The Register Comments Guidelines, 2012
New world, nearly new rules
The Register operates a hybrid moderation policy. Here's how it works.
The vast majority of comments will appear on the site automatically. This is because we trust you to follow the house rules.
But just in case ... we have a mechanism for readers to report comments. The moderators will continue to deal with any comments and/or commenters reported to them, and decide whether the comments breach the house rules and should be removed from the site.
Some commenters will continue to have their comments moderated before they appear on the site.
This group includes people who have previously had offensive or libellous comments removed, or who have been frequently reported by other commenters. If comments are reported, the editors will examine the comment as soon as possible, and decide whether it contravenes the house rules. If it does, it will be removed. If it breaks the law, it will be removed. (Breaking the law and breaking house rules might not always be interchangeable.)
If it sounds like we're a bit obsessive about the house rules, you're right. We want El Reg's comment forums to remain a lively, stimulating and noisy place to hang out. We don't want the forums to turn nasty and uncivil.
So I guess you want to know what the house rules are? Well read on.
1. Firstly and perhaps most importantly: Moderation is at our discretion. We publish what we feel is fit for publication. If comments are published without moderation, we still reserve the right to pull them at any time. The vast majority of comments posted will end up on the site. We try to be broad-minded and consistent – but in the end if we don't want it on our site, it doesn't go up or stay up. Correspondence will rarely be entered into on individual decisions.
If you're one of the small group who is subject to moderation, bear in mind that comments may take longer to appear at different times of the day or when we are very busy (especially at the weekend) - all comments are moderated individually. If your comment doesn't show up immediately, be patient - we often have a backlog to work through.
Queries and complaints should be directed to Reg Forums. Several moderators look after the threads and each uses his or her own judgment (comments on individual stories are not usually moderated by the author).
Technical issues should be addressed to the Reg Webmaster.
2. When posting a comment, think about what you're saying and remember you're addressing real people. Be legible and intelligible. Be polite. Animated debate is great - nasty arguments and abuse, not so much. (And try and rein in your pedantry ... 'tis human to err, especially when pointing out the errors of others.)
3. Be pertinent – redundant comments repeating what others have said are liable to be reported and deleted. Try to stay on topic. Read the article before you post, and read the thread too.
4. No trolling - it's OK to be provocative, but trolling is another matter.
5. No spam, no links to porn – don't pimp your own website, blog or business. If you're linking to something that may be seen as naughty, help your fellow commenters by adding a NSFW note.
6. We're thick-skinned, but... if you abuse The Register or its writers your comment may get canned - this is our house, after all. Requests for writers to be sacked or for stories not to have been published are unlikely to hang around for long. Use your common sense.
7. That person who doesn't hate the company you hate... they're not a corporate shill. Don't accuse them of it. Similarly, no one is paying our writers to be nice, or horrible, about anyone. Don't accuse them of it either. Oh, and the moderators are not Nazis. Don't be silly.
8. Please post your comment in the comment box, not in the title field. Currently we allow posts of up to 10,000 characters, which is quite a bit longer than most forums, but try not to post enormous essays or margin-busting links.
9. If we suspect that your comment may be libellous, we will reject it. We err on the side of caution. Remember we are subject to UK libel laws.
10. Post no personal details about others, please. And don't post your own contact details. How do we know they are yours? When posts containing personal details are flagged up to us, we will delete them.
11. Don't be a racist arsehole, a homophobic wanker, a xenophobic idiot or a sexist pig. You know when you're crossing a line – if you don't, learn.
12. We're grateful for corrections. In fact, we've got a new reporting mechanism for corrections. This is what it looks like.
So, don't be upset if your corrective comment doesn't appear in the forums – we're not ignoring it. We're just busy round the back giving the offending hack a good talking-to.
13. If you want to take issue with the content of a story, you can email the author by selecting their byline link at the top of the story. They will usually be happy to help, if you're courteous. (Please be courteous.)
14. Do use the 'report comment' button – we take note of each one and often withdraw comments after complaints, and we're grateful for your assistance as spam and other unwelcome things do sometimes slip through – but don't abuse it. A differing opinion does not make reasonable grounds for reporting a comment. You may end up getting flagged if you continually file unwarranted reports.
15. If you are persistently abusive in any way you will be flagged. Your comments will be pre-moderated and may not appear on the site. In very rare circumstances we'll zap your account.
16. We do not have time to edit comments. If you are abusive in an otherwise sensible, insightful post, we may reject the entire comment. Sometimes we'll alert you to this. If your comment is rejected, feel free to edit it yourself and resubmit.
17. We take the law very seriously. Please don't threaten the posters, Reg staffers or anyone else with violence, pain, maiming, etc. If you do, this could be reported to the authorities, and we will fully cooperate with any investigations they choose to pursue.
18. Once again - moderation is at our discretion. Having your comment published on this site is not one of your human rights.
These guidelines are subject to revision. We always welcome your comments and appreciate it when you respect the forums, the moderators and each other. Above all, don't get too upset... it's just the internet.
In November 2012, The Register introduced gold, silver and bronze badges for commentards, along with forum privileges for each badge.
The qualifying thresholds for badges are:
- Bronze More than one year members and more than 100 posts in the last 12 months.
- Silver Silver badge holders meet bronze requirements and have more than 2000 upvotes.
- Gold This discretionary badge is awarded by Reg staff to commentards who have been very helpful - to us, through news tips and beta testing, for example - and to their fellow readers, through their posts.
Forum privileges are awarded according to commentard handle - not by user account. This means that if you change your handle, you will lose your forum privileges. Also, votes on your anonymous posts do not count towards you gaining badges.
We allow anonymous posting because we understand the value in letting people post anonymously.
But posting anonymously has a cost as well. It makes it easier for people to say glib, trite or troll like statements knowing it won't be attributable to them.
