With a recent expansion in the number of comments the ICANN blog has been receiving, there have been a number of queries and complaints about individual comments not appearing.
As such we felt it would be helpful to state ICANN’s policy on blog comments so the community is aware of the system in place.
Chat versus point
First of all, we would like to note that the ICANN blog is not a messageboard and, if necessary, we will take steps to prevent it becoming one. There are tens of thousands of readily available messageboards on the Net and so we request people use one of them rather than carry out extensive back-and-forth chats on the ICANN blog.
The reason for this is simple: we hope to make the blog a method of fast, direct communication between ICANN and the Internet community. That task becomes increasingly difficult the more comments that are posted as people only have a limited amount of time each day to review what is happening on the blog.
If every comment raises a relevant and new point, all the better, but when comments turn into chats, the effect is that people switch off – to everyone’s detriment.
Our policy is to delete any comment that merely vents a spleen or to which it is not possible to produce a useful response. We will do this without notification, or appeal, and we do so entirely without shame. If someone persists in sending abusive comments, we will block their IP address. The same holds true for threats – personal, organisational, legal or otherwise.
The reason why we have this zero tolerance policy is because we do not wish to impede any reasonable, questioning, critical, helpful or practical comments that the Internet community wishes to make in response to blog posts, and so will continue to maintain the bare minimum comment-approval process.
Libel, conjecture, nonsense
Likewise, we will delete – without notice or appeal – blog posts that contain unsubstantiated claims, libellous accusations, or accusations of conspiracy. The ICANN blog will not deal in wild claims. We are a professional organisation and will remain entirely disinterested in anything that has no factual basis or useful, practical point.
While we much prefer people to be honest about their identity, we recognise that there are occasional advantages to allowing anonymity in blog comments. As such, at this time, we do not require any form of registration for people to post comments.
However, that does not mean that we will tolerate people posing as others on the blog. And we will take a firmer line with a consistently unhelpful or critical poster if they choose to hide behind anonymity. The ICANN blog’s ethos is to help raise and solve issues. Anything that strays into name-calling or criticism for criticism’s sake will simply be removed.
We would also like to stress that comments covering an entirely different topic to the actual blog post they are attached to are also frowned upon. If it is a mistake, we have no problem, but the ICANN blog is there to be a reasonable and helpful communication and interaction tool – not to lobby by the backdoor, or harangue staff over the same issue out of context.
One of the biggest problems in maintaining an open posting process is automated blog spam. The effect can be very significant, and the number will increase as the blog gains a higher profile. To make this manageable, we have introduced two spam filters.
One problem we have discovered is that if an individual posts several comments in a short period of time, the system flags them as a spammer and so removes their comments and puts all future comments from that individual either into the spam folder or moderation.
Having reviewed the system, we intend to keep it as it is for the moment because the advantages far outweigh the disadvantages. As stated above, we do not wish the ICANN blog to become a messageboard and so we see little need for people to post a large number of comments in a short period of time.
However, we will undertake frequent reviews of the spam folder to check that legitimate comments are not being wrongly removed. We should warn commenters however that sending comments complaining that their comments have been designated spam only increases the chances of them being recognised by the software as a spammer.
If in doubt, the best solution in every case is to be patient. If you have sent a comment that does not break any of the guidelines above, it will appear on the blog.
But for the rest of it…
All that said, we will endeavour to respond to any comments that raise queries or questions and we strongly welcome useful and constructive feedback.