Feedback guidelines

We highly recommend real names for commenting (first initial, last name is OK as it would be for bylines). We monitor and delete egregious violations but do not spend much time managing the ways people can work around using real names (including using plausible but fake names).

As long as discourse remains civil, 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.

We encourage you to keep your comments focused and of a reasonable length so others will read them.

We also urge you to take a breath before posting if you're feeling especially emotional as you click the comments link. Your comment will be forever associated with your user name, and may appear 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

If you wish to report activity that you believe violates our guidelines, please let us know.


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