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UPDATE: 12 June, 2018

As an experiment, we have switched our comments section over to registration-required status. 

In recent years and months, more and more publishers with high-volume comments sections have taken the extreme step of disabling comments altogether.

These decisions, where an announcement can be found at all, are most often described as a result of insurmountable negativity. As is often said, “this is why we can’t have nice things”, and in the case of the comments section, rampant negativity and abuse has moved a number of major publishers to close up shop.

We value the insights and opinions of our community, and do not wish to take such extreme measures. However, we have determined that despite our best efforts – including three part-time paid moderators and active participation from staff journalists – a general tone of negativity remains pervasive in our community. Indeed, a number of new and regular readers have contacted us on the matter.

We appreciate the decision to require registration may appear, to some, as political correctness gone mad. An attempt to pander to ‘snowflakes’ and to surround our brand with fans. It is quite the opposite: as laid out in our existing guidelines below, CarAdvice is open to all criticism of our work, and we welcome heated debate.

Ultimately, only our moderators will know just how many liberties have been taken by too many bad actors. Likewise, we accept that no matter what is said here, some readers will continue to believe we delete any comments not glowing with praise.

We also accept that not all unregistered ‘guest’ users are troublemakers – but to ensure “we can have good things”, we feel requiring registration is preferable to closing down our comments section. Not all will agree.

We will be monitoring the comments section to measure the impact, positive and negative, of this decision.

Things to know: 

The CarAdvice website receives more than 3500 comments each week, in addition to the thousands posted to our Facebook, YouTube, Instagram and Twitter profiles.

Nearly 80 per cent of the comments on CarAdvice.com are made by registered users. All comments on social media, as required by those platforms, are made by registered users.

Our comments run on the third-party Disqus platform. You can read its privacy policy, recently updated to reflect strict new privacy laws in Europe that will ultimately be applied for all users within and without Europe, here.

You can register a Disqus profile either directly with Disqus, or with your Facebook, Twitter or Google accounts.

Unlike the early policies of Facebook and Google, Disqus does not require you use your real name. Like Twitter, you are welcome to register a unique username. (You’ll find me as @mikedoeslife).


23 March, 2017

CarAdvice community standards, participation guidelines and moderation aims

The aim of this page is to help you, our valued guests, to understand our goals for lively and considered discussion in the CarAdvice.com community, and the steps we take to create an inclusive and safe environment.

We operate on one guiding principle: although we welcome passionate opinion and discussion, we have take a ‘zero tolerance’ view of any comments which we feel could be considered harmful.

We understand there are differing views of what constitutes offensive or insulting comments. We understand there are concerns that society has become too focused on political correctness. Likewise, others feel that still not enough care is given to stamp out insensitive or hateful comments.

We cannot please everyone, all the time.

We urge participants to flag (via the menu next to the offending comment) or email us (via our contact page) about a potentially inappropriate comment for review, whether out of concern for others or as a result of personal offence.

We will gauge the merits of an observed or reported comment at our discretion, by our own internal standards, often through internal discussion. Any decision is both final and non-negotiable. However, where appropriate, and as time and circumstance allows, we will discuss a decision with the affected parties – for so long as the exchange remains reasonable, balanced and calm.


COMMUNITY STANDARDS

Tone and attitude

Heated discussion and debate is welcome, but any comments that include a personal attack or hurtful words – against either a CarAdvice writer or a participant in the discussion – is not acceptable.

We will not tolerate racism, sexism, homophobia or other forms of hate-speech, or contributions that could be interpreted as such.

Our goal is to ensure an inviting space for discussion. For this reason, we will at our own discretion distinguish between intelligent – be it calm or heated – and abusive, provocative discussion.

We understand that among passionate enthusiasts, strong feelings can lead to arguments that extend beyond the original topic or purpose of the content to which a discussion thread belongs.

There is a distinct line between criticising a brand, company or product, and attacking people on the basis of their race, religion, sex, gender, sexual orientation, disability or age – whether a fellow participant or as a general comment.

We ask that you respect the rights of others to their own views, beliefs and preferences, and keep discussion ‘on topic’.

MODERATION: We reserve the right to caution participants openly so that all can see the intent to redirect the flow of discussion, and we likewise reserve the right to remove offending comments and the posting privileges of any participants involved.

This may occur without warning or discussion, however we will make contact with involved participants where we deem it appropriate and worthy.

 

Clarity and intent

Be mindful that you may be misunderstood if you are not clear in your meaning. Review the content of your comment before posting, to best ensure your message will be taken as intended.

