Standards and Guidelines

1. Moderation aims

The AE Digital Medium provides a growing number of opportunities for readers who wish to discuss content we publish or debate issues more generally. We aim to ensure this platform is inclusive and safe, and that the AE Digital Medium is the place on the internet where you will always find lively, entertaining and, above all, intelligent discussions.

2. Community standards

There are ten simple guidelines which we expect all participants in the community areas of the AE Digital Medium to abide by, all of which directly inform our approach to community moderation (detailed below). These apply across the AE Digital Medium, while moderation decisions are also informed by the context in which comments are made.

  1. We welcome debate and dissent, but personal attacks (on authors, other users or any individual), persistent trolling and mindless abuse will not be tolerated. The key to maintaining the AE Digital Medium as an inviting space is to focus on intelligent discussion of topics.
  2. We acknowledge criticism of the articles we publish, but will not allow misrepresentation of AE and our writers to be published on the AE Digital Medium. For the sake of robust debate, we will distinguish between constructive, focused argument and smear tactics.
  3. We understand that people often feel strongly about issues debated on the AE Digital Medium, but we will consider removing any content that others might find extremely offensive or threatening. Please respect other people’s views and beliefs and consider your impact on others when making your contribution.
  4. We reserve the right to redirect or curtail conversations which descend into flame-wars based on ingrained partisanship or generalisations. We do not want to stop people discussing topics they are enthusiastic about, but we do ask users to find ways of sharing their views that do not feel divisive, threatening or toxic to others.
  5. We will not tolerate racism, sexism, homophobia or other forms of hate-speech, or contributions that could be interpreted as such. We recognise the difference between criticising a particular government, organisation, community or belief and attacking people on the basis of their race, religion, sex, gender, sexual orientation, disability or age.
  6. We will remove any content that may put us in legal jeopardies, such as potentially libellous or defamatory postings, or material posted in potential breach of copyright.
  7. We will remove any comments that are obviously commercial or otherwise spam-like. Our aim is that the AE Digital Medium should provide a space for people to interact with our content and each other, and we actively discourage commercial entities passing themselves off as individuals, in order to post advertising material or links. This may also apply to people or organisations who frequently post propaganda or external links without adding substantively to the quality of the discussion on the AE Digital Medium.
  8. Keep it relevant. We know that some conversations can be wide-ranging, but if you post something which is unrelated to the original topic (“off-topic”) then it may be removed, in order to keep the thread on track. This also applies to queries or comments about moderation, which should not be posted as comments.
  9. Be aware that you may be misunderstood, so try to be clear about what you are saying, and expect that people may understand your contribution differently than you intended. Remember that text is not always a great medium for conversation: the tone of voice (sarcasm, humour and so on) does not always come across when using words on a screen. You can help to keep the AE Digital Medium communal areas open to all viewpoints by maintaining a reasonable tone, even in unreasonable circumstances.
  10. The platform is ours, but the conversation belongs to everybody. We want this to be a welcoming space for intelligent discussion, and we expect participants to help us achieve this by notifying us of potential problems and helping each other to keep conversations inviting and appropriate. If you spot something problematic in community interaction areas, please report it. When we all take responsibility for maintaining an appropriate and constructive environment, the debate itself is improved and everyone benefits.

In short:

  • If you act with maturity and consideration for other users, you should have no problems.
  • Do not be unpleasant. Demonstrate and share the intelligence, wisdom and humour we know you possess.
  • Take some responsibility for the quality of the conversations in which you are participating. Help make this an intelligent place for discussion and it will be.

3. Moderation approach

Participants who seriously, persistently or wilfully ignore the community standards and participation guidelines or terms of service and conditions of use, will have their posting privileges for all the AE Digital Medium communal areas withdrawn.

This is not an action that we take lightly or arbitrarily. However, we are aiming to create and maintain an online experience consistent with AE values, and we reserve the right to make decisions which we feel support that. Please, be aware that moderators may contact you by email in relation to your participation, especially where an issue comes up in relation to these community standards and participation guidelines. Any advice they give and/or request they make should be adhered to, as our moderators are employed to enforce these community standards and participation guidelines and create a constructive environment for everyone who contributes to the AE Digital Medium.

We reserve the right to take steps or implement measures which we hope will benefit the whole community of the AE Digital Medium communal participants. Because we are ultimately responsible for everything which appears on the AE Digital Medium, all actions and decisions taken by our moderators are final. Unfortunately, the immense (and growing) quantity of user content on the AE Digital Medium means that we cannot enter into correspondence regarding specific moderation activity, although all correspondence will be read.

Note about community content

The views expressed in communal areas of the AE Digital Medium do not necessarily reflect or represent the views of AE, its employees or contributors.

About this document

This policy is a collaborative document, created by representatives of AE editorial staff including the Head of Communities, moderators and editors, together with the Readers Editor and incorporating feedback from users and content creators across the AE Digital Medium.

It has evolved over many years of community participation in the AE Digital Medium and aims to reflect best practice in community management as well as AE’s editorial values.

It is regularly reviewed and refreshed, so please bookmark this page and check back frequently.

Please remember that by registering for the AE Digital Medium you have also agreed to our terms of service and conditions of use.

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