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.
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 …
...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!
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. The world, despite being full of the dumbest idiot commentards of the type normally found on this site, needs to hear my views! 
As those above and below me who also disagree with these regulations I raise a hearty glass.  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).
For more details see my blogpost at www.notreal.com/theregistersucks . This contains details on why each and every register staffer and commenter  are desperate slimy corporation lovers  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 while living at 10 Nowhere Street, New Nowhereton mobile number 07123 456 789 .
But he's gay, black and a woman anyway. So what do you expect. 
With regards to this article "nasty icky anarchy" should clearly be "nasty, icky anarchy" and the whole idea of a moderation policy stinks anyway . I have reported all the comments who disagreed with me because they are scum .
If you refuse to publish this I will continue to post it. So get used to it.  I HATE YOU MODERATOR AND YOU SUCK AND SMELL OF POO.
Please publish this unless you are too scared to lest it ruins your good reputation.
(p.s. by virtue of the length of the post I call  again for good measure)
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.
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...
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.
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.
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).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?!
>>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.
Fixed goalposts? How dare you suggest such a thing!
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).
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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. :-)
"(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.
Well, okay two:
1: Thanks be to the moderators; I've only ever seen them as impartial and rather useful! I can only guess at the costs this activity must soak out of El Reg and I'm very gald you support it.
2: My comment. Why not put a static link to this article in the 'Post your own message' page? Somewhere where we can't miss it: After the link to creating a new account, maybe.
Again, thanks all mods. and to my fellow posters!
Would you mind awfully waving a copy of No 7 under Lewis' nose? Having been accused by LP of being a shill, astroturfing to be precise, I think he needs to read the rules too. Ta.
NB. I am aware that I did rattle his cage rather firmly on that occasion, perhaps more than was warranted.
And you can't quit the game!
But seriously, those are quite reasonable guidelines that shouldn't be hard to live with. You have a difficult job and from what I can tell, you do it capably and with a good sense of humor (which you have somehow managed to retain).
The beer is for after work.
Just a minor (pedantic) quibble...I wasn't going to post, but seeing it posted in the title, mean't I couldn't resist.
Surely, we "try TO do something" "try AND do something" - it is just WRONG !
I see and hear it everywhere , and it just gets to me. I know , I'll try to be brave...
Seeing it twice in the guidelines was just too much for me.
It is not true that only posts in violation of the policy get deleted.
Some posts are deleted simply because a particular advertiser might object to the comment. Even if it is true.
You think not?
I have had posts deleted AFTER others have responded to it and added their own two cents. Nothing violated the stated policy. Only the policy that if advertisers might complain the post gets zapped.
It has happened a number of times.
I have looked at your rejected comments - nine about Microsoft and one about Intel.
We have never pulled or rejected comments for fear of offending advertisers. And no advertiser has ever asked us to pull a comment.
May I refer you to this:
9. If we suspect comments of being libellous we reject them. We err on the side of caution. Remember we are subject to UK libel laws.
Also, to this.
17. Once again - moderation is at our discretion. Having your comment published on this site is not one of your human rights.
At the risk of repeating myself: this is our site and these are our rules.
Crying 'censorship' is ludicrous: everything our journalists write is open to public scrutiny, debate and dispute. And if not on our site - then via blogs and other websites. Everyone can say their piece: no-one goes to jail.
What about the stuff that's between those lines, like having you nether regions boiled in oil etc....
Mmmm, now there's a thought.
And Secondly, 'Comments may take longer to appear at different times of the day or when we are very busy' Does this translate as we are out for a very long liquid lunch?
#3 is pretty difficult to adhere to given the pre-moderated nature of these forums. Just because there aren't any comments doesn't mean that someone hasn't posted the exact same thing as you - it just means that it's stuck in the moderation queue.
I'd like it if post-moderation was introduced on a trial basis. Or has this been tried before, with unsatisfactory results? Or even just showing how large the current moderation queue is.
#8 can be awkward with very short comments, and generally it's only done because we're forced to enter a title. Is there any particular reason for this?
These are guidelines to try and stick to - they're not absolute. We do understand that sometimes there will be multiple posts saying the same thing - it's a pain when it's obvious people haven't read previous comments, but it's totally understandable if there's been a backlog.
As for posting comment in the box rather than the title field, I don't see how it's awkward to do. I think it interrupts the flow of a thread to have 'N/T' popping up everywhere.
Post-moderation - I think I'll let Drew handle that one.
3. We are mulling over different classes of Reg commentards, in preparation for introducing non-story forums. One possibility for story comments would be to experiment with straight to page for Power Users, or whatever we call them.
