Why can't I post a comment?
If you are unable to comment on a blog, first check you are signed in. Blog discussions may be closed to new comments, in which case a message is displayed telling you the blog entry is closed. In very rare cases, the BBC has to restrict accounts from posting to the BBC website. If you think this may have happened to you, please contact us.
Why hasn't my comment appeared?
Your comment may be awaiting moderation. Some blogs are entirely pre-moderated, which means that all comments are checked by a moderator before they appear. Most BBC blogs are reactively moderated, but if you are a new user to the blog your first few postings may be checked before appearing. If your comment does not appear, it may have been rejected by the moderators. If so, you will be sent an email telling you why.
Why are my comments pre-moderated, even on reactive blogs?
If you have been using a reactive blog for a long time and your posts are still being pre-moderated, your account may have been set to temporary or permanent pre-moderation. Members' accounts are pre-moderated when they repeatedly or seriously break the House Rules. In this case, while others may be able to post messages straight to the board, every message a pre-moderated member submits to the board will be checked by a moderator before it appears.
To check the status of your account, please contact us.
What are the House Rules?
We've established the following House Rules so that everyone can get the most out of the BBC's blogs.
Please note that these rules apply to rich media submissions such as images, video and audio clips, as well as content associated with you such as avatar images.
Names may be failed if they...
- Contain website or email addresses
- Contain contact information (i.e. phone numbers, postcodes etc)
- Appear to impersonate someone else
- Contain swear words or are otherwise objectionable
We reserve the right to fail comments which...
- Are considered likely to disrupt, provoke, attack or offend others
- Are racist, sexist, homophobic, sexually explicit, abusive or otherwise objectionable
- Contain swear words or other language likely to offend
- Break the law or condone or encourage unlawful activity. This includes breach of copyright, defamation and contempt of court.
- Advertise products or services for profit or gain
- Are seen to impersonate someone else
- Include contact details such as phone numbers, postal or email addresses
- Are written in anything other than English - Welsh and Gaelic may be used where expressly stated
- Contain links to other websites which break our Editorial Guidelines
- Describe or encourage activities which could endanger the safety or well-being of others
- Are considered to be "spam", that is posts containing the same, or similar, content posted multiple times
- Are considered to be off-topic for the blog discussion
The BBC welcomes feedback, both positive and negative, about our programmes and services but please make sure your comments are in line with the above House Rules. Repeatedly posting personal or offensive comments about individual members of the public or people who work for the BBC may be considered harassment. We reserve the right to remove such messages and take action against those responsible.
What is moderation?
Comments on our blogs are checked by a team of trained moderators to make the blogs a safe and enjoyable place to be, and ensure that they meet the House Rules. Moderators do not post comments on the blogs.
The blog author or host does not usually moderate the content of the boards, although it is their job to keep the discussions relevant to the topic and within the BBC's guidelines. They may close off-topic or other rule-breaking discussions, and sometimes make a decision on comments that have been referred to them by the moderators. They may also alert the moderators to rule-breaking comments that they see in the course of their work.
Why must we have moderation on BBC blogs?
At the BBC, we allow as much freedom as possible to have relevant discussions on our blogs. However, we are also responsible for making sure that these discussions stay polite, safe and relevant and do not violate any laws or the BBC editorial policies. This is why we have a set of House Rules that we ask everyone to follow. Moderators only remove messages that break these House Rules.
Moderation is necessary so all users can participate in online communities without fear of intimidation by other users or being subjected to offensive content. Also, people may intentionally or unintentionally post content that is unlawful, putting themselves as well as the BBC at risk of legal action. Moderation helps avoid expensive legal action that could cost hundreds of thousands of pounds of license-fee payers' money.
Please take care when copying text from someone else's post into your own. If the text you have copied into your post is seen to break the House Rules, your entire post will be removed.
We provide explanations through email for all moderation decisions so that we can make the moderation process as transparent and as fair as possible. In some cases the reasons for removal may not be apparent to other users of the blog, but the person who posted the comment will receive an email explanation when the decision is made to fail it. Unfortunately we cannnot give detailed individual explanations as to why a comment was removed, and can only consider appeals against the removal of comments if they concern a serious legal or editorial issue. If you need to contact us about a moderation decision, please fill in this feedback form providing a link to your comment or a copy of the moderation failure email you received.
