Info: Comments FAQ

Frequently asked questions for Washington Examiner commenters and readers of our comment boards

Last updated Feb. 24, 2014 Untitled Document
Questions:

How can I comment on washingtonexaminer.com stories?

We encourage readers to comment on our stories. First, register through the disqus commenting platform. Registration is free. Once you have created an account, you can comment on as many stories and articles as you like, as long as you follow our commenting guidelines.

Must I give my real name to register and comment on washingtonexaminer.com?

No. You can give your real name if you like, but you aren’t required to. Most of our commenters go by their screen names only, which they pick for themselves. (Click here to see rules regarding screen names.)

Must I give my email address to register and comment on washingtonexaminer.com? Will you publish it if I give it to you?

You must list a working email address to register via disqus and comment on washingtonexaminer.com, but you have the option of making your email address private. If you make your email address private, it will not be published on washingtonexaminer.com, but it will be visible to the washingtonexaminer.com moderators and site administrators. To see our washingtonexaminer.com privacy policy, click this link.

Why must I register with disqus to comment?

Registration for commenters ensures each commenter has their own identity in the commenter community. It also helps our moderators in trying to keep the conversation going, trying to stop flame wars and blacklisting commenters who violate our community rules.

What are the rules regarding screen names and profile images?

Screen names and avatars/profile images must comply with all of the rules for comments listed here. Users with objectionable screen names or avatars are subject to having their comments deleted and being blacklisted.

What are the rules or standards for commenting on washingtonexaminer.com?

We welcome thoughtful expression of views from across the political spectrum. We have some expectations that are pretty common-sense. They include:
  • We expect our commenters to be civil and to treat each other with respect.
  • We expect our commenters to refrain from using swear words or crude, offensive or abusive language.
  • We expect our commenters to behave like adults who are in a public setting.
  • We expect our commenters to stay within the bounds of good taste.
  • We expect our commenters to refrain from wishing that physical harm befall any other person.
  • We expect our commenters to refrain from encouraging or inciting violence against any person or group.
  • We expect our commenters to try to move the discussion forward with each post.
  • We expect our commenters to use the “flagging” function only to flag posts that violate these rules, and not to flag posts merely because they express an opinion contrary to their own.
  • We expect our commenters to comply with the washingtonexaminer.com terms of use, which, among other rules, bans abusive, hateful or racist speech. You can read the complete terms of use at this link.

The comment I tried to post was sent to “moderation.” What does that mean? Will my comment ever get posted?

Most comments that are sent to moderation are indeed posted after being reviewed by the moderators. Some comments are immediately sent to moderation after posting because they contain certain language or strings of text that get our attention, and we’d like to see the context in which they’re being used before we publish the comment. Other comments are sent to moderation after being flagged as objectionable by other readers. Those comments are reviewed individually, and those that meet our guidelines are posted.

My comment was sent to “moderation.” Why can’t my comment be reviewed immediately?

Our small team of editors reviews thousands of comments on an average day. They are reviewed as quickly as possible, but comments sent to moderation — particularly those made during the nighttime hours in the Eastern time zone — may not be reviewed immediately.

I want to use swear words or crude or obscene language in my comment. Is it OK if I bleep out some of the letters of the offending words or try to spell them in creative ways to get past the moderators?

No. That may not violate the letter of our no-cussing rule, but it violates the spirit of it. Please don’t try to use alternative, creative or British spellings, “Beetle Bailey" cuss words employing symbols, or attempt to use abbreviations or acronyms in which the letters represent objectionable words. Again, we expect our commenters to behave like adults who are in a public setting. If you can’t make your point without using crude language, this is not the site for you.

My comment didn’t include any rude or offensive words but it went to moderation. Why?

Using certain phrases or strings of characters may mean your comment is initially sent to moderation prior to publication. Moderation doesn’t mean your comment is automatically deleted, only that it will be reviewed before being posted. Most comments that are sent to moderation are indeed posted after being reviewed by the moderators.

My comment appears to have been deleted by the moderators. Why?

Comments that violate the rules listed above, violate the washingtonexaminer.com terms of service or don’t appear to further the conversation are likely to be deleted by the moderators. Also, any comment by any user who is blacklisted is likely to be deleted. If you can express your opinion on policy or political events coherently and thoughtfully without using crude, obscene or otherwise inappropriate language and while staying within our guidelines, we invite you to comment on our articles. In keeping with our terms of use, the Washington Examiner reserves the right to refuse or remove any content that is posted on the site, including user-submitted content such as comments. Please read our terms of use at this link.

