Can we have a chat about comments on articles?

Feature Simon Brew
3 Mar 2014 - 10:00

Just a word or two about the comments on articles at this site.

Human beings write articles. Human beings read articles. Human beings write comments on articles. Human beings read those comments.

That seems a fitting place to start. And we're eternally grateful that the vast majority of readers of this particularly cantankerous website appreciate and respect that. That some of the posts in the comments section of articles may be sharp, but even then they tend to be extremely constructive. Thus, whilst we might not agree with it all, it's healthy and right that we're held to account for what we post on the site. There's no problem with that whatsoever, and our skin is a lot thicker than this post may make it sound.

But I wanted to put this post together just to nip something in the proverbial bud. That's because over the past few weeks, a few comments - not too many, but enough to warrant this post - have edged a little close to the line. In one or two cases, they've stepped over it.

We don't censor, as a rule, comments on articles. We delete about 10 a year at the moment, and even then it's reluctantly (the Disqus system we use has some auto-filters, that tend to stop posts containing weblinks - for historic spam reasons - and fruity language). But can we agree between us a mini-code of conduct? We don't want to get all draconian and lay down lots of rules. We also don't want to stop you giving us shit when we deserve it. And if you read a review of ours and vehemently disagree, it's healthy and right that you have the opportunity to respond.

But, for the sake of clarity, the posts that we clamp down on feature:

* Those posting spoilers with no warning (rare, but unfair)
* Those getting personal (rare, and not welcome)
* Comments discussing the sexual attraction of the man/woman/CG animal in question, when they're along the lines of 'I wouldn't', or something of equal ilk.
* Anyone slagging off Jason Statham. But that's just common sense.

We've lost writers from Den Of Geek in the past due to personal attacks on them from one or two people who did not share their opinion of something. It's a source of regret for us that that's the case. In that particular instance, the criticisms were less about the writers' opinions, more about the writer themselves. And that's not on.

So whilst such comments aren't a feature of Den Of Geek as a rule, thankfully, I'd rather pen a note like this just to stop things before they have a chance to get silly. You can feel free to disagree - I'm happy to discuss any feedback you have in the comments below. But just to reiterate, as anonymous as the internet may be, we're all human beings. We have eyes, ears, brains and Doritos, and it'd be lovely if at least two of those weren't ruined by a comment that overstepped the mark.

Thanks for your time.

Simon Brew
Den Of Geek

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