How do you moderate the blogs?
BBC blogs are checked or 'moderated' in three different ways, depending on subject matter and target age range of the blog:
Pre-moderation: Every single comment is checked before it appears on the blog.
Post-moderation: All comments appear on the blog immediately and are checked afterwards.
Reactive moderation: Comments are usually only checked if a complaint is made about them. This approach is only used on blogs intended for adults. If you see a comment on a reactively moderated blog - or any other blog - that you think may break one of the House Rules, please use the 'complain about this comment' link to alert a moderator.
BBC News are currently trialling reactive moderation on a small selection of news stories, using a new filtering system to more quickly identify and remove comments that break the house rules. This means that some comments will appear immediately, improving the experience for our users. If you see a comment beneath a news story that you consider breaks the rules, please report this to the moderators, using the link that appears when your mouse cursor is over the comment.
It will state just above the comment box whether the blog is pre-moderated, post-moderated, or reactively moderated. Please note that while the majority of posts on reactive boards will not be viewed by the moderators unless they are complained about, individual topic areas, users and particular words and phrases may all be set to post- or pre-moderation at the discretion of the BBC.
Is moderation done by humans or computers?
All moderation is done by a team of trained human moderators. A comment is never failed without being read and reviewed by a human moderator. However, we have filters to prevent certain offensive words from being posted, or to detect comments using words which may indicate a breach of the House Rules. These posts are then sent to the moderation queue to be reviewed. These filters are only additional tools to help improve the efficiency of human moderation.
What criteria do moderators use to make decisions?
Moderators are trained to work to a set of detailed editorial guidelines when assessing user generated content, which are in line with the BBC's editorial guidelines for all online services.
Moderators are trained to have a working understanding of defamation and other relevant laws and are briefed about breaking news stories. When in doubt, moderators refer comments to supervisors, or the Central Communities team, who are responsible for moderation across the majority of BBC services. The moderators work across hundreds of blogs and boards and view the comments out of context, so they will usually refer decisions about off-topic comments to the blog author or host who are more familiar with the subject matter.
What happens to my post when it is sent to the moderation queue? Why do some posts take longer in the moderation queue than others?
On a post-moderated or pre-moderated message board or blog, all posts join the moderation queue and will be passed or failed as soon as they are seen by a moderator. The time taken to review a post may depend on the length of the queue but in most cases, should be within a few minutes.
On a reactive blog, comments are usually only checked if they are complained about. These complaints are prioritised ahead of all other posts.
Sometimes, a comment may be referred for further investigation to a supervisor, host, editor or the Central Communities Team, who are responsible for moderation across all BBC services. Your post will be hidden while a decision is pending and the time taken to make this decision will depend on the investigation necessary.
Why has my comment been removed when other comments that break the House Rules in a similar way are allowed to remain?
On a reactive blog, a comment is usually only checked if a complaint is made about it. As a result, the moderators see some comments but may not be alerted to other posts that also break the House Rules. Moderators also don't read the entire discussion when checking a comment. This allows them to remain neutral in their judgement by assessing each comment individually. However, this may mean that one comment gets removed while other equally questionable posts in the thread are allowed to remain.
If you see a comment that you think may break the House Rules, please use the ‘complain about this comment link to alert it.
Another reason this may happen is because there will always be some grey area when making moderation decisions. When deciding whether to pass or fail a post, a moderator is required to assess the level of potential risk, especially in cases of libel, contempt of court etc. and may fail a post to be on the safer side. Though there are guidelines that moderators follow, a breach may sometimes be debateable leading to differences in interpretation. One moderator may fail a particular post while another moderator might allow a similar post to remain. While we take a lot of care to ensure fairness, occasional inconsistencies are inevitable in the moderation process - if you wish to complain about moderation please contact us using this feedback form.
Why was my post removed without any explanation?
The BBC always explains moderation decisions via email to make the process as fair and transparent as possible. In fact, the moderation system is set up in such a way that it is not possible for a moderator to remove a post without sending an email with a brief explanation of the reason for failing the post. If you have had a post removed and you haven't received an email explaining why, there could be several explanations:
The comment is still awaiting a decision - if it is failed by the moderator you will be informed.