For these reasons anonymous posts incur a "penalty".
- votes on your anonymous posts do not count towards you gaining forum privileges.
- Anonymous commentards do not get to pick an icon, but are all shown with the V for Vendetta mask that appears beside anonymous posts.
Create a new topic
You can start a new topic if you have at least five posts accepted and published. (Withdrawing your fifth post will remove the permission.) After your fifth post is accepted it takes up to one hour for the new permission to take effect. Click on Forums home page log-in. The Create a new topic link lives in the Forums Box on the right hand side of the page.
Before you create a new topic
Have a quick look on the forums. Someone may have already created a topic on the same subject - join in!
Topic display order
Topics are displayed by default in this order: sticky and then by topic with most recent post.
You can use basic HTML to format your text - once you have had five posts accepted for publication. Currently we allow: <b>, <strong>, <em>, <i> and <strike>. Badge holders can also use <sub>, <sup>, <ul>, <li>, <blockquote>, <code>, and <pre>.
You can add hyperlinks in your post - once you have had 100 posts accepted for publication. We have set the bar high to deter spammers and enable us to assess use. We will review this bar from time to time.
Use your common sense. Do not link to sexist, racist or pornographic material. And do not link to any copyright-breaking or hacking tools. If you do we will withdraw this privilege.
You need to put in the code yourself. You are a techie. This is not hard.
e.g. Not bad. Not bad at all.
Use the Withdraw link that appears in all your posts to delete a comment. For multiple deletions, it is easier to do this via My Posts.
Use the Report abuse link that you can see in all posts (except your own) when you see a comment that breaks house rules on civility and html links. Moderators will attend to this as soon as possible.
Permalink to post
This is embedded in the posted time stamp that appears in each post.
Sort posts by thread | newest | oldest
The default setting is oldest posts first. You can sort posts by thread, newest and oldest using the little drop down menu at the top of each topic. You must be logged in to see and use this feature. This may seem eccentric, but here is our rationale:
Topic sorting wants to be "sticky" i.e., you don't want to have to click to change the sort order each time to return to that topic. One option is cookies, but there is a limit in how many we can store. So we linked it to your account, where you can have as many as you want. Also, it follows you across browsers and machines correctly.
Currently, we support semi-threading - i.e. one level of threading.
Can I search forums?
After a fashion. Use the "search forums" form in the Forums Box on the right hand side. Yes, we know it needs improving.
Posting history of commentards
Commentard "handles" appear on the left hand of all posts. Click on the handle to see public posting history. This feature is switched off for commentards who post anonymously (under the collective handle "Anonymous Coward").
Track this topic
This bookmarks or "stars" topics that you are not posting in. Track this topic appears at the top of all open topics. Click the link and the topic now appears in "Your Topics" box - on the right hand side of the page when you are logged in. Click Track this Topic again to stop tracking.
Close this topic
Only moderators can close topics.
You can access your article post via My posts (in your Forums Box). But they are not published on El Reg Forums. Click Article topics in the Forums Box to access all posts on all Register articles.
My Topics box
Click My Topics to see the open topics you started, commented on, or "starred" for tracking. Beside each topic headline is a tally of posts made by other commentards since you last posted.
El Reg Forums roadmap - no time scales
We have started a Forum wishlist topic on El Reg forums. Use this thread to give us your roadmap feedback. We want it all in one place.
Roadmap - making the cut
- Enable editing posts
- One page - up vote / down vote
- Inbox to inform you if your account is upgraded, if suspended etc. Give users the chance to reply to moderators via this mechanism
- Ability to view replies to self via my posts view
- Badges to indicate levels of accounts / moderators
- Formatting: introduce line breaks, bullet points, blockquote, superscript, subscript
- Most recent 50 posts view
- Demote "closed" topics so that they always appear underneath "open" topics
- Stats view - most popular topic, etc.
Possible inclusions for roadmap
- HTML formatting bar in Post your own message form
- Ignore / Follow - individual commentards
- Nesting - three-level nesting, default or optional. Jury still out
- View from last read /last post. We think this is useful, but we haven't yet figured out how best to do this
- Notifications when someone directly replies to your post or to the thread. Via email or forum in-box? And what if there are dozens of responses to the thread?
Unlikely - and only if El Reg Forums get very big
- Commentard to Commentard communication via forums
- Invite-only forums / topics
- Kharma-ish system - would have to balance rewards with attempts to game whatever system we come up with
- Ability to order posts by popularity - again this could be gamed
Not on roadmap
- User-defined avatars - we don't want to have to store avatars, or vet them, or get angry if someone changes avatar to something abusive
- Log-in via third parties - e.g. Facebook, Twitter, Disqus, Linked-in
Why HTML and not BBCode?
Why did we choose home-grown?
Our website, CMS, whitepaper library, registration system and forums are core to what we do. And we do core in-house.
What software are we using?
RSS / Atom feed for forums?
There is a little RSS logo on the top right of a topic page. Or you can adjust the URL - it should be fairly obvious what you need to do:
Clicking on any user's name will take you to a list of his or her posts. Again, there is an yellow/orange RSS logo top-right-ish.
You can also get RSS feeds for any section, although we do not currently show you the link for these anywhere.
We do not offer a full site feed of all posts. This is do-able, but we do not see the utility - unless you wanted to screen-scrape our forums. And why would you want to do that? ®
We're thick-skinned, but... if you slag off The Register or its writers your comment may get canned
Is that why certain articles don't have comments enabled? :p
Oopsy, does that count as a troll? :)
I am a COMMENTARD, and will accept no alternative!!
it was only around the time that commenting was last tweaked that I twigged that 'Anonymous Coward' wasn't the handle for a particularly prolific commenter.