Unlike the Wild West of most of the Internet, we have a very strict comment policy on the Southwest Florida website. If you’re an asshole, you’ll be banned. Sorry, assholes!
That, most important, statement out of the way, here’s more you should know whether you’re a regular commenter or new to the site.
If your comment does not immediately appear on the site after posting, it may have been flagged for review. There are a number of things which will get your comment flagged for review, we ask that you please keep that in mind before resubmitting the comment multiple times or contacting us about it.
Use of any of the curse words and/or slurs we have on our blacklist will automatically flag a comment so it won’t appear on our site. Sometimes these words are used as part of a good discussion, these comments will be approved by a moderator when appropriate.
Using a Disqus account without a verified email address will automatically flag a comment.
Fluctuations in the space time continuum. Sometimes things just get auto-flagged and we don’t know why.
Comments can also be flagged for review by our readership (please do not abuse this option for other users you simply disagree with, it makes our moderation jobs a lot harder).
Here are some things which will get your comment deleted.
Personal attacks against another commenter or the writer of the post/website. This can run from name calling to sentences which include the words “people like you” or statements which begin “I bet you” or “you must/probably” etc. This is regardless of what “side” you’re on.
Jokes or aggressive negative comments on the aesthetic appearance of a person (commenters, writers, and folks mentioned in an article alike).
Hate speech or other clearly intentional jerk behavior. This includes, but is not limited to: the use of the word feminazi or a comments which denigrates women, feminism or feminists, the LGBTQ community; broad imprecations or assumptions based on race; and anything that amounts to “ugh the gays,” “ugh liberals,” “ugh, fangirls,” etc.
Here are some things which will get your account banned.
Engaging in any of the previously mentioned delete-worthy behaviors consistently and as part of a clear pattern OR presenting a particularly egregious example of one of those behaviors as a first comment (New to the site? Stopped by just to say something horrible? We don’t need you here.) We normally give one warning to a user before banning unless a pattern of behavior is clear. However, if a user commits one of these behaviors as their very first comment, we’ll skip that step. Disqus grants us the ability to see a commenter’s patterns of behavior on other Disqus-enabled sites as well, and we do not hesitate to consider behavior on other sites when determining whether to ban.
Hate reading. If your history of commenting on the Southwest Florida website makes it seem like you only visit the site to start fights or specifically to disagree with us whenever we publish a post involving our core themes and for no other reason, we will ban you. Conversely, if you feel the site has changed in a drastic way and no longer appreciate or respect our content but stick around to tell us that every day, we’ll also take that as hate reading. Feel free to keep hate reading, but you’ll not be able to hate comment any more.
It is at the editors’ discretion to ban anyone whom they determine to be a detriment to the atmosphere of the comments section, the site in general, and our regular readers.
There will be some who look at these rules and think that the moderators of the Southwest Florida website have too much power to shut down conversations. We have two responses to this.
First: It’s our site, we get to make the rules. We’re not taking away your freedom of speech by deleting/banning you. You can take your anger elsewhere, we don’t want it.
We try to treat our comment section like a series of dinner parties, where our job as hosts is to foster interesting, free discussion for all our guests, not just the loudest, most assertive, scariest ones. You can be a poor conversationalist, present a different viewpoint, or talk loudly and brashly. But if you threaten, annoy, derail, or in other ways spoil the atmosphere of discussion for others, we reserve the right to not invite you back next time. If that principle is too restrictive for you, there are many other sites out there that share our coverage and have more liberal commenting rules.
Second: We ask everybody who comes to the Southwest Florida website to remember that conversations require listening as well as speaking. And we are firm believers in the fact that banning a commenter only prevents them from speaking, not from listening.
For those who agree with these rules, please keep in mind that we are only human. We are not sleepless technodroids, fueled by the radiation of the miniature universes housed within our quantmantium frames. If you see a comment which violates these rules, the most helpful thing you can do is to flag it, rather than commenting about how poorly moderated the thread or post is or contacting us through social media or email to that effect.
A note to our regular readers:
We love you! The Southwest Florida website wouldn’t be what it is without your awesome support. As we mentioned above, flagging comments which violate our policy is a great help but please take this responsibility seriously. Flagging a user who isn’t really causing trouble but who you personally feel is just being obtuse is not a good use of this power. Also, engaging with users who are clearly trolls may be fun for some of you but causes us larger headaches (especially with overly large threads). Flag and move on.
If you’re having a disagreement with another user and your replies have gone into the double digits, consider stepping back from the computer for a while. We love discussion but we don’t want users running themselves ragged trying to convince someone else online they’re wrong.