Community guidelines now in place

If you have read my previous article, New comment moderation policy, you know that moderation has been proposed for Hypergrid Business. Maria and I have worked on the guidelines, which are listed below, and via a link at the bottom of every site page. You can also send an email to me directly at: [email protected]. With this article we are starting the new moderation process, which will apply to this article and all future articles.

General notes

Comments that are withheld for moderation will be reviewed, but it will not be instantaneous. I regularly check for these, but not continuously. Please allow 24 hours before you conclude that your comment is permanently declined, although in most cases I will have evaluated them much sooner than that.

Likewise, it may take up to 24 hours to come upon and remove inappropriate posts. Therefore, just because a comment is posted does not mean it is permanently approved. Comments may be removed at any time subsequent to posting, upon moderation review.

As most of you know, readers can flag comments for moderation. This puts you in the position of being a moderator yourself, so the intention is that you would use the same discussion guidelines we have established for Hypergrid Business. Flagging comments simply out of spite or disagreement is contrary to the guidelines, and comments so flagged will be maintained or restored.

Remember also that any discussion started in Hypergrid Business is yours to continue on any other blog or forum. If you feel there are constraints to your self-expression here, we understand the desire to express your perspectives in alternative formats elsewhere.  You are welcome to post such links in your comments on Hypergrid Business.

What we hope to achieve

The Hypergrid Business website provides opportunities for readers who wish to discuss the content we publish, or debate issues more generally. Our goal is to ensure this platform is inviting and informative.

We have developed guidelines which we expect all participants in the community areas of the Hypergrid Business website to abide by. These guidelines are applied with consideration for the context in which comments are made. We will strive to be fair in this process.

The guidelines

Above all else, personal attacks or verbal abuse on authors, other users or any individual are subject to moderation and will be removed. This includes the right to close conversations that become flame-wars. By ‘personal attacks’, we include name-calling, false accusations, vulgar innuendos and any other form of malicious derision. Since posting comments is a community activity, we expect all users to find ways of sharing their views that do not feel threatening or toxic to others. For the benefit of the community, we will remove any content that others might find extremely offensive. Please respect the right of expression of other people’s views and beliefs and consider your impact on others when expressing your own perspectives. Please note that there will be no toleration of any form of hate-speech, or contributions that appear as such. In the normal course of discussions, we anticipate and recognize that there will be deliberate and considered criticism of a particular business, organization, technology or methodology. On the other hand, we do not accept attacks on people based on the their race, religion, sex, gender, sexual orientation, disability or age.

While we anticipate criticism of the articles we publish, we will not allow outright misrepresentations of Hypergrid Business or our journalists. We will remove content that could put us in legal jeopardy. This includes postings that appear libelous or defamatory, or material that appears to violate copyright laws and protections.

We will block or remove any posts that amount to spam. This may also apply to people or organizations who frequently post self-serving material or external links without adding relevant material to the quality of the discussion on the Hypergrid Business website. Context will be a strong factor in evaluating such posts. We encourage links that reference additional relevant outside material, but note that external links will be verified before they are approved. Along the same lines, if you post something that is abruptly and arbitrarily unrelated to the original topic then it may be removed, in order to keep the discussion on track. Questions or comments about moderation should also not be posted as comments.

Naturally, you should try to be clear about what you are saying. Remember though that people may misunderstand your intended message and react differently than you expected. Please consider this before you write your rebuttal to a disagreement. Written text has some shortcomings for conversation and we recommend you try to express your point in various ways before you decide on the merit of unanticipated reactions. You can help to keep the Hypergrid Business community areas open to all viewpoints by staying reasonable and accurate. However, if you identify an instance of clearly inappropriate comments that seem to persist, please report it. When we all participate fairly in maintaining a welcoming and constructive environment, the website is improved and everyone benefits.

Our moderation activities

If a contribution to the Hypergrid Business website is perceived as breaching the community guidelines set out above, then it will be removed by the moderator.

Participants who persistently or willfully ignore these participation guidelines will have their posting privileges for the Hypergrid Business community areas withdrawn.

We do not edit user posts. Therefore, even if only part of a comment is perceived as breaching the community guidelines, the whole comment will be removed. In some cases, this requires the removal of subsequent comments that refer to, and therefore perpetuate, the problem(s) found in the original comment, especially if they reiterate the wording or intent found to be unacceptable.

Because Hypergrid Business is responsible for everything that appears on this site, all actions and decisions by our moderators are final.

About the guidelines

These discussion guidelines were inspired by the Community Standards and Participation Guidelines used by The Guardian, which we consider an exemplar of best practices in online comments moderation. We reserve the right to modify our guidelines as deemed necessary or beneficial.

