New commenting guidelines for MarketingMag.ca

It’s tough to shape comments and discussions on a website about marketing. On one hand, this site is about business, but on the other hand that business influences (and is influenced by) culture. So while its easy to say we want to keep everything businesslike, that rules out so many comments and conversations that explore […]

It’s tough to shape comments and discussions on a website about marketing. On one hand, this site is about business, but on the other hand that business influences (and is influenced by) culture. So while its easy to say we want to keep everything businesslike, that rules out so many comments and conversations that explore social trends, human behaviour and creativity… messy areas where passions run high and critical opinions are necessary.

But we’ve been building a sizeable group of readers and commenters at MarketingMag.ca, so the time has come for a more robust set of guidelines for posting comments.

Like thousands of sites before us, we want to facilitate a ‘don’t be a jerk’ policy. Lots of sites have crafted eloquent ways expressing this. We’ve lifted these from AppAdvice.com, which we feel best communicate how we’ll proceed:

We encourage comments that:

• are on topic and that respond to the content in the article
• are responses to comments left by other readers
• are brief and to the point
• have a positive and/or constructive tone
• are open to being contradicted by other readers
• might disagree with the content in the article, but never insult the writer of the article, or other commenters

We discourage comments that:

• are not on topic or are not responding to other comments or the content in the article
• insult the writer of the article or other commenters
• are excessively long or negative in tone

We will delete/block comments that:

• are abusive, harassing, threatening, or vulgar
• are personal attacks: including name-calling or celebrations of another person’s misfortune
• contain advertising or spam
• are disruptive, including personal conversations better suited for private messaging

Like we said, don’t be a jerk.

Are there gray areas in those guidelines? Absolutely. That’s intentional. Marketing is a complex arena, and flexible boundaries are necessary to have a decent conversation about it.

But from now on, comments will be moderated before they are posted. Those that rouse some concern may be edited (with notification that that’s happened) before going live. Those that fall into that third category above will never see the light of day.

This means there will be some delay between when you click “Submit my comment” and your words appearing on screen. We hope this will lead to a strong community of opinionated, thoughtful, well-informed readers.

Our policies will also be in flux for over the coming weeks as we review specific issues such as banning repeat offenders’ IP addresses, allowing commenters to post anonymously and so on.

We’re open to feedback on all of these points, both in this comment thread, via Facebook (/MarketingMagCanada), Twitter (@marketing_mag) or e-mail.

In the meantime, here are some tips to make sure your words get read.

• Identify yourself. We’ll still allow anonymous posting, but your opinion carries more weight if you’re willing to stand behind it with your real name.

• Criticize ideas, not the people who have them. (Here’s a definition of ad hominem)

• When you criticize, do it with facts and fairness. (Here’s a definition of libel)

• Remember that Marketing’s readership is a diverse group including creatives, executives, clients and vendors, students and gurus, small business owners and corporate CEOs. We publish stories to suit a wide variety of experience and expertise, so if a story doesn’t suit you, it may suit someone else.

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