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Zone Update PLEASE ALL READ: What we want the Zone to be....

South Bank Hank

Nov 4, 2003
Without necessarily looking to pat all of our members, moderators, posters and contributors on the back, I believe this forum continues to punch above its weight - even in these dark times. Discussion, at least for the most part (yeah, I know - come with me!) is civil, respectful and focused on Southend United issues rather than personalities. It's apparent that, even as our club has gone to hell in a handcart on and off the pitch over a sustained period of time, we've been able to discuss it reasonably sensibly on here without continually beating the **** out of each other. As a joint-owner of this forum, I want to thank everyone for that.

As a culture, that hasn't happened accidentally. It has been a main thrust of what we've been trying to achieve for nearly two decades now on this forum. It doesn't always run smoothly and our owner/moderator team doesn't always play the perfect pass or make the cleanest of tackles every single time. Indeed, it's impossible to please all the people all the time but we've generally managed to build a foundation for inclusiveness without straying into political correctness, where robust debate can happen without aggression or threats, and where people can reasonably argue their points without ridicule or insult. For the most part!

Recently, we've had a number of SUFC players' relatives joining the Zone - which can be something of a double-edged sword. Some have posted while some have taken a back seat and just followed the debate. Some have made themselves known proudly and directly. Some have made it obvious from their posts and comments here and on other platforms like Facebook or Twitter that would have removed any doubt as to who they were. That last group has made it sometimes difficult to manage (and in hindsight I and the team should have tidied up on certain things a little quicker) but I want to make it clear that it remains SZ policy for posters to have the right to anonymity should they want it and we ask all Zoners to respect this fully.

Beyond that though, it also shows that the discussions we have here are likely to have a wider impact than we might realise. The recent events with Caroline Flack show how important it is to remember that words can have brutal consequences. What we're ultimately watching is a GAME played by HUMAN BEINGS. For us, it's something to do on a Saturday afternoon or Tuesday evening. For the players, much as it has seemed "obvious" that some couldn't give two hoots, it's an occupation, a career and a livelihood. For their watching families and anyone else who loves them, it can easily be a potential dream or nightmare.

So, just a brief reminder to all of us:

For our visitors: If you step back a little, football is an unreasonable game full of bias, passion, elevated emotions and exaggeration. Read any forum after a tremendous defeat or glorious victory and you'll consistently see the over-reactions - good and bad. What I like about this place is that for every post slating a player or the manager or even the chairman, there's generally another coming out in support - and vice versa. The point is, if you're close to someone in the firing line, you're going to sometimes need some tough skin if you're going to be reading it. If you want to come out and post in support of someone you know personally, then you will have every right to do so within the confines of the Zone's rules and guidelines, but also recognise that not everyone is going to agree with the opinion. We simply can't (and won't) censor those opinions unless, again, what is posted falls outside of the Zone's rules.

For our posters: The only ask here is to just take a moment to think if you're going to go in overly hard on players. On one hand, they are someone's son, someone's brother, someone's friend etc. On the other, they are also living their own lives: Simon Cox, Anton Ferdinand being two recent examples who have spoken up about battles with mental health. That in itself should NOT stop reasoned debate about our team and players on a forum like this. But we do sometimes need to collectively take a stronger position on the wild speculation, personal attacks, and suspicions/hearsay/rumours etc presented as "facts".

Equally, I want to draw the line on WHO is up for discussion - and this should not include members of players' families, particularly when they are not or are no longer on the Zone to answer for themselves. We need to put a stop to that now.

All written with the intent of making this a better place for everyone. Thanks for taking the time to read this.