At AnnArbor.com, we're committed to cultivating an online community where real conversations take place on local issues. We built our news and information site to be interactive and intuitive. You'll find lots of places within AnnArbor.com to talk to us and each other.
As such, we're fully aware moderation of the comments and public posts on our site has to be strong. And if there's one thing we've heard loud and clear from the Ann Arbor area community, it's that people want us to moderate conversations on AnnArbor.com.
We've said before that we'd like conversations on our site to be relevant and free of personal attacks and insults. Today, we're unveiling the guidelines we plan to use to help encourage useful and constructive comments and posts on our site.
We've spent countless hours wrestling with how to moderate the comments on AnnArbor.com. We looked at how other news organizations do it, ranging from The Christian Science Monitor to The New York Times to SportsJournalists.com. We looked at how other online communities do it from Arbor Update to Boing Boing and MetaFilter.
Our guidelines will evolve. We'll let you know as we make changes and why we made those changes on our About Us page. We chose to keep the guidelines simple and straightforward, rather than detail every possible circumstance where moderation could be needed.
Here is the policy we'll use:
AnnArbor.com Conversation Guidelines
AnnArbor.com aims to provide a lively community forum where readers can talk to us and talk to each other - in a neighborly way, of course. The best comments and posts are those that add more information to the story, express a different viewpoint or help create intelligent debate. We welcome constructive debate on our site but we won't tolerate jerks. Don't be that guy - avoid comments or posts that are off-topic, offensive, contain personal attacks or those that don't further the conversation. We encourage everyone who registers on our site to use their real name, or at least a consistent screen name. We reserve the right to pre-moderate comments and delete or edit comments.
Members of our staff will monitor comments and posts on AnnArbor.com throughout the day. We're also contracting with an outside company that will help monitor our site, especially during the night and early morning hours. We're also looking at easy ways for the community to see the stream of comments and posts as they come out, via RSS or Twitter, so that when breaking news happens in the comments, there's a way to find it fast.
We'll have a moderation team at AnnArbor.com that will have a strategy and make operational decisions about comments and posts on the site. The team will meet regularly to review and revise our guidelines and update our internal policies.
We plan to be nimble and transparent - and, as mentioned earlier, we'll discuss changes on our About Us page. We think it's important for our community to know about the issues we're struggling with and how we come to make our decisions.