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back to article The Register comment guidelines 2010

1. Firstly and perhaps most importantly: Moderation is at our discretion. We publish what we feel is fit for publication. We accept the vast majority of all comments posted, and we try to be broad-minded and consistent - but in the end if we don't want it published on our site, it doesn't go up. Correspondence will rarely be …

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Happy

I wonder if....

....it would be possible to break all of those in one message? I might have to have a go if I get a spare minute and the right story comes up.

GJC

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@ Geoff. Re: I wonder if....

But how would you know?

Sarah, can we have a points system for "turdspurt offensiveness". Something to aim for, so to speak. Just the poster's handle, and a "Pissed off the Moderatrix this much" rating.

Just a thought.

^_^

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(Written by Reg staff)

Re: @ Geoff. Re: I wonder if....

Not really, no. The distinctions are usually subtle. You can't put everything on a scale.

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Happy

Hmmmm, a good question.

Can we have some sort of award for anyone who manages it, Ms. Bee?

GJC

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Happy

Title goes here...

Would that be the 'Zapped account award for excellence'?

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Joke

that was my reaction as well

...until I saw the list.

Dam' you Reg for being so reasonable! Not sure how to break most of them - about the only one is rule 11 "Don't be a racist arsehole, a homophobic wanker, a xenophobic idiot or a sexist pig". I think I could manage that (especially the sexist pig one - A prayer: Lord, I pray for Wisdom to understand my man, Love to forgive him, and Patience for his moods; because Lord, if I pray for Strength I'll beat him to death).

Happy hunting all!

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Happy

Oh I'm sure I could give that a try given the chance [8]

It is a shame this won't get published, but let me try.

And hell, it better get published otherwise there will be a stern email sent to the moderations department telling them how moronic they are especially if there is an unwarranted delay.[1] The world, despite being full of the dumbest idiot commentards of the type normally found on this site, needs to hear my views! [2]

As those above and below me who also disagree with these regulations I raise a hearty glass. [3] They are based purely on self preservation of a certain person who probably won't even reply because they are a scared little moderator with no friends (hahaha)[4].

For more details see my blogpost at www.notreal.com/theregistersucks [5]. This contains details on why each and every register staffer and commenter [6] are desperate slimy corporation lovers [7] who sit at home playing with their wad of cash said company has provided them with. But what can you expect when they are in bed with <Corperate CEO> who kills children for their sweet, sweet, young blood[9] while living at 10 Nowhere Street, New Nowhereton mobile number 07123 456 789 [10].

But he's gay, black and a woman anyway. So what do you expect. [11]

With regards to this article "nasty icky anarchy" should clearly be "nasty, icky anarchy"[12] and the whole idea of a moderation policy stinks anyway [13]. I have reported all the comments who disagreed with me because they are scum [14].

If you refuse to publish this I will continue to post it. So get used to it. [15] I HATE YOU MODERATOR AND YOU SUCK AND SMELL OF POO[16].

Please publish this unless you are too scared to lest it ruins your good reputation.[17]

(p.s. by virtue of the length of the post I call [8] again for good measure)

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Coffee/keyboard

If

If the moderators fail to delete that post, the kitten gets it!

The fact that the poster left out any mention of threats to the kitten just shows how pathetic this whole site is.

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Joke

Ha! I can do a better job! Me!

Here you are:

http://www.thesun.co.uk/sol/homepage/

(Includes everything from [1] to [17] plus [18] and [19] as bonus tracks)

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Excellent effort

That is all....

GJC

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So who had the balls...

...to report AC's post?

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Pint

Refreshingly!

A set of site usage guidelines that favors people use their common human sense over all sorts of silly legislation.

In this day and age such a display of using one's brains instead of thumping on a book/referring to whatever the "offense du jour" is has to be applauded.

Beer icon, the good folks at El Reg deserves a round.

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Stop

"Be first to post a comment"

I don't even dare to!

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Is it true that

the first commenter receives a pack of chocolate buttons as well?

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Pint

Getting 1st post

is like getting a hole-in-one in golf. You have to buy *EVERYONE* a drink!

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Joke

Just a falsehood...

Nope, but they might get a butt whoopin' though.

