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Comment moderation

By David Roffey
Created 20/06/2006 - 17:10

Moderation is a difficult balance. Some think we should do less of it, others more - at least in terms of letting through less smart-ass wisecracks at the expense of other commenters. Frankly, a quick look at any unmoderated site (example at (semi-)random here [1]) tells you that if you instantly publish every comment you get, smart-ass wisecracks is what dominates. We've been having this debate on this site and its predecessors for nearly six years now - though more intensely since the move from e-mail to a comment management system in 2004, and we're still on the side that says we'd rather stop altogether than stop moderating comments.

In practice, I lean more towards James Govett's view [1] that it is important to the quality and information-content of the debate that contributors feel safe from unreasonable attack, and that the balance of the site has (once again) moved too far away from this.

So, we will be tightening up. Given the need to keep workload down while operating with only part-time volunteer editors, one part of this will be a reduced tolerance for editing comments that need significant work before publication. In particular, any comment that contains anywhere within it any commentary - explicit or implied - on the intelligence or honesty of another Webdiarist, will simply not be published. Following specific complaints, comments that refer to other Webdiarists by nickname or any other name than that which they use themselves will also not be published. Notwithstanding our preference against removing published material, we will also remove anything that slips through that is reasonably complained about by the target of a comment. Complaints can be made either through a not-for-publication comment (write NFP in the comment title), or via the "Contact Us [1]" page in the menu on the left of this screen.

A further point on moderation and workload: some of you write stream-of-consciousness stuff that needs a spell-check and extensive repunctuation to make it comprehensible to others: from here on, if it's too much work, we simply don't publish it.

Finally (for now), I think it also time to re-instate the old "no more than five comments per day from the same person" rule, that at least suggests to our more prolific posters that they think about whether what they are about to write is the most important contribution they want to make today ...

For more detail, see the Editorial Policy [1] and How to Comment [1] entries in the menu on the left.


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