Discussion FAQ

Last modified: Wednesday, February 06, 2013
First, welcome, and thanks for joining in. Your comments add tremendously to the community dialogue about our stories and the events and issues of the day. With these frequently asked questions, we hope to give you a plain-language overview of how we try to manage our reader comments. Our Terms of Service spell out the rules and regulations. With this, we hope to give you a sense of how we implement them.


Q. What is the Daily Hampshire Gazette trying to do with these comments?

A good description of a comment forum was on a blog site which compared it to hosting a dinner party. That's what we're trying to do, too. We're trying to hold a dinner party (without the food) where the conversation never stops and where everyone is welcome, as long as they don't make the party unpleasant for others.

We want to see a wide variety of viewpoints and opinions - that's what makes the conversation interesting, after all – but we want them to be relevant and civil.

Q. What do you mean by "civil?" Is that just a code word for opinions the Daily Hampshire Gazette supports?

A comment forum is useless if only one side gets heard. We want a lively discussion, not a choir. We have no interest in promoting or restricting any particular agendas – it would quickly get boring for everyone. But we're not interested in providing a forum for insults, name-calling, spam and derogatory comments, either. There are plenty of other places on the web for that. When we see comments that are rude, vicious, mocking or derogatory, we reserve the right to take the down at our discretion. We may also block people who make the forum unpleasant for others.

Q. So what's out of bounds?

To avoid having your comment removed, try to follow these basic, common-sense rules:

Q. I see comments online that I don't like. What can I do about that?

Please email a link to the objectionable comment to webeditor@gazettenet.com and tell us why you think the comment may be inappropriate.

Q. What if I disagree with your decisions?

We're always open to feedback from readers and commenters. You can email us at webeditor@gazettenet.com. We recognize that our decisions are often subjective, and we do appreciate helpful suggestions.

Q. I thought you were supposed to be in favor of the First Amendment. Isn't it my First Amendment right to say whatever I want?

Not here. The First Amendment protects all of us from government intrusion. We, however, are not the government. Our mission is to create a forum for dialogue, and we have found that without some moderation the comment boards can become offensive to many readers. That said, we would not be promoting comments at all if we didn't want to encourage broad expression. We do try to err on the side of leaving comments up.

Is there something we missed? If you have a question that's not covered here, please let us know! Email webeditor@gazettenet.com.