Newsnet Scotland’s moderation policy

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by Paul Kavanagh

When Newsnet Scotland launched, we promised we’d be different.  One of the ways in which we are different is our moderation policy, which we introduce today.  The commentators and posters on this site are self-regulating and self-policing.  After all, our political masters believe that self-regulation is good enough for politicians, so it’s good enough for us too – and we’re not claiming public money on expenses.

Comment moderation on this site is carried out by registered users who have volunteered their services as moderators.  Any registered user can volunteer.  The moderation policy we introduce today has been developed by the volunteer moderators ourselves.  The aim is to make the moderation on Newsnet transparent, fair, democratic and participatory.  The editorial staff of Newsnet have no input on moderation, with the exception of advising us on legal matters.

The moderation policy is active as of today, 20th February 2011.  We will not review or revisit complaints which relate to comments published prior to today.

The moderation team is not responsible for editorial content.  If you have a complaint or comment to make about editorial content, contact the editorial staff via the Contact Us page on this site.  Members of the moderation team will deal only with complaints, suggestions or remarks related to below the line comments.

There have been a number of problems with moderation for which we can only apologise.  Newly registered IDs are pre-moderated to allow us to weed out obvious trolls and spammers, but unfortunately we do not have many volunteer moderators during certain times of the day.  Since we are ourselves volunteers we have jobs, lives and other commitments and are only available at particular hours.

The result is that some perfectly fine and decent comments from new posters have been languishing in pre-moderation for several hours.  We’d like to assure everyone that there is no devilish plot to censor anyone, it’s just that we really need more of you to come forward as volunteer moderators.

After all, this is your site, your conversations and your discussion.  The best people to regulate it are you yourselves.  If you would like to participate and make this site the best place online to discuss Scottish news, politics and culture, please contact us at the email address below.

Please read through the moderation policy.  We’ve tried to keep it as simple and straightforward as possible and hope that everyone will find it fair, democratic and responsive.  The policy is published today in English.  A Scots language version will be published within the next few days, and a Gaelic language version is being arranged.

The moderation policy is given below.  It will be permanently visible in the About Us section of the site.

Due to technical issues, the “reply-to” function in the comments facility has had to be disabled.  Unfortunately “reply-to” comments were not being indented, making it difficult to find them.  Correcting the problem has proven more complicated than was originally anticipated, so until such time as it can be resolved, we have disabled the “reply-to” function in the comments.  All new comments will now appear at the end of the thread as in the BBC blogs or the Guardian’s Comment is Free.  If you wish to reply directly to another poster’s comment you will have to quote their ID and the time they made their comment in your reply.  We apologise for this as it is not an ideal solution, but it will have to suffice as a temporary measure.

The editor also recently took the decision to remove the ability to insert images into comments.  The moderation team support this decision as the facility was wide open to abuse, and encouraged people to post frivolous images which detracted from discussions.  You may still post links to images.

If you have any comments, concerns or remarks to make about the moderation policy, or if you would like to take part as a volunteer moderator, please get in touch at the address below.

moderation@newsnetscotland.com

Moderation policy

Newsnet Scotland is committed to freedom of speech and to freedom of expression.  Our aim is to ensure that our comments facility provides an inclusive and safe forum for lively, entertaining and intelligent debate and discussion.

Moderation on this site is carried out by unpaid volunteers who are themselves commentators and participants in the discussions on Newsnet Scotland.

Moderation will never be used to suppress legitimate, reasoned discussion. We do not censor comments for political reasons, and although we are a pro-independence publication we will not censor comments on the basis that they are pro-Union.  We positively encourage supporters of the Union to participate.

We celebrate the fact that the people of Scotland have many voices and many opinions.  We welcome contributions from those outside Scotland or without any personal connection to Scotland as we recognise the value of different perspectives.

However we retain the right to moderate comments, and will remove a comment for any of the following reasons :

  • The use of abusive or offensive language.
  • Personal attacks on other posters.
  • Revealing personal information about other posters such as name, private address, phone number, email address or other details.
  • ‘Trolling’, spamming, ‘flame wars’ and/or deliberate attempts to disrupt or derail a thread.
  • Comments which are defamatory or which could result in Newsnet Scotland facing legal action.
  • Comments which advocate or incite criminal behaviour.
  • Comments which are abusive or which incite hatred on the basis of a person’s race, religion, gender, nationality, sexuality or any other personal characteristic.  This specifically includes both anti-Scottish hate language and anti-English hate language.
  • Comments which link to sites containing offensive or illegal material.
  • Comments which are in a language other than Gaelic, Scots or English and whose content cannot be checked by a moderator.
  • If you are under 16 your comments may be removed unless you have parental permission to participate on this site.

For the first few days after they start to post comments, those with newly registered IDs will be pre-moderated by our moderation team.  Pre-moderated comments will only become visible once they have been checked and approved by a member of the moderation team.  Once a week we update our membership lists, newly registered IDs whose comments have been approved will be transferred to post-moderation.

When your comments are post-moderated they become visible to the public immediately you post them. These comments are reviewed by our moderation team after they have become public.  Comments which fall foul of the guidelines given above may be removed.

If you wish to report a comment as inappropriate, or if you feel your comment was removed unfairly, or if you would like to become a member of our volunteer moderation team, please contact us at

moderation@newsnetscotland.com

A member of the moderating team will contact you as soon as possible.

Complaints about moderation

If you remain unhappy with the decision given for the removal of your comment, you may request that your complaint be reviewed by our moderation panel.  The moderation panel is made up of registered commentators who have volunteered their services.  This panel forms a judge and jury made up from amongst the users of this site themselves. They will review the original comment, the reasons for removal, and will hear your complaint. The volunteer moderator who made the decision to remove your comment will not form part of the panel, neither will the moderation co-ordinator nor any staff member of Newsnet.

On a simple majority vote the panel may uphold your complaint and restore your comment with an apology, or uphold the comment’s removal.  The panel’s decision is final and is binding both on Newsnet Scotland and the complainant.

If you would like to participate in our moderation panel, please contact us at the email address above.

Views expressed in the comment section are not necessarily a reflection of the views of Newsnet Scotland, its contributors, staff or volunteers.