NewsWorks seeks to be an oasis for lively, smart, civil discussion of issues and events. That's why we've set these guidelines for the NewsWorks on-line community. And it's why we've built in a number of incentives for people to honor the guidelines.
But in the end, a community works only to the degree that its members put in the effort to make it work. No high-traffic, public Web site can absolutely prevent trolls and flamers from doing what they do; we can't absolutely guarantee that an unseemly digital fight will never break out.
We can only do what we can, and we are committed to the innovative system of incentives and disincentives outlined below. With the help of the bulk of you who want the NewsWorks on-line community to become that oasis, we can build something valuable.
Now, here's how the lawyers put it, in the necessary language:
Next, for the guidelines:
If You Can’t Be PoIite, Don’t Say It
WHYY in no way wishes to stifle discussion of controversial issues and does not expect all users to agree with one another or with WHYY/NewsWorks staff. Debate is fine; it is expected. But let us all try to disagree without being disagreeable. That way, even in argument, we can learn from one another. Remarks should be focused on positions, not personalities – no personal attacks, name calling, libel, defamation, hate speech, etc. If you disagree with someone, it is so much more powerful to explain why you do, based on your values and experiences, than to simply sling insults. And under no circumstances should anything be posted that could be construed by reasonable people as threatening, harassing, bullying, obscene, pornographic, sexist or racist.
Don’t Use Obscenities
Even if a particular word is often used in conversation, these are public forums and we want everyone to feel comfortable participating.
Anything You Post Should Be Your Own Work
It is a very good thing to link to relevant content and to information you believe supports your post. We encourage you to do that; it makes a far more persuasive argument than when someone asserts facts with no backup. But we have to insist that you observe the rules of copyright and fair use: you may quote only limited excerpts from other people’s work, with attribution. If you want to point to something beyond an excerpt, provide a link. Do not copy and paste another person's work in its entirety.
Please Stay On Topic, Be Clear and Concise
Please limit your comments to those that are relevant to the topic being discussed and to no more than a few paragraphs. WHYY reserves the right to edit for brevity, clarity, and other purposes.
Please Respect People’s Privacy
While it is interesting to learn about new individuals, please do not share another’s contact information through WHYY’s discussion threads or social networking features.
This Is Not A Place For Advertising, Promotion, Recruiting, Campaigning, Lobbying, Soliciting, Or Proselytizing
Feel free to share your ideas and experiences about religion, politics, or other issues, as well as your views about relevant products or services. There is a fine line between discussing and campaigning, though. Please use your best judgment.
What We’re Doing to Encourage a Civil Space
First off, only registered users are allowed to comment or post content on NewsWorks. Second, you are invited to rate user-generated content via a five-star rating system. Third, all comment strings enable you as the user to also give an individual comment either a thumbs-up, or thumbs-down rating. This is one way to let trolls or flamers know that the community does not appreciate what they are doing. Fourth, the Ben Bucks/Ben's Ladder rewards systems will (some time soon, we hope) award Ben Bucks to people who get net positive ratings on their comments. And a person who is reported to NewsWorks for an abusive post will lose Bucks, big-time. Finally, the commenting system allows you as the user to customize your view of comments in a string: you can choose to view only positively rated comments, or only comments with positive or neutral (mixed) ratings. In either of those settings, the system "collapses" negatively rated comments, so that you see only the subject line, but not the full text.
We encourage you to make full use of these features to reward people who contribute to meaningful, civil discussion, and to discourage those who do not.
So, Do Not Feed The Trolls
We encourage users to report abuse by trolls, the people who seek only to foment and insult. A substantiated report earns you Ben Bucks. But we ask that you not engage with trolls in the comment threads. This only encourages them.
While news tips from the public are welcome, NewsWorks/WHYY reserves the right not to publicize rumors, allegations, conspiracy information or other information we believe to be false or unsubstantiated. Also, don’t post anything on the Websites posing as someone else.
Public Forums Are Not For Individual Communications
Most stories and forums here have a link for sending individual messages to a staff reporter, blogger or host.
You Are Solely Responsible For The Content You Post
WHYY is not responsible for the content posted by users. We do not and cannot review all user content posted on the WHYY Websites. However, we do have the right, but not the obligation, to review, screen, delete, and/or move any content posted on the Website.