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