Community Guidelines

Com­mu­nity par­tic­i­pa­tion / user gen­er­ated con­tent / mod­er­a­tion poli­cies

Mod­er­a­tion aims site pro­vides a grow­ing num­ber of oppor­tu­ni­ties for read­ers who wish to dis­cuss con­tent we pub­lish, or debate issues more gen­er­ally. Our aim is to ensure this plat­form is inclu­sive and safe, and that is the place on the net where you will always find lively, enter­tain­ing and, above all, intel­li­gent discussions.

In short:

If you act with maturity and consideration for other users, you should have no problems. Do not be unpleasant. Demonstrate and share the intelligence, wisdom and humor we know you possess. Take some responsibility for the quality of the conversations in which you’re participat­ing. Help make this an intelligent place for discussion and it will be. Oh and please use your real name – if you are not prepared to own your comment, we would rather not have it.


Com­mu­nity standards

There are 10 sim­ple guide­lines, which we expect all par­tic­i­pants in the com­mu­nity areas of to abide by, all of which directly inform our approach to com­mu­nity mod­er­a­tion (detailed below). These apply across the site, while mod­er­a­tion deci­sions are also informed by the con­text in which com­ments are made.

1. We wel­come debate and dis­sent, but per­sonal attacks (on authors, other users or any indi­vid­ual), per­sis­tent trolling and mind­less abuse will not be tol­er­ated. The key to main­tain­ing as an invit­ing space is to focus on intel­li­gent dis­cus­sion of topics.

2. We acknowl­edge crit­i­cism of the arti­cles we pub­lish, but will not allow per­sis­tent mis­rep­re­sen­ta­tion of and our jour­nal­ists to be pub­lished on our web­site. For the sake of robust debate, we will dis­tin­guish between con­struc­tive, focused argu­ment and smear tactics.

3. We under­stand that peo­ple often feel strongly about issues debated on the site, but we will con­sider remov­ing any con­tent that oth­ers might find extremely offen­sive or threat­en­ing. Please respect other people’s views and beliefs and con­sider your impact on oth­ers when mak­ing your contribution.

4. We reserve the right to redi­rect or cur­tail con­ver­sa­tions that descend into flame-wars based on ingrained par­ti­san­ship or gen­er­al­i­sa­tions. We don’t want to stop peo­ple dis­cussing top­ics they are enthu­si­as­tic about, but we do ask users to find ways of shar­ing their views that do not feel divi­sive, threat­en­ing or toxic to oth­ers.

5. We will not tol­er­ate racism, sex­ism, homo­pho­bia or other forms of hate-speech, or con­tri­bu­tions 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.

6. We will remove any con­tent that may put us in legal jeop­ardy, such as poten­tially libelous or defam­a­tory post­ings, or mate­r­ial posted in poten­tial breach of copyright.

7. We will remove any posts that are obvi­ously com­mer­cial or oth­er­wise spam-like. Our aim is that this site should pro­vide a space for peo­ple to inter­act with our con­tent and each other, and we actively dis­cour­age com­mer­cial enti­ties pass­ing them­selves off as indi­vid­u­als, in order to post adver­tis­ing mate­r­ial or links. This may also apply to peo­ple or organ­i­sa­tions who fre­quently post pro­pa­ganda or exter­nal links with­out adding sub­stan­tively to the qual­ity of the dis­cus­sion on

8. Keep it rel­e­vant. We know that some con­ver­sa­tions can be wide-ranging, but if you post some­thing that is unre­lated to the orig­i­nal topic (“off-topic”) then it may be removed, in order to keep the thread on track. This also applies to queries or com­ments about mod­er­a­tion, which should not be posted as comments.

9. 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. Remem­ber that text isn’t always a great medium for con­ver­sa­tion: tone of voice (sar­casm, humor and so on) doesn’t always come across when using words on a screen. You can help to keep the com­mu­nity areas open to all view­points by main­tain­ing a rea­son­able tone, even in unrea­son­able circumstances.

10. 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 appro­pri­ate. If you spot some­thing prob­lem­atic in com­mu­nity inter­ac­tion areas, please report it. When we all take respon­si­bil­ity for main­tain­ing an appro­pri­ate and con­struc­tive envi­ron­ment, the debate itself is improved and every­one benefits.

Mod­er­a­tion approach

Par­tic­i­pants who seri­ously, per­sis­tently or will­fully ignore the com­mu­nity stan­dards, par­tic­i­pa­tion guide­lines or terms and con­di­tions will have their post­ing priv­i­leges for all 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 con­sis­tent with Hacks’ val­ues, and we reserve the right to make deci­sions that we feel sup­port that. Please be aware that mod­er­a­tors may con­tact you by email in rela­tion to your par­tic­i­pa­tion, espe­cially where an issue comes up in rela­tion to these com­mu­nity stan­dards.

Any advice they give/request they make should be adhered to; our mod­er­a­tors are employed to enforce these com­mu­nity stan­dards and cre­ate a con­struc­tive envi­ron­ment for every­one who con­tributes to our site.

We will, when nec­es­sary, remove user post­ings or com­ments from our talk boards, arti­cles and blog posts.* If a con­tri­bu­tion to is per­ceived as breach­ing the com­mu­nity guide­lines set out above, then it will be removed by the com­mu­nity team, in the inter­ests of keep­ing com­mu­nity areas of the site appro­pri­ate for the vast major­ity of the peo­ple who visit.

(*NB: We will not edit user posts to change the mean­ing, spelling or any­thing else intended by the user. Even if only part of a com­ment or post­ing is per­ceived as breach­ing the com­mu­nity guide­lines, the whole thing may be removed. Also, when a com­ment or post is removed for any of the rea­sons above, it is some­times nec­es­sary to delete sub­se­quent mes­sages which refer to explic­itly or quote from the orig­i­nal (removed) 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. In such cases not every dele­tion will be marked individually).

We reserve the right to take steps or imple­ment mea­sures which we hope will ben­e­fit the whole com­mu­nity of par­tic­i­pants. Because we are ulti­mately respon­si­ble for every­thing which appears on this site, all actions and deci­sions taken by our mod­er­a­tors are final. Unfor­tu­nately, the huge (and grow­ing) quan­tity of user con­tent on means that we can’t enter into cor­re­spon­dence regard­ing spe­cific mod­er­a­tion activ­ity, although all cor­re­spon­dence will be read.

We aim to have all com­ments / UGC that con­tra­venes our code of con­duct removed from the site within two work­ing days. How­ever some­times this will not be pos­si­ble due to high vol­ume of con­tri­bu­tions from users. In such cases any inap­pro­pri­ate con­tri­bu­tions will be removed as quickly as pos­si­ble.  If we find our­selves over­whelmed by the vol­ume of con­tri­bu­tions we will switch to a full mod­er­a­tion pol­icy where com­ments will be pre-moderated, rather than post mod­er­ated.

We reserve the right to ban peo­ple from con­tribut­ing if they are found to per­sis­tently break the code of con­duct. To assist with this we record the IP address of all who con­tribute to the web­site. We do allow anony­mous con­tri­bu­tions how­ever we require an email address, which we will use to con­tact / iden­tify users who are deemed to have con­tra­vened our code of conduct.

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