First, welcome, and thanks for joining in. Your comments add tremendously to the community dialogue about our stories and the events and issues of the day. With these frequently asked questions, we hope to give you a plain-language overview of how we try to manage our reader comments. Our terms of service spell out the rules and regulations. With this, we hope to give you a sense of how we implement them.
- What is the Daily Hampshire Gazette trying to do with this comment forum?
- What do you mean by "civil?" Is that just a code word for opinions the Daily Hampshire Gazette supports?
- So what's out of bounds?
- I see comments online that I don't like. What can I do about that?
- What if I disagree with your decisions?
- I thought you were supposed to be in favor of the First Amendment. Isn't it my First Amendment right to say whatever I want?
Q. What is the Daily Hampshire Gazette trying to do with these comments?
A good description of a comment forum was on a blog site which compared it to hosting a dinner party. That's what we're trying to do, too. We're trying to hold a dinner party (without the food) where the conversation never stops and where everyone is welcome, as long as they don't make the party unpleasant for others.
We want to see a wide variety of viewpoints and opinions - that's what makes the conversation interesting, after all – but we want them to be relevant and civil.
Q. What do you mean by "civil?" Is that just a code word for opinions the Daily Hampshire Gazette supports?
A comment forum is useless if only one side gets heard. We want a lively discussion, not a choir. We have no interest in promoting or restricting any particular agendas – it would quickly get boring for everyone. But we're not interested in providing a forum for insults, name-calling, spam and derogatory comments, either. There are plenty of other places on the web for that. When we see comments that are rude, vicious, mocking or derogatory, we reserve the right to take the down at our discretion. We may also block people who make the forum unpleasant for others.
Q. So what's out of bounds?
To avoid having your comment removed, try to follow these basic, common-sense rules:
- Watch the language: We don't allow profanity, even with symbols to mask certain letters. While common words like “hell,” “damn” and “BS” may be OK, when in doubt find a better way to say it.
- Tone down the insults: There's nothing more tiresome than people simply lobbing insults back and forth. Strong opinions are welcome, even strongly worded differences of opinion. But we won't tolerate name-calling, insults, ad hominem attacks or mocking other writers. Disagree agreeably. A good rule of thumb: When you're disagreeing with another commenter or letter writer, focus on the substance of the argument, not the person. Comments that criticize a person's motives or character don't further the discussion.
- Keep it on topic: Comments that have nothing to do with the original article or with the other comments may be removed.
- Spare the spam: Multiple posts on the same topic may be removed. Likewise posts that go on for too long.
- Don't make defamatory allegations: You are responsible for your comments. But even if the Daily Hampshire Gazette may not be legally responsible for your comments, we don't want our comment boards to be a place where people post defamatory allegations. When potentially defamatory comments are called to our attention, we may remove them. So don't accuse others of wrongdoing or make allegations about their character.
Q. I see comments online that I don't like. What can I do about that?
Please email a link to the objectionable comment to firstname.lastname@example.org and tell us why you think the comment may be inappropriate.
Q. What if I disagree with your decisions?
We're always open to feedback from readers and commenters. You can email us at email@example.com. We recognize that our decisions are often subjective, and we do appreciate helpful suggestions.
Q. I thought you were supposed to be in favor of the First Amendment. Isn't it my First Amendment right to say whatever I want?
Not here. The First Amendment protects all of us from government intrusion. We, however, are not the government. Our mission is to create a forum for dialogue, and we have found that without some moderation the comment boards can become offensive to many readers. That said, we would not be promoting comments at all if we didn't want to encourage broad expression. We do try to err on the side of leaving comments up.
Is there something we missed? If you have a question that's not covered here, please let us know! Email firstname.lastname@example.org.