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Why do we have a comments policy in the first place?

We believe that the comments section can be a valuable place where readers and reporters can converse. Without clear guidelines on acceptable behavior, that space can devolve into nastiness and name calling. When that happens, the climate stifles debate and keeps many from sharing their own stories. Part of our role as a news organization is to offer readers who love Maine a space to share their ideas and experiences. Enforcing this policy helps accomplish that.

This policy is new as of March 2019, created by BDN staff with the input of hundreds of readers (thank you!). This reminder from the old policy still stands, though: Be civil. Stay on topic. Don’t abuse people. Don’t embarrass your mother.

If you’re looking for the Comments FAQ, that’s over here.

Here’s what we’re looking for:

— Thoughtful responses to the article that share your experience about the topic at hand.
— Factual information that enhances or provides context to the article. Links are welcome, if used sparingly.
— Tips that could advance our reporting on the topic.
— Specific questions about the content of the article that you’d like the reporter to answer.

Here’s what will cause your comment to be marked as “pending”:

— Using curse words or slurs. Unless you’ve used the word in an approved way (such as quoting the story), these comments will be deleted.
— Having your comment flagged by another member of our community for violating our rules of use. Please do not abuse this function if you simply disagree with another reader’s comment. If your comment meets our standards, we will restore it as soon as possible.

Here’s what will get your comment deleted:

— Personal attacks of other BDN users or subjects of stories. We will not allow name calling, hate speech, ad hominem arguments or insults.
— Engaging in one-on-one debates with other commenters. If you disagree with another reader’s comment, make your case in one succinct message and move on. We will delete these threads if they devolve into personal attacks.
— Straying too far off-topic. Comments that merely repeat talking points, espouse conspiracy theories or include misinformation will be deleted. Again, we’re looking for your personal experiences or opinions on the subject.
— Copying and pasting articles in full from other news sources, or if a comment appears to be plagiarized.
— Writing in all caps. There’s no need to yell.
— The editor reserves the right to turn comments off on any article at any time.
— Deletion of comments is at the discretion of BDN moderators.

Here’s what will get your account banned:

— Engaging in any of the above deletable offenses consistently.
— Egregiously violating any of the above deletable offenses, even on your first comment.
— Behaving aggressively and trying to dominate a conversation. Posting the same comment repeatedly on the same story will get you banned. So will attacking anyone whose comments you disagree with.

Comments policy last updated 1/23/20