Frequently asked questions about comments
Here are our most frequently asked questions about comments. You can find more FAQs here.
• What are comments?
• Do you have a comments policy?
• Do you moderate your comments?
• Who are the moderators?
• Do you edit comments?
• Do you ever suspend or ban commenters?
• Do you delete comments you disagree with?
• I left a comment correcting an error in a story. Why did you remove it?
• You’ve blocked all traffic from my site — what gives?
• May I post under an assumed name?
Our comments are a place where readers can discuss a story. We strive to create an open, engaging and friendly environment for all commenters. We advocate for consumers and want them to feel comfortable sharing their problems with us without fear of being attacked.
Commenting on this site is a privilege, not a right.
Yes. Here are a few 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 usually don’t tolerate name-calling, particularly vicious and direct personal attacks. Please be nice to your moderators and to the publisher, too. We have feelings, too.
✓ Don’t feed the trolls. If you think someone’s a nuisance commenter 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 ours may be different.)
✓ No #&$*(& swearing! This is the comments section of a consumer advocacy blog, not a 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.
✓ Use an appropriate avatar. An avatar may be considered offensive if it depicts or describes, in terms patently offensive as measured by contemporary community standards for the online medium, sexual or excretory organs or activities.
✓ No free ads. Comments that contain spam, advertisements, business/self promotional content, campaigns, recruitments, or signature links are not allowed. We really don’t like spammers.
✓ 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.
From time to time, we place comments in a queue and read them before allowing them to post, ensuring that they make a positive contribution to the discussion. Posts that are off-topic, mean-spirited, or otherwise inappropriate will not be approved. We will make an effort to notify a reader if a comment isn’t approved, but we reserve the right to deny a comment without reason. On rare occasions, we may also post a story with comments completely disabled. In those cases, it’s fair to assume that we are not interested in any reader feedback.
Moderators are volunteers who care about the level of engagement on this site and are willing to invest their time into making it a better place. They have the ability to edit and delete comments, to mark comments as “spam” and to disable an account.
Moderators do not actively patrol the comments looking for trouble. They rely on readers to identify violations of the comments policy. If you see something objectionable, please flag it. That sends an email to the entire moderation team, and the comment will be reviewed.
Any reader whose comments are flagged repeatedly will automatically have his or her account reviewed by our moderators. If the commenter is found to have violated our comments policy, we may warn, temporarily suspend or ban the user.
No. We encourage a vigorous and healthy debate, and if you read the other comments, we’re confident that’s exactly what you’ll see. However, we will refuse to approve a comment if it doesn’t make a productive contribution to the discussion or if it violates our comments policy.
We reserve the right to remove inappropriate remark from an otherwise useful comment. For example, a statement that adds relevant information to the discussion, but ends with, “and that’s why you have no credibility,” could still be approved, but our moderators have zero tolerance for personal insults, so the attack would probably be deleted. We edit comments sparingly, and only to bring them into compliance with our standards.
Comments are not an appropriate platform for correcting a post. While our authors are grateful to anyone who wants to set the record straight, we would strongly prefer to handle such matters by email. Here’s how to contact us. We’ll do our best to fix the post promptly, of course. We also love to hear your comments about our headlines, choice of subjects and illustrations, but again, the comments are not the appropriate place to discuss our editorial decisions. For example, a comment that our “clickbait headlines are stupid” is unlikely to be approved, however tempted we might be to display such an amusingly paradoxical statement. But feel free to email us with your feedback.
There’s a very short list of websites that consistently sends what we call “toxic” traffic to our comments section. Our moderators have repeatedly asked users from these sites to follow our reasonable rules of engagement, but have been rebuffed. Unfortunately, we were left with no choice but to block traffic from these sites. We respect the rights of these users to have their opinions and express them online. But they are not welcome on this site.
We do not encourage or condone anyone posting under a false persona, also known as “sockpuppeting.” We strongly encourage you to use your real name.
Got a question you’d like us to answer in the FAQ? Please send us an email.