Saturday, May 18, 2024
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Moderation in all things


OCCASIONALLY readers complain that their comments have been ‘moderated’, in other words removed from our site, for no apparent reason. It may be helpful for everyone to understand the moderation process.

First, may we point out that not every site allows comments. Many don’t. Others invite them but they are not published except as digests selected by the site editors. We invite comments to be published immediately on the site, and this obviously incurs the risk of unsuitable or offensive material being put up. 

To avoid this we have to moderate comments, and this is a major task for our very small team when you consider that hundreds of comments come in every day, sometimes thousands. So we use the automated service from Disqus, the commercial provider of our comments service. Disqus’s filters screen out words and phrases which it has listed as potentially offensive, and places comments containing them in a moderation queue. The algorithm used by Disqus is not always impressive. Sometimes it flags perfectly innocent comments. There are also occasions when a possibly offensive word can trigger a flag when it is used innocently, for example ‘fag’.

We also maintain a local list of words that immediately put a comment into moderation, as well as words to stop forum spam – we had a recent huge influx of dating site spam with hundreds of comments daily inviting the reader to ‘check my profile’ or ‘see my profile’. Consequently ‘profile’ is now on the moderation list. This is all in addition to us going through the comments personally.

We do read everything in the moderation queue, but this may be hours after you posted. Comments that contain offensive words or sentiments, insults to other forum members etc are summarily binned. Repeat offenders or particularly unpleasant individuals may be banned. Comments found to be have been caught unfairly are of course approved.

We know it’s not a perfect system, but we do our best.

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Edited by Kathy Gyngell

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