Don’t be a pr1ck. Carl Crawford is not dealing drugs in the dugout.
Those are two of the examples cited in the Boston Globe’s online-comments policy, a copy of which was obtained by Media Nation earlier today. In the first instance, people charged with deleting offensive comments are warned to be on guard for spellings of forbidden words that won’t get picked up by an automatic filter — in this case, changing the i to a 1 in prick.
In the second instance, “it’s fine for a user to say that Carl Crawford is a detriment to the team, but he/she shouldn’t say that he’s dealing drugs in the dugout.”
The policy was released along with an announcement that the job of tracking down and killing offensive comments has been outsourced to a company in Winnipeg. According to the memo from Teresa Hanafin, director of user engagement for Boston.com, and Bennie DiNardo, the Globe’s deputy managing editor for multimedia, the company — ICUC — currently moderates comments for the San Francisco Chronicle’s SFGate.com and for Gannett.
Other fun excerpts from the Globe’s online-comments policy:
- “As a rule, we permanently disable comments on all stories about people who have experienced a personal tragedy, as well as all obituaries.”
- “We also temporarily disable comments overnight for stories about immigration, religion, and religious figures. Commenting on these stories should be enabled at 7 a.m., and the stories should be given extra attention throughout the day so that we can move quickly if the comments degenerate.”
- “Obscene text and profanities are not allowed. Remove comments that have harsh profanities, but it’s OK to leave those that are less offensive: ‘jerk,’ ‘stupid,’ ‘crap,’ ‘idiot,’ etc.”
It’s a jungle out there!
It’s good to see Boston.com taking online comments more seriously than it has in the past. But for genuine user engagement, the site should either screen comments before they’re posted, require real names or both.
To read the Globe’s complete online-comments policy, click here. To read my two favorite posts about comments, click here (Howard Owens on why real names should be required) and here (the New Haven Independent’s comments policy). The complete text of Hanafin and DiNardo’s memo is below.
As many of you know, for more than a year now our copy editing staffs in all departments have shared a very important duty for Boston.com: monitoring the abuse reports that our users file when they find inappropriate comments on articles or in our forums. Helped by the Metro Desk coops on weekends and Boston.com interns in the early morning hours, these copy editors, led by Steve Morgan, have kept vigil on the comments for 18 hours a day, 7 days a week. Their work has been incredibly valuable.
But it also was work that we asked them to do in addition to their regular job duties. We’re happy to announce that we’re now employing a company that specializes in moderation to take over the abuse report monitoring.
The company, ICUC, is based in Winnipeg. It moderates comments for Gannett papers and SFGate.com as well as corporate clients, and receives high marks from all. They began their monitoring at 8 a.m. yesterday, and will watch our abuse reports 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. They guarantee that they will deal with an abuse report within 20 minutes of its filing.
We have sent them our moderating policy (attached below) and have added specific examples of tone and language that we will not tolerate. Our producers and editors retain control over whether or not to enable comments for particular stories. In addition, there is a dirty word filter in our comments provider’s admin tool that always is a joy to edit.
During this initial startup period, they will be growing accustomed to the standards and folkways of Boston.com and the Globe. But if you notice anything amiss — perhaps a nasty comment that you reported didn’t get blocked — please don’t hesitate to notify either of us.
We’re very happy that we can take this burden off our copy editors and have this experienced company on board.
Teresa and Bennie