Ever since we gave stripes.com users the ability to post comments on stories last spring, we have been impressed with the general level of maturity, sobriety and thoughtfulness exhibited by our readers. Where other newspaper websites routinely find their comment boards overrun with trolls, miscreants and other undesirable Internet species, the caliber of comments on stripes.com has remained high.
Even when afforded the Internet’s cloak of anonymity, Stars and Stripes readers tend to conduct themselves with the honor and integrity that are the hallmarks of military service.
But on a few occasions in recent months, comment boards have strayed into invective and personal attacks, and we’ve had to shut them down. What we realized in doing this was that we had never actually spelled out for our users the rules of the road for posting comments.
So this week, we are fixing that. We have created a new comments policy, which is clear and concise and free of confusing legal mumbo-jumbo. Here is what that policy says:
Stars and Stripes values your comments and encourages an open, energized discussion topics of interest to our readers. But, like all good things, there are limits to what is suitable for posting in our comments forums. You are solely responsible for your comments, and we ask your cooperation in ensuring that all of your comments are civil in nature and that you avoid inappropriate postings. The following is a list of the types of comments that we deem inappropriate and that are subject to removal:
- Posts that are invasive of another person’s privacy or include personal information, such as phone numbers or e-mail addresses
- Off-topic posts
- Posts that have links to websites that are not related to the topic of discussion
- Posts that include derogatory information that cannot be easily substantiated
- Remarks that are abusive, threatening, harmful or libelous
- Personal attacks, including name-calling and “SHOUTING”
- Comments that are obscene, vulgar, profane or incoherent
- Comments that are racist, sexist, homophobic or contain other types of hate-speech
- A post that purports to be written by someone else
- Spam and unsolicited advertisements
We want stripes.com to be a useful site for intelligent discussion and we welcome thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point concisely and politely. Comments that we feel violate these rules or are otherwise inappropriate may be removed. If you feel a comment violates these rules or is objectionable in other ways, please report it to firstname.lastname@example.org. If we all take responsibility for maintaining an appropriate and constructive environment, the discussion itself is improved and everyone benefits.