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Commenting Policy

Welcome to the Community

Welcome to Spectrum, where our mission is to build community through conversation. We are glad that you are here and invite you to join the discussion that follows each of our articles by posting remarks relevant to the topic of the story and respectful of the author, whether you agree or disagree with what is said.

This space is like a community park, a shared resource for all who come, a place to share ideas, knowledge, and interests through dialogue. Please give the conversation the same kind of consideration you would give to a public place. And treat others as you would like to be treated.

The following guidelines are meant to keep this a clean well-lighted place for conversation.

Disregarding them can lead to being asked to leave.

How to Add to the Discussion

Help us make this a comfortable place for all in the following ways:

  • Always working to improve the conversation in some way, however small.
  • If you are not sure if your comment will add to the conversation, think over what you want to say and try again later.
  • Be respectful of the topics and people discussing them.
  • Remember that the ideas presented here matter to those who are writing and reading. Respond in kind with a spirit of graciousness. One should not be disagreeable even if you disagree with what is being said. If something makes your blood boil, cool off before you respond, and then reach for your higher, better self to help you choose your words carefully.

How to Avoid Being Flagged for Inappropriate Behavior

Our moderators work to keep the conversation collegial, and will remove comments that violate our rules. Additionally, fellow commenters who see an inappropriate comment may flag it for moderator review. Please DO NOT post comments that:

  • violate copyrights, trademarks, or intellectual property rights
  • are libelous or defamatory
  • are obscene, pornographic, sexually explicit, vulgar, or contain profanity
  • violate a person’s right to privacy
  • violate any local, state, national, or international law
  • contain or advocate illegal or violent acts
  • degrade others on the basis of gender, race, class, ethnicity, national origin, religion, sexual orientation, disability, socio-economic status, or other classification
  • are predatory, hateful, intended to intimidate or harass, or contain derogatory name-calling
  • are a duplicate or repost of something you’ve already posted on the site
  • contain spam, advertising, commercial- or self-promotion, or solicitation of any kind
  • misrepresent your identity or affiliation or impersonate others (this includes creating duplicate/additional accounts to deceive others)
  • are irrelevant or don’t pertain to the subject of the article
  • contain incoherence, SHOUTING, graphic imagery, are in poor taste, or are otherwise objectionable

Your Participation Matters

The conversations we have here set the tone for everyone. Help us influence the future of this community by choosing to engage in discussions that make this forum an interesting place to be — and avoiding those that do not.

The commenting platform we use is called Discourse, and it provides tools that enable the community to collectively identify the best (and worst) contributions: favorites, bookmarks, likes, flags, replies, edits, and so forth. Use these tools to improve your own experience, and everyone else’s, too. 

Let’s try to leave our park better than we found it.

In an effort to keep the conversation continually moving forward, we utilize Discourse’s “auto-close” feature on article threads, which means topics are closed to discussion after seven (7) days. This is to help prevent conversation from stagnating and older threads from being revived, and to keep the conversation revolving around newer topics of current interest. We reserve the right to close topics early, if it is deemed necessary because constructive and courteous dialogue is not taking place.

If You See a Problem, Flag It

This is your community and we hope you will help us keep it vibrant and robust. If you see a comment that violates our policy, please flag it for moderation. Moderators have special authority; they are responsible for this forum. But so are you. With your help, moderators can be community facilitators, not just janitors or police.

When you see bad behavior, don’t reply. It encourages the bad behavior by acknowledging it, consumes your energy, and wastes everyone’s time. Just flag it. If enough flags accrue, action will be taken, either automatically or by moderator intervention. If the moderators determine a comment violates our policy, it will be removed from the site and the offender may receive a suspension or permanent ban.

In order to maintain our community, moderators reserve the right to remove any content and any user account for any reason at any time. Moderators do not preview new posts in any way; the moderators and site operators take no responsibility for any content posted by the community.

This is how you flag a comment for moderation:

Step 1:

Go to the offending comment and click on the three grey dots.

Step 2:

More options will appear. Click on the flag icon.

Step 3:

Choose the reason you have flagged the comment for moderation. 

Step 4:

When you have successfully flagged the comment, blue text will appear indicating you have done so. This is visible only to you and the moderators, not to the other commenters. If three individuals flag the same comment for moderation, it will be automatically removed by the Discourse system. Comments flagged by less than three individuals will remain posted until they have been reviewed by a moderator.

Please note: flagged comments will always be reviewed by a moderator, but this does not mean the moderator will necessarily agree with the flag. Moderators may choose to remove a comment or not based on community flags.

This Is a Public Forum

This is a public forum and search engines index and archive these discussions. Keep the language, links, and images safe for family and friends. Additionally, once a comment has been posted for 60 days or more, it cannot be deleted by either the original commenter or a moderator. This is a Discourse system rule, not a Spectrum rule. Please be mindful that what you post to the internet is both permanent and visible to anyone. If you’re unsure about a comment you’re thinking of posting, ask yourself how you would feel if your post was featured on the front page of The New York Times.

Terms of Service

Yes, legalese is boring, but we must protect ourselves – and by extension, you and your data – against unfriendly folks. We have a Terms of Service describing your (and our) behavior and rights related to content, privacy, and laws. To use this service, you must agree to abide by our TOS.

Thank you for helping us create a safe, healthy, and diverse community where all feel welcome.

Thank you for creating community through conversation.