A while back, I started writing for a site called Bleacher Report just for fun. Bleacher Report is an open-source sports network, meaning anyone could write about whatever they wanted and it would be "published" on the site. The point is to encourage constructive dialog about sports and for writers to improve their writing skills through the advice of B/R's excellent editors (thanks, Jay!)
I wrote mostly about hockey (shocking, I know) but also threw in some random articles from time to time just to keep things interesting. I wrote under the same name that I use here, and as a result, most of my readers thought I was a guy. For a while, though, I got some really good feedback about my writing style and content. I attained "Syndicated Writer" status after penning just 10 articles (B/R has a deal with CBS Sports Online to re-post the best B/R articles). All was well.
But then, around the time of the Olympics, I started to notice that there were people writing VERY opinionated pieces in very rude voices. They knew they were intentionally pissing people off and they didn't care. Flame wars took place in the comments section. Nearly all constructive conversation ceased in favor of comments like, "Dude, your [sic] a fucking retard. You should be shot for...X, Y and Z". I became extremely discouraged and pretty much gave up on writing for Bleacher Report.
It's not Bleacher Report's fault. The same thing happens with every open board or site that's not mediated. People think its cool to say whatever they want to say because they're hiding behind a computer screen. But for those who wrote to improve our skills and were in it for the right reasons like myself, it became something I no longer wanted to be a part of. And I'm exaggerating a little...that kind of behavior didn't happen all the time or on every article. But it still left a bad taste in my mouth and I didn't want to take the chance of one of those people finding one of my articles. I'm kinda sensitive and tend to take things personally...or so I'm told. ;)
Regardless of the fact that I wasn't writing anymore, I kept in touch with a few of the guys that worked for B/R who knew that The Enforcer and myself are one in the same. Recently, they had their first annual Bleacher Report meet-up in San Francisco. I went to meet the people face to face that I had been communicating with online and whose articles I had read. I'm so glad I did. Zander, Max, and Jay were SO friendly. Zander, in particular, seemed to enjoy introducing me to everyone, stating that I wrote "as The Enforcer" (and I admit, it was kinda fun to see the reactions on the faces of my readers to see that The Enforcer is actually a chick that writes about hockey).
I'm not sure if I'll start writing there again, but it was really great to meet up with the people behind the site. I don't visit it as frequently as I used to, so I don't know if the same characters are still up to their old antics, but aside from the bull, Zander and company have a pretty good thing going over at B/R. They continue to grow in readers and contributors and I wish them all the best. They honestly couldn't have been nicer.