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  1. We're in that special hell of rules controversies with the implementation of the new Rules of Golf. There have been some growing pains with the new rules, and that has allowed the golf media to tee off on its favorite target, the USGA. Which, to be fair, can make itself an easy target: https://www.golfdigest.com/story/despite-harsh-words-from-some-tour-pros-usga-pleased-with-roll-out-of-new-rules-of-golf. That aside, I wanted to talk about the "controversy" about the knee-height drop that the Rules now require. Rickie Fowler got a one stroke penalty for dropping from shoulder height this past weekend. Cue the complaining from him: https://golfweek.com/2019/02/22/rickie-fowler-hit-with-one-shot-penalty-for-illegal-drop-at-wgc-mexico-championship/ I can forgive him - he just had a brain fart, probably didn't gain an advantage in this situation, it cost him money. I'm always annoyed when I get a penalty, personally, and it's absolutely never my fault, okay? But cue the pearl clutching from the media: https://www.golf.com/news/2019/02/25/backstopping-pro-tours-under-policed/ I'm here to tell you that this is wrong, and knee-height drops actually make a ton of sense. One of the best things the new Rules do is simplify dropping. Now, all you have to do when dropping is land the ball in the relief area (without touching you or your equipment before hitting the ground) and ensure the ball comes to rest in the relief area. If you don't do this, you have to redrop. Pretty simple. Yes, you have to figure out what your relief area is, but that's pretty simple, too. (For a fuller explanation of this, see Rule 14 and the definitions in the Rules of Golf.) The old rules were much more complex. Specifically, if your ball rolled to one of 9 areas after you dropped it, you had to redrop. For example, if your ball rolled more than 2 club lengths away from where your ball hit the ground, you had to redrop. You had to know all of these 9 areas to know if you needed to redrop or not. So, the new way is simpler, right? Instead of learning 9 different triggers for a redrop, you only have to learn 1. Great! Why am I talking about when you have to redrop? This is why we're dropping from knee height. Generally, under the new Rules, your ball cannot go as far after hitting the ground as it used to without triggering a redrop. Dropping from knee height reduces the chance that a redrop will be necessary. It also means that a ball has less of a chance of embedding in sand when you drop it. It makes a ton of sense, really. Now, you might say, that's all fine, but why not allow dropping a ball from anywhere above knee height? I think you could easily game the rules to be able to place the ball when you really want to by simply dropping from shoulder height instead of knee height. Think about dropping on a side slope, for example. You're much more likely to have to redrop and place if you drop the ball from a higher point. Sure, this is rare, but why take the chance? We're all on the same page, right? Knee-height drops make a lot of sense. (If you want to know more about the changes to dropping, this is an excellent article that talks about this in a bit more detail: https://rulesgeeks.com/2018/12/30-days-of-2019-rules-changes-day-16-procedure-for-dropping-a-ball-in-playing-it-from-a-relief-area/) Now to the point of all of this: golf media, please take 5 minutes to understand the rule before issuing a HAWT TAKE about the rule. The USGA has a one page sheet that explains the rule: http://www.usga.org/content/usga/home-page/rules-hub/rules-modernization/major-changes/new-procedure-for-dropping-a-ball.html. You don't come off very well when you fail to read that. I know it's fun and easy to just mindlessly bash the USGA, but they do get things right. This is one of them. (Oh and by the way, the Rules are actually really good, as a whole. Maybe I'll talk about that in another post later.)
  2. On Huddler, moderators and admins would occasionally place unruly members of the site who were abusing the rules in the "Penalty Box" group. This group could not post, but could otherwise read the site. The group had an expiration date, so most of the time mods/admins (hereafter "we") would put people in the Penalty Box for a day or two or three - enough time to "cool off" and move on beyond whatever was bothering them. As a general rule, we do not ban many people at all here at TST (spammers excluded). In fact, weeks will go by between bans, which on a site as busy as this one, is virtually unheard of. When we moved to IPS 4 on October 1, 2015, we lost the ability to "expire" user groups after a certain amount of time. This means that if we added someone to the Penalty Box, we had to remember to remove them. And, let's be honest, the Penalty Box wasn't as transparent as we'd like, either. Though many members were aware of why a member might be in the Penalty Box, they weren't aware of the specifics, and other members would often be completely unaware. So, "Penalty Box" is going the way of the dodo. Though the expiring user groups is going away, IPS 4 brings with it a fairly straightforward warning system. Through it, we (mods/admins) can issue warnings to people. They have to acknowledge the warning before they can continue to post, and the warning is tagged with a title, points, expiration dates for those points, and a notice for both the user and for us to see. Just as with points on a driver's license or something like that, as users rack up points, their privileges decline. To the right you can see our current schedule. A user who racks up 10 points will have his content moderated for three days, or one day after he's allowed to post again (he's restricted from posting for two days). A user who somehow reaches 40 points will have his content restricted for 24 days and his will not be able to post for 16. After that, if a user has 50 active points, they're permanently banned. Additionally, other penalties may be applied as well, including the loss of PM privileges, the loss of the ability to post status updates, and other features on the site that exist either now or in the future. As points expire, it doesn't change the penalties already incurred. For example, if Random User is warned with three points that expire in 10 days, and that takes him to 11 active points, he'll be moderated for three days and restricted from posting for two, but the points will fall off after those 10 days and he'll fall back down to 8 (if the 8 have not also expired). This simply means that another two-point warning or greater will result in the same or greater restriction being applied, again. Though moderators and admins can customize the number of points, the expiration date of those points, and even whether to over-ride the existing restriction/moderation settings or their duration, our base level warnings right now are: - Spamming, 999 points, never expires.* - Spamming (Light), 5 points, 180 days - Inappropriate Language, 3 points, 36 days. - Rude/Obnoxious Behavior, 5 points, 72 days. - Trolling, 5 point, 72 days. * Note that this triggers the 50 point permanent ban. So, in essence: The Penalty Box functionality is replaced with the warning system. The warning system is a much more efficient, public way to handle this type of stuff. At the end of the day, we use this type of stuff to limit or restrict posters way, way less than virtually all other forums. Golfer are, generally speaking, good people.
  3. For the past few days, based on comments in another topic, I've been using CleanTalk.org to help filter spam. You can find out more about the platform here: https://cleantalk.org/. Overall, it's been pretty great, and I strongly recommend it. The Pros: It's greatly reduced the amount of time my moderators need to spend working and moderating posts, users, etc. by flagging them as spammers, issuing warnings, etc. It stops posts as well as registrations. It has a relatively simple interface that lets you mark things as NOT spam. I haven't seen any false positives yet. Those, as you can imagine, are MUCH worse than false negatives as real users can get upset. You can block entire countries from posting and/or registering. Their database seems to be fairly large and/or complete, resulting in high accuracy. I haven't noticed any slowdown of posts. It's pretty darn inexpensive. Established members don't seem to have their posts vetted. That's good. I'm able to remove CAPTCHAs and other things that reduce the odds of a valid user registering and posting. The Cons: The first night, I got a 502 Gateway error every other or third time I loaded up the log. This hasn't happened since. There's not as much transparency as I'd like. I don't even know right now how many posts a user has to make before they're considered established and their posts aren't scanned. https://community.cleantalk.org/index.php Their forum isn't particularly busy. Which could be seen as a good thing… For the users here, particularly long-time users, nothing is any different. You should get fewer notifications of spammers being identified and warned, but that's about it.
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