In recent months the DOG WORLD website has become an increasingly important vehicle for debate on canine topics. The comment function makes the website both immediate and vibrant. DOG WORLD considers debate healthy but we expect contributors to adhere to acceptable levels of respect for those whose views differ from their own.
All users of the website are subject to our published terms and conditions but we have been asked a lot of questions recently about how we moderate comments and so here we hope to make this process clearer in a Q&A format.
What is the aim of the site?
The aim of the site is to encourage a dynamic forum for debate in an open but civilised way. We try to delete as little as possible though some content has to be removed, usually for legal reasons, sometimes for taste reasons and always with the aim of keeping the community running smoothly and minimising conflict.
What is moderation?
Moderation is the removal or editing of messages or content which is unsuitable or offensive. Moderators are people who work to guidelines set by the website owners.
How do you moderate?
Registered users are encouraged to publish comments directly. Although we regularly monitor the site, we don't guarantee to read all the comments posted and rely on users to complain about anything that is offensive or inappropriate.
What do you remove?
The main types of content that we remove are:
a) Personal abuse. Criticising an argument is fine, attacking the person making it is not. In other words, you can say a person's argument is idiotic but don't call them an idiot. Repeatedly posting personal or offensive comments about individual may be considered harassment.
b) Legal. Libellous comments, that is those that make defamatory claims about people, will be removed as soon as we become aware of them. Any other content that breaks the law or condones or encourages unlawful activity will also be removed. This includes breach of copyright and contempt of court.
c) Racist, sexist and homophobic material and comments likely to incite religious hatred. Generalisations about entire groups of people are never a good idea and, in some cases, may be illegal.
d) Advertising. Content which promotes products or services for profit.
e) Offensive language. Content which contains swear words or other language likely to offend.
f) Privacy. Content contains email addresses or other personal contact details.
I've seen an instance of the above and you didn't remove it. Why not?
We may not have seen it. We rely on our readers to report inappropriate material. If you see something that you don't think should be on the site, please send us a complaint via the “Report as inappropriate' link. We will ask you to give your reasons as to why you feel the material is inappropriate.
I complained about something and you didn't remove it. Why not?
We encourage users to help us keep the site a civilised place to visit by making complaints. We give each complaint serious consideration but that doesn't mean we always agree. Many factors are involved in our decision. The words you use and the context in which the comment is made can affect our decision as much as the content itself. However, moderation is a subjective business and some comments will be viewed differently depending on who moderates them.
Will you tell me why my comment was deleted? Will you tell me why the comment I complained about was not deleted?
We don't enter into discussions about why a certain comment was or was not deleted. We don't have time to do this and, in any case, we find that it is seldom constructive.
What about my right to free speech?
Free speech is an important value to us and we know that it is to you too. However, that doesn't mean we can drop all restrictions. Some of these restrictions are there for legal reasons, others are there to stop the site becoming unpleasant. If you don't like the restrictions we place on comments, there are other places online where you can comment without any moderation at all.
Why do you allow registered users to adopt nicknames?
Your right to privacy is important to us. The use of a nickname is a device widely used to protect privacy as it discourages unsolicited or unwelcome direct contact from other users. Of course, you are also welcome to use your own name if you prefer.
Do you delete comments that are critical of Dog World?
No. You're welcome to criticise our arguments, point out oversights and suggest things we haven't considered. We know that our readers are very knowledgeable. However, personal abuse is not tolerated.
Why haven't you banned so-and-so?
We reserve the right to ban some accounts outright. Spammers and people who are obviously impersonating another user will have their accounts deleted as soon as they are brought to our attention. We are more lenient with users that we believe are commenting in good faith, though we will delete unacceptable material. If your account is in danger of being suspended we will send you an email warning first.