8. No reason why we have to have a title. That's just the way we started. Anyone else feel strongly about compulsory titles?
Yes! sometimes a single word reply is enough. especially Now we can use reply, we dont need to title a comment with the @Poster
Mind you it can be fun reverting to silly defaults:
This is a title
Type your comment here — plain text only, no HTML
Let me sidestep to a different realm for a moment: I've usually found that finishing a freshly written email with a usable Subject: line does improve the message as a whole. Viewing titles here as much the same, I'm not opposed to them, though their function is slightly different -- titles don't have to introduce the message before I can read it whole, and they can sensibly continue into each other.
Regarding writing titles, especially in the beginning I'd be at a loss for a title but with a suitable arsenal of placeholders this is no longer a problem. Regarding reading titles, seeing how the no-title-complaint message ends up as a title and I find myself reading that in full, wasting my time, not requiring a title and making the line vanish when empty might be a useful experiment, at least.
So, long story short: Sure, go ahead and make titles optional.
No complaints at all about the moderating or the rules set out in this article. I like the way that everyone can comment with a fair amount of latitude and all are equal. So I'm a bit concerned about what "Power users" might mean. There are Gods (moderators) and mere mortals (the rest of us) - do we need to be creating a hierarchy of commentards? Or am I getting the wrong end of the stick?
Story comments will always be the province of Reg moderators only.
We are thinking of rewards:
For example - html links. It is a pain checking those out - and they are not enabled.
But plenty of our commentards have been round long enough for us to trust them. What if we let such readers use basic html in their posts?
Some readers clearly are technically competent AND helpful to fellow readers - what if we identify them as such?
I think most readers here are savvy enough to copy/paste an url back into the browser, and it has the upside of not distracting formatting wise, hiding the destination, and so on and so forth.
Then again I found myself using a <S></S> tag today. If I got to choose I'd pick some basic text style mods like *bold*, /italics/, _underline_, -striketrough-, but I'd be happy to keep them without html-y effect for flavour and not having to see what amanfrommars (proverbial sense) would do with it. So, well. I for me myself am happy without, but that's just my, myself and I.
And then you get intriguing. What would you do with a marked-up commentard?
The title? Oh right, yes, been reading tvtropes. Sorry about that.
I don't know about the need/lack of need for hyperlinks, but the ability to italicise would be grand. Bold might be a little distracting if used improperly. Consider however that the ability to use italics could be added to the system without making comments look horrible yet also without requiring tiered commenters.
That said, I am personally of the belief (though I know it is controversial) that Ars Technica’s subscriptor program is the best going. You get Custom RSS feeds, forum formatting superpowers and most importantly the ability to view the site without ads. (Possible only because you paid a subscription fee.) They still maintain a free tier which is ad-funded, but frankly Ars’ Nobel Intent is completely worth the money. (As would be El Reg.)
Personally, I’d throw in a few more subscriber goodies as well. Periodic roundtable chats with the writers/editors, or maybe access to a Reg IRC channel, subscriptor only forum or what have you. Nothing that would substantially detract from the “free” side of the site, but at the same time give the subscriber-base of commenters something of a greater sense of community.
I know the whole idea of subs is hugely against a lot of people’s approach to things, but many other sites have seen the need. It also might be a moral “out” for those folks who love to read El Reg, but insist on using adblockers. (Debate done to death here http://arstechnica.com/civis/viewtopic.php?f=2&t=317 with no real resolution.)
Either way, there’s lots of approaches to enhancing and expanding forums. Why not get the Freeform Dynamics guys to put some research time into it? They are great at surveys, and most especially at analysing them. Could be what they learn from El Reg’s commenter base is of economic value enough to them as others amongst their customers might care for their own Web 2.0ification. Maybe even of enough value to get a freebie?
Just thoughts; and I would be deeply interested to see the thoughts of all the other regulars on this topic.
A title is useful as a reference when replying to a previous comment especially in a thread of mainly ACs. If it's beyond the powers of some to think of a title whether relevant or not then maybe they shouldn't be posting.
PS. The moderators do a good job, can I have a bun please?
in thats its mostly made up of people you wouldn't talk to in real life (in both meanings of that sentence).
Sarah, some constructive criticism - there occasionally is a "stealth-troll" competition to see who can get a rise out of you as a moderator (I will own up to succeding once myself). Perhaps deny these posts the oxygen of a reply?
As far as I'm concerned The Reg is the only tech news site that has a comments section worth the name. Thank you and long may it continue.
At least with the "new" system we can amend and resubmit any rejected comments, rather than have our carefully-crafted flames/half-baked insults disappear into the void like they used to.
Oh, and a request. Can we have some sort of system whereby commentards who upvote their own posts are highlighted so the rest of us can all point and laugh?
