The Roanoke Times welcomes your comments, but there are some rules of the road. If you want to post here: Keep your language clean and your comments on topic. Don’t defame another’s reputation. Don’t threaten, harass or intimidate another individual. In a phrase: be civil. Our detailed rules are available for reading here.
We want to offer a forum to readers — and host conversations about what’s going on across our valleys. Our aim is to provide a cordial, constructive, safe place to chat, like a digital front porch. We want comments to help improve the quality of our journalism and our community. We allow anonymous comments (with registration through our blogs) — but moderate for civility.
Because we take the time to moderate comments, we have to make choices about which stories to build conversations around.
Years ago, we made the decision to host conversations about our stories on the blogs. They are hosted by real, live human beings whose presence, we believe, can have a positive impact on online conversations. Because the bloggers moderate the comments and engage with readers there, we wanted to continue that tradition with the redesigned website. Sometimes we open comments on selected news stories, and those comments are also moderated through our blog system.
Our editors and reporters decide which stories might spark the most constructive conversations. We encourage readers to suggest a comment thread on our Times Square blog.
Our individual bloggers moderate the bulk of the comments, with occasional moderation by online producers and editors.
We at The Roanoke Times are committed to creating cordial forums for discussion where people can express their feelings on controversial topics without opening themselves to personal attacks. That commitment takes a great deal of effort on the part of our staff. We do not rely on a computer program that can magically discern whether a commenter is being naughty or nice. Real people make that determination.
Moderating comments is not a task relegated to normal business hours. We do our best to check in regularly on evenings and weekends and even major holidays. That said, it’s not possible for us to be on the alert 24/7. We sleep, have dinner with our families and try not to annoy people in the next row when we go to see a movie.
Comments that contain profanity, obscenities, potentially libelous statements or personal attacks on other commenters or individuals in the news will be rejected. Public officials open themselves to a greater level of criticism and that is reflected in our moderation. However, petty name-calling is never appropriate.
It’s best when posting comments to write about your opinions on a particular subject rather than commenting on the quality of the arguments made by those with an opposing view. However, in a true public forum everyone must expect to be challenged. While personal attacks are banned, that doesn’t extend to every form of criticism. Even so, that criticism should be tied to the issue being debated. It’s appropriate to tell another commenter, “You haven’t done your research,” but inappropriate to say, “You are an idiot.”
Each blog is moderated by a different human being. In some cases, several moderators share in the task. While we have a single policy to guide us on what is and is not appropriate, there are always comments that require a judgment call, and different people will respond differently. Moderators also are guided by the subject matter and mission of their specific blogs.
For example, the conversation will naturally get heated on The RoundTable, a forum for exchanging views on politics and often controversial issues. The debate on The Fridge Magnet is typically less confrontational.
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