We hope this set of guidelines serves our community well. General concerns and suggestions may be sent for review by emailing the moderator at [email protected].

Related Posts'

Lawrence Pierce

Lawrence Pierce specializes in new media design and production. He began as a computer game programmer and has been a systems consultant to corporations such as DuPont and the J. Paul Getty Art Trust, art director on the first computer game for MTV and a featured artist in the Hollywood Reporter.

14 Responses

  1.' Minethere says:

    Ok, so, just to try and get things more clear in my own mind. I CAN still use self-deprecating insults about myself, correct? [I do enjoy doing that as it amuses me to no end, sometimes].

    Then, also, “We encourage links that reference additional relevant outside material, but note that external links will be verified before they are approved. ”

    Often I like to post external youtubes and photos that I think are quite salient, especially the one I made for trolls, my youtube gestures one [I went to a lot of effort to do that!!]. I know they amuse some people, which is their intended purpose, but I also know they really, really ruffle the feathers of those types whose underwear are too tight [if you get my meaning]. Both purposes are good, imo.

    Granted, since from this day forward, I will have less and less opportunity to post such comments [we should only be hopeful, right?], BUT, is a little, smallish attempt to lighten things up still gunna be ok? [and, yes, I expect you will say it is on a comment by comment basis, but still]

    And this, “In the normal course of discussions, we anticipate and recognize that there will be deliberate and considered criticism of a particular business, organization, technology or methodology.”

    The fact is that some folx are quite blindly invested in certain things, and sometimes I like to point this out…IF, this blind, parochial type of thing is not obvious to them, it is certainly obvious to others, and sometimes it is useful for the greater whole to see where some things said are not fully correct or transparent, or just outright not true.

    The problem with all this is that one person’s truth, is quite often not another’s. And I long ago gave up on itemizing, ad nauseum, truths in order to answer every single little lack of comprehension of every single possible commenter….so, the point being [if there actually is a point, I’m not sure anymore], where I, or others, could comment forever in order to try to legitimize a point, and still likely not please everyone. So often this becomes, if one persists, a drama fest, when in reality it is simply trying to get a point across, and mostly failing.

    For example, I quit the inworldz forums some time back before I left that grid for good due to simply trying to say something and some people would just not grasp even the less than subtle messages….it was not my job to answer to every single misunderstanding whether due to language barriers or simple low IQs.

    So I have seen here also.

    In any case, it is a simple thing to say what one wants to, in an elevated sort of way, and still be positive, or insulting, if one has the acumen to do so. In fact, it is actually more amusing to insult a rude person in such a way that only they will notice, if even only vaguely, and the rest will get a nice morning laugh.

    tbh, a lot of what is said here, I would say the majority, is quite useful….I would have let it continue as it was, but then it’s not my website, either-))

    •' lmpierce says:

      When things get out of hand, it is usually obvious to those involved. In the comments for one recent article, I wrote: “I’m jumping in here to comment as moderator. You’re both making some valid points, but they’re being overshadowed by the personal attacks. Please dial it back or take the discussion to another forum.” The commenters did bring their remarks to a close and that was also the extent of the moderation. In their own words they recognized the debate had become personal and I was appreciative that they agreed enough was enough.

      •' Minethere says:

        I noticed, that, I and I agree with your approach, there.

        Mainly, I just want to be able to insult myself without moderation, is all.

        •' lmpierce says:

          Hi Minethere,

          If you use self-deprecation as a style of expression and the language wouldn’t offend the average person, it would not be a consideration for moderation.

  2.' Ener Hax says:

    hopefully it is with a light hand that any moderation be done. nothing kills a blog faster than the perception of a stern gatekeeper =)

    i become wary when any long explanation is offered for something that is clear to people such as Minethere and myself because no amount of eloquence or quantity of vergbage wiil dissuade those that cause the problems anyway

    good luck!

    •' lmpierce says:

      Hi Ener,

      Thanks for the well wishes.

      In drafting the guidelines, we started with existing guidelines from a source that seems to have developed an approach to moderation that exemplifies a synthesis of what works best for a publication, as well as the community. We distilled those principles into a more concise form, and I also checked a couple other places to see where we fit in to current standards. It would be great if we didn’t need to write guidelines at all, but even the expression “insulting” has generated discussion as to what that really means. Hence, we end up using an amount of words that we hope balances clarity with verbosity.

      Most of our readers do not need formal guidelines because they write comments that are just fine by any standard. However, in those instances when moderation is called for, guidelines are important for several reasons. Most importantly, having established guidelines shows that our community standards are consistent and knowable in full to all participants. Some of our guidelines are for legal considerations, which is akin to most contractual boilerplate. And guidelines also help people when they get locked into a debate because they feel they need to defend themselves. If the moderator can step in and mitigate the issues by resorting to established guidelines and moderation options, it offers a clear exit strategy, whereas moderation without guidelines might feel biased, arbitrary or unfair.