You said in these guidelines that you expect commenters to “push the discussion forward.” What does that mean?

We want our site to be a platform for thoughtful, civil debate. For instance, comments that consist of little more than name-calling — toward a person in the news or another commenter — or comments on the physical appearance of the subject of a news story do not push the discussion forward. When that happens, the moderators may take steps to keep the discussion thoughtful.

My comment included a hyperlink. Why did it go to moderation?

In an attempt to try to keep down spam in our comment boards, all comments containing hyperlinks automatically go to moderation so they can be reviewed prior to publication. Comments that consist entirely of a hyperlink — and no other text — are very likely to be deleted by the moderators, so your comment has a better chance of being published if you expand on your thought rather than just posting a hyperlink. Commenters who are clearly using our comment boards to promote their own blogs or websites are subject to having their comments deleted and being blacklisted.

I posted a comment on another news website using disqus, but when I tried to post the same comment on washingtonexaminer.com, my comment was sent to moderation or deleted. Why?

Rules about online commenting vary from news organization to news organization, just as each newspaper in America sets its own standards for which letters to the editor to publish. Many news organizations use disqus as their commenting platform, but the online commenting standards for washingtonexaminer.com are set by the editors of the Washington Examiner alone. We think our rules are nothing more than plain, old-fashioned common sense.

I heartily agree with a comment posted on washingtonexaminer.com. What can I do to express my approval?

You can always post a follow-up comment complimenting the previous post, as long as you meet the guidelines set out here. You can also use the disqus “like” function to signal your approval to other readers.

I object to a comment posted on washingtonexaminer.com. What can I do?

You can always post a comment in response, as long as you meet the guidelines set out here. If you feel the comment violates our community guidelines, you can also use the disqus “flagging” function to flag a comment for the moderators. Again, we expect our commenters to use the flagging function only to flag comments that violate the guidelines. Commenters who abuse the flagging function to flag comments that meet the guidelines — but which express a contrary opinion to their own — are subject to being blacklisted. In a similar vein, commenters who threaten to wrongly flag other commenters’ content are also subject to being blacklisted.

Can you offer any advice on how to write a comment that is likely to generate meaningful discussion on washingtonexaminer.com?

First, follow the rules already set out here.

Second, avoid typing in capital letters. TYPING IN ALL CAPS MAKES IT LOOK LIKE YOU’RE SCREAMING. Your comment is less likely to be taken seriously if other commenters see that you’re writing some or all of it in all caps.

Avoid including long excerpts from another article, another post, a document or a book.

Try to write coherently and logically. Your comment is less likely to be taken seriously if it does not make sense.

Spelling and grammar do count. Misspelled words and poor grammar or punctuation make it harder for other readers to understand what you’re trying to say. They can also provoke other commenters to make fun of you, which detracts from the quality of the debate.

We encourage you to take a position, back it up and try to persuade others to see your point of view. You’ve got an audience — don’t just tell them what you believe, tell them why you believe it.

Don’t denigrate or attempt to insult other commenters. If someone disagrees with you, tell them politely and in a civil fashion that you disagree with them and why. If someone denigrates or insults you, respond in a polite and civil fashion or don’t respond at all.

I’ve been blacklisted from washingtonexaminer.com. Why?

We don’t take blacklisting lightly. If you’re blacklisted, you’ve done something you really should have known better than to do. If you didn’t know better, this is not the site for you.

How long am I on the blacklist, or what must I do to get off it?

Being placed on the blacklist is permanent.

Why can’t I post whatever I want in my comments? Why do you moderate the comments?

We want people to read the comments on washingtonexaminer.com and come away edified by the discussion. A page full of comments containing obscenities and flame wars discourages other readers from joining in the discussion. Every major news website in America has some type of comment moderation, whether it’s being done by humans, computer software or a combination of both.

Why are you censoring my comments in violation of the First Amendment?

The First Amendment is part of the foundation of American society. It does not guarantee anyone the right to say whatever they like on any website and require the site owner to publish it, just as it does not require us, or any newspaper, to print every letter to the editor that arrives in the mail. Anyone whose comment is deleted by our moderators can go to either Blogger.com or WordPress.com and start their own blog in a few minutes at no cost, where they may have greater leeway about the content they post.