Sciblogs – seven years in, we have a comments policy!

Sciblogs was born in 2009, a time that could now be considered to have been the tail end of the golden age of blogging in general.

Back then, commenting on blog posts was a relatively popular thing, lots of people did it. Then Facebook, Twitter and Reddit came along and much of the commentary shifted to those platforms.

All the while, Sciblogs never had an official policy on comments. We’ve moderated them and used what I think is considerable judgement to keep Sciblogs a reasonable place for discussion. While we’ve deleted a good number of comments from threads over the years, it has, I believe, been for pretty well justified reasons.

We’ve only ever had to block a handful of people form commenting and I think we’ve only ever closed off comments half a dozen times.

We discuss some pretty contentious stuff here, from climate change to water fluoridation, so I think that relatively light touch has served us well.

Some blogs and news outlets have recently abandoned comment sections, happy instead for their content to be discussed elsewhere and the commentary moderated by someone else or not at all.

But we feel that comments are still important and should still be hosted here. When a thread really gets going with thoughtful commentary, it can be as or more enlightening than the post itself. That’s why we are keen to stick with comments.

But we thought it would be useful to lay down the type of conduct we expect from people leaving comments. Sciblogs readers are  generally a well-behaved bunch. But we’ve had a few puzzling and annoying situations lately, mainly to do with so-called “sock puppets“. We think it is useful to lay out what we expect of people leaving comments.

We’ve come up with the following comments policy, cherry-picking from some of the best on the web (H/T Hot Topic and About.com).

You’ll find the comments policy published in our Terms & Conditions and also in the “About Us” section of the site. You can also check out our bloggers’ code of conduct just so you know that it isn’t all just on you – we expect our bloggers to be well-behaved too.

Sciblogs Editor

Peter Griffin

Sciblogs Comments Policy

Your comments are welcomed and encouraged here on Sciblogs. Challenge our writers and each other. Get passionate and make your views heard. But we want Sciblogs to be a forum for intelligent, useful and respectful discussion so there will be some situations where comments will be edited or deleted:

1. Comments deemed to be spam or promoting a business will be deleted.

2. Comments should be relevant to the post topic. Off topic comments will be deleted.

3. Comments that are potentially defamatory or otherwise actionable at law will be deleted.

4. All comments from first time posters to Sciblogs will go into moderation, but once approved, all following comments from that account will be posted automatically. Including a link to relevant content is permitted, but comments containing more than two links will go to moderation to avoid spam.

5. Comments including profanity will be deleted.

6. Comments containing language or concepts that could reasonably be deemed offensive will be deleted.

7. Comments that attack a person individually will be deleted.

8. Sciblogs allows pseudonyms on registered accounts, but a real email address must be used by people posting comments. We require one account per person to be used (to avoid “sock puppets“). If an inactive or fake email address is detected, the account will be deleted. NOTE: Your email address will never be divulged to a third party.

The editor of Sciblogs reserves the right to edit or delete any comments submitted to this blog without notice. This comment policy is subject to change at anytime.

4 Comments

  1. Stephen Thorpe (@stho002)

    All sounds quite reasonable. Just one minor query: I am at a bit of a loss to understand why “sock puppetry” might be a problem here. It is usually only a problem on sites which make decisions by consensus. The same person can vote again as a sock puppet, when they are only allowed one vote per person. A “meat puppet” is another person brought in as a “ring in” for voting purposes. What you might be alluding to is simply posting comments with a bogus email address, but this is not “sock puppetry”. I’m not quite sure exactly why it would be much of a probelm either, given that the site logs presumably record visiting IPs, should any legal issues arise.

  2. Peter Griffin

    We could definitely encourage it (and I do). It’s just that a lot of people in and around science don’t feel comfortable expressing an honest view under their own name, for fear of repercussions (see my Silencing Science post https://sciblogs.co.nz/griffins-gadgets/2016/05/10/silencing-science-long-run-openness-better-strategy/ Pseudonyms are okay as long as we aren’t blindly publishing sock puppet posts, which have recently been a bit of a problem around here.

  3. Carol Stewart

    Just one question – why not encourage commenters to use their real, full names? It does tend to lead to a much better quality discussion, conducted in good faith, if people are prepared to ‘own’ their opinions.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s