Online comments: Nunatsiaq News wants to hear from you
Read our draft comment policy and tell us what you think by 5 p.m., June 30
Over the past two months, we’ve taken a long look at how we moderate and publish comments and other communications from readers, primarily on our website, but also on our Facebook page and Twitter feed.
So to provide you with more clarity and to give ourselves a clear set of guidelines, we’ve produced a draft comment policy, available here.
If you want a copy of your own, you can download the PDF embedded at the bottom of this page.
Before we make it final, we want to hear from you. Take some to read it, and let us know what you think.
You can email your remarks to email@example.com — or you can post them publicly in the comment section at the bottom of this web page.
We’ll receive your views until June 30 at 5 p.m. After that date, we will produce a final version of the policy. Don’t forget that deadline: June 30, 5 p.m.
Nunatsiaq News Online Commenting Policy (Draft)
The purpose of this policy is to provide our readers with comfortable places to express their opinions and to encourage the intelligent, lively discussion of issues raised in our news stories, commentaries, editorials and letters.
We’ll continue to allow readers to post anonymous comments under pseudonyms. In doing so, however, we will not tolerate abuse or malice of any kind.
We’ve found that, within our industry, there is no consensus on the question of whether commenters should be required to use real names or whether commenters may use pseudonyms.
However, we do find that many readers from small communities in Nunavut and Nunavik still feel they need to keep their identities private when sharing information or expressing opinions. The most common reason is fear of retribution from employers, politicians and community leaders. That said, we will not allow anyone to use anonymity as a shield for offensive behaviour.
Readers should be aware that there is no real anonymity on the internet. You leave traces of your identity on every web site that you visit, including ours.
In the past, we have dealt with repeat abusers by banning their IP numbers. But from now on, we will deal with such people by restricting them to read-only status.
If we take such action against you, this means we will allow you to read our stories, editorials and commentaries, but we will not allow you to post comments. All such decisions are final. Because the volume of comments we receive is so large, we do not have the time to debate or discuss such decisions.
We understand that our comment boards are a source of free entertainment and information for many readers. We hope readers understand that it is Nunatsiaq News that pays for this service and bears all the risk. For that reason, we reserve the right to delete any comment or ban any commenter at any time.
We expect that some readers may not like some or all of these restrictions.
But we do not consider them to be an infringement of the right to freedom of speech.
The internet contains an infinite number of free spaces — Facebook, Twitter and other social media, as well as numerous blogging and website platforms. If you find that our guidelines are too restrictive, you’re free to go elsewhere.
In creating these guidelines, we relied heavily on guidelines used by the Guardian, the The New York Times and the Globe and Mail. We also relied heavily on a report released in 2013 by the World Editors Forum entitled “Online comment moderation: emerging best practices.”
This policy and these guidelines apply to the Nunatsiaq Online website, the Nunatsiaq News Facebook page, the Nunatsiaq News Twitter feed, the Nunatsiaq News YouTube channel and to any other discussion platforms we may develop in the future.
How we’ll moderate your comments
1. We welcome debate, dissent and the expression of unpopular opinions. But we’ll delete any comment that contains malicious personal abuse and deliberate misinformation, including trolling, flooding and personal attacks on any person, including members of our staff.
2. We’ll delete any comment likely to put our organization into legal jeopardy, especially comments that appear to be libelous, in contempt of court or in violation of copyright.
3. We’ll delete any comment that expresses blatant racism, sexism, homophobia or any form of hate speech. In doing this, we’ll distinguish between the forthright criticism of governments, organizations and ideas, and attacks on persons or groups solely on the basis of race, religion, gender, sexual orientation, disability, religion or age.
4. We’ll delete comments that we deem to be off-topic, irrelevant or so badly written they’re impossible to understand.
5. We’ll bar commenters who attempt to engage in online smear campaigns, especially during elections. This includes any attempt to post misinformation about candidates, including malicious gossip about their sex lives and drinking habits. We will, however, allow discussion of bona fide criminal convictions, if they are recent.
6. We’ll bar commenters who attempt to flood the site with political propaganda on behalf of candidates or political parties, especially if we detect large numbers of such comments flowing from the same IP address.
7. We’ll delete spam and any comment that appears to promote a business or commercial product.
8. We will close comments — until the courts render a verdict — on all crime and court stories where an accused person is named.
9. We will close comments on any story, letter, editorial or opinion piece, if, in our opinion, allowing comments would lead to abuse of our website.
10. Due to the large amount of material that we publish and the high volume of comments we received, we do not have time to debate a decision to remove a comment, close comments or ban a user. All such decisions are final.
11. Although we have the ability to prevent any IP address from accessing our website, we will deal with repeat abusers of our comment system by restricting them to read-only status.
Guidelines for you
1. Mind your manners. Don’t say anything you wouldn’t say in front of your grandparents.
2. Respect evidence. Don’t make claims you know you can’t prove.
3. Show respect for the views and beliefs of others, including religious and political beliefs. Treat other commenters the way you want them to treat you.
4. Take responsibility for the quality of conversation. Try to raise the tone of the discussion instead of dragging it down.
5. Stay relevant. Do not post off-topic remarks.
6. If you have a beef with somebody in your community, region or workplace, chances are nobody except you even cares about it. Don’t use our website to express your personal grudges and to destroy the reputations of people you don’t like.
7. Don’t use our comment section to promote your business. Buy an ad.
8. The sex lives and drinking habits of public figures make for good gossip at the coffee shop. But 99 per cent of the time, these rumours are not relevant to the issues. Keep them out of your comments.
9. Don’t put people down because of their religious beliefs.
10. Stick to what you know to be true and don’t repeat hearsay. We’ll delete most comments that begin with phrases like “I hear that…” or “there’s a rumour going around that…”
11. If you’re working on behalf of a particular election candidate or political party, that’s great. But don’t use our comment section to conduct your campaign anonymously. Campaign in public.