The email has been filtered by your spam settings. Please check your spam or junk email folder or change your email settings to allow emails from bbc.co.uk
The email address you have entered in your account details is incorrect or no longer in use. You can check or update your email details by logging into your account and clicking on 'Settings'.
Very, very rarely, technical issues may result in an email failing to send from the BBC servers. If you think this has happened, let us know through our feedback form.
Why have all of a users' posts vanished?
If the user is a spammer or a user who has been banned many times before all of their comments are removed when their account is closed.
Are posts more likely to be removed if a complaint is made about them several times?
No, a post is removed as soon as a moderator finds that it has broken a House Rule. However, there can be times when initial complaints don't have enough information to tell a moderator why or how it breaks the House Rules.
There will also always be some grey areas when making moderation decisions. In some cases, the breach may be debatable resulting in one moderator passing the post while another moderator may fail it or refer it to a supervisor. Moderators' decisions are regularly reviewed by the Central Communities Team who will overturn them in the event of a significant error.
How do I change the name that appears by my comments?
You can change the name that is displayed by your comments at any time after registering. Choose any name you like as long as it doesn't break the House Rules.
Make sure you are signed in. In the top right hand corner of the page you will see a link called "settings".
If you click on this link you will be given the option of choosing a new name.
Once you have changed your name and clicked on the "update" button at the bottom of the page, your new name will appear by all your comments.
Reasons for failing a comment
The BBC welcomes feedback, both positive and negative, about our programmes and services but please make sure your comments are in line with the House Rules. Repeatedly posting personal or offensive comments about individual members of the public or people who work for the BBC may be considered harassment. We reserve the right to remove such messages and take action against those responsible.
We reserve the right to fail messages which
Advertising or promoting products or websites is not allowed anywhere on bbc.co.uk. This may include links to:
- Personal websites or forums
- Surveys and questionnaires
- Commercial websites or auction sites that mainly exist to sell products
- Details of charity or fundraising events
For example, if it's relevant to the debate, it's fine to link to a website that sells an album or book if it's helping another user or recommending something they would like. However, posting up links to your own band's album or trying to drive buyers to your ebay auction or fundraising site may result in your post being removed.
Copyright law exists to stop someone from taking another person's work and passing it off as their own. It applies to the internet in the same way as it does to TV, books and the press. Breaking copyright law can result in being taken to court. For more information, see our guide to Copyright.
Please do not post large chunks of text copied from other sources as this may be an infringement of copyright. Short quotes to illustrate a point may be permissible, although this is at our discretion.
If you wish to refer to external sources of information, it's better to include a link to an appropriate external website. However, make sure that all external links included in postings meet our editorial guidelines for external links.
Contributions which are not in English are not allowed except on designated blogs. This is because we have to ensure comments can be checked and to ensure that all readers of the blogs understand the comment.
In addition to this, postings with heavy text speak or unintelligible language such as codes are also not allowed as this may disrupt the natural flow of conversation.
Contributing material to a bbc.co.uk community with the intention to commit a crime, break the law, or condone or encourage unlawful activity is prohibited.
In addition we may remove posts which we consider could endanger other users - for example, offering medical and health advice, or encouraging drug or alcohol abuse or self-harm.
Defamation laws exist to protect individuals or organisations from unwarranted, mistaken or untruthful attacks on their reputation. Posting a defamatory statement on a blog is the same as publishing it in a newspaper or magazine and can result in a court case if a formal complaint is made. For more information, see our guide to Defamation. You can also read more about BBC moderation and defamation on the BBC internet blog.
To avoid breaking defamation laws in your comments, please ensure that you verify the information in your posting, especially when presenting negative statements as facts. Also avoid jumping to conclusions, exaggerating or making subtle implications. Remember that adding the word 'allegedly' to a statement does not stop it being defamation.
Both you and the BBC can be held liable if you make a defamatory statement on the BBC website, so we will remove comments where we have insufficient evidence to defend publication of your statement. This means the BBC moderators may err on the side of caution when considering some comments.