..welcome the addition of user profiles to El Reg, i mean we are, after-all, one big happy family, It'd be nice to know even the most trival things about fellow commentards.....i mean users :-), location, alcoholic preference, OS of choice, favorite BOFH episode etc etc
Stats would also be nice. most used topic icon, most popular comment etc :-)
Well, until they're useful - then we do! Used correctly, they do serve a purpose.
Stats. page with who's in, who's out and so on: ummm, not sure I'd pay it much attention because I read a story and its followers' comments rather than any one individual (who will cover topics of no discernable interest to me - just as I do for them, natch.)
Perhaps a voting page would server better than a forum for feedback on these topics, Drew?
Quoth blackworx - Oh, and a request. Can we have some sort of system whereby commentards who upvote their own posts are highlighted so the rest of us can all point and laugh?
Can the forums be modified so that either the up/down vote buttons are hidden for your own vote,
or the script behind them catches it, and displays something like
"Voting on your own comment? Not likely you little <insert put down of choice> "
I think I have got this right... but will check with my technical superior.
Our voting UI is not joined at the seams. IIRC you can't actually upvote or downvote yourself - it only looks like you can do this.
Likewise with multiple ups or downs on the same comment. Our system only records the commentard's latest vote - i.e. it expunges the earlier vote. Again this is opaque.
The number of posts is rising gently - last month we moderated 25294 comments from 5373 commentards. This generated about 1.8 million page imps. In total 47,000 - ish people have commented on Reg stories.
So not huge numbers, but then we have never tried to be Digg or Slashdot... although Ars Technica seems to combine editorial and big forums very successfully.
Ars Technica's forums are unreal. Next to Nobel Intent, they simply are that site's selling feature. (Worth the subscription without question.)
That said, their forums are completely different than El Reg's. They are after-post moderated to start (making them far faster moving) and they have several "old-style" forums that are non-article related. I think the combination of the two pulls in an almost Goon-like following to that site.
El Reg's forums are (bootnotes aside) mostly on-topic to the articles written. I find El Reg's comments in may cases tend to offer up a more in depth look at the topic in question. People with great experience hang out here and share their insights. This has been encouraged to flourish here to a greater degree than Ars entirely because of the differences. The time lag in posting comments due to moderation really throws a dampener on most flame wars. For that matter, the moderators do tend to kill a fair amount of flame wars in their infancy with a snide comment and a *kzert*.
So it’s six of one a half dozen of another. Ars’ comments threads are longer, and the fast pace sucks in a more avid or vociferous commenter base. El Reg’s forums are more sedate, and seem to contain more humour and a higher chance of having some in dept comments that don’t devolve into flame wars.
I am sure both sites will tweak their forums ad eternum in search of the perfect formula…
No one has slagged off my posts in any meaningful way. I don't know whether to be disappointed! I have not even been worthy of having my posts moderated, going to have to work on that!
All credit to the El Reg crew. They do a fair job.
I am still going to rattle Lewis Page's cage though. I don't know how much you guys pay him, but he does have a habit of being heavy on opinion and light on proper knowledge/arguments. I expect to have more knowledge than the average broadsheet hack in my area of expertise, they are lazy idiots, but I guess I have come to value the El Reg standards which are considerably higher. To Mr Page's credit, he takes criticism and is improving which shows that these comments do help the El Reg crew become 'better' journalists. ;)
I can't speak for anyone else, but I do carefully consider all comments directed at me. Criticism is good, whether it comes from readers, friends, or most especially your editors. Though I am new to the whole thing I believe that, as with IT, writing is a process of lifelong learning.
That said, I don't really know why you single out the inestimable Mr Page. I haven't found anything he's written to be non-factual. I personally like the way he combines a hefty dose of pointed sarcasm, a little bit of opinion and a raft of facts into his articles. It provides and interesting read that slaps company X or governmental organisation Y around a bit with a trout. One of my favourite writers on any tech site, truth be told.
I suppose it's a matter of personal taste, though I am curious if it is his writing style you dislike, or just the opinions he espouses. Call it professional curiosity, as I am always curious to know what elements of anyone’s writing style set people off.
I got what I wished for, the moderators rejected my post! It was eloquent, critical, but balanced and I was saying some nice things about Mr Page too! Got to love the moderators for fulfilling my wishes so quickly! ;)
As I am not going to re-submit the whole lot, I will just summarise - I do like Mr Page's witty style and I enjoy reading his opinion. My biggest criticism is that he does not make the distinction between his opinion and factual statements clear enough. I am required by work and training to be extremely factual in my writing and I get frustrated that journalists can get away with blurring this distinction or by implication portray their opinion as fact or a black and white solution. Things are never that easy and I tend to value an article where the journalist balances the arguments in order to make their case. It shows depth of thought, I may not agree with the opinion, but I will respect the fact they have accounted for all the angles.
