We've established these House Rules for your safety and to keep the BBC messageboards a healthy environment for discussion.
If your post has been removed or your account has been restricted and you do not agree that you have broken these rules, please visit our appeals FAQ.
We've established the following House Rules so that everyone can get the most out of commenting on the BBC website.
Please note that these also apply to rich media submissions such as images, video and audio clips, as well as content associated with you such as avatar images.
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 comments and take action against those responsible.
Why has a display name been reset?Hide
We reserve the right to reset display names that:
- 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:
Advertise a productHide
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 links to your own band's album or trying to drive buyers to your ebay auction or fundraising site may result in your comment being removed.
Risk breaching copyright lawHide
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 comments meet our editorial guidelines for external links.
Are not in EnglishHide
Comments 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, comments with heavy text speak or unintelligible language such as codes are also not allowed as this may disrupt the natural flow of conversation.
Risk breaking UK lawHide
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 comments which we consider could endanger other users - for example, offering medical and health advice, or encouraging drug or alcohol abuse or self-harm.
Contain potentially defamatory statementsHide
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 comment, 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.
Are abusive or disruptiveHide
Abusive or disruptive behaviour is not allowed on the BBC website. 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 the BBC website. 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 discussion are considered 'off-topic'.
Please do not contribute off-topic material, except where a blog has a designated open post or a messageboard has a designated off-topic discussion. If your comment has been removed for being off-topic, you may be able to resubmit your comment somewhere more relevant. You can find examples of some places to comment on the right hand side of this page.
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.
Contain personal detailsHide
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.
Contempt of courtHide
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 comments posted to the BBC website 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 the BBC website. Spamming means submitting the same or very similar comment many times across the site. Flooding means re-submitting your contribution to the same blog entry or messageboard thread multiple times.
Please do not use a signature beneath your comment to promote websites, services, products or campaigns. This will cause your comments to be removed as spam.
Contain unsuitable linksHide
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 .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].
Break our election and referendum rulesHide
As a public service broadcaster we are committed to giving audiences the opportunity to engage in high quality debate. 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 election and referendum periods. Caution may also be applied in the immediate run up to the formal period.
House Rules during an Election or Referendum
In addition to the existing House Rules you must:
- Declare if you are an election candidate or registered referendum campaigner
- No sloganeering
- No campaigning
- No creating opinion polls
Please be careful when choosing titles for messageboard discussions and display names - offensive, silly or sloganeering titles may cause the whole discussion to be closed or your display name to be reset.
BBC Production teams will follow the BBC’s Editorial 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 will not report the election or referendum campaign or offer discussion about the campaign on any of its outlets while the polls are open. The BBC site as a whole will remain open to commenting on Polling Day, but election or referendum related debates will be closed and users must refrain from discussing the election or referendum while the polls are open. Usual BBC House Rules will resume once the polls are closed.
Any updates to this information will be published on this page.
Ofcom guidelines for other broadcasters
During election and referendum periods the BBC applies rules in line with other broadcasters. You can read the Ofcom guidelines that other media organisations work to on their website.
If you have a complaint
If you need to make a formal complaint about any of the BBC's election or referendum services, you can do so via the BBC Complaints website.