A Call for Civility and a Change in L.A. Streetsblog’s Comments Moderation Policy
For years, Los Angeles Streetsblog has had one of the loosest set of rules governing our comments section. In the four and a half years we’ve been publishing, we’ve maybe deleted 10 comments (not including spam) that were too over the top, slanderous, or sexist to let stand.
However, in recent months, we’ve noticed some warning flags. In some comment threads the language is getting a little more abusive. In other ones, people are mis-representing who they are.* It’s time to make a change before things get out of hand.
As of right now, we’re going from a policy that was basically “don’t be racist, sexist or say something that can get us sued” to the policy used by all the other Streetsblogs. That policy can be read here.
So, who decides whether a comment has “ad hominem attacks, unnecessary or uncreative profanity, off-topic posts, lengthy or poorly written rants, flat-earth arguments, etc…”? We do. If an article is written by Kris Fortin or Sahra Sulaiman, they will have the ability to edit or moderate the comments. If it’s written by anyone else, that power resides with me (or if I’m away, whoever is the acting editor in my place.)
And yes, a comment written by someone who is logged in or well known might get more leeway than an anonymous one of one by a first time poster.
Personally, I hate moderating comments. The decision to change our policy was not made lightly. We discussed it at our most recent Board Meeting and it was unanimously decided that we needed to make a change. When we meet in the fall, we’ll see how the policy is working and make tweaks if we need to. We don’t want to stifle debate, but to encourage a healthier and civilized one.
If you have any comments, questions, or want to tell me where to stick this policy, you all know how to express yourselves.