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Good job

I think that you generally do a good job and allow us commentards to sail much closer to the wind than most places allow.

Nice to see somewhere criticism isn't stifled.

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(Written by Reg staff)

Re: Good job

Thanks!

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"Nice to see somewhere criticism isn't stifled."

No kidding. If criticism was stifled a-la-Apple/Creative/Sony/etc. around here, they'd have booted my arse out a long time ago. The mere fact that one can go from "perennial disgruntled and disagreeable thorn-in-Sarah's-side" to writing blog posts around here says that there is an overall commitment to being as open, fair and neutral as is possible.

Neutral meaning that overall, the publication contains authors willing to examine any side of any story. Neutral doesn't mean "agrees with whatever opinions Joe Random commenttard has." Editorial bias is one thing, but El Reg has been very carefully marking editorials as “comment” or blogs as, well…blogs. (Reviews are marked as reviews, etc.) This provides clear separation from actual reporting, and something I can’t applaud enough. To be able to quickly tell what should be considered objective reporting from what is simply the opinion of the author is, IMHO, absolutely critical.

As such, why would criticism not be allowed? Personally, I welcome it; criticism helps me learn to be a better writer, and fix any embarrassing mistakes I may make. I’ll admit to my mistakes; my motto is that if you can’t find at least one mistake you’ve made today, then you haven’t looked hard enough.

If only we could get the major news orgs of the world to become even close. Imagine Fox news as "impartial." The universe might collapse under that one...

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1984 and all that

I have to say I think pretty much the same. It seems you can get a way with a lot here - language, disparaging national stereotypes etc but the pure bile gets picked up on. It's also nice to see specific mention of policy on corrections: a couple of times I've noticed my comments were rejected but the article mysteriously corrected itself later on in a very 1984-like manner.

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"no one is paying our writers to be nice, or horrible, about anyone"

I'm sure you used to publish an actual tariff for exactly that.

It's not your policy any more?

Shame. I always felt we know where you stood. Now I have to worry that you might be making a principled stand.

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(Written by Reg staff) Gold badge

Re: "no one is paying our writers to be nice, or horrible, about anyone"

You may be thinking of this:

http://www.theregister.co.uk/2001/01/22/register_tariff/

Or this:

http://www.theregister.co.uk/2010/04/01/new_reg_comments/

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Heh

I guess the tariff still applies, but no one's paying :o)

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@umacf24

I'll not speak for anyone else, but I am fairly uncompromising in my principals. They just have very little to do with anything related to technology. ;)

As to "being paid to be horrible to someone," noone at El Reg is encouraged to be nice to, or mean to anyone in particular. We are however encouraged to be sceptical of absolutely everything and everyone. I somehow don’t get the feeling you’re picked to write for El Reg is you are blatantly biased. Now, biases developing over time might be another matter entirely…but to be honest, that would take a lot of getting to know everyone involved to be positive of such a thing.

Either way, I think the hacks at El Reg strive for objectivity, inasmuch as any human is capable of it.

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Re umacf24

OK, so El Reg isn't paying anyone to be nice or nasty, but they've always made it clear they are open to bribery.

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(Written by Reg staff)

Re: @umacf24

Oi, Pott, stay on topic...

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@Sarah

Oh, foo.

:P

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Pint

@Dazed and Confused

So exactly how much of what are we talking about here...

;)

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Happy

Services Rendered

It was the 2001 story. It made me laugh at the time and I'm delighted it's still up. Those rates still seem a bit steep but I guess you have to pay for quality.

Dotcom shares eh? Memories!

Thanks

Fat Tom

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Thumb Up

Aha!

So that's why my 20-word, single-sentence description of Peter Mandelson didn't get through. Understandable really (though I doubt he would have sued ... and I felt it was entirely accurate).

I will attempt to keep my insults to people who don't exist. Like Harry Potter. The swine.

(And thank you for the pointers, Reg).

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Rob
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Better use of those 20 words...

... would have been to descibe what 'orrible nasty pain we can inflict on him instead, just as entertaining :)

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Happy

Rejected comments

I understand the reason why comments are moderated. I understand that the moderators are human, and I also understand that they do not share my mindset, outlook, and sometimes just have shitty days, as we all do.