So in short, Mr Page is a much better defence correspondence than most. But if he took the time to really get the readers to understand the complexities and arguments, before presenting his judgement, he would be an exceptional defence journalist rather than just a witty and critical one.
I hope that helps.
1) Can you pop over to The Guardian and smack someone repeatedly on the head with this as a proper moderating policy, until they get it into their thick skulls? Mind you, a proper policy does not a decent moderator make.
2) Disagree heavily with the 'sexist pig' stuff. How the hell are we going to shoehorn Paris Hilton into each and every comment thread?
Instead of "sexist pig" what if we said instead "viciously misogynistic"?
We are not holier than thou or concerned about political correctness... but there is a line to be drawn
Making risque jokes about Paris Hilton is one side of that line ... saying a woman deserved to be raped, the other.
Interesting points, number nine and number 17. I cannot be absolutely sure what the libel laws are in the UK, but I have read several articles in which the target of a libel suit was actually telling the truth, but because the truth was besmirching the offender was found to be afoul of the laws. For the time being at least, in the US the truth is your shield, as well as reasonable interpretation of your comments being factual versus opinion. For instance, saying you think someone is a crook because of x, y, and z, versus saying that person is a crook due to some made-up event which you present as fact.
As well, if the US passes these idiotic "Net Neutrality" laws, allowing my contrary opinion to be posted in your forum may just become a human right -- or more accurately, a civil right.
Then there is the point on pedantry. I do not comment on offending posts (or rather, not often,) I just let them pass in forums. I do, however, exercise personal discrimination when reading such comments. I find it paramount that communications fit into a standard and contiguous model lest societies become fragmented, or fragmented further, by differing grammatical structures, dialects, etc. Unity requires commonality as the basis of communication.
Based upon my experiences with English and grammar instruction over the many years of my life, if I would be graded less than a grade of "C" for submitting a comment, said comment is ignored. I reject a comment out-right if it perpetrates particular offenses, such as "their/they're/there," "your/you're" and several other offenses. And I completely ignore Anonymous Cowards who will not own their assertions. (Exceptions given in cases of instances of whistle-blowing and such which absolutely require anonymity.)
And I find it interesting that ElReg apparently keeps track of rejected comments. Is it possible for us to see what comments of ours have been rejected over time? I do not think any of mine have been, but you never know. I know I have hit that 2000 character mark before as my diatribes tend to be pretty verbose.
Paris, a verbose diatribe.
Minor correction on "net neutrality" - nothing proposed would have the effect you suggest of requiring anybody to accept any content. It only prohibits net traffic carriers from giving preference to one type (or source) of traffic over another. And even if it did, it's hard to see how it would be enforced on a U.K. based publisher
Agreed, there is nothing proposed, but you do need to read between the lines. If you have site which presenting a particular point of view, you will be required to present the opposing point of view in some form or fashion. One could easily and without over-reaching imagine that would be stretched to cover forum posts as well. And there is an easy way to enforce, and some other countries are trying it, like Australia, and even our own government agencies are blocking sites with "controversial opinions" -- Homeland Security, Transportation Safety Administration, Google. (Okay, Google IS NOT a government agency. Yet.)
Controversial OPINIONS?! Like "the government is spending too much," not "men should sleep with boys," as the later is covered by the First Amendment. Dear, God.
Paris, Dear, God, not, yet.
To wit, this reader finds the comments more illuminating than the original article in a surprising number of cases. At the very least, the comments add to the articles context that would otherwise be missing.
The moderation rules, such as they are, seem to have encouraged the growth of a remarkably good group of commentators, who add considerable luster to El Reg.
Steady as she goes (with a bowl full of tasty pudding to snack on).
If they started moderating amfM for lack of intelligibility, there would be riots. Not the least of which because many of the old timers around here can read his comments just fine. The other element is that he often has something intelligent, interesting and on topic to say. Any site that bans amfM would be a site that I remove from my bookmarks as having completely lost the plot.
I can think of a UK Ltd who used regularly to get gushing reviews here whenever it dumped a steaming press release, right back to that 2001 "price list". Then when it was teetering on the edge of going titups (or sputit, perhaps) last year, a negative scoop got mysteriously pulled until the wailing and gnashing from its own staff became too loud to suppress.
So I'd lay down a few beer tokens that the price list was never really satirical, and that money can't buy you love, but it sure can get you good press until the credit card get maxed out.
