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Comments and commenter accounts are maintained at the sole discretion of Raw Story, its employees, contractors, freelancers and designated agents (hereafter referred to as “Raw Story”). Comments may be deleted and/or commenter accounts suspended at the sole discretion of Raw Story without notice. By commenting on the site, you are agreeing to these terms of service.

Commenting guidelines:

Raw Story appreciates and values the community that comment boards build, and uses moderation to make these discussions more productive for all who participate. But in order to maintain a productive community, our moderators generally hew to the following guidelines and we encourage commenters who wish to remain a part of this vibrant community to do so as well.

1. Abusive language. Almost everyone (including the editors of Raw Story) loves profanity, and the creative use thereof. But when profanity or other inappropriate language is used towards other people, it can either start non-productive arguments or silence another commenter. Any comments deemed abusive towards other commenters will be deleted and commenters who continue to engage in this behavior will find their accounts suspended.

2. Advocacy or threats of violence. Any comment that threatens violence against others (commenters or subjects of stories) or advocates that someone be subjected to violence (including that they should do violence unto themselves) will be removed. Commenters that continue to engage in this behavior will have their accounts suspended.

3. Ad hominem insults. If your sole contribution to a discussion is to insult the participants in it, your comments will be removed and your account suspended. It’s both unproductive and uninteresting.

4. Racism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia, xenophobia, anti-Semitism. If your comments contain any of these things or other slurs similar to these, your comments will be removed and your account immediately suspended. This includes comments that smack of veiled slurs (dog whistles) as determined at the discretion of Raw Story — but note that we work on the Internet, and we quite likely know exactly what your “subtle phrasing” means.

5. Attacks on editors, writers, staff, moderators and management. Our staff is no less subject to criticism than those we write about — but there’s a pretty large gulf between criticism and attack. Abusive language, attempts to bully (in comment threads or in any platform, including email and social media) or ad hominem insults aimed at those who work for Raw Story will not be tolerated and will result in the immediate suspension of comment accounts and/or the deletion of comments. If you have a specific disagreement with a piece of information, have more information on a story that is in a piece or noticed a typo, spelling error or grammatical error that made it through our editing process, a polite email to tips@rawstory.com will be forwarded to the appropriate staff member for review.

6. Anything else our moderators, staff or freelancers deem disruptive. We wish this could be a comprehensive list, but we’ve been on the Internet long enough to know that there will always be someone who can some up with some offensive thing we haven’t thought of before. A good rule of thumb is that if you are writing it to piss someone off, stop. If you are trying to trump something offensive someone else said, stop. If the other person “insulted you first,” stop and flag their comment for a moderator and/or email tips@rawstory.com instead of replying with another insult. If the Secret Service would be asking us for your ISP address if they read it, stop. If a little voice in your head says, “The moderators might challenge this,” listen to that voice before submitting the comment.

But we’re not all mean. If your comment account is suspended, we will offer a process for appeal. A suspended commenter can send a polite email to tips@rawstory.com explaining that his/her commenter account has been suspended and s/he’d like to come back to the community, and will receive a response that the suspension is under review. There is a 3-day mandatory cooling off period during which our staff and/or moderators will determine why the account was suspended and whether, in their judgment, it warrants further review. During that cooling off period, the suspended commenter will be told, if s/he doesn’t know, what sparked the suspension. If s/he wishes to return as a commenter, s/he must then acknowledge in the email that they violated our comment guidelines, understand it was inappropriate and pledge not to do so in the future.

Note, however, that abusive, bullying or inappropriate emails or interactions on social media sites will end the review process. Each commenter may receive one review; if the account is suspended again, the decision is final.

Written by | Roxanne Cooper

Roxanne Cooper is the publisher of Raw Story. She has 20+ years experience in media management, marketing, and advertising and has held positions with AlterNet, the Association of Alternative Newsweeklies, LA Weekly, San Francisco Bay Guardian, and Stars & Stripes. From 2004-2008, Roxanne published the popular political blog Rox Populi. She lives in San Francisco and you can follow her on Twitter at @AlterRox.

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