The official new LDV comments policy

by Stephen Tall on February 15, 2010

A month ago, LDV launched our comments policy experiment, appealing to our readers to ‘make nice’. As I explained at the time:

… though we reckon this site is better than most political blogs in offering a space where all can feel free to debate with mutual respect, it doesn’t always happen. And those few occasions when LDV’s comments become overly personal and abusive (and invariably testosterone-charged) can deter others from ever daring to join in. So for the next month – leading up to Valentine’s Day, appropriately enough – LDV is going to try and ‘love up’ our comments threads.

So how’s it gone? Well, from the point of view the LDV editorial team, the policy has been a success. It’s been tested seriously only once, unsurprisingly in relation to the Clegg sacks Jenny Tonge article last Friday, when we removed 18 comments which contained either libels or obscenities or personal abuse (and sometimes, if folk were feeling especially creative, all three). We deleted more comments this past weekend, I think, than in the whole of the rest of the preceding month.

I’m not sure how many readers have noticed the change; and I’m not sure we can prove that new commenters have contributed as a result of the new policy. But those of us who edit the site feel it’s a more honest and transparent approach, which allows (and indeed encourages) vigorous debate but draws clear lines in the sand on those rare occasions when commenters over-step the mark.

After discussion, therefore, LDV is continuing the experimental policy, with a very few tweaks, as set out below:

  • We welcome comments from all our readers, including those who are supporters of other parties, or none at all;
  • We will not allow comments which are personally abusive, whether of a named individual or a group of people. Such comments will be removed as soon as possible. In ‘grey area’ cases, or where a comment contains reasoned argument but would otherwise be deleted because it contains personal abuse, we may ask you to re-write your comment before we will publish it;
  • We will remove off-topic comments, especially if a commenter continually raises the same point on different comment threads. We probably already have a post on that topic anyway, and you are welcome to leave a comment there instead;
  • We will moderate comments where the same person is commenting under different names in order to generate a false picture of the level of support for their views; or where someone is pretending to be someone or something that they are not (eg, claiming to be a Lib Dem member when they are in fact an activist from another party). If someone is making a claim about who they are and do not provide usable contact details, we will usually moderate the comment;
  • We will usually allow comments to appear straight away. However, we reserve the right to auto-moderate, or apply a permanent comment ban, to those who ignore our policy. We have several spam filters in place, if you believe your comments are getting trapped please .
  • We have also updated the comments policy on our About Us page. We will, of course, continue to keep the policy under review, and welcome our readers’ feedback.