In my opinion, it detracts from the readability of the comments when people are responding to particular points - I am not personally inclined to read back through the comments for the parent, and clicking on the arrow does not really help the continuity.
I preferred the good old days where you had to insert the specific text you were replying to, however I would prefer some method of quoting text when replying - subject to common sense not quoting 50 lines of rant when you just addressing a dozen pertinent words.
Other than that I am quite happy - I have never had a comment moderated here that didn't deserve it.
Hear hear. But then I abhor this @person ``style'', as I'd like to converse *with* people, not throw lines of text *at* them. Yes, subtlety on teh intarwebz and all that.
I'm undecided whether a full threading model would work for el reg instead of this flattened one-level approach, but a pure chronological view would make me miss more replies, not less.
of noise is hiding something more - I am not about to go clicking the arrow to open the original post, read it and then hit back to continue reading the thread. Maybe I am just lazy, or maybe I am the only one who thinks like this, but that is at least *my*reality.
I am aware you used to get irrelevant posts with just a heading of "@Pete - great post" where you can't see what they meant, however I see it thusly*:
If a poster, in good faith, tries to quote / link back to a previous offering then it is not their fault that it is unintuitive to see what they are on about and it may well detriment my comment-reading experience when I just ignore it- however if some -tard replies to a random post with no indication of the post they are referencing then they obviously have nothing to say that I need trouble myself reading.
It would be interesting to see whether the general commentardary prefer the current system or would prefer some system where either the onus is on the quoter to indicate what they are quoting or where quoting is more specific. Like I say, I may be the only one who finds this detracts from the point of the comments - which lets face it is a significant reason for visiting this site.
I come for the sarcasm, but I stay for the comments. man I need to get a real life.....
*I like the word thusly
Just want to add my voice in favour of the current system over the old where, more often than not, you'd get a title of "@Joe Bloggs" and a reply that didn't quote the original. If you wanted to read back you had to find the original comment yourself. On busy threads this basically meant a text search for the handle(s) in question.
I also think fully threaded (with or without collapsible links) would be going too far in the other direction. Semi-threaded has its faults but it works well for the average volume of comments IMHO.
If you're going to have user profiles - would it be feasible to give everyone the choice of flat, semi or fully threaded by means of a profile setting?
Two items that come to mind personally would be: purposefully inciting flame wars that are off topic and ad hominiem attacks on another poster. An Apple/anti-Apple flamewar in an Apple article is just common practice. An Apple/anti-Apple flamewar in a DARPA article about the HULC exoskeleton would probably be completely out of place. Etc.
I think that common sense really does apply. Poking the hornet’s nest a little /in context/ will not bring down Her Mighty Wrath. Going out of one’s way to bait believers in [X], or attack them personally probably will.
I am sure there are other items, but these are the two that I think are probably pretty consistent across most sites frequented by adults.
We shut comments on stories and reviews 14 days after publication date. In most cases, comments have ground to a halt - there is a sharp drop-off after the first few days.
It also means that we are moderating comments for 500-600 articles at any one time and not 110,000 (the number of articles posted on The Register).
Very occasionally, as we will do with this thread, we keep comments open for longer.
Some threads are shut down early because of legal concerns, because of a fault with the original story resulting in 50 comments all pointing it out, or because the comments have made me physically sick.
No, seriously, sometimes we shut them down when the thread is clearly heading for uncontrollable offensiveness or flame-age. It happens very rarely and there's always a discussion beforehand - I never shut any threads down without consulting the bosses.
I can't possibly know everything and I sometimes wonder if some commentard words on the Reg would result in the commentard ending up in the shit - law/court/money etc? Or maybe the Reg? Or maybe both? I'm only curious - it doesn't bother me cause I'm a fucking genius after 10 pints of beer anyway?!
IIRC we have only ever had one external request to remove a comment - which contained a link to an article that contained details of a DRM crack. We complied.
When litigants chase the money... we haven't had that Bill Gates commenting on the site lately... that means us, rather than commenters.
When litigants are trying to chase down anonymous sources of company secrets, or of defamatory comments about their products or staff, they will sue the forum in attempt to find out the name of poster.
I must say I've never really considered these comments strips as a "forum". To me a "forum" is a site usually powered by something like SMF or phpBB where posts appear immediately and, if unsuitable for the forum, end up getting deleted by a moderator (and possibly getting you warned / banned into the bargain).
This to me is more of a letters-to-the-editor system, such as you might find on any newspaper. In a forum, I might post 20 or more times in a thread while back-and-forth-ing in a debate with someone. Here, I rarely post more than one comment in any thread, the same as any other newspaper site. Only if some twat replies to me with a comment that really deserves a poke in the snoot will I post a second or third time in a comment thread.
