Refresher Courses: Rules & Guidelines For Commenting


Today: A reminder and a rundown of the commenting policy on Jezebel.

The commenters on Gawker Media’s stable of properties are known for their smarts, savvy, wit, breadth of knowledge and curiosity, but great online communities require a set of rules and regulations to keep the discourse high and humming along. We love our readers and our commenters – the latter are some of the smartest, savviest and funniest in the business, and I for one, am routinely rendered speechless by the care, thought, intelligence and insight you provide every single day.

Some of you may have noticed that, over the past few months, there’s been a noticeable increase in the number of commenters on the site – and an increase in the number of bannings and destarrings. This is not a coincidence. As such, new readers and commenters should take the time to read this post carefully. (Veteran readers and commenters, especially those with stars, should also take the time to refresh their memories as to the guidelines.) These rules are not hard and fast – as always, ultimately, the moderation and curation of the Jezebel comments is not only a collective effort on the part of editors, moderators and starred commenters, but subject to change.

1. Good Faith: Assume good faith on the part of your fellow commenters and avoid making presumptions about their motives. We don’t expect everyone to be friends, but we do expect everyone to be treated with respect. If you’re not sure whether a comment you’ve seen and want to respond to was made in good faith, asking nicely will likely clear the situation up pretty quickly.

2. Quotations/Citations When Replying:
Make good use of the “reply” buttons and quote relevant passages/comments in your responses, especially when you are disagreeing with a writer/editor or commenter. Too often, we’re seeing commenters reply to posts – or a group of commenters – without a specific citation(s) of what they’re responding to. Often, on closer inspection, it’s clear that the commenters who do this are either not reading the post/other comments carefully – reading comprehension is your friend! – or are presuming motives (see number #1 above.)

3. Read Before You Comment:
Read the post and the comments thoroughly before posting your own response. There is nothing more frustrating than reading duplicate comments or comments that begin with “I didn’t read this whole thing, but…”.

4. Stars: We’ve been making an effort to be more proactive in awarding stars to commenters – especially those who are called out in our Reader Roundup – but we’re also willing to take stars away, especially from those who have been abusing their privileges by promoting, responding to and approving trollish comments and comments left by banned commenters. Because our commenting system records the administrative actions of our editors & moderators (approving, banning, starring, destarring, disemvoweling) and starred commenters (approving) – if it’s clear that a starred commenter is approving trollish comments or approving comments left by banned commenters who have returned to talk smack or cry censorship, we will destar that starred commenter, and, in extreme cases, ban her/him as well. Being a starred commenter is a privilege; we expect those who have stars to avoid abusing them.

If you don’t have a star, you may be wondering how you acquire one. The answer is simple: Make an effort to provide consistently thoughtful, well-reasoned, funny contributions in the commenting threads of this site. If you’ve been on the site for a while and think you deserve a star – but haven’t received one yet – it’s likely that you’ve been inadvertently overlooked, and you can feel free to email a query or reminder to Hortense, our moderator, or one of the editors. (Please include a link to your profile page!) What makes a good comment versus a bad one? Click here.

5. Featured and Unfeatured Comments: As you’ve no doubt noticed, some comments in comment threads are greyed out. This is a change that went into effect on all Gawker Media sites in July 2009. The change is explained in detail here and here. It is not specific to Jezebel and it is not going away. Sorry.

6. Personal Attacks: If you don’t agree with a fellow commenter or one of the Jezebel writers/editors, you are strongly encouraged to make your point – calmly and civilly. Although Jezebel editors have strong feelings on a whole host of issues – political and personal – we don’t expect everyone to share them. Nor should you. Differing viewpoints should not be shouted down; try to engage those with opinions opposite to yours with reasoned, polite disagreement. We see too many unnecessary arguments and shitstorms that can be traced back to simple misunderstandings or over-the-top assumptions.

In addition, from time to time we become aware of longstanding resentments and issues between commenters or directed at Jezebel writers/editors. The public spaces on this site are not the places in which to air those grievances. If you have a problem with a fellow commenter or one of the writers/editors, you can private message (“PM”) the individual(s) or take it outside the blog entirely via email or some other method. Bullying and trolling of others will not be tolerated – all incidences of bullying and trolling should be reported to the editors/moderators. Anonymity will be honored and respected.

Lastly and perhaps most importantly: We will not tolerate YELLING, and that goes for the use of ALLCAPS, over-the-top punctuation (!!!???), excessive sarcasm, overheated rhetoric, hyperbole and ad hominem attacks. It’s pretty simple, actually: If you can’t make your point and debate an issue rationally, you will not be allowed to comment on Jezebel. Think of the site as an energetic, vibrant dinner party with lots of different dishes and drinks –you may not like what we’re serving, but as an invited guest, we expect you to be civil to us and the other participants while you’re here – or we will ask you to leave.

Other Issues:

Groupthink: The rules stated above also apply to our open thread, groupthink. For those who want a little more detail on how groupthink works, go here.

Destarrings/Disemvowelings/Bannings: Readers who find themselves destarred, disemvowled or banned are more than welcome to email the editors and Hortense for an explanation. Please include a link to your profile. If you are banned and wish to have an explanation (or plead for eventual reinstatement), you should contact Hortense. Banning people is something we’re not particularly fond of, and every ban has a good reason behind it, which we are happy to give to the banned commenter in question. However, we will not tolerate threadjacks on the banned commenter’s behalf, nor will we tolerate conspiracy theories or shitstorms regarding the editor’s motives after a ban takes place. We’re not out to get anyone (seriously, we’re not!); we are simply enforcing the very clear rules we have laid out. The only commenter who deserves an explanation for their ban is the banned commenter in question, and it is her responsibility to seek it from the editors.

Technical problems: Send an email to us a with a description of the issue and the type of computer/browser/OS you are using.

Image sizing: If you want to include an image or gif in your comment, please make sure it is a suitable size (i.e. no more than 500 pixels in width and/or 500 pixels in length). Comments with especially large images will be demoted.

Factual and/or copyediting mistakes:
Feel free to email us, or, in the case of a factual error, leave a comment. Comment threads are not the place to point out copyediting errors.

Reader Roundup:
We can’t give kudos without your help. If you see a great comment you think should be included in the late afternoon roundup of best comments, please: email Hortense and/or Dodai. The large percentage of comments featured in Reader Roundup come directly from eagle-eyed commenters. Keep them coming!

As you may have noticed, we have disabled the comments on this post; the rules outlined above are not up for discussion or debate. If you have questions about issues not detailed in this post, feel free to email us at [email protected] or at [email protected].

Links that can provide you with more information and further resources regarding the commenting system and rules can be found below. Happy reading – and commenting!

Earlier: A Quick Note About Comments & A Reminder To Check Out Our Open Forum (Updated)
Our New Look: Let Your Fingers Do The Talking
Have Your Cake & Eat It Too: A Guide To Our Reader Forum, #Groupthink
15 Questions – And Answers – About The New Comments
The Craft: Commenting On, Contributing To Jezebel
15 Questions – And Answers – About The New Comments
Fasten Your Seatbelts…It’s Gonna Be A Bumpy Sight
The Girl’s Guide To Commenting On Jezebel: Version 1.2
A Message From Hortense, Our Commenter Moderator
The Girl’s Guide To Commenting On Jezebel

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