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Moderation during the Election period

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Paul Wakely Paul Wakely | 19:15 UK time, Tuesday, 6 April 2010

You may have heard by now that the election is officially under way which means some small additions to the house rules by which we moderate the blogs, boards and other BBC social media services. The pan-BBC election coverage guidelines are available here and as for every election, special house rules are now in force until 6th May.

The key points are that if you are standing as a candidate, you should declare this if you wish to comment on the BBC website. Also, we don't allow sloganeering or campaigning in your comments, or attempts to run polls. And of course the usual rules about defamation and offence apply, so be careful when you comment about your MP fiddling his expenses that your post is truthful and not too rude...

Social media looks likely to be a significant battleground in this election and we know that it's not always going to be an easy task to differentiate between abuse of the boards and genuine weight of public opinion, but it's important that the BBC doesn't let discussions be hi-jacked by any particular party or group. If we suspect organised campaigns are distorting the views represented we may take action to remove comments or premoderate or restrict accounts but be assured we absolutely won't be using moderation to influence the balance of views on a site, and will only step in to deal with foul play. For example, sock-puppeting breaks the terms of the website regarding the misuse of multiple accounts and could mean their permanent closure.

Above all, we have a legal obligation to treat the elections fairly and we want to ensure that you can debate the issues in an open and lively way. We look forward to reading thousands of comments that are informative, constructive, and relevant to the debate.

You can help make our task easier. Much of the election discussion will take place on the political blogs and Have Your Say and we ask that you take time to find the most relevant areas for your comments. We may remove your contributions if they don't relate to the topic of the blog or board. This doesn't mean we don't want you to post them, it's just that we'd like you to do it where there are other people who want to discuss them and the appropriate BBC staff reading them. If we've devoted resources to running a discussion on the leaders' debates for example, it seems reasonable to ask that you don't start your own on the gardening messageboard.

Polling day itself is treated rather differently by all media outlets and I'll post again nearer the time to make clear how we'll be moderating on May 6th.

If you wish to email the moderation team about the election rules, or have other general moderation queries, you can contact us via this form.

Paul Wakely is Editor, Moderation Services, BBC Online.

Comments

  • Comment number 1.

    Surely you know it doesn't matter what you do: someone's still gonna call you biased.

    It's like you don't know the Internet at all. :P

  • Comment number 2.

    #1

    Yeah.

    Don't call me Shirley.

    >8-D

  • Comment number 3.

    "and as for every election, special house rules are now in force until 6th May."

    House Rules during an Election

    In addition to the existing House Rules you must:

    * Declare if you are a candidate
    * Discuss the issues, not the personalities
    * No sloganeering
    * No campaigning


    Well that's just close the Nick Robinson and the Robert Peston Blogs, the majority of users comments break at least two of those rules on every comment!

  • Comment number 4.

    It shall be interesting to see what does get through moderation with these stringent guidelines

  • Comment number 5.

    Seems quite reasonable to be - personally I don't see why the "special" rules can't be in place all the time, as they all seem to be there in order to support the BBC in its legal requirement of being impartial.

  • Comment number 6.

    Paul:

    Thanks, for bringing up this important issue up to the table; Because I was thinking this issue (Moderation) during the General Elections in the United Kingdom.

    ~Dennis Junior~

    NB: I am not affiliated/associated with any political party in the United Kingdom!

  • Comment number 7.

    Will a "Breaks election house rules" option be added to the list of options on the reporting screen?

    Also when a post is removed it would be nice to know which of the rules/category was broken (eg. "Removed as message breaks election house rules" or "Removed as message was off-topic") rather than the generic message.

  • Comment number 8.

    Social media looks likely to be a significant battleground in this election

    Next you'll be saying the tooth fairy really does exist.

  • Comment number 9.

    #8. At 4:24pm on 07 Apr 2010, Tengsted wrote:

    "Social media looks likely to be a significant battleground in this election"

    Next you'll be saying the tooth fairy really does exist.


    Indeed, often forgotten by those obsessed with social media, more people still do not have a computer/IP device and/or IP connectivity than use social media sites.

    The three most significant battlegrounds in the election will be, the party manifestos, the party political allegiances displayed by the printed news media and (unfortunately) the three televised party leaders beauty contes... sorry, debates - social media won't even be noticed by the majority.

  • Comment number 10.

    Hi BtEtta - I've been doing this long enough to know how right you are :-D

    And to know that as long as the complaints are evenly distributed then we're probably not doing too badly... (and thanks for the Airplane reference Scotch-git, always brightens the day...)

    You're welcome Dennis!

    Hi Keith - We can't add it to the complaints form unfortunately, so please use the 'other' option if you want to alert a post for this reason. There is a specific failure email for breaking the election rules, but there are different emails for all the rules anyway. Were you under the impression there was just one? Maybe you haven't had enough posts failed yet to collect the whole set!

    Fred - they are only tweaks to the existing rules, but we have specific obligations during this period. We still have to be impartial the rest of the time, but as Boilerplated says, there's a lot of commenters who like a bit more freedom the rest of the time.

    Boilerplated - You're not trying to tempt me off-topic now are you? ;-)

    I certainly haven't forgotten many people aren't online, or that social media isn't the all-conquering monster that some people in the media think it is, but I would counter by pointing out how many stories you read in the papers these days that are sourced from Facebook and Twitter - social media is a lot more influential than when I first started here and it was made clear to me everyday it was considered something only for geeks. (I learned not to take it personally...)

    Cheers,

    Paul

  • Comment number 11.

    10. At 5:54pm on 07 Apr 2010, Central Communities Team wrote:

    "Fred - they are only tweaks to the existing rules, but we have specific obligations during this period. We still have to be impartial the rest of the time, but as Boilerplated says, there's a lot of commenters who like a bit more freedom the rest of the time."

    Paul, perhaps the BBC could - somehow - make the readers of/posters to the political and neo-political blogs aware that different moderation rules apply for the duration (not all will be read the "BBC Internet Blog"), perhaps a header-banner similar to the type used for comic relief on the BBC news site or a side-box.

  • Comment number 12.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 13.

    May I draw attention to the excellent advice on the BBC 'College of Journalism' blog http://www.bbc.co.uk/journalism/.

    The best and most interesting contributions to debates are those which have some sound facts in them on which the arguments are based and which actually engage with view the views of others.

    There should be a house rule that limits only allows one troll every 100 postings. :-)

  • Comment number 14.

    I think these rules are too hidden away. BBC wants to get everyone banned by the looks of things

  • Comment number 15.

    All this user's posts have been removed.Why?

  • Comment number 16.

    All this user's posts have been removed.Why?

  • Comment number 17.

    All this user's posts have been removed.Why?

  • Comment number 18.

    #14. At 4:02pm on 09 Apr 2010, Hyperstar wrote:

    "I think these rules are too hidden away. BBC wants to get everyone banned by the looks of things"

    Hardly, the standard House Rules are often linked to (and the house rules are easy to find anyway via the BBC search box) whilst the extra election rules were linked to in the first paragraph of Paul's blog!

  • Comment number 19.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 20.

    Paul:

    Thanks, for the special mentioned......

    ~Dennis~

 

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