It's also why I use my real name here, the same as any letters-to-the-editor column, for legal reasons, rather than using the net handle I use everywhere else.
That said, El Reg is a lot more liberal with its comments than any other newspaper I've commented on, and it's more liberal than many of the forums I post in. Some of the comments I've posted (and that the mods have published) here would have gotten me banned on most of my forums. In fact the only place I've found where I can be even more offensive or abusive than on El Reg is 4chan!
At least I know why my drunken rantings get nixed now, eh?
As for the moderating style/limits on here, the only place that comes close in terms of this is the forum for a premium car magazine which, shall we say, has got better with time (guess the mag).
Their stance on moderating is that if it's funny - even if it containts references to bizarre sexual practices, is legally dubious at best, or has users threatening to sue each other - then the thread stays open.
Hence why I tend to come back to both here and there every day - you can get a proper debate going. Not many places of this scale and scope, with the level of generally knowledgeable and intelligent debate, with this sort of moderation, left these days, IMHO.
Kudos. And keep it up. The opportunity to have a good slanging match with people as enthusiastic as I am about tech in general is always appreciated.
A very positive response eh?
Or were all the negative ones deleted at the moderators "discretion" I wonder?
I rarely if ever post here now due to the mods policy of not allowing criticism of some of the "writers" ( I just can't decribe them as journalists or reporters, as they far too often push agendas and personal opinions and insult those who do not share their world view) at ElReg.
Not to mention the casual attitude to ones personal private data given to the registraion process.
Lets face it this is a censorship policy not a moderation policy.
I do not often have much good to say about the US but at least they do for all its faults seem to allow true freedom of speech.
I have been a moderator on Slashdot for many years, and would recommned it as a site
of great credibility in the way it handles comments.
My opinion of the way the Reg handles comment would definately mean this post was rejected.
Most times now I only come here to read the BOFH.
You have missed the point, haven't you. You are free to slag off our journalists - only not on our desktop. That is not censorship.
On your characterisation of what journalists or reporters: speaking as a hack of 22 years standing, I simply do not recognise the distinction you are trying to make.
On Slashdot: it is a meta-content site. Nothing is produced in-house. The whole point of the site is the comment/submission/trusted moderator system. Now, try slagging off Commander Taco and other staffers and see where that gets you.
So long as you aren't resorting to Ad Hom attacks, I have no understanding why the mods would "block" criticism of writers. I have been criticised in the comments, and I have done more than my fair share of criticising. Heck, certain critiques of certain writers are memes around here. Name a single Lewis Page article in the past while that hasn’t had some disgruntled BAE staffer making a snide comment about how Lewis often talks up off the shelf solutions and talks down expensive BAE works.
For that matter, when was the last time you saw an Andrew O article without at least one person throwing a little pie in his face? Heck, I even had a pedant (quite rightly) throw one of my comments in this thread back at me. Criticism of authors and commenters alike has never been banned at El Reg. Quite the opposite; it is a time honoured tradition.
"rarely if ever post here now due to the mods policy of not allowing criticism of some of the "writers""
There's a difference between criticising a piece and insulting its author. The impression I get is that the former is allowed, and perhaps encouraged to a degree, even when the criticism is quite severe. Ad-hominem attacks, on the other hand are a different matter.
"I just can't decribe them as journalists or reporters, as they far too often push agendas and personal opinions and insult those who do not share their world view) at ElReg"
I suspect you're in a minority there. El Reg has never attempted to hide its agenda. In fact, it's more open in that respect than a lot of the mainstream press. Reg reporters have never attempted to pussy-foot around contentious issues, and they deserve a lot of respect for airing contentious issues that Fleet Street happily ignores.
"Lets face it this is a censorship policy not a moderation policy."
And how do you define the difference? A refusal to post off-topic flames isn't the same thing as censorship. Neither is taking issue with your particular world view. Also, there's a need to maintain a decent signal-to-noise ratio; turning off moderation would push that through the floor. Not everyone wants to read flame wars; they get thoroughly boring after the fourth or fifth time.
"My opinion of the way the Reg handles comment would definately mean this post was rejected."
Well, we can all read it, can't we?
>Name a single Lewis Page article in the past while that hasn’t had some disgruntled BAE staffer making a snide comment about how Lewis often talks up off the shelf solutions and talks down expensive BAE works.
I find that hard to believe as it implies some level of literacy and thought process on the part of BAE staff.
I've been busy all day (up at 2 AM, nearly 9:30 PM as I type, in need of shower and food, but not until I reply to an email I'm expecting shortly) ... After skimming the comments here, all I can say is "well done, ElReg commentards".