But sometimes, even on re-reading a rejected comment, it is not clear why it has been rejected.

If there were a one word or short phrase that could be added during the rejection, possibly selected from a pre-defined list, it would make it clearer exactly what in the post has irked the moderator.

Thanks.

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(Written by Reg staff)

Re: Rejected comments

Hi Peter,

We don't really have time to do that I'm afraid. Also, we can't always explain why we reject comments - we reject what we don't like, ultimately (and as mentioned we do accept the vast majority and are much more liberal than many moderators, we reckon). If your comment gets rejected, be big about it, accept it and move on.

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Sigh

I was OK with this answer right up to "be big about it, accept it and move on", which annoyed me because I don't want to spend time writing comments that are rejected if I can avoid it.

I was not asking for a reasoned argument, merely something more like "Too long" or "Libellous", or even "I just don't like your tone". I'm sure that you could come up with a list of about a dozen, and then select using icons or changing the "reject" button to a drop-down selection box. Two clicks rather than one, and you must have thought about a comment in order to decide to reject it.

I fully expect to see this in the reject pile in a few minutes.

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(Written by Reg staff) Gold badge

Re: Sigh

We'll have a think about this.

My concern is that if we did introduce something on the lines you are suggesting, some commentards who are less temperate than you, will explode and suck up more moderator time.

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(Written by Reg staff)

Re: Sigh

Ultimately, I'm afraid you have to accept the decision - everyone does. Writers sometimes have their articles spiked too - that's how it goes, and while sometimes you'll get an explanation, the rest of the time you have to just suck it up. (And make sure you get your kill fee.)

Drew is addressing this in more detail.

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Re: Sigh

Trouble is, as soon as you do anything like that some people will take it as an invitation to argue about the rejection, and then complain bitterly if that argument isn't accepted. It would take up far too much moderator time.

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Even bigger sigh, but...

...I understand.

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Playing safe can be dangerous

I'd have to side with Peter Gathercole on this. Ultimately, everyone has to accept that their comments are subject to moderator approval. However, it really would help us for a little feedback now and again. Journalists surely get that when they "have their articles spiked?"

I've had a couple of posts rejected when the contents were clearly inflammatory and potentially libellous. Fine. Good work that moderatrix. On another occasion I've had a post criticising an article (fairly I felt, but perhaps with an edge to it) rejected. I toned it down but the post was still rejected (in that case I was pointing out gaping holes in the evidence for that article - and I was taken aback at why commentary on them was denied). That only reflects badly on El Reg and the journalist in question because either or both appeared to be ducking fair commentary on their work.

Obviously, we don't see what system you use but I'd image a setup whereby you have a button marked 'Approved' next to a number of buttons that reject, but with pre-defined reasons (as suggested above). One of those could be 'You've already been told' or words to that effect, thus stating why you aren't getting into a debate with the poster, no matter how 'right' they may be.

The danger, although obviously this applies to a minority of rejected posts, is that the Reg might otherwise gain an Apple-style reputation for moving the goalposts as it sees fit - and in that case no-one benefits, least of all The Register.

Crikey, it was easier before everyone was allowed to stick in their 2-pence worth, wasn't it?!

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(Written by Reg staff)

Re: Even bigger sigh, but...

I know it's hard. Try to be strong. :)

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(Written by Reg staff)

Re: Playing safe can be dangerous

>>Journalists surely get that when they "have their articles spiked?"

Yeah. But they're journalists. They are paid to spend lots of time researching and writing articles. Commenters are not paid to splurt whatever they feel like saying across the internet in an instant. There's a difference.

I'm sorry if you feel there's something amiss in the practice of moderating - you're not alone in that. But the fact is that your comment on any day is only one of 500 or so, and we have little time to consider any individual one.

The goalposts are our goalposts, and we can take them home if we want to. We do have a sense of fair play - I know my job would be a lot easier if I didn't - and we do think carefully before rejecting. But once we've rejected a comment we rarely look back. We don't have time - sorry.

I refer you again to #1 and #17. I'm not being bolshy - this is just the way it has to be.

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(Written by Reg staff) Gold badge

Re: Playing safe can be dangerous

Fixed goalposts? How dare you suggest such a thing!

