We invite comments on the blog posts, columns, guest blogs and news reports here on the All Things Digital Web site. We know our readers and viewers have plenty to contribute and that we are not the source of all wisdom. But we are determined to set as high a standard for comments as we are trying to maintain for our own work. To that end, we are establishing a more rigorous policy for comments and commenters than a lot of other Web sites maintain.
One of the great things about the Web is that it allows so many people to post what they think. But one of the worst things about the Web is that so many of those comments are juvenile, venomous, self-promotional or irrelevant. We won’t be publishing that stuff here. And, while we want diverse inputs, please understand that this is our site, not a user-owned or user-run site.
So, here are the rules for comments:
First of all, we won’t publish anonymous comments. We think people should stand behind what they post here, just as we do. While we realize that there is some value in allowing people to disguise their identities, we think that is outweighed by the tendency of people to hide behind anonymity to post flames and slander, or to make seemingly unbiased comments that actually serve their business purposes, rather than to truly advance the discussions here.
To that end, everybody who wishes to comment will have to register, even though the site is free. And every comment will be signed with the commenter’s registered name. Now, we’re not idiots. We know some people will register with fake names, and we don’t have the resources or inclination to try and verify every name. But we figure we’ll get a fairly high percentage of real names behind the comments, which is way better than just using anonymity.
We also will not tolerate comments that contain personal attacks or question the motives, rather than the views, of others. If you think we, or our guest bloggers, or the people or companies we write about, are wrong, feel free to say so and to argue why you think so. We welcome such critiques and alternate views. But we will remove comments that call people corrupt, or stupid, or contend that they are taking positions because they are evil or immoral.
For instance, if you think Walt is wrong to prefer the Treo to the Q, or Kara is wrong to predict that Yahoo might buy some startup she has discovered, please feel free to say so. But we won’t publish comments that say these views with which you disagree stem from bad motives or corruption. Civility is the rule.
The same thing goes for people we cover. There are plenty of places on the Web where you can accuse tech moguls of being greedy or vain. This isn’t one of them. But we’d be glad to publish your comments on why they are following the wrong strategy or why their products are flawed or great–even if we have written just the opposite.
And that also applies to other commenters. You are free to say another commenter is wrong, and why. But we won’t publish personal attacks on other commenters. So, feel free to say “I disagree with Jane that social networking will die…” but we won’t allow “Jane, you ignorant slut!”
We also won’t allow comments containing allegedly factual claims that we know to be wrong, or which we simply lack the time or resources to verify. If you think the security companies are spreading viruses to boost sales, or that Macs cure, or cause, cancer, post those theories to your own blog. And there may be other kinds of comments we will pull if we find them antithetical to the spirit of the site and to civil, on-topic discussion.
We also won’t tolerate comments that we consider racist or sexist or derogatory to any religion, sexual orientation or ethnic group–or that we believe promote hate or bigotry, or are offensive.
We won’t be moderating the comments–that is, pre-screening them. But we will be monitoring them–that is, reading them after they are posted and removing those that violate our standards. We will also provide an easy way for readers to flag comments, or commenters, as being in violation of our standards, and we will look into these reports.
Finally, we reserve the right to ban from commenting anyone who is violating these standards, or who we believe is disrupting the site, or creating a tone or atmosphere we consider inconsistent with the tone and atmosphere we want here.