I'm on record as saying "common sense is neither". I stand corrected.
This round is on me ... and I almost never use icons.
"6. We're thick-skinned, but... if you slag off The Register or its writers your comment is likely to get canned - this is our house, after all. Requests for writers to be sacked or for stories not to have been published are never going to get through. Use your common sense."
Maybe it is my non-native English understanding of "slag off", but isn't this one a bit too much? Sure, as stated (twice) in the guidelines it is your thing and you do whatever you want. No problem with that. But if people think an article (or a writer) is bad and gives reasons for that opinion (even if you don't agree with said reasons), would that count as "slagging off"? What's the harm (except to egos, heh) of people expressing their opinion that a certain article should never seen the light of monitors because of X, or that author Y always writes the same old monotone whatever about Z?
Anyway, cheers for the guidelines and all the moderating efforts, specially on a free content site.
Happy with the way things are thenkyewverymuch... I do like the idea of being able to see a comment history and some sort of league table/stats for individual commentards (hidden or public).
Having been criticised in a direct email by an author for one of my comments I do feel the no author criticism rule a little unfair though.
To my mind at least, disappeared about a year ago. There is still someone posting under that name (with a '1' suffix I think) but the posts are in a completely different league to the original. Nowadays they are basically normal comments with unusual capitalisation and the occasional surreal phrase thrown in for good measure. The old Amanfrommars comments were often cryptic beyond measure. As far as I am concerned I haven't seen a comment from the real Amanfrommars for a long time. I suppose this means one of three things:
1) Amanfrommars has been replaced by an imposter
2) Amanfrommars has changed his medication
3) My own mental state has deteriorated to a point where his previously indecipherable comments now appear coherent.
Would love to know which is/are true!
Also - might be worth reminding Drewc of #10, as he replied to an Anonymous Coward with the following:
"Well Matt - you can withdraw - i.e. delete that post, if you want."
To which AC responded:
"Now try to be a bit less childish and not post my name in your responces"(sic)
I must admit I found that to be quite creepy.
Thanks to the writers and the commenters for the site anyway.
Getting back to the topic - Guidelines - they all seems fair enough to me. The medicine as before, in fact. As you say, it's *your* site.
I presume we're still allowed to take the piss out of the poor fools suffering from the Great Jesus Phone Delusion?
Are we still allowed to slag off know-nothing politicians? Is Jim Gamble still fair game? Is the dancing sweatmaster Balmer still the incarnation of Lucifer?
And does outrageous flattery (and a smattering of innuendo) still work with El Moderatrix?
You forgot about a couple other options:
4) He got the hell off this rock and is sitting somewhere drinking mai tai's and admiring Venutian blubber cups
5) He's been captured by some intelligence community and is being outsourced to the military industrial complex, or is being used to fertilize earth women, in hopes of breeding some kind of super human/Amanfrommars hybrid.
6) He's taken his schtick to the likes of facebook or twitter and is confusing the masses at a truly global scale.
But you're right, AMFM1 isn't the same writer, because even someone with my limited intellect can understand the current one.
@Willy Messerschmitt: 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 ..
@Drewc: You are talking about Islam, I guess...this is not a big theme on The Register.
What OS do Moslims use ?
To characterise us as a source of injustice is, frankly, bizarre.
I am sorry that you do not like us as much as you used to, but we think about our readers all the time.
BTW readership and page imps on our site increased dramatically around the same time as Slashdot went into hypergrowth, albeit from a lower level. I am not sure what lesson The Guardian has for us.
Sarah: "I am not sure what lesson The Guardian has for us"
'Zackley. For the benefit of 'RegisterFail' (whose nick is a bit of a giveaway innit?), one is a spiky online-only IT biz magazine with highly technical content leavened by some downright bizzarre stuff, the other is a national newspaper which has a website devoted to, er, newspaper-style news and liberal-ish comment. And, for that matter, I don't see a direct comparison with /. either
If 'RegisterFail' doesn't like El Reg, s/he doesn't have to read it. Simples*.
*I love those meerkat adverts
Can't really quibble with most of it. Just common sense really. Just a couple of points:
1. Titles optional would be good. Unfortunately most of us proles can't even begin to be compared with El Reg's headline writers. I still chuckle about the story on the roads in the Netherlands that was subheaded "Dutch traffic unclogged".
2. Any idea how I would be able to navigate back to this story? It comes up as "site news" which seems to be a black-hole that can be only found by going to the beginning of the article and clicking under the author's name, which is a bit recursive. Nothing in the header bar to give a hint either.
