Sarah Townsend

Reader comments review – a plea for the professional

Place North West strives to foster, serve and celebrate a professional community and in that spirit has decided to review its policy on reader comments.

One of the hallmarks of our news publication is our objective, fair and detailed reporting, which underpins the significant local and national readership we have built as a result.

We pride ourselves on the informed debate our stories generate, both within and outside the placemaking industry, and it is important to us that we provide a forum where engaged readers can respond to industry news.

However, we have become concerned about the quality of comments submitted. For example, some are legally problematic and cannot be published at all, while others are perhaps aggressive, ill-considered, or otherwise not appropriate for a professional website.

There is also an increasing amount of baiting between readers, and other unproductive conversation – usually driven by the same few commentators – which does not relate to a particular article and forces us to step in and mediate.

As a publisher, we have a duty to protect our brand and our community from unwarranted insult or reputational damage, and we would like to take this opportunity to improve the quality of comments.

If you wish to comment on, criticise or debate a story we have published, please ensure your statements meet the following criteria:

  • No personal attacks or abuse, especially where the person is named
  • Keep arguments constructive, succinct and to the point
  • Do not impersonate or mock someone else
  • Do not use swear words or other offensive, racist or sexist language
  • Do not post potentially libellous or defamatory comments, which might unduly damage the reputation of an individual or a company
  • Do not post commercial promotions, spam or sales pitches
  • Do use proper, well-written sentences, avoiding block capitals and typos, and take the time and care to put forward a reasonable argument

From this month onwards, we will be taking a stricter approach to the publication of reader comments and will not approve them if they do not adhere to these criteria.

We reserve the right to stop comment threads on stories if the conversation goes too far off-topic or becomes overly negative and disrespectful to the community.

We also reserve the right to edit comments if one part of the statement is fair and reasonable, but another part fails to comply with the policy.

All of this does not mean readers cannot share their views, however brief. A developer may find it helpful to see that a member of the public’s immediate reaction to its scheme is simply that is “poorly designed”.

But we are asking for a greater degree of thought, care and consideration when articulating your opinion, and for your comment to be made in good faith and with the realisation that your words might be published for all to see.

We hope our loyal readers will understand and appreciate this move to tighten up the forum. Ultimately, we hope it sparks informed debate within the industry and its stakeholders, which readers find genuinely interesting and useful.

Thank you for your cooperation.

Sarah Townsend, editor, Place North West

 

 

Your Comments

Read our comments policy here

Great stuff Sarah – 100% agree with this approach as it’s perfectly possible to critique, object or disagree with something politely and constructively. Ironically, people who flame up on comments threads actually close down discussion and stifle debate, as the less unhinged readers run for cover so as not to be drawn into a ball pit of bile.

By Steve Connor

Thank you Steve – we appreciate your positive feedback on this. Sarah

By Sarah Townsend

Well done PlaceNW. Much needed and will improve the publication immensely.

By Derek

Excellent news Sarah 100% agree

By Dave

The approach you outline is spot on

By Chris Findley

Excellent.
I had given up participating in your comments section, largely because of the ill-informed rantings of people with tiresome personal agendas and far too much time on their hands. I did post my concerns some time back, so its good to hear things are changing.

It would be fitting to insist upon non-anonymity (and all other social media for that matter) but I appreciate that that may be a step too far. Still, I guess we all have a view of postings made by people who hide behind the ‘anonymous’ tag.

Glad you have addressed the comments issue and look forward to a refreshingly proactive debate on future issues.

By Dave McCall

Well said. Social media channels have generated an extremely unpleasant no-holds-barred culture in which bullies and the downright vulgar jeer at and belittle others. It is not simply banter and needs to be called out.

By Brian Gowthorpe

Thanks Sarah, the first piece of good news I’ve heard in quite some time! Steve’s comment is absolutely right. I can’t remember when I last even considered joining the “debate” or even reading the comments, simply because of the lack of constructive and informed discussion.

By Richard Jones

How sad that you’ve had to implement this policy, but fully agree with it!

By Helen Robinson

Nice one, Sarah. It’s a great shame that this stuff needs to be said, but good on you for saying it and standing by it. I’m with Steve – dialogue and engagement is so much more constructive and useful when everyone feels safe enough to participate.

By Jon Lovell

Well said Sarah. I also second Steve Connor’s point.

By Steve Webberley (formerly SW)

Well done PNW team. We need debate and all be open to criticism as well as credit where and when it’s due. Your policy makes sense and the community can hopefully thrive as a result. Leave the nonsense to other platforms. Keep up the great work.

By Stephen Gleave

This is a great move, the quality of the comment sections has been dragged down by the same old names for quite a few months unfortunately. Well done PNW for acting when lots of others wouldn’t bother.

By Lee Kendall

Well done Place North West! It’s interesting that none of the comments on this thread are anonymous. Please keep up the good work.

By Andrew Turner

An excellent move. It’s a shame it has come to this. It’s time to have more reasoned, articulate and polite debate.

By MB

I wholeheartedly agree with this. I do agree with keeping anonymous posts as I have no social media etc and would be then unable to contribute on the odd occasion that I do. However, I’m sure Sarah and the team will delete any, ‘anonymous’ or otherwise, comments breaching their editorial guidelines.

By Anonymous

A welcome move but the source of a lot of the poor quality comments is the childish inter-city sniping that adds absolutely no value to the discussion. If that can be cut out then discussion will be much better.

By Keep it to SSC

Thank you for your comment. At present, we are not deleting ‘anonymous’ comments unless they fail to meet the other criteria outlined in this article. I hope this helps.

By Sarah Townsend

Agreeing with the others here. This is a good move and glad this was brought up. Place North West is currently one of the best resources for information on developments in our region and it benefits from opinions and comments, but not when that is abused.

By EOD