<snip>

Several moderators look after the threads and each uses his or her own judgement (and comments on individual stories are not usually moderated by the author).

</snip>

As I said to Peter: my concern is that such a feedback system will create more work for us. It is not the sending it is the shit-storm we risk provoking.

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MrT
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Feedback...

Would that also apply to a private email sent to the poster's registered address? i.e. not stating why the post was rejected in the open forum for all to see, but giving a reason back to the poster.

I guess so - it's not that we're all approval addicts, but having a clue would give the chance to amend in future. Does the forum not have a blacklist or 'sin-bin'/time-out feature for posters who continue to be dicks?

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Heart

But...

Ha ha. Well guys, what I realise isn't noted in my earlier post is that I think you do a fantastic job that can't be easy - and that you should be recognised for it. My one issue was just that: a once-off, and shouldn't detract from the 95% of times you get it right..

More than once have I thought how tiresome it must be wading through reams of often utterly turgid, borderline-illiterate shite 'contributed' by your tech-savvy-but-socially-inept readers (or maybe that's just me) simply so people may comment in the Web 2.0 stylee, all the while balancing lively debate with legal paranoia.

So, genuinely, I would like to thank you all for the work you do.

Now to make a truly libellous comment and liven up your day. :-)

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Never mind the fixed goal post, but can we avoid the pitch being at 45 degrees?

"(and comments on individual stories are not usually moderated by the author)."

I know that is streching the footballing thing a little too far. But do ever remember playing football at school at there being odd numbers of kids? So the teacher then takes up the dual roles of referee and playing striker for the other side. Forget winning how many of those games were remotely enjoyable? (Ok there was that one perfect tackle that ended up with the teacher flat on his face). If you could take the "usually" out the above quote and give the teacher just his whistle and not the ball as well.

God ,I hate football.

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Happy

@Mr T

It's not necessary to post a reason in the forum, or to send an email. If you have logged in, and are looking at a comments page, then there will be a "My Posts" link on the right-hand side of the top of the page. You can see there whether your posts have been accepted or rejected. For rejected posts, it would be possible, time permitting, to have the post tagged with a reason for rejection.

It also allows you to review all of your previous posts, warts, typo's and all! Wish I could edit out some of the howlers I have made.

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Stop

Rejection Reason

I agree with other people here that We The Commenters spend a lot of time to write comments - and many of them are clearly contributing very good information. Some of them are pretty nasty, that's true.

What I find completely inconsistent is that is permitted to dump as much excrement on Steve Jobs or Steve Ballmer as possible, but a certain religion is virtually untouchable. And I do think this is a real issue, as Freedom Of Speech and Human Rights (of women for example) are at stake with quite a few religious extremists. Steve Ballmer might be a stupid guy, but he does not inhibit the human rights of women any way !

I do think you could have five buttons below each submitted message, like "OK", "libel", "religious feeling", "personal details" or so and use them for moderation. Other sites like Economist.com do exactly this.

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(Written by Reg staff) Gold badge

Re: Rejection Reason

You are talking about Islam, I guess...this is not a big theme on The Register.

Believers vs. Atheists is a much more hotly debated area of contention.

My advice to you all when talking about religion is: stay on topic, be courteous to each other and avoid the vitriol. Counterblasts against religion in a "Jesus phone" article are not treated favourably by the moderators, for instance.

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(Written by Reg staff)

Re: Rejection Reason

Well, I may not disagree personally with a lot of the stuff that comes through here about religion, but put yourself in my place - would you want to oversee an escalating internet scrap about Islam? Nothing fires people up like it, and it gets out of control fast. I don't really like to say it but it's better not to go there, because allowing it to start means an unpleasant day of anxiety and consternation which ultimately contributes nothing. Surely you can see that.

Meanwhile, cries of 'censorship' remain tiresome and hysterical - and insulting, frankly. Once again - it's our site, we publish what we want to, and we have no obligation to publish anything in particular. I know this will never be accepted by some, but that's the bottom line which I'm doomed to repeat until we're all old and decrepit.

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Coat

Re: Rejection Reason

<quote>......but that's the bottom line which I'm doomed to repeat until we're all old and decrepit.</quote>

Some of us already are.

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