3. Looking back over My Posts, I can see why some posts were rejected and am surprised by some that were accepted. And then further surprised by some that were rejected. While I can see that mentioning something that happened to one of the Beatles in Japan about 40 years ago would probably be labelled "Libellous" and then a discussion about whether the truth is libellous would be a waste of your esteemed publication's time, it may give commentards an opportunity to rephrase/rethink/calm down a little and try a second time. A "No discussion entered into" and an ignoring of anyone who tried to enter into discussion may work.
I'm sure the ODFO button could be macroed to label different sorts of rejection such as Libellous, Repeated Point, Not Funny, Rascist/Sexist/etc W*nker et al.
4. Strike/Bold/Italic good. Anchored links, not so much. Over use, see 3. above.
Good to see you're keeping things fresh and listening to your readers. Especially about that grey on grey on grey page listing.
It's good to see El Reg post these guidelines, but may I make a few suggestions:
1) The author of an article should have no ability to moderate (or edit) comments. If allowed, this simply leads to a blatant conflict of interest. Also the decision to allow/ not allow comments on an article should be down to El Reg's Editorial or Moderation team, not the individual author.
2) If an article is based on the author's opinion of a published work etc, it should be clearly marked as such. Occasionally some articles have appeared in El Reg which are extraordinarily one-sided yet not marked as "Comment" or "Opinion".
3) It would be useful if, in the "My Posts" section, there was an indication of whether someone else had replied to your comment (eg a line saying "2 replies") to save having to check each one to see if someone has responded.
4) Since you can tick a box to post anonymously, why not have a box to tick that comes up with [NO TITLE], or if you reply to someone else's post without including a title of your own, have the forum system stick in Re: [previous title]
...for a job well done. The guidelines, structure of the site, and day-to-day management of us commentards are all done excellently.
I think if you started giving reasons for rejection, you'd be giving yourselves several simultaneous nightmares to no real purpose. With a readership who's first reaction to the guidelines was to try to break all of them in a single post; followed by a page correcting your pedantry guideline...you wouldn't be doing yourself any favours is all I'm saying. From personal experience, you wouldn't be making anyone any happier and it'd seriously eat your time. "Because we say so" works fine. People can work out why when they sober up. It's usually pretty obvious why posts are rejected, especially with guidelines now. And the rules are pretty lax.
I like the "semi-threaded" posts- much better than the system before. I also like the voting system.
The compulsory title is still crap though. Kill it! Kill it with FIRE!
Italics would be good, as would bold (sometimes CAPSLOCK is not enough!). Maybe the ability to upload a custom post icon (to stop people asking for icons all the time).
How about removing the option to post anonymously? If the individuals aren't willing to stand by what they are saying, perhaps they should keep it to themselves*? A good proportion of AC posts look a lot like trolling (if not just utter garbage) anyway.
On the rare occasion there's a "whistleblower" wanting to pipe up in anonymity, they can always email their comment to the author, it's not like the author of an anonymous comment isn't already visible to El Reg staff anyway, so there's no risk of (additional) exposure.
*Yes OK I have posted Anonymously before (only once I think). I never claimed I wasn't a hypocrite :-)
Do you work for Blizzard? And how come you aren't using your real name?
Let's keep the A.C. abilities around...I've seen plenty of posts in my time here from Anonymous Cowards that were enlightening, but couldn't have a name attached for fear of employment retribution. Heck, I’ve made a few in that context myself over the years.
It’s so ingrained around here that we even have regular commenters (like Eponymous Cowherd, etc.) who base their display names off of it. Somehow, it just wouldn’t be El Reg without it.
…and I quite like El Reg, thank you very much. :)
Pint, as I'd like to buy one for all the Anonymous Cowards on this fair site.
> Do you work for Blizzard?
Nope, but I'm not quite sure of the relevance. Perhaps an article/incident I've missed along the way?
> And how come you aren't using your real name?
Touché -- though operating on the internet via a handle, in an effort to maintain some level of privacy, is quite different from entirely denouncing your affiliation with your own opinions.
> I've seen plenty of posts in my time here from Anonymous Cowards that were enlightening
I've seen more that are dross than enlightening by at least an order of magnitude.
> but couldn't have a name attached for fear of employment retribution
As I said, there's nothing to stop them emailing a hack and said hack can post on their behalf.
Pint... well, it is Friday.
What Difference Does it make if I post as AC or JohnDoe ? what does JohnDoe mean to you that you dont get from AC? Oh you get the ability to see what JohnDoe said in other posts.. Why would you want that? One good reason that is not Trolling please..
I had a comment rejected by the moderator... (relating to the use of bandwidth terminology in the article "Huawei Stuffs LTE Into Tv Bands" - hardly the stuff of controversy)
...yet still got an email from the author of the article answering the question I'd asked.
How does that work then?
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