back to article The Register Comments Guidelines

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 …


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  1. MrJP

    Yesssssssssssssssssssss... comments are automatically posted. GET't it?

    1. This post has been deleted by its author

  2. Northern Fop


    I am a COMMENTARD, and will accept no alternative!!

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Being Shilly

    "7. That person who doesn't hate the company you hate... they're not a corporate shill."

    Yes I am!

    - Corporate Shill

    1. mamsey

      You're not a shill...

      ...round here you're just an Anonymous Coward.

    2. The Cube

      What about the astroturf then?

      Whilst I appreciate the issue that some people like Microsoft and others prefer Fruity tin and you don't want fanboy flame wars (that is what ZDnet is for) you cannot be seriously trying to say that there is no astroturf on el Reg?

      I have read (and commented on) quite a few articles which look suspiciously like the stuff that my corporate PR agency pay "journalists" to write and then pimp round various outlets. These are very easy to spot once you are familiar with the method, they talk about a technology or a product category without any reasonable balance and in entirely credulous and uncritical terms (thinking of a particular article on retail payment tech here). The article will only obliquely name the sponsor, if at all, but will clearly be trying to create the impression that the sponsor's product or service is meeting a deeply important and necessary need and should be welcomed with open arms.

      As for the infestation of "corporate reputation management" slime in the comments, it is well above zero and we all know this, when will el-Reg face up to this obvious reality and provide an astroturf icon for these posters to be clearly labelled with, tis easy, just add to the Vote Up / Vote Down a "Vote Astroturf" option then it takes a reasonable number of people rather than just one basement dwelling fanboy...

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: What about the astroturf then?

        Our five per three month rule catches 99 per cent of spammers, shillers and astroturfers. Very occasionally people report someone who is an astro-turfer - we zap their account. But most imputations of bad faith are made by commentards with their own fanboi axe to grind.

        As for The Register - we published 13000 articles and produced a couple of dozen sponsored webcasts in 2011. We try very hard to make all our content editorially valuable. If we fail, you guys let us know via the comments pages.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          ninety-nine percent, matey

          Did you just make those numbers up, or did you actually run them? Since you're sitting on the data, you might as well grace us with actual statistics.

          On that note, I was wondering what the new policy would entail. I've learned to (mostly) write things that don't get zapped in the meantime, but I've had things rejected a few times too. It sounds a bit more lenient than pre-moderation of everything, but is it? Would, say, this account have survived? Just out of curiosity of a habitual double-checker, mind.

          Oh and I do recall a couple times where I really have no clue what was so offensive. Have you added a way to actually attach a note to the rejection pointing out what was wrong? As in, occasionally it's useful and even just a single line ("rejected by moderator because..." for the case where there is a note) would document the reason right with the comment. I can't quite be arsed to go out of my way to write something worthy of rejection to find out, but it would be a useful feature. In fact, I consider it a bit overdue.

  4. Forget It
    IT Angle

    Guideline #5 says: 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.

    But as far as I can see there is no way to link to any website - no html - or am i missing something?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Linkage ...

      First of all - we don't want html links in text form. Secondly, with our user forum trials we are playing with website links as well as some sophisticated html formatting.

      1. jake Silver badge

        Clarification, please.

        No HTML links in text form? So, for example this isn't allowed:

        Am I reading that right? Not trolling, serious question.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Clarification, please.

          No - it means no html links in text form to porn sites, copyright breaking sites, sites with malware, and so on.

    2. Paul

      only good links to the best free pr0n

      so long as it's free-range organic pr0n without advertising pop-ups and pop-unders and uninfected flash movie players, there's no problem :-)

      1. Graham Bartlett

        Free-range?! What about those of us who like our pr0n involving tying up? That's discrimination, that is! And I'll be over to give you a damn good hiding, just as soon as I'm let out of these handcuffs...

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    This way for user forum testing

    You are all welcome to try out our new user forums, currently lurking here. Navigation to come RSN.

  6. Jaruzel

    First Post... Not.

    Now that comments auto post, can we at least have a a policy to auto ban anyone who does a pointes 'First Post!' type post on articles ?

  7. DrXym Silver badge

    No trolling

    Does that apply to articles as well?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


    2. Select * From Handle
      Thumb Up

      Re: No trolling

      HAHAHA that made my day.

  8. technohead95
    Thumb Up

    This is great news, finally comments will be visible much more quickly (for most people anyway).

  9. BristolBachelor Gold badge

    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? :)

    1. Anonymous IV

      Will ALL articles now become on-commentable?

      Even those written by the initially-alphabetic author? You know who I mean...

      It would produce a level playing-field.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Some articles will never be commentable e.g. a report of an ongoing criminal case in the UK.

        Some articles will have comments switched off if the debate gets out of hand e.g. a flamewar

        Some articles may be pre-moderated from get-go, although we do not do this at the moment e.g. a report of an ongoing criminal case in the UK. And - this is what you are getting at - articles which many commentards use as platforms for ad homs against the authors.

