This page owes a large debt to the comment guidelines for U.S.S. Mariner.
As of December 2012, STB has received almost 170,000 non-spam comments, or about 38 per post. A vibrant and intelligent comment thread separates STB from most other local websites, and the contributions of commenters are highly valued.
Comments on the comment policy, and complaints/questions about particular moderation instances, can be directed to firstname.lastname@example.org.
What will get a comment deleted or edited
- It’s spam. Obviously. If your comment gets caught in our spam filter (by, for instance, having more than 10 links), it may not show up until a human being has looked at it. If your comments don’t show up that’s almost certainly the problem, and don’t hesitate to email us.
- Thread hijacking. This has become an increasing problem, and we’re going to put a stop to it. Keep the discussion relevant to the subject of the post, unless it’s an “open thread.” If you would like to start a conversation on a different topic and can’t wait for an open thread, send us an email and if it’s transit/land use related, we’re likely to oblige, as long as it’s on topic and one of us has the time.
- Ad hominem attacks. If you spoke your comment at a meet-up, would it get you punched in the face, then or afterwards? Attack ideas; don’t question people’s motives or call them names. It should go without saying that attacks based on race, age, sex, orientation, etc are unacceptable.
- Impersonation. Don’t pretend to be a person you aren’t. Obviously our ability to detect this is somewhat limited, but if we receive evidence of it we’ll come down hard. On a related note, please refrain from picking a name that has been “claimed” by a regular commenter. In fact, first-name-only tags make it much harder to remember who you are, unless it’s a relatively unusual name.
- Sock puppetry. Stick to one alias. If you create an army of nicknames to create the illusion your cause is more popular than it is, you’ll be moderated.
- Posting personal information (addresses, etc.) about a blogger, commenter, or public figure.
- Sexually explicit or violent material. The occasional curse word is tolerated but frowned upon, and may be deleted if the comment has no additional content. Reference to violent incidents on transit and in traffic do not fall under this rule.
- Whining about the comment policy in a thread that isn’t about the comment policy. Similarly, being a comment vigilante ready to denounce others for misbehavior will get the comment deleted for being off-topic.
- Copyrighted material. Posting entire articles, etc, beyond reasonable fair-use criteria is prohibited.
- Embedded video and other bandwidth intensive items.
- You’ve been banned. We ban commenters after a sustained record of abusive comments; deliberate, premeditated contradiction of the comment policy; and a warning sent to the provided email address.
What a deleted / edited comment looks like
Spam and banned commenters will just disappear, but other deleted comments will be replaced with text in brackets (eg, [deleted, off-topic]). If there’s solid substance in the comment, only the offending portion might be deleted.
Comments that deliberately spoof this syntax will be edited or deleted.
Arbitrary, Capricious Moderation
The three people with moderation powers (Martin H. Duke, Matt Johnson, and the author of the post) reserve the right to be inconsistent in our application of these standards. In particular, we’d like to begin with a light touch. We’d be less inclined to delete attacks on someone who’d been doing a lot of attacking, and attacks on one of the regular contributors.
Our intent is to not evaluate comments based on their ideological content.
Don’t Feed the Trolls
There are a few regular commenters who annoy their peers by taking absurdist positions, setting up straw men, and not engaging in good faith discussion. While we don’t encourage such behavior, in general it’s permitted here. If you disapprove of one of these commenters, the best approach is to simply ignore the comment. This is well-established internet practice and will save you the time of an unproductive conversation.
Valid E-mail Addresses
We don’t really care if the email address you use to post comments is valid or not. We consider the email information confidential and will not share it with outsiders unless you grant permission or it is required by law. However, if you use a valid address it will be easier for us to verify that someone has hijacked your alias. Secondly, on extremely rare occasions we’ve directly emailed commenters with special, private offers. In the cases that those people have used invalid or secondary email addresses they’ve been sorry to miss the time-sensitive offers those messages contained.