Blog Policy

Gleaner Online – Community standards and participation guidelines for blogs and forums

The Gleaner Online (GOL) provides a growing number of opportunities for people to interact with each other around content published on our site, as well as in more general contexts. These areas include discussions related to specific blog posts as well as our forums.

Our aim is to ensure that this community is inclusive and safe, as well as being a platform for vibrant discussion. We want the Gleaner Online to be the place on the net where you will always find lively, entertaining and, above all, intelligent discussions.

There are 10 guidelines we would like you to be aware of, and which we expect all participants in the community areas of GOL to abide by:

1. We welcome hearty debate and dissent, but the key to maintaining GOL as an inviting space is focusing on intelligent, insightful and passionate discussion of issues.

2. Please respect other people’s views and beliefs and consider their impact when making your contribution. We understand that people often feel strongly about things, but we will consider removing any content that other users might find extremely offensive or threatening. We actively discourage obscenity and mindless abuse. Personal attacks on other users or authors have no place in an intelligent discussion.

3. We will not tolerate racism, sexism, homophobia or other forms of hate-speech, or content that could be interpreted as such. We recognise the difference between criticising a particular government, organisation, community or belief and attacking people on the basis of their race, religion, gender or sexual orientation.

4. We appreciate that we have an international audience, but since we publish content in English, the language of conversation on the site should also be English. As such, contributions that cannot be understood by the majority of participants may be removed.

5. We will remove any content that may put us in legal jeopardy, such as potentially libellous or defamatory postings, or which is posted in potential breach of copyright.

6. We will remove any posts that are obviously commercial or otherwise spam-like. Our aim is that GOL should provide a space for people to interact with our content and each other, and we frown on commercial entities passing themselves off as individuals. There are technology features in place, which can help to identify spam in content or delivery form and prevent it from being published on the site, but some may slip through.

7. Think before you press the publish button. Remember that this is a public forum, and your words will be archived on this site and available for anyone to find for a long time – the web has a very long memory.

8. Keep it relevant. The vast majority of conversations on GOL relate to a specific blog post or topic within a forum. We know that some conversations can be wide-ranging, but if you post something, which is completely unrelated to the original topic, then it may be removed, in order to keep the thread on track.

9. The platform is ours, but the conversation belongs to everybody. We want this to be a welcoming space for intelligent discussion, and we expect participants to help us achieve this by notifying us of potential problems and helping each other to keep conversations inviting and intelligent.

10. And remember … Text isn’t always a great medium for conversation. Remember that tone of voice – sarcasm, humour and so on – doesn’t always come across when using words on a screen. Be aware that you may be misunderstood, so try to be clear about what you are saying, and expect that people may understand your contribution differently than you intended.

In short, if you act with maturity and consideration for other users, you should have no problems.

Remember that by registering for GOL you have also agreed to our terms and conditions. These guidelines may change – so please bookmark this page and check back frequently.

Our community management teams are empowered to help create and maintain a healthy and positive environment. Above all, we reserve the right to take steps or implement measures, which we think, will benefit the whole community of GOL participants.

Interaction with users

In addition to the above, there are seven main ways the community management team interacts with people participating in conversations within the GOL service.

1. We deal with problems, as we are made aware of them. Please use to send a message to the moderation team to notify about a potential problem. We urge our communities to use this feature to make us aware of issues, which may go against our community participation guidelines (e.g. something offensive, or a personal attack on another user). When we share the responsibility for maintaining an appropriate environment, by getting users to notify us about problems, everyone benefits.

2. We will, when necessary, remove some postings or comments from our bulletin boards, articles, and blog posts. If a contribution to GOL is perceived as breaching the community guidelines set out above, then it will be moderated. We hope this doesn’t seem heavy-handed, and to be honest we don’t like doing it, but we believe it is the best way to keep the tone of the Gleaner Online right for the vast majority of the people who visit.

3. When only part of a post or comment is causing an issue, we will very occasionally remove the troublesome chunk while leaving the rest of the comment or post intact. We will never edit a post to change the meaning, spelling, or anything else intended by the user. We will only do this if removing the whole comment would seem heavy-handed, and when we do, the moderator will leave a marker to show that something has been removed.

4. Sometimes, when a comment or post is removed, it is necessary to delete subsequent messages, which refer to explicitly or quote from the original (deleted) comment, in order to preserve some notion of conversational thread. This may also happen because a later comment quotes directly the problematic bits of the original comment, which just perpetuates the problem.

5. When a comment or forum discussion gets extremely long, a moderator may leave a warning in the thread and suggest that the conversation be restarted elsewhere where possible. This is because long threads slow the system down for everyone. We may also do this when conversations stray wildly off-track. Shortly after the posted warning, the thread may be closed and/or deleted. Long discussions or messages will be removed at the editor’s discretion.

6. Participants who seriously, persistently or wilfully ignore the community standards, participation guidelines or terms and conditions will have their posting privileges for all GOL community areas withdrawn. This is not an action that we take lightly, or arbitrarily. However, we are aiming to create and maintain an online experience in line with Gleaner Online values, and we reserve the right to make decisions, which we feel support that.

7. Moderation is more than just dealing with problems. Sometimes we’ll join a comment thread or forum topic to help focus (or refocus) the discussion, or to get people talking.

In short, our overarching aim is never to curtail conversation, but to create and maintain a pleasant and welcoming environment for everyone.

If you have suggestions or questions about any aspect of community participation on the Gleaner Online, you can write to

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anthonyf Posted by: anthonyf August 4, 2008 at 9:07 pm