Q: What is The Republic's Comment Policy?
A: Community and Commenting Guiding Principles
The Republic actively encourages commenting on news stories. We want to maintain a respectful, engaging, and informative comment section. To help ensure our comment section stays civil and family friendly, we do have a few rules that we attempt to enforce using an automated comment moderation system along with a team of human moderators. If you wish to participate in the community, we ask that you follow the guidelines below.
(I) If your comments consistently or intentionally make this site a less civil and enjoyable place to be, your comments will be excluded from it.
The Republic strives for a civil and family friendly atmosphere for our readers. Intelligent discussions and debates are encouraged. Everyone is welcome and encouraged to voice their opinion regardless of identity, politics, ideology, religion, or agreement with other community members. However, we insist that those opinions are respectful and constructively add to the conversation. We do not tolerate direct or indirect attacks, name-calling, insults, or profanity. We also do not tolerate intentional attempts to derail, hijack, troll, or bait others into an emotional response. These types of comments will be removed when found. Individuals who consistently or intentionally post these types of comments will be excluded from commenting on our network of sites. The Republic's moderation team will have final say on what comments violate these terms.
(II) All comments are pre-moderated.
To maintain a civil atmosphere, our automated moderator and/or moderation team reads all comments before they are displayed to other readers. When first posted, your comment will show 'pending approval.' Approval times can vary depending on the site-wide comment load, so please be patient -- we will get to all comments as quickly as possible.
(III) The community monitors itself in conjunction with the core moderation team - and you can help! Every member of this community has the power and responsibility to help elevate the level of conversation and remove the offensive comments that would degrade it. On every comment, you will see a small up and down arrow at the bottom. Clicking these will help the most valuable comments rise to the top by default. You also can hover over a comment and in the upper right hand corner you will see a small flag. Clicking on this flag will alert our moderation team that you believe this comment does not conform to the policies decribed here. Taking these simple actions helps bring great content to the top and removes bad content quickly.
(IV) Be yourself, only yourself, and just one of yourself. Every person and opinion is valuable and unique. Pretending to be someone else removes the unique value from you and others. Don't misrepresent yourself or others, spread mis-information, or create multiple accounts. If you do, you will make the comment section a less enjoyable and valuable place to be and your account(s) will be removed when we see it.
(V) This community is a safe space. We strongly believe that TheRepublic.com should be a safe space for individuals, groups, and their ideas. As such, violent and hostile language or calls for violence and hostility are not welcome here. If you directly or indirectly threaten the physical or mental well being of a fellow commenter, another person, or an individual or group who is the subject of an article, you will be banned from commenting. If a credible threat is made against an individual or group, not only will it be removed but it may be reported to law enforcement agencies. We will cooperate with law enforcement to any extent requested. For your safety, personally identifiable information such as your phone number, address, etc. should never be posted to the comments section.
Q: I posted a comment. Why can't I see it on the site?
A: There are three scenarios under which your comment may not appear:
(I) It may be pending approval. Comments on our sites are moderated BEFORE they appear and this takes time. Because of the high volume of comments on our sites, there is often a delay between a comment being posted and it being approved, especially during peak hours. We appreciate your patience and ask that you refrain from posting the same comment repeatedly.
(II) You haven't verified your email. In order to post on our site we require that you verify your email address with Disqus so that we can communicate with you. If you haven't verified your email address you will get an email when you try to post asking that you verify and including a link explaining how to do so if you haven't.
(III) Your comment violated the policies outlined above. We pride ourselves in providing a medium for engaging and thought-provoking stories and encourage our users to speak their minds freely, provided comments fall within our commenting policy. We respect our writers and readers and try our best to protect them from vicious and inflammatory comments. In most cases if your comment was blocked, you will be sent an email to the email address used on Disqus explaining why your comment was not accepted.
Q: Why am I blocked from commenting on The Republic?
A: If a commenter has previously posted comments that are abusive, off-topic, used excessive foul language, include personal attacks, or violate the spirit of the rules laid out here, a moderator may ban the commenter's account and/or IP address. This means the abusive commenter is banned from commenting on this site and others owned by Home News Enterprises in the future, even if the later comments are not abusive.
Q: Doesn't the First Amendment of the Constitution say I have the right to free speech and can say whatever I want?
A: The "right to free speech" has been cited in response to comment blocks and commenter bans. Some commenters believe that because The Republic and Home News Enterprises is headquartered (and some servers located) in the United States, the First Amendment to the United States Constitution applies to it's comment section. This is mistaken. The First Amendment forbids government censorship of expression; it does not prevent a private organization from deciding for itself what words and images will be presented on its websites, and how.
The text of the First Amendment states that:
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
The most relevant clause of that Amendment to the matter at hand is "Congress shall make no law." TheRepublic.com is a private website hosted by a private company. The Republic and Home News Enterprises are free to establish policies and practices regarding who may comment here. As a private website, TheRepublic.com has the legal right to block, ban, or otherwise restrict any individual from commenting on its pages, or accessing its content, with or without reason and we reserve the right to do so.
Q: Can I include a link in my comment?
A: If you include a URL in your comment, it will be converted to a link. Please note that links are heavily moderated and generally only links to official government sites and other sites owned by Home News Enterprises are accepted.
Q: There is a comment that I find insulting and in violation of your policy. What can I do?
A: You can flag the comment as abusive by clicking on the small flag that shows up in the upper right hand corner of any comment when you hover over it. This alerts our moderation team, who will delete comments that don't comply with our policy.
Q: Can I "follow" a commenter?
A: Yes. If you find a commenter that consistently makes comments you find interesting, you can click on their name or profile picture. This will present a pop-up window with additional profile information about that commenter. On that screen there is a 'follow' button. This button allows you to be alerted when a commenter makes a new comment.