Abusive or disruptive behaviour is not allowed on BBC blogs. This includes:
- Using swear words (including abbreviations or alternative spellings) or other language likely to offend.
- Harassing, threatening or causing distress or inconvenience to any person or people.
- Flaming: This means posting something that's angry and mean-spirited.
- Trolling: This means saying deliberately provocative things just to stir up trouble.
- Infringing the rights of, restrict or inhibit anyone else's use and enjoyment of bbc.co.uk
- Attempting to impersonate somebody
- Using multiple accounts to disrupt boards, annoy users, or to avoid pre-moderation.
- Bumping or creating duplicate threads, posting in such a way as to cause technical errors, or any other attempts to disrupt the normal flow of conversation.
Users who seriously or repeatedly demonstrate such behaviour may have their accounts pre-moderated or permanently restricted and will not be allowed to return.
Comments that contain offensive content are not allowed on BBC message boards. Racist, sexist, homophobic, disablist, sexually explicit, abusive or otherwise objectionable material will be removed and if extreme will result in immediate and permanent restriction of your account.
Comments that are unrelated to the subject of the blog entry to which you are contributing are considered 'off-topic'.
Please do not contribute off-topic material in subject-specific blogs, except where a blog has designated open post. If your comment has been removed for being off-topic, you may be able to resubmit your comment in a more relevant topic area. You can find a full list of BBC blogs on the blogs homepage.
Discussion of moderation and moderation decisions are off topic unless otherwise stated. To comment or complain about moderation please use our feedback form. To appeal against a moderation decision please visit our appeals FAQ.
Including contact or identification details in comments such as phone numbers, postal or email addresses is not allowed on most services. Please do not reveal any personal information about yourself or others as it might inadvertently put you or someone else at risk. For more information about online safety please visit the BBC guide to Online Safety.
Once a suspect is arrested for an offence, or offences, legal restrictions apply. The 1981 Contempt of Court Act makes it a serious criminal offence, once someone's been arrested, to publish anything which could prejudice their trial. Being arrested doesn't in itself indicate guilt, so messages posted to the board which presume a suspect is guilty also risk defaming the suspect.
Please use caution when discussing reports of an arrest or court proceedings. Even linking to archived news stories, blog entries and comments may be unlawful as UK contempt law would usually prohibit any reference to the previous conviction(s) of someone facing new court proceedings.
In addition, courts sometimes impose restrictions that prohibit the publication of specific information such as names and addresses of defendants. You can read more about BBC moderation and contempt of court on the BBC internet blog.
Spamming or flooding is not allowed on BBC blogs. Spamming means submitting the same or very similar contribution many times across blogs or entries. Flooding means re-submitting your contribution to the same blog or entry multiple times.
Please do not use a signature beneath your comment to promote websites, services, products or campaigns. This will cause your posts to be removed as spam.
When postings links, please make sure they adhere to our Editorial Guidelines for external links. For example you should not link to
- Unlawful, unsuitable or sexually explicit content.
- Websites that require payment to access
- Foreign language content
- Websites that initiate a file download or require additional software in order to view them. This includes .pdf and .mp3 files.
- Websites that advertise or promote products
In some cases the moderator will edit out the link/s leaving the rest of the comment visible on the board. If so the link will be replaced by [Unsuitable/ broken URL removed by moderator]
Are there special guidelines in place during election and referendum periods?
As a public service broadcaster we are committed to giving audiences the opportunity to engage in high quality debate via our message boards and community spaces. It is also important that the BBC is seen to be impartial in hosting political debates at this time. As a result, some special House Rules are in effect during the election and referendum periods.
House Rules during an Election or Referendum
In addition to the existing House Rules you must:
- Declare if you are a candidate or registered campaigner
- Discuss the issues, not the personalities
- No sloganeering
- No campaigning
BBC Production teams will be following the BBC's Election and Referendum Guidelines. From time to time during the campaign it may be necessary to restrict or close commenting on certain blogs or pages.
In line with the political parties and other UK broadcasters, the BBC does not report on the election campaign or offer discussion about the campaign on any of its outlets while the polls are open. Comment modules will remain open on Polling Day, but users must refrain from discussing the election while the polls are open. Usual BBC House Rules resume once the polls are closed.
