comment posting rules and guidelines

citizenJoe gets school marmy

In the spirit of open dialogue – and after some soul-searching exchanges with readers, cJ thought it might be high time to come up with some guidelines (okay, rules) for our comments section.

Frankly, we’re a little conflicted in doing so – we like our readers to say whatever’s on their minds, yet we know that some kind of comments can shut dialogue down or send it veering onto endless trajectories. So we drafted some guidelines that will hopefully help to keep the conversation going.

At the same time – as with everything else on cJ – these rules are a work in progress, so if you think our guidelines need a little guidance, um, tell us how you'd switch them up. Thanks!

The rules

  • Be nice

As people who are passionate about policy, we know it’s sometimes easy – and fun! - to get high-horsey, blustery, patronizing and even (just once in a while) a touch nasty when expressing ones views. But we also know that’s the best way end a thoughtful and enlightening conversation, so please don’t do it here. Instead, just be nice.

Comments that disparage other readers’ intelligence, question their honesty or are just generally more about the commenter than the comment will be removed by cJ’s editors.

  • Be you

That is, add your thoughts on the conversation – but please don’t post articles or lengthy excerpts that others or you have written and posted elsewhere on the net. If you think our readers should check out an article, a summary and link will do!

If, instead, you do post an article, our editors will do the summarizing and linking – if not deleting – for you.

  • Stick to the message, not the messenger

We hope our users guide us and other readers to more facts and a better understanding of policies and the issues. While we think information about the people and organizations who promote certain viewpoints and policies (politicians, advocacy groups, think tanks, etc.) is valuable, we ask our readers to steer clear of talking about the messengers and stick to the message. Why? Simply because those kinds of conversations tend to get messy and don’t really lead toward a better understanding of policy problems and solutions.

But, we know some will object, if you post facts from an organization that has an agenda or is supported by groups that have a political axe to grind, your readers should know that fact should not be trusted. True – but that’s true for every fact, since there’s no group or individual that agenda-free. Yes, some groups are deeper in bed with special interests than others and some are more apt to color the facts, but the best cJ can do is try to give as wide a breadth of information, facts and viewpoints as we can – and let each reader determine who they trust.

For readers who are interested in delving into discussion about the ulterior motives of organizations and individuals, we have two suggestions: check out and participate in one of the many sites where that’s the specialty - opensecrets, sourcewatch - or post a comment on our new “Who do you trust?” page.

Comments that focus on the messengers and not the message will not be removed, but will be moved to cJ’s “Who do you trust?” page.

  • The obvious stuff.

It goes without saying the usual bad stuff – spam, lewd and offensive comments, etc. – will also be removed.