What is moderation?Hide
User generated content is checked by a team of trained moderators to make the community a safe and enjoyable place to be, and ensure that they meet the House Rules, the BBC's Editorial Guidelines and the laws of the United Kingdom. Moderators do not post their own comments.
What do hosts do?Hide
Hosts do post comments. Their display names appear differently so you can tell them apart from members of the public. Hosts do not usually moderate content, although it is their job to keep the discussion 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?Hide
At the BBC, we allow as much freedom as possible to have relevant debate on our website. 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's Editorial Guidelines. This is why we have a set of House Rules that we ask everyone to follow. Moderators only remove comments that break these House Rules.
Moderation is necessary so all users can participate 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 licence-fee payers' money.
Please take care when copying text from someone else's comment into your own. If the text you have copied into your comment is seen to break the House Rules, your entire comment 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 board, but the person who posted it will receive an email explanation when the decision is made to remove it. Unfortunately we cannot 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 email you received.
How are comments moderated?Hide
Comments are checked or 'moderated' in three different ways, depending on subject of discussion and target age range of the site:
Every single comment is checked before it appears.
All comments appear immediately and are checked shortly afterwards.
Comments are usually only checked if a complaint is made about them. This approach is only used in discussions intended for adults. If you see a comment that you think may break one of the House Rules, please alert a moderator by using the report link.
BBC News are currently trialling reactive moderation, using an intelligent filtering system to more quickly identify and remove comments that break the House Rules. This means that most comments will appear immediately rather than all comments being pre-moderated, 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.
When you click into the comment box it will state whether it is pre-moderated, post-moderated, or reactively moderated. The majority of comments on reactive sites will not be viewed by the moderators unless they are reported. However, individual comment modules, messageboard topics and discussions, user accounts 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?Hide
All moderation is done by a team of trained human moderators. A comment is never removed without being read and reviewed by a human moderator. However, we have filters to prevent certain offensive words from being posted, or to detect posts using words which may indicate a breach of the House Rules. These comments 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?Hide
Moderators are trained to work to a set of detailed 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 hosts, supervisors, or the Central Communities Team, who are responsible for moderation across the majority of the BBC. The moderators work across many sites and view the comments out of context, so they will usually refer decisions about off-topic comments to the hosts who may be more familiar with the subject matter.
What happens to my comment when it is sent to the moderation queue?Hide
On a post-moderated or pre-moderated site, all comments join the moderation queue and will be passed, removed or referred as soon as they are seen by a moderator. The time taken to review a comment may depend on the length of the queue but in most cases, should be within a few minutes.
On a reactive site comments are usually only checked if they are reported. These comments are prioritised ahead of all others.
Why do some comments take longer to moderate than others?Hide
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 comment will be hidden while a decision is pending and the time taken to make this decision will depend on the investigation necessary.
How do I complain about another user's behaviour?Hide
Alert the moderators with examples of the user's behaviour and a full explanation so that we can investigate your complaint. Please note that while we may allow the individual comment to remain we will still investigate your complaint. To make us aware of general moderation issues please use the feedback form. For more information about moderation please visit our moderation FAQ page.
Why is my name a number?Hide
If your display name breaks the House Rules it will be reset to your user number.
Why are my posts pre-moderated, even on reactive boards?Hide
Each time you start commenting in a new part of the website your initial comments will be checked before appearing.
If you have been commenting there for a long time and your comments are still being pre-moderated, your account may have been set to pre-moderation. User accounts are pre-moderated when they repeatedly or seriously break the House Rules. In this case, while others may be able to post comments straight away, every comment a pre-moderated user submits will be checked by a moderator before it appears.
If you think restrictions have been placed on your account, please check you are signed in and that the comment module or messageboard discussion is not closed or pre-moderated before contacting us about the status of your account.
Why hasn't my comment appeared?Hide
Your comment may be awaiting moderation. Some sites are entirely pre-moderated, which means that all comments are checked by a moderator before they appear. Most BBC sites are reactively moderated, but if you are a new user to that particular part of the website, your initial comments will 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 automated email telling you why.
Why has my comment disappeared?Hide
Why has my comment been removed when other comments that break the House Rules in a similar way are allowed to remain?Hide
On a reactive site, a comment is usually only checked if it is reported. As a result, the moderators see some comments but may not be alerted to other comments that also break the House Rules. This helps them to remain neutral in their judgement by assessing each comment individually. However, this may mean that one comment is removed while other equally questionable comments are allowed to remain.
If you see a comment that you think may break the House Rules, please alert a moderator by using the report link.
Another reason this may happen is because there will always be some grey areas when making moderation decisions. When deciding whether to pass or fail a comment, a moderator is required to assess the level of potential risk, especially in cases of libel, contempt of court etc. and may remove a comment 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 remove a particular comment while another moderator might allow a similar comment to remain. While we take a lot of care to ensure fairness, occasional inconsistencies are inevitable in the moderation process - if you have comments or complaints about the moderation service please contact us using our feedback form.
Malicious or excessive use of the report facility will lead to the restriction of your ability to report comments and in some cases the restriction of your BBC iD from commenting.
Are comments more likely to be removed if a complaint is made about them several times?Hide
No, a comment 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 comment while another moderator may remove 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.
Why was my comment removed without any explanation?Hide
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 comment without automatically generating an email with a brief explanation of the reason for failing the comment. If you have had a comment 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 removed 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 BBC iD account details is incorrect or no longer in use. You can check or update your email details by signing into your BBC iD 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.
What happens if you break the rules?Hide
You will be sent an email informing you why your comment has been failed. Users who seriously or repeatedly break the House Rules may be restricted from commenting on some or all BBC sites. The BBC reserves the right to edit, move or delete any message, or terminate membership, at any time, for any reason.
Why have all of a user’s comments vanished?Hide
If the user is a spammer or a user who has been banned many times before all of their comments are removed when their BBC iD is restricted.