House rules are a useful way to keep discussion online on-topic, clean and constructive. Writing them down and posting them prominently makes moderation and community management much easier.
I drafted a simple moderation policy for DIUS social media channels in 2008 which has found its way into all kinds of central government channels subsequently. Following some feedback that the original draft was unfairly excluding under 16s from commenting, I adapted the wording to reflect the specific issues for this group:
By default, comments on this service are pre-moderated. This means that comments will not be published instantly; they will first be checked by the moderators.
Moderation is intended to ensure debate is fair and inclusive, and will not be used to suppress legitimate, reasoned debate about the issues raised.
Comments will normally be approved for publication as long as they:
- Respect other commenters and individuals. Comments should not be malicious or offensive in nature, and should not constitute a personal attack on a person’s character;
- Don’t incite hatred on the basis of race, religion, gender, nationality or sexuality or other personal characteristic;
- Don’t include swearing, hate-speech or obscenity;
- Don’t publicly reveal personal details, such as private addresses, phone numbers or email addresses;
- Don’t break the law. This includes libel, condoning illegal activity, and breaking copyright;
- Are reasonably concise, and don’t constitute spamming of this service;
- Don’t advertise commercial products and services. You may mention relevant products and services as long as they support your comment;
- Don’t impersonate or falsely claim to represent a person or organisation;
- Are in English. Unfortunately, we do not currently have the resource to moderate comments in other languages;
- Are on-topic. Please don’t post messages that are unrelated to this channel;
- If relating to an Official document hosted on this service: are not party political in nature.
If you are aged 16 or under, you may want to talk to your parent/guardian about the ideas on this website and the opinions that you want to express. Please don’t leave any personal details that might identify you (apart from in the email address box, which won’t be published anyway), and you may want to use your first or last name only, rather than your full name.
Moderators reserve the right to suspend comments at any time. Where a comment is not published for a reason other than those listed above, the site moderators will endeavour to reply to the commenter by email explaining their reasons and inviting them to make appropriate changes so that the comment can be reconsidered.