It’s been an interesting few months for this site. Late last year we introduced a crew of volunteer moderators and a few simple rules of engagement.
But like everything else, both the rules and the roles played by the moderators evolved.
Today, I’m proposing to clarify some of the rules of engagement and to more clearly define what the moderators do.
Until now, we’ve had a very succinct comment policy and no real definition of moderator duties.
Here’s what we’ve already articulated:
1. No personal attacks
2. Do unto others as you would have them do unto you
3. Be nice to your host and moderators.
As a group, the moderators decided we needed to elaborate. So we found another policy that we liked (thanks, CBS Interactive!) and modeled our proposed rules after them.
Here’s the suggested text:
We strive to create an open and engaging environment for all commenters. To maintain that standard, here are some simple guidelines to ensure that your comments appear and remain on the site:
Stay on topic. Please comment on the subject of the post or story.
Be nice. You know the old saying: “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” If you disagree with a comment, feel free to respectfully and politely challenge that comment in a civil manner.
No personal attacks, please. We don’t tolerate name-calling of any kind. Please be nice to your moderators and to the publisher, too. (After all, we’re only human.)
Don’t feed the trolls. If you think someone’s a nuisance commenter or worse, please don’t goad that person in the comments. That only makes it worse for everybody. Use the flagging system and let us know; we’ll take the appropriate action. (But remember that your definition of a “troll” and our interpretation of whether someone’s breaking the rules may not match.)
No #&$*(& swearing! This is the comments section of a consumer advocacy blog, not your high school locker room.
Stay out of trouble. Don’t post anything libelous, defamatory, obscene, pornographic, abusive, harassing, or threatening. No messages containing viruses or other contaminating or destructive features. No trade secrets. You get the idea.
No free ads. Comments that contain spam, advertisements, business/self promotional content, campaigns, recruitments, or signature links are not allowed, period.
Don’t break any laws. If you’re thinking about breaking any rules, please think somewhere else. This isn’t a place to violate any laws or to discuss illegal activities.
Respect people’s privacy. You wouldn’t want your e-mail address, phone number, or other personal information plastered all over a public site, would you? Please do not share another person’s personal information.
We ban members. It’s unusual, but it won’t come as a surprise. We try to warn you before we do. Normally, our first ban will be 30 days; a second infraction will get a 60 day ban, followed by a lifetime ban.
During the last few weeks, our moderators have been very busy with deleting comments, and in at least two cases, handing out 30-day bans to two commenters. They’re exhausted.