[First filed: August 13, 2009 @ 17:31]
There has been, and perhaps it was to be expected, some confusion surrounding comments under the new regime.
So here’s some tips about what the moderators will be looking for and what they’re likely to delete, as opposed to approving, in the scant seconds of consideration they will give to your comment.
95% of comments made here are great. But it only takes one idiot to de-rail a conversation at best, and get us into legal trouble at worst.
999 times out of 1000 we have, in the past, come to more regret the comments we let through than the ones we’ve deleted.
We might well be the kind of men who like to make the same mistakes twice, but below are some things that we’re not having much to do with any more.
As I said the huge majority of commenters are no trouble at all, they shouldn’t take any of the examples given below as personal criticism. But, every now and then when the red mists descends we all make mistakes. Let’s try and keep them original by avoiding these pitfalls.
(It should be noted that if you were already in moderation then you’re no more likely to get your comments published than you were before. I know it’s hard, talkback radio won’t take your calls, the Canberra Times won’t publish your letters and now we’ve had enough of you too. Time to cackle away on your own blog I reckon.)
What we’re looking for:
It’s pretty simple:
Civil, informative discussion of the issues raised in the original post. Humour is a bonus, but not required.
What we’re not looking for:
Is rather more complex. Some of you are going to cry “But you did, or allowed, all of those things before”. To which we reply, “That was then, and this is now”, or possibly “That was us, and this is you”.
If you don’t mind extreme crudeness and foul language I recommend a recent article by the legendary web-writer Seanbaby titled 10 Species of Angry Commenter You Encounter on the Web [NSFW].
If your comment fits any of these categories then chances are it’s not going to see the light of day any more.
Seriously, think about it, does the fact you’re married and drive a nice car really have anything to do with what we’re discussing?
It might have something to do with what you want to discuss. That’s rarely the same thing. You’ll just have to try and start a new story for that. But if you fit one of those categories I don’t like your chances there either. Better write a letter to the Canberra Times and call talkback radio instead.
So here’s a list of 10 other things you’re best advised not to waste your time posting in future:
- 1. Attacks on the author of a story.
If someone’s going to the trouble of making a substantive editorial contribution why should they have to suffer abuse? If you can’t debate the issues they raise in a civil manner then chances are your view really isn’t worth very much.
It’s also almost always not on the topic of the story.
2. Using ignorance as a weapon.
When, for example, the lineup for an event is announced, saying “Who?” is not an indication of any failings in the lineup. It just means that your views on the lineup are ignorant to the point of being worthless. We’ll give those views the consideration they deserve.
3. Idle chit chat.
If you want to say “Hi” to your buddy you can:
a) Stick your head over the cubicle partition
b) Call them
c) Email them
d) Instant message them
You do not need to de-rail a public debate with your personal message. It’s rude, it’s inconsiderate, it’s disrespectful of the wider readership. It is noise where we want signal.
“OMG I think I know rabble_rouser666 I’ll just ask them if they’re who I think they are!”
Maybe, just maybe, they’re not your BFF after all, maybe they’re someone else entirely. Someone who didn’t make that contribution just to be publicly grilled on their personal life.
If you think it’s someone you know then ask them personally. Otherwise it’s just offtopic, and often extremely creepy.
5. Foul language.
You might be a mono-browed ignoramus who uses foul language as a form of latter day comma in your every day conversation. But you’re going to need to clean up your act if you want to comment here.
If for no other reason than we would like to reach readers behind content filters.
We also find a surfeit of foul language to be a good indicator of a comment without value. Deal with it.
6. Saying bad things about real people.
You might be completely convinced that Bob’s Blinds are the devil incarnate, and for all we know they might be. But you’re going to need your own website to do it in future.
Sometimes we might choose to take a chance with this stuff, but it’s our choice what we want to get sued about. Not yours.
7. Complaining about past moderation decisions.
To you that comment was the most insightful piece of communication ever constructed by mortal man. But to us it was one of hundreds received every day.
The chances that anyone even remembers that specific comment are low, the chances that we want to debate it in the comments pages are much, much lower. And we won’t.
You’re best advised to do what sane people do, and move on.
8. “It’s not ontopic, but…”
No. It’s not ontopic.
If you want to talk about something no-one else wants to hear about I suggest buying a friend a drink. They’ll normally listen at least until the bottom of the first glass.
9. “What do you expect in this place?”
You’re free and welcome to run RiotACT down in your own publication (within the limits of the laws surrounding defamation and libel). We’re not obliged to help you here. Off you trot.
10. “What’s this about?”
We go to great efforts to link our stories to supporting documents for those unfamiliar with the story. If you can’t be bothered reading it why should anyone be bothered answering your question? More importantly, why should we be bothered publishing it? Oh that’s right, we won’t.
Every now and then someone will post a comment that breaks one, or even many of these guidelines and still gets published. “Why is this so?” I hear you cry.
Maybe the moderator was tired or distracted and missed it? If the comment is particularly offensive try using the contact form at the top of the page and ask that the comment be reviewed. A link to the story and the comment number is helpful in finding these things. (Note: Just because you disagree with something does not make it offensive or likely to be removed.)
Possibly the comment was so insightful, hilariously funny, and such great reading that the moderator decided to allow it anyway. That’s their decision to make.
And yet your comment got deleted? How unfair is that?
Well, chances are we just didn’t think it was as good.
It could be we’re idiots for not appreciating or understanding your genius.
But we’re the idiots making the decisions.
Best to do what the sane people do: take the dog for a walk, open a drink, kiss someone you love, and get over it.