’re going to say something that might be a bit extreme and claim it to be fact, make damn sure you’ve got something to fall back on, because it can very easily end in tears.