Amnesty!

By | October 23rd, 2016

You’ve been so good. Here’s your reward.

Effective today, virtually all blacklists and blocks that prevented readers from commenting on posts and tagging this site in social media have been removed.

It seemed like the right time. When presidential candidates talk about building walls, I remember the words of a wise president who urged another to tear down a wall.

The readers whose commenting privileges were disabled have been on their best behavior. They haven’t called out the amazing advocacy work we do on social media or sent toxic traffic our way. Maybe they’re warming up to our inclusive, egalitarian advocacy.

Here’s how things will change, starting now:

  • All blocked accounts on our Twitter feed have been unblocked. We love hearing from all of our readers and it pained me to cut off the conversation.
  • All blacklisted commenters can post again. We had a very short list of people whose commenting privileges were revoked, and each one was a difficult decision. But our moderation team believes in second chances.
  • Blocks on all other social media have been lifted, too. Social media is a conversation, and our writers and editors want to hear from you, even if you don’t agree with what we have to say.

With this amnesty, we’re also changing the way we view reader feedback. We’re moving from a more restrictive rule that quickly tags and blacklists commenters, to a more open-door policy that assumes the best of our audience.


Our moderation team has learned a few things about feedback. We’re determined to avoid the free-for-all that defined this site from 2007 to 2014, where many of you felt the comments were the “best” part of the site because they were an entertaining and almost uninterrupted snark-fest.

Related story:   How did chocolate turn into snark?

On Twitter, although we unblocked all of our accounts, we’ll continue to keep a select few individuals on “mute.” This restriction is only reserved for a handful of accounts that continually try to provoke a social media brawl.

On Facebook, we’ll unblock all accounts except those of individuals who have advocated violence against the site or its writers.

Hey, we have to draw the line somewhere.

In the blog comments, although we’ve eliminated the blacklist, we will retain a whitelist. That means unless you have a proven track record of making helpful comments that conform to our reasonable comment policy, your feedback will still be held for moderation. If your posts are out of line, we will not approve them, but you will probably receive a notification from one of our moderators.

For a vast majority of our readers and commenters, that means you’re now free to comment and call out the stories on our site. And we’re letting you do it because we trust you.

See you in the comments.



  • Mel65

    Silly question… But if people have been blocked how do they now know that thery are unblocked?

  • Alan Gore

    While we’re on the subject of local site issues, can anything do done about that cursed set of social media popup buttons that parks itself in the middle of the left side of the page, covering up what I’m trying to read? Can’t it be moved down to the lower right or bottom, where it would be less intrusive?

  • MarkKelling

    Thanks?

  • Kairho

    Also, the disparity in font sizes between the articles and the comments is annoying. Can they be made the same size as a default?

  • AJPeabody

    We still need the return of the byline at the top of articles.

  • Regina Litman

    Also, the date posted on the home page (and I mean the actual date, not something YouTube-ish like “2 days ago” or “one year ago”, although something like “2 hours ago” for the current day’s articles is acceptable and possibly even preferable).

    I like that you now put the categories such as “Travel Troubleshooter” on the main page. When I’m in certain moods, I don’t want to read “Case Dismissed!” stories.

  • Marc

    This is good news – however, the storyline that we’ve “been so good” is slightly reminiscent of receiving three pats on the head and being offered a cookie in reward of good behavior. I am pleased that the site is attempting to be more user commentary friendly.

  • greg watson

    Maybe you missed some people commenting, because you don’t seem to have as many cases to deal with on a daily basis. I am a fairly new reader of this site & enjoy the problem / solution aspects involved, but some days seem to be fairly dry.

  • cscasi

    Right. I get a grey color block over the article and when I “X” it off, it goes to the social medial popup button Alan is referring to. Up until a couple of weeks back, we never had that to deal with.

  • PsyGuy

    I was blocked?

  • PsyGuy

    I use 6 various blockers and anti-trackers.

  • William Leeper

    They were simply blocked from commenting, not from viewing the site.

  • William Leeper

    In the past we had used a font that matched the comments (they can’t be changed,) recently we switched site themes, and the new theme has a standard font. That’s the reason for the difference.

  • William Leeper

    If you were, we have missed you, welcome back!

  • William Leeper

    This is due to the change of theme a few weeks ago. I will ensure this gets to the correct people.

  • Mel65

    I know; I figured most people, if blocked, would also stop reading. So I guess I was more wondering if they were notified of their amnesty…

We want your feedback. Your opinion is important to us. Here's how you can share your thoughts:
  • Send us a letter to the editor. We'll publish your most thoughtful missives in our daily newsletter or in an upcoming post.
  • Leave a message on one of our social networks. We have an active Facebook page, a LinkedIn presence and a Twitter account. Every story on this site is posted on those channels. The conversation ranges from completely unmoderated (Twitter) to moderated (Facebook and LinkedIn).
  • Post a question to our help forums or ask our advocates for a hand through our assistance intake form. Please note that our help forum is not a place for debate. It's there primarily to assist readers with a consumer problem.
  • If you have a news tip or want to report an error or omission, you can email the site publisher directly. You may also contact the post's author directly. Contact information is in the author tagline.