  3.' Sammy Greenway says:

    Still wrong, better to have no comments at all then to censor them, in my opinion. Opensim is about freedom, and takes a very libertarian approach, so is opensource software in general. So to me any limits on freedom of speech is wrong. (and yes i know its only a government restriction), because it limits discourse, and kills ideas and innovation as well.

    BTW, being a former Walmart employee and supervisor (I worked my way up from the bottom) I found this article very slanderous and strewed with misinformation., I believe it should be censored as well and removed from the website. Thank You.

    •' Hannah says:

      >Opensim is about freedom, and takes a very libertarian approach,
      Says who?

      Anyways, it’s their website, if they don’t want cluttered up with flame wars, they don’t have to put up with flame wars.

      Their money, their property -and property rights are a libertarian ideal too, right?

    •' lmpierce says:

      Hi Sammy,

      To answer your second concern first, the transition to the implementation of the current moderation guidelines and my active role as moderator culminated with this article. We aren’t going back and retroactively removing articles or prior comments. It has been my feeling that if we want to establish guidelines, we needed to give fair notice.

      You are free, however, to add comments to earlier articles. That would be an opportunity to add your perspective.

      As to your first concern, there are constraints of our making, and those beyond our control. Beyond our control is the issue of libel. Publications can be held liable for defamation of character if it is permitted under their purview, so the restriction on such comments is a necessary measure to prevent such legal entanglements.

      Our choices of less legally oriented constraints have been crafted to restrict the activity of personal attacks using words, without restricting the sharing of ideas. There is a difference and I think shutting down comments altogether would stifle the kinds of conversations that help our readers to be involved and fully informed.

      Nonetheless, we understand that even our approach may not be satisfactory to everyone, and we allow readers to post links in their comments that lead to blogs where discussions can continue under whatever circumstances best fit their ideals.

  4.' Minethereé says:

    Going back three years here, my how time flies. I recommend an additional level of moderation.

    If the guest accounts were not allowed there would be much less of those people gaming the comments.

    My own moderation is like this.

    If you think on this a bit, it is really only fair, those who do not game the system that way are easily shouted out by those who can’t even be bothered to create a disqus account.

    Of course they can game that but it would reduce the flyby nature and make moderation much simpler. Guest account responses are also not emailed which effects timely response if someone is not watching the comments directly.

    •' lmpierce says:

      Guest accounts are the easiest to moderate as they are automatically withheld pending pre-moderation. The thornier problem has proven to be people posting posing as another user. And along those lines, some of the most frequent moderation has been done on a handful of the most regular commenters.

      Moderation isn’t about quieting voices or preventing unwelcome thoughts or ideas. It’s about maintaining civil discussion. Since ‘civil’ means different things to different people, we posted discussion guidelines as a reference. While that still leaves open the possibility of various interpretations, it also means that the moderation activities are not simply arbitrary.

      ‘Gaming the system’ might apply to a true system with specific goals as outcomes. For example, when people rig a system for voting someone into office, or gerrymandering takes place skewing representation, and the equitable distribution of goods and services to particular demographics. Comments are not, however, a system. It is a forum for ideas and input. It is especially important to promote new voices and new ideas. We have regular commenters and that’s fine, but we wish to encourage the constant ebb and flow of others who feel inclined to weigh in.

      I would also add that being ‘shouted out’ is a relative term. Taken from the idea of actually yelling so loudly that other voices cannot be heard, it’s not directly applicable to the context of these discussion forums. Moderation was developed to prevent the analogous issue of ‘shouting down’ (intimidating) commenters with derision or vulgarity. But as to the strength of a voice, the discussions really provide a place where all ideas can be posted, from those who feel the strength of their convictions to those who feel very unsure of their position. There is the fact that some commenters have stronger rationales (logic, arguments, evidence) for their ideas and positions. But in the end, each reader is free to identify and feel resonance with those expressions that they most align with.

      Finally, it was agreed that the ability to post links to other forums would give anyone the opportunity to invite readers to alternative sites where the rules of moderation (or lack of rules) would better suit their preferences for sharing. Whatever people say in the Hypergrid Business discussion forums, it certainly need not be the last word on any subject.

      •' Minethereé says:

        Well said-) I thought I saw IPs in my moderation tools but I just looked again and couldn’t find them. Disqus has changed again though making a learning curve.

        It may be I saw that on another comment system. That would sure be helpful though.

        In any case, thought out and seems reasonable. Thanks