Feedback Guidelines

Poynter Online forums and feedback exist to encourage discussion, criticism, education, and a sense of community among our visitors. 

Poynter enables discussion of journalism-related topics in five ways:

Discussion lists.

Letters to ROMENESKO.

● E-mail to authors who have chosen to display their e-mail addresses on their personal pages. (Follow links from authors’ names on articles or feedback comments to their personal pages.)

Forums organized by topic.

Article feedback.

To add comments about individual items via article feedback, you can post them immediately by clicking on each item’s feedback link. In the interest of accountability, only registered users can currently post comments. (To register, click on New User at the top right of the screen.)

We require real names for registration (first initial, last name is OK as it would be for bylines) so that real names are associated with comments. We monitor and delete obvious violations but do not spend too much time managing the ways people can work around using real names (including using plausible but fake names). From time to time, we will allow anonymous comments just as we sometimes allow anonymous sources. In those cases we would weigh the costs and benefits of an anonymous comment, what it adds to the discussion relative to what is lost by a cloaked identity. When user accounts are deleted, those comments remain for the integrity of the discussion, but the name is changed to “[User profile deleted].”

Feedback comments are limited to 2,000 characters, or about 300 words. We encourage you to keep your comments within those limits as opposed to continuing to another post.

We also urge you to take a breath before posting if you’re feeling especially feisty as you click the feedback link. Your comment will be forever associated with your name, and may appear in search results on Google and elsewhere. Especially if your feedback prompts further conversation, we are not inclined to remove it once you’ve posted it. So proceed carefully.

Also please bear in mind that Poynter is a school. The tone we seek in our online discussions is closer to the kind of collegial exchange you’d find in one of our seminar rooms than the combative approach evident on some sites.

That means focusing on the substance of arguments as opposed to their presenters. It also means avoiding insults and other forms of ad-hominem comments. We encourage you to make your case as vigorously as possible without being rude.

We do not review comments before they are posted, but invite you to let us know if you spot feedback that violates these guidelines.

If you find a particular article — or a comment by a fellow poster — to be silly or stupid or ignorant, please do the extra work required to make your assessment without using such labels. The idea is to foster discussion among colleagues with different points of view –- not to win debating points with clever put-downs. Sarcasm usually appears far more clever to its author than it does to its audience.

We are reluctant to impose specific limits on the number of posts by any one contributor, but we ask you to exercise restraint. Discussions dominated by the frequency or verbosity of individual contributors become less interesting and useful for the rest of us. At times, it may be more appropriate for you to exchange e-mail directly with a fellow poster rather than carrying on a conversation in the feedback area. Excessive posting by an individual -– more than one a day or so –- may prompt us to do some pruning.

 We will remove messages that contain any of the following:

• Potentially libelous statements.
• Obscene, explicit, or racist language including hate speech.
• Personal attacks, insults or threats.
• Commercial product promotions.
• Information taken from another source without permission.
• Private personal information published without consent.
• Comments unrelated to the topic of the forum.
• Hyperlinks to material that is not directly related to the discussion.

By submitting feedback, you are agreeing to abide by these guidelines. People who violate these guidelines may lose the privilege of posting on Poynter online.

If you wish to report activity that you believe violates our guidelines, please click here to fill out the complaint form

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We have made it easy to comment on posts, however we require civility and encourage full names to that end (first initial, last name is OK). Please read our guidelines here before commenting.