Questions about editorial and community approach

Q: Why is it possible to comment on some articles but not others?

A: We welcome and encourage debate and interaction around content we publish, both on our site (via comments) and off it (via Twitter, Facebook etc). In general we want to open comments up on our material wherever possible, but time and attention is finite (particularly in moderation resource) and we’ve learned from experience that some subjects and types of article attract less constructive or engaging debate than others. Comments will generally be open on blog posts, features which are discursive and likely to engender thoughtful/insightful/collaborative responses where the content is clearly discursive itself or user participation is part of the story. Comments will generally not be open on content which is sensitive for legal reasons (e.g. where there’s a high risk of libel or contempt), or editorial reasons


Q: Is there anything that I can’t say in my comments?

A: We ask everyone interacting on the African Business website to abide by our community standards and participation guidelines. These set out clearly the main behavioural and social norms for the site, but in general we want this to continue to be a safe place for stimulating discussion about issues and we welcome community participation which supports and extends this. Contributions which are deliberately offensive, off-topic or otherwise troll-like are likely to be dealt with in line with these community guidelines. Please be careful about deciding to add personal information such as contact details to your comments: remember this is a public conversation.


Q: What do you count as « personal attacks (on authors, other users or any individual) »?

A: Exactly what you might imagine. The main things we want to avoid are (but are not limited to) vicious or persistent name-calling or accusatory comments; comments which attack the individual rather than the argument or the position; abusive or defamatory phrases (epithets, especially those attached to religious, sexual, racial, gender or ethnic contexts); extreme or contextually-inappropriate profanity directed at an individual. In other words, comment on the content, not on the contributor.


Q: Will my comments be moderated?

A: All community interaction is subject to some level of moderation, in order to ensure the spirit of the community standards is upheld. In general, we post-moderate community interaction, which keeps the conversation lively. However, because of the sheer quantity involved this unfortunately means we can’t guarantee all comments live on the site are appropriate or in the spirit of the community standards.

While African Business website staff try to keep an eye on all community activity, we rely on our users to report abusive, offensive or otherwise inappropriate comments when they appear by clicking on the « report abuse » link which appears next to each comment. This alerts us to problems and areas of concern to the community, which means we can make the space better for everyone: we’re grateful for your help with this.


Q: Will authors reply to my comments?

A: We encourage authors to participate in the discussions sparked off by their articles, when feasible. Obviously, for various reasons, this isn’t always possible. But remember that African Business website staff (including moderators) do regularly spend time in the community areas of the site and will ensure that any particularly interesting/funny/insightful comments are highlighted to the author.


Q: What control do authors have on comments?

A: None. Authors can’t moderate comments on their own (or anyone else’s) articles. If an author wants a particular comment removed, they need to make a complaint via the report link (as above) and it will be assessed by the moderation team in due course and dealt with accordingly. The moderators work closely with editorial staff to determine and maintain an appropriate, context-specific community environment, informed and supported by the site-wide community standards.


Q: Why was my comment removed?

A: Comments are removed by moderators if they go against the Comment Policy guidelines, which every participant on the site is bound by.


Q: Why don’t you give a public reason for removing a comment? It would at least give a clue to why something had been deleted.

A: Unfortunately we don’t have the facility or resources to do this at the moment. In most cases, a comment author should be able to easily determine what the problem might have been by consulting the Comment Policy standards.


Q: Do you pre or post-moderate comment threads?

A: We reactively or post-moderate nearly all comment threads, which means that comments generally appear on the site before they’ve been seen by the moderation team. This is different from other community sites you may be used to, and can have the effect that comments appear on the site which may later be removed.

It’s important to bear in mind that the ability to post a comment doesn’t mean it’s automatically OK: we reserve the right to remove comments at any time which do not appear to be in the spirit of our community standards & participation guidelines.

Q: Can you tell me why my comment was deleted?

Q: Can you tell me why another poster’s comment was deleted?

A: The answer is probably that something you posted was perceived to contravene the Comment Policy, which govern the activity of everyone who contributes to this site.

Sorry, but lack of available resource means we’re not in a position to discuss specific moderator actions or queries about deletions.


Q: Why am I unable to comment on this article?

A: You need to be logged in to post comments, so that could be it, though you are usually prompted to log in if for some reason you’ve been signed out.


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