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Comment moderation guidelines

Before proceeding to my personal observations, here is the Crikey code of conduct, an excellent exposition of common sense which tells you most of what you need to know:

Crikey is dedicated to independent, lively debate about Australian politics, media, business, culture and society generally. We welcome your participation in this discussion, but we ask that you help us keep the conversation useful, interesting and welcoming.

In short, we ask that people ‘play the ball not the man’.

More specifically, we reserve the right to edit or delete comments which are offensive, make personal attacks or could expose us to legal action.

Please help us to keep the conversation on topic by debating the issues. We reserve the right to close conversations which descend into flamewars or personal attacks.

We prefer not to have to edit or delete comments on our website, so please help us uphold the code of conduct so we don’t have to.

However, the volume of comments on this particular corner of the Crikey blogosphere, along with my own particular set of expectations, requires a statement of guidelines specific to it. To wit:

  1. If a post deals with anything other than a federal opinion poll, please stay on topic. Do not use the most recent thread for whatever you feel like saying purely because that’s where you think the most people will read it. Federal poll threads are for wide-ranging discussion of politics, within reasonable limits. I will inevitably have to exercise highly subjective discretion in determining those limits.
  2. Strong swearing is not allowed (note the word “strong” – you do not have to dance around my filters with “d*mn” and “bl**dy”, or even “sh!t”). More relaxed standards apply if the word forms part of a quote, rather than your own expression.
  3. Talk about politics, not other commenters. This precludes any personal attack which fails to engage with the point the other person was making, however little value you personally might attach to that point.
  4. Standards of what is pejoratively known as political correctness apply here. There is a particular category of words and attitudes that are not allowed, and you ought to know what they are by now. That said, I do not subscribe to some of the more excitable definitions of what constitutes hate speech.
  5. That being so, do not accuse other commenters of political extremism in terms such as “Nazi”, “fascist” or “racist”. If I deem that there’s any substance to such concerns, I will deal with the offending commenter myself.
  6. The anonymity of commenters who wish to be anonymous will at all times be respected by the moderator, and contributors who aware of the identity of a commenter who wishes to remain anonymous are expected to do the same. A judgement call will sometimes have to be made when a commenter does so little to conceal their identity that they effectively out themselves, but those who have a sincere wish to be anonymous will be allowed to do so.
  7. It’s very important to me that threads start well. Please do not leave jokey comments like “Frist!”. That’s fine for Larvatus Prodeo’s “Saturday Salon” threads, but we don’t do fun here. I’m less bothered if things get silly after comment 700 or so.
  8. When I edit or delete a comment, I will endeavour to indicate it with the word SNIP followed by a brief explanation of my rationale. However, I don’t promise to do this if a flame war leaves me having to delete a large number of comments, or if the offender has been around long enough that they ought to know better.
  9. I make no promise to apply judgements consistently. Comments that would escape censure in quiet moments will get chopped when I’m trying to put things back on track after a flame war, or when one seems about to begin. Vexatious commenters will be dealt with more severely than those who are generally well behaved.
  10. If you wish to complain about or discuss my moderation, please don’t do it in comments. Email me at pollbludger-at-crikey-com-au.
  11. Those wishing to vent hatred at public figures – for example, by comparing them in unpleasant terms to animals, insects or bodily waste, or (especially) by wishing death or injury upon them – are advised that there are plenty of radical websites out there which are better suited to such comments than this one.
  12. Further to the above, use of even light-hearted nicknames for politicians is discouraged. The following is a list of nicknames which have been banned outright, primarily due to overuse, which will be added to as future examples emerge: “Rodent”, “Krudd”, “Dudd”, “Oiliness”, “Talcum”.
  13. Also banned: “HAHAHAHAHA!”, to indicate “I am laughing very loud right into your face”, an action that would get you a richly deserved punch in the nose if you did it in real life.
  14. Copyright laws are taken seriously here. Do not repost articles from other media sources in their entirety.
  15. The Poll Bludger takes a zero-tolerance approach to 9/11 conspiracy theories. To unironically disseminate them is to demonstrate your intellectual incapacity to contribute anything of value to any discussion, on any subject. To maintain standards, anyone who does so will be banned without warning.
  16. Those of you who insist on using the STFU facility are not allowed to crap on about it. In particular, you may not make self-indulgent announcements about who you have chosen to put there.
  17. A message to my friends on the left. In the immortal words of P.J. O’Rourke: “this ain’t no hippy commune”. The left consensus here does not mean that anyone who argues against it is a “troll”. Nor should you imagine that the moral superiority of your worldview entitles you to be abusive to those who don’t share it.
  18. A message to my friends on the right. The left consensus does not entitle you to play the provocateur. Despite the five-to-one left-right imbalance on this site, I still find myself banning as many of you as them.

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