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August 21, 2014
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State of Wonder

By Ann Patchett

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FAQ: Comments and Moderation

FAQ: COMMENTS AND MODERATION

Q: What is Truthdig's Comment Policy?

A: Truthdig is proud to have an active and ever-expanding community of commenters on our site, and encourages dialogue and feedback among and from registered users and guests. We'd like to keep the discussions on-topic and respectful toward writers and fellow commenters alike.

Truthdig will not tolerate:

  • personal attacks on our writers or readers
  • excessive profanity
  • racist, sexist or other discriminatory or hateful language
  • statements that may be construed as urging attacks on political leaders, officials, security forces or civilians -- American or otherwise
  • comments that are off-topic or irrelevant to the story or discussion at hand
  • comments disclosing personal information about Truthdig writers or fellow commenters
  • comments that are solicitations and/or advertising for personal blogs and websites
  • entries "signed" by someone other than the actual author

Q: How are comments moderated?

A: Truthdig's comments are community-moderated, which means that if you object to a comment, you can flag it by clicking the "Flag as inappropriate" link, which appears in the top right corner of the comment. Comments that are reported multiple times will be closed, and repeat offenders will be banned from commenting on the site.

We are a small team and thus rely on this reporting function to let us know when conversations among commenters are tipping over from "lively debate" territory into the realm of the offensive, and/or when personal attacks, etc. are happening.

We're always working toward making the comment boards as user created and moderated as possible. Please help us to keep Truthdig's comment community a respectful and enjoyable place to post for everyone.

Q: Why does Truthdig moderate comments?

A: Even though the line between where our editorial content ends and comments begin would seem fairly obvious, it's not always and so comments can be misconstrued as "representing" the site's official stance on an issue, which isn't the case. For more details, see our Terms and Conditions page.

Truthdig is an online news magazine; comments on Truthdig are more akin to the letters to the editor from "old media" than they are to a personal blog space that each commenter can use as a kind of virtual soapbox. That's what personal blogs -- primarily written, edited and moderated by the bloggers themselves -- are for. Truthdig is in some ways a hybrid between a blog and an online magazine, but the paradigm for comments borrows more from the magazine model than the blog one as we've developed it. This is another reason why comments are edited -- again along the lines of the letters-to-the-editor model.

It has been our experience, and that of other sites like ours, that some moderation is necessary to guard against "spambots" and others who can turn the comment boards into ad space for themselves, their company and/or their cause. Moderation also guards against trolling, personal insults and other problems that can degrade the level of discourse and alienate readers who rely on Truthdig as a space for intelligent and respectful exchanges with others.

Q: Is this censorship?

A: Truthdig never censors comments based on political or ideological point of view. A comment is considered for editing or deletion only if it violates any part of our Comment Policy, posted above.

Q: Can I criticize Truthdig and the ideas expressed by its writers and commenters?

A: Absolutely; we're all for challenging our writers' and commenters' ideas. As with comments on all topics, however, the level of discourse goes downhill fast once the challenges become personal and once users take advantage of the relative anonymity of the Internet to say things they would never consider OK to say in any other setting.

Q: I submitted a comment. Why don't I see it on the site?

A: There are several possible explanations:

In order to post a comment, you must submit a valid email address and a username. One way to do this is to connect your comments to your existing Facebook, Twitter or Google+ account. You can also create an account with Disqus, our comment platform. This way you can track all of your comments in one place.

Disqus lists comments according to the voting system (see Q: How are comments moderated?) as well as the date posted. You’ll notice that the comment at the top of the discussion is the one with the most votes rather than the first or last one posted. This means that you may have to scroll down further in order to see your comment.

If your comment violated any part of our Comment Policy, it may have been removed from the site or closed pending review by our editorial team.

Q: Why have I (or another user) been blocked from commenting on Truthdig?

A: There are a few scenarios in which a user might be blocked from commenting on Truthdig. We make every effort to warn commenters who appear to have violated our Comment Policy before we take the step of banning them. However, if a user repeatedly violates our Comment Policy or a comment is especially abusive, offensive or off-topic, we reserve the right to block the author of that comment so that he or she is banned from commenting on our site in the future.

Other questions?

Please feel free to contact us about these or any other issues using our feedback form. We welcome your questions and ideas as we continue to refine the system to make the comment boards as close to a self-regulated community of fellow readers as possible. Thanks for joining the dialogue on Truthdig, and keep on digging!

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