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Comment moderation during the election

In addition to analysing key policies and running FactChecks during the election, we’re committed to ensure our comments are in line with our editorial goals.

The role of comments during the election

Our community standards set a high bar for our comments and our online community:

We want the discussion of an article to be, if anything, more illuminating than the original article and we need your help to do that.

It’s vital our comment sections are places people can have constructive discussions about the federal election and the policies presented.

That will mean a few things:

  • removing personal attacks aimed other commenters or politicians
  • removing comments that seem more interested in provoking people across political lines than having a constructive discussion
  • keeping things on-topic
  • encouraging people to show respect to those they disagree with.

I often see people in our comment sections lamenting the current state of political discourse and what they see as its adversarial bent. We want our comments to be an alternative to those kinds of discussions.

That doesn’t mean we expect everyone to agree. Far from it. It just means that we expect discussions to be constructive, respectful and illuminating.

Take, for example, this thread on Political geography 101 by Mark Beeson. Syd Walker took issue with something he felt lacking in Mark’s article:

In this era of mass transport and telecommunications and an increasingly globalized economy I would have thought the most basic “fact” of political geography is that we live on one, inter-connected, fragile yet bountiful planet, which, as Gandhi once said, contains enough for everyone’s need, but not for everyone’s greed.

Odd that the author doesn’t consider that basic reality even rate a mention.

Perhaps, Professor Beeson, your article should be titled “20th Century Political Economy 101’?

Another commenter, David Arthur, argued that perhaps what Syd was discussing was beyond the scope of the article and Mark Beeson replied to clarify the goals of his article:

Thanks, Syd, but the whole point of the article was to point out that even in a supposedly ‘global’ era geography and parochial interests are still very important. I’m not sure many people are ready to heed your call for global citizenship, no matter how worthy or even necessary it may be. Quite what the followers and leaders of ISIS would make of it one can only imagine.

The discussion continued on, discussing and expanding upon the themes of the article in a constructive way – even when people disagreed.

It’s worth emphasising that point: you will read comments you don’t agree with between now and election day. To quote our community standards:

You’ll come across opinions you disagree with. That doesn’t make them invalid.

Intelligent, worthwhile discussions happen when people who don’t agree with each other can find ways to talk in respectful ways.

This is the kind of conversation we want to see on all of our articles this election. We’ll be moderating to ensure we do.


For more information on how I’ll be moderating comments, read this post on Transparency in moderation. And head to our Election 2016 homepage for all our coverage.

Want to help us moderate our comments? Our Community Council does just that. Let us know if you’re interested in joining.

Update: Nominations for the Community Council will be open until Wednesday May 25, 2016.

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