        I will not countenance anyone attacking our staff. It really is very simple - kick the ball not the player.

        1. Anonymous IV


          "And - this is what you are getting at - articles which many commentards use as platforms for ad homs against the authors.

          I will not countenance anyone attacking our staff. It really is very simple - kick the ball not the player."

          Not at all - I have no real idea why this author has chosen to go non-commentable. It's just a noticeable difference from all the other authors.

          For heaven's sake, he can't be ALL bad, for he likes Verity Stob!

        2. mhenriday

          The present policy seems eminently reasonable

          and from my limited perspective, seems to be working well. But Drew, will your excellent admonition to «kick the ball not the player» apply not only to us lay commentators, but also to members of the staff ? I do not think it would be difficult to find instances in which certain article authors (nota bene, by no means a majority of Reg contributors) missed the ball rather badly and, it could reasonably be argued, with malice aforethought....


          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            if you or other readers see this happening ping me and if I think you are right I will escalate it.

            1. PT

              Consider this a ping. Comments Andrew disagrees with just never appear.

      2. irish donkey

        Would you be referring to articles which are usually pro-copyright enforcement

        Trying to decrypt your message 'initially-alphabetic author' . hmmmm

        Aardvark? or maybe .... Adrian.... Alan...... Andrea.... nope can't think or any more names starting with A or an O for that matter.

        And certainly not one that soap boxes about squeezes every penny out of its customers.

        There was an interesting article on the BBC which said that British Film took £1billion last year or something like that. Guess that doesn't fit with the agenda of the media industry being on its knee's due to downloading.

  10. Anonymous Coward


    Maybe posting under my real name isn't such a great idea, then.

  11. jake Silver badge

    "The first group includes people who have previously had comments removed"

    Assuming that plural means "two or more comments removed" (that would be me :-) ... Logically, the longer a poster continues to "contribute to the lively nature" of this forum, the more likely he or she is to have a comment(s) removed, for whatever reason. In other words, most folks who have been here for several years aren't self moderated.

    Hardly seems like a logical approach (I'd pick a percentage, personally), but it's your forum. Your rules. Carry on, all :-)

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      For the avoidance of doubt, have updated the house rules to say "offensive or libellous comments".

      1. jake Silver badge

        Re: Drewc

        Define offensive. Ta.

        (This beer's on me ... and note that THAT is considered offensive in much of the world.)

    2. jake Silver badge

      I hate replying to myself ...

      ... but going back on the last several years of my posts, it looks like I have had roughly one out of 75 nixed (rejected) [mostly capriciously, which I have no problem with, I see that as more the nixer's issue than mine], and maybe one out of 2000 "removed from view" after being allowed by another moderator.

      I also see a couple of my posts that were nixed, then allowed, then nixed, and then allowed again ... where does that stand in the great scheme of things? At one point, I asked Sarah Bee in email if moderators moderating immoderately was copacetic. She emailed me back with one word ... "blush".

      Note that I personally don't give a rat's ass if I'm self moderated or not ... If all y'all at ElReg feel a need to read my commentardary before the rest of the planet has a go at me, I'm cool with it. But I do wonder if ElReg is perhaps spending time & money moderating folks who don't really need moderation.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Reviewing "flagged" commenters"

        In the previous iteration of our modding system, moderators had to deal with well over 1000 comments a day.

        To help them do this, some commentards were flagged - sometimes because they were libellous, sometimes because they were indulging in vicious ad homs against other commentards, or maybe because they are xenophobic, homophobic, misogynistic or racist. But mostly because they were directing barrages of fanboi insults, usually anonymously.

        However, many commentards were flagged simply so to alert the mods to read their posts more carefully. Maybe there were overly rude a few times, maybe they were involved a flame war or two. Maybe the moderator was having a bad day.

        I am unflagging this category of commentard.

        Also we are considering fine-tuning "flagging" e.g. letting commentards know that they have been flagged for pre-moderation, why they have been flagged and telling them how long they will be flagged.

        1. Peter Gathercole Silver badge

          At last

          Does this mean that we may get some feedback about why some comments are deemed unpublishable.

          I had a long exchange with Sarah on the last comments rule article about wanting to be told why some comments were rejected. I try to self moderate, but I do have comments rejected on an infrequent basis.

          I know that what you have said here is not quite that, but it's a step in the right direction IMHO.

          I miss Sarah. It's just not the same trying to bait the rest of you to jump into a comment trail!

          1. jake Silver badge

            @Peter Gathercole

            Sarah talked with some of us. Sarah isn't here anymore. This is ElReg's forum, not Sarah's, so ElReg's rules apply. I'm only in this thread to figure out what "the 2012 rules" really mean, on a day to day basis. My gut feeling for folks like you & I is to be yourself. It's always worked, why change it?

            Yes, feedback on nixed posts would be nice. But it's hardly necessary.

