Mark Blumenthal | March 17, 2008
As of today, in order to post a comment on Pollster.com, we are requiring that you log-in with a Typekey identity and that you set your Typekey preferences to share your email address with us. I posted on Saturday that this change was coming. Here are some additional details on why we are making this change and about our comment policy going forward.
First, we are requiring that you share your authenticated email address because of repeated complaints from our most loyal readers about an epidemic of abusive comments and "sock puppetry." Unfortunately, those problems have worsened significantly in recent days. We promise that (a) we will not display your email address in any form when you post, (b) we will never share your email address with anyone without your explicit permission and (c) we will not SPAM you with unsolicited mass mail (though we might want to send a personal thank-you or query on occasion).
Second, for those unfamiliar, Typekey is a free, third-party system that allows you to create a unique username. The registration is fairly painless -- you just need to be a real person (not a SPAM "bot") and leave a working email address with Typekey that can be used to validate your account. If you wish to remain anonymous, you can use a pseudonym when you comment.
Third, we consider it important to maintain a largely unmoderated comments section that allows for dissenting views and debate over the topics of interest raised by each post. Our one primary rule is that commenters keep the dialogue civil. As such, we will not hesitate to delete comments that we consider abusive, profane, hateful or racially, ethnically or otherwise objectionable, and as we deem warranted, ban the commenters that post them. To underscore: Terms like "stupid," "moron," "retard," "dumbass," "loser" and the like qualify as abusive. Clear?
Fourth, we will immediately ban commenters who use their online identity to impersonate any person or entity or who use multiple identities for a single Typekey account.
A more difficult issue raised by many of you is whether we need to moderate comments to eliminate those that stray "off-topic." While we are certainly a site where the main posts concern survey data and methodology, poll results are usually at the heart of the most contentious political debates. So we are reluctant to try to draw a line between discussions of polling data and the underlying issues and controversies they involve. However, we have limits. Please try to keep the debate civil, reasonable and intelligent.
We welcome comments or complaints via email about this policy, or any reports of technical glitches with the procedure. Hopefully, the comment bugs experienced recently are now are behind us.
Addendum - October 30, 2008
Too clarify, some additional do's and don'ts for comments:
1) If you can't say it on broadcast television, please don't post it here. Is that so hard? If you can't act like an adult when you comment, please take it somewhere else. I have only banned one commenter today, but there are obviously many others who have gotten into the habit of ugly, profane rants directed at other readers. These need to stop. Today. Those who ignore this plea when the comments come back on may find themselves locked out.
2) Don't pick an a screenname that is, itself, profane or abusive of other commenters. Doing so is grounds for being banned.
3) Banned users are banned permanently. They are not permitted to return under a new screen-name. Where possible, we will take action against those who violate this rule, including contacting webmasters or postmasters at the ISPs or businesses where the comments originate.
Be a community: Help us convince the others to clean up their act. If someone says something offensive, please try to convince them to apologize and stop. If some continue to flout these rules when the comments come back, then please email us to nominate those who who deserve to be banned. However --and note this well -- please follow guidelines (borrowed from the DailyKos policies for their "Hide Ratings"):
- Do not request that we ban someone for expressing contrary opinions, so long as they do so in a civilized fashion.
- Do not request that we ban someone you are actively having a fight with.
- Please understand that we won't have time to respond personally to email received this week or to resolve disputes, we decide what we consider offensive and all decisions are final.