Without knowing the others involved in a discussion, it is not always possible to ensure your intention will be clear. You have an obligation, however, to make a clear and obvious effort.

Remember that text is not always an ideal medium for discussion. The tone of your comment – be it serious, sarcastic or light-hearted – will not always be obvious. (Replying to an offended participant with “clearly you can’t take a joke” or “you obviously don’t understand sarcasm” is not a get-out-of-jail-free card.)

We accept criticism of our work, and will never take action against a comment or participant who chooses to voice disagreement or concern with our work.

It should be noted, however, that we will not allow the comments section of any article to become bogged down with discussion of our moderation policies, and we will moderate accordingly.

MODERATION: If a comment critical of our work has been deleted, there will have been other factors involved, such as unnecessarily abusive or hurtful words. We will always take action against such a comment, in defence of our guests and of our writers alike.

If a comment is removed, related comments may also be removed – whether offensive or not – so as to avoid a series of nonsensical ‘leftover’ comments.

As noted, we will not always enter into discussion with every user affected by moderation, be it a deleted comment or a banned user.

The huge and growing quantity of comments at CarAdvice.com means that we simply cannot reserve the time to discuss each and every action taken by our moderation team.

 

‘Shouting’ and other forms of attention-seeking

Online, the composing of entire words, sentences or posts in capital letters is generally considered ‘shouting’ and, in most communities, is frowned upon. Here, it is regarded as inappropriate conduct.

Likewise, the use of HTML tags intended for appropriate emphasis – such as <b> and <i> – to change the appearance of an entire paragraph or post rather than a small handful of words, is also not accepted.

In the same vein, the changing of font styles and colours will not be tolerated, and the overuse of ’emoji’ characters will also lead to moderation.

These behaviours are considered an attempt to have one’s comment stand out from those of other participants, as they can surely serve no other obvious purpose than to speak over your fellow commenters.

MODERATION: Offending posts will be removed, repeat offenders may be banned.

 

Shadow profiles

Users are asked to maintain one profile only. If we determine that one user is maintaining multiple profiles – that is, more than one username in the comments section – the user will be warned openly in the discussion. If the user continues to maintain multiple profiles, their posting privileges will be removed.

If you feel you have been affected unjustly by this rule and wish to dispute the decision, you may contact CarAdvice and we will respond as time allows.


 

WHO MODERATES DISCUSSION?

The monitoring and moderation of discussion on CarAdvice.com is a responsibility shared by our editorial team, along with a small group of trusted community members who help to moderate comments, in consultation with our editorial team, which also provides guidance as needed.

Each works on an ‘as time allows’ basis, and each is paid for their time and effort.

 

AUTOMATED MODERATION: Word filter, links

A portion of our moderation occurs through automation, by two factors: word filtering, and links.

Filter:

We use a word filter to automatically hold any offending or potentially offending comment in ‘pending’, where it waits for review. If a post contains a prohibited word or term, even if not with malicious intent, the post will not appear until approved by a member of our team.

It should also be noted that some words contain prohibited words within them. If that word is picked up by a ‘wildcard’ in our filter, it too will be held. We endeavour to approve these comments, where appropriate, as quickly as possible.

Links: 

To protect our site and visitors against spam and malware, links to external sites are not allowed and any post containing a link will be held in pending for review.

For obvious commercial reasons, links to competing websites are also not allowed. These posts will not be approved.

NOTE: Unfortunately, the design of the Disqus comment platform means that by disallowing links, users are also unable to easily link to CarAdvice.com articles and reviews. However, you are welcome to include a CarAdvice.com link and we will approve the comment as quickly as possible.

 

DO YOU REQUIRE ACCOUNT AUTHENTICATION?

Because we understand that not all visitors wish to create an account simply to ask a question, we do not currently require discussion participants to use a registered account to leave a comment.

We reserve the right, however, to require registration in the future if repeated attacks from unregistered accounts – which are more difficult to moderate – become significant.

In such an event, we may continue to allow unregistered guest comments, but require that they be held in ‘pending’ for our team to review as time allows.

 

WHAT CAN I DO TO HELP MAINTAIN AN INVITING FORUM FOR DISCUSSION?

As above, we ask that all participants maintain a respectful and considered attitude in discussion with each other.

If you spot a comment that may be a problem, please flag it via the menu next to the offending comment. We ask that you do not engage in ‘vigilantism’ by attacking an offending commenter in kind.

 

NOTE: These guidelines may be revised or updated at any time, without notice.