            1. Peter Gathercole Silver badge

              I feel the registers forums have lost something

              I just wanted to point out that I had a visible (on the forums) conversation with the The Register's then most celebrated moderator about having the reason for comments being rejected made known. What has been detailed in the new rules may go some way to getting what I asked for. IIRC, Drew was also in on the exchange, which should still be visible.

              I didn't have to mention The Moderatrix's name, but I wanted to express my continued feeling of loss of the witty banter that typified us the commentard's collective exchanges with her.

  12. dansus

    Mod What?

    Am i one of the lucky 95%? Lets see..

  13. Bela Lubkin

    5 posts per 3 months

    I don't post that often, I guess I'll be throttled. Meh.

  14. Bela Lubkin

    One could game the system

    by posting a stream of inoffensive low level drivel, just to keep above the 5-per-3-mo line.

    Some random questions along those lines:

    - If you post AC and it's accepted, does that accrue to your account's total?

    - If you post AC and it's accepted, then flagged/reported by a bunch of users and eventually removed, does *that* come out of your account's hide?

    - Finally, if you have posted several messages before the moderator got to any of them; and one of those causes you to reach the 5-per-3 threshold, do the rest of your queued posts suddenly self-moderate?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: One could game the system

      5 per 3 is an admittedly arbitrary line in the sand - which we drew while figuring out this stuff. It is easy for us to change and we may change this.

      We considered percentages, but that does not account for the otherwise sensible person who comes out with occasional libellous or homophobic diatribe, say.

      When "flagging" or accepting a commentard, we - the staff moderators -do not distinguish between anonymous and handle posts.

      Yes - the queued posts self moderate if one causes you to reach the 5-per-3 threshold. We will review this if spammers try to game it.

      1. jake Silver badge

        Gaming's easy.

        The trick is gaming it in your own favo(u)r ... All y'all have details on us commentards. The question is, which of us are most cost-effective in the great scheme of things? (I'm probably more a hindrance than a help ... I can live with that ;-)

        Agree that percentages aren't the only answer ... Individual posting history should be a factor. And ALL of us are guilty of getting nasty, occasionally. That shouldn't be a deal-breaker in an ASCII-only forum ... unless it's a consistent thingy with any particular commentard.

        Note that most habitual ACs don't know what an IP address is ;-)

        5-3 threshold ... Gut feeling is that those numbers won't work in the real world. Probably a better way to handle it is to start self-moderation after a couple-three dozen moderator approved posts, without any nixes.

        Not my forum, I don't make the rules. But I do have opinions.

      2. Brangdon

        5 per 3 sounds like it will punish people like me who don't post very often. I would prefer if, once 5 posts have been accepted, we're considered OK until we do something wrong. Penalising newbies should only be done to reduce spamming. Once I've established I'm not a spammer, I shouldn't have to suffer. Ironically, if I have to make extra posts to maintain my non-spammer status, those posts are less likely to be worth reading compared to posts where I actually have something to say..

        I suppose changing it to 5 per 12 would do almost as well. I have about 23 posts in 2011, so I'm above 5 per 3 on average, but it'd be easy for me to slip below.

        I have no idea what my posting history is like over that period. You might consider adding something about it to the "My Account" pages.

      3. Bela Lubkin


        I wasn't asking how the moderators handle anon posts, but how the scoring system does.

        When an anon post is accepted, rejected, or removed after acceptance, that's a scoring action that *could* accrue to the actual commentard account that created the post. If the database keeps track of that, etc.

        Or anon posts could be truly anon (at least in that regard), i.e. their ownership could be completely whitewashed as soon as they were injected into the review queue, leaving no way for the system to accrue the score.

        I guess for liability reasons, if nothing else, you probably need to hold onto who posted what, even anonymously. So I'll venture a guess that anon posts do accrue to your score...?

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Anon scoring

          You venture correctly

      4. Bela Lubkin


        [I thought I posted this but can't find it in either the forum or "my posts"... going senile...]

        I wasn't asking about how moderators handle anon posts, but whether the <i>system</i> retains knowledge about who posted each anon post and whether the resulting scores accrue to the real poster. Then I decided you probably had to retain authorship information for various legal reasons; and it really would make sense to charge people for their anonymous misbehavior. So I probably answered my own question, but still seek confirmation.

        Plus I get to check myself for HTML Super Powers...

  15. Bela Lubkin


    Seems like it should be more sophisticated than that. I seem to have posted 57 times since April 2007, so that's what, 58 months, almost exactly one a month. Sporadically, of course.

    You should either have a "lifetime achievement flag", or do it in terms of good:bad ratio over the commentard's entire posting life span.

    Hmph. Commentard (and hmph) not in Opera's dictionary.

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Please let AC's

    choose their own icons.

    1. Jaruzel


      You choose to be anonymous. By definition you don't have an identity.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        So by that logic...

        ... the icon is not about the comment, it's about you, then?

        Personally I don't have a problem with figuring out who's AC and who isn't regardless of icon. In fact, plenty of posts I've made AC and without any icon on purpose. If the icon was an avatar then forcing the icon would make sense, but in this system, not so much.


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