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All things in moderation

25 May 2010 / Daniel Selwood
Issue: 4256 / Categories:
DANIEL SELWOOD explains’s rules on handling users’ comments

Tax people are nice people. Of that we are sure, and it’s why we can rely on our web users to act appropriately when posting comments. (All subscribers can leave remarks at the foot of any online piece. The latest contributions appear in the site’s Most Popular box.)

There is almost never any need to censor people’s thoughts, gripes, queries and anecdotes. Nevertheless, – like all respectable web offerings – has a moderation policy. You know, just in case.

It’s simple, logical and, we hope, fair. Comments will be altered or even removed if they are:

  • Spam. No adverts for Viagra, hooky watches or, indeed, your company’s services, thanks. And no chain letters or linking to non-tax sites.
  • Flooding. Publishing the same post over and over, or adding enormous amounts of line-space to a post: either method is naughty.
  • Irrelevant: Stick to tax-based issues, please!
  • Defamatory. No media outlet wants to get stuck with a libel suit – especially not in the UK, where the laws are incredibly harsh. As a result, we will err on the side of caution and take down anything we think is, well, dodgy.
  • Private conversations. E-mail, social networking and, yes, the telephone are better ways to enjoy a one-to-one.
  • Abusive. Threats, insults, profanity, bigotry (homophobia, racism, etc) and sexually explicit remarks will not be tolerated.
  • Illegal activity. We may inform the police if we suspect a user is participating in or encouraging criminal behaviour.

I should add that users are urged to take care when posting personal information: only reveal what you are happy for others to know. Other sites advise against taking people’s opinions as expertise.

In’s case, we repeat what is stated on the contents page of every magazine issue. It begins, 'This publication is intended to be a general guide and cannot be a substitute for professional advice'.

As I said, there’s little active moderation going on*; there’s no need for it (which is not to say we don’t keep a close eye on contributors’ remarks).

Most other sites have a ‘report abuse’ button. We don’t. We don’t expect nastiness. If, however, you’re concerned by anything you read, drop me a line, and I’ll look into the matter immediately.

* Since this column was published, we decided to allow non-subscribers to leave comments, all of which are checked by us before being allowed to go live.


Issue: 4256 / Categories:
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