Moderation during the Election period
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.