Likewise the BBC will not report or offer discussion on the referendum on Thursday 18 September 2014 and users must refrain from discussing it while the polls are open.
Any updates to this information will be published on this page.
Ofcom guidelines for other broadcasters
During election periods the BBC applies rules in line with other broadcasters - you can read the Ofcom guidelines that other media organisations will be working to on their website.
If you have a complaint
If you feel you need to make a formal complaint about any of the BBC's election or referendum services, you can do so by going to the BBC Complaints website.
Can I appeal against a moderation decision?
The BBC has a system of handling complaints and appeals about the moderation and management of our social media sites such as blogs. This is handled separately from complaints about the BBC's editorial output. Both are part of the BBC's overall Complaints Framework which can be read here.
If your comment is failed you will be sent an email telling you which house rule the comment was considered to have broken. This will include a link to more information about the house rules.
On very rare occasions, you may be sent a personalised response telling you why your comment was removed, but we can't do this as a matter of course.
If you have read the email you were sent and these FAQs and disagree that your comment broke the rules, then you can appeal against the decision.
Similarly, if you alerted a comment to the moderators and they rejected your alert, you may also appeal.
How should I make my appeal?
If you want us to consider an appeal against a moderation decision, your appeal must satisfy the following conditions:
- You must make your appeal within 30 days of the moderation decision. An initial response will be provided within 10 working days of the complaint being made.
- Complaints about specific moderation decisions will only be accepted from the user who is subject to that moderation decision and not from third parties, unless it can be demonstrated that they have been appointed by the user themselves as their representative.
- Complainants must include post numbers or moderation reference numbers, or include a link to the relevant content, to enable the original content and moderation history of the item to be traced. Complaints that do not include these details will not be considered.
- Complaints should be clear and concise and not exceed more than 1000 words. Complaints must concern a matter of substance, not be vexatious or trivial, and there must be sufficient evidence to suggest that an appeal against a moderation decision has a reasonable prospect of success.
You can appeal using this feedback form.
How does the appeal process work?
If the BBC finds that a mistake has been made, the content will be reinstated and you will be informed, with an apology where appropriate..
If your complaint is not upheld, we will reply and tell you why. If you still feel your complaint has not been dealt with fairly, you can ask that it is considered again by the BBC's Social Media Complaints Group. This group consists of the Managing Editor, BBC Online, the Head of Editorial Complaints, and the Head of Communications & Complaints, MC&A Audience Services & Operations. To have your appeal considered by the Social Media Complaints Group, it must concern a matter of substance, not be vexatious or trivial, and there must be sufficient evidence to suggest that an appeal against a moderation decision has a reasonable prospect of success.
If the Social Media Complaints Group rejects your appeal and you are still unhappy, you can make an appeal to the BBC Trust, by writing to the Complaints Advisor at the BBC Trust Unit.
Can I appeal against the banning, restriction or pre-moderation of my account?
If you've been banned or restricted from the site and disagree with the decision, then you can appeal. The process will be as above, and you should include the email address that your account was registered to. Please explain clearly why you don't think that you have broken the terms of the site. Creating more accounts or engaging in any other disruptive behaviour may result in the permanent restriction of all your accounts and harm your chances of a successful appeal.
Can I make a general complaint about the standard of moderation on a service?
Yes, you can do so using this feedback form.
Please help us by making your complaint specific and providing examples to support your complaint - the moderation service works across a wide range of BBC websites and different kinds of audiences, so it the more detailed the information you can give us the easier it will be to provide a response.
What is the expedited complaints procedure?
Unfortunately in some cases complainants, because of the frequency or nature of their contacts with the BBC, hinder consideration of their, or other peoples', complaints and disrupt smooth running of the moderation process. When this happens, appeals will no longer be considered from this complainant with the procedure outlined above, but will follow the expedited complaints procedure laid out in the complaints framework on section E3 of the BBC Trust's website.
In addition, you may be asked to put your complaint in writing and send it by posted letter. There is a useful list of the type of actions that might characterise vexatious complaining put together by the Local Government Ombudsman in the LGO guidance notes on actions against unreasonably persistent complaints.
If your account has been restricted because of abuse of the moderation alerts facility we may move you immediately to the vexatious complaints process.