Code of Conduct For Comments

In light of a recent series of comments on various posts on the Traveler, it seems like a good time to remind readers that we try to maintain a code of conduct for those who comment.

Before we trot out that code, some general pointers we hope you'll keep in mind:

* Stay on subject. We really don't want to get into a political discourse if politics are not tightly entwined with the story. And if they are, don't go off into left (or right) field on politics or politicians that are unrelated. That's a quick way to have your comment deleted.

* As the saying goes, "Don't write anything that you wouldn't say to somebody face to face."

* Please be careful with sarcasm. Not everyone gets it, and sometimes it just doesn't work.

* No ad hominem attacks.

* Use "anonymous" names judiciously. While we'd hate to require that folks use their real names, the recent overly ardent comments that go out-of-bounds has us rethinking that.

Frankly, we struggle to think of a reason why you would want to be "anonymous" in discussions about national parks unless you're a whistleblower. The bottom-line, any comment, whether anonymous or not, that goes over the line will be deleted.

We're a small operation, and while sometimes comments that go over the line slip through, our goal is to maintain a respectful discourse on the site. Please help us with that.

That said, here's our long-standing Code of Conduct:

The blogosphere is a pretty free-wheeling place. As a result, it has developed a persona, right or wrong, of playing fast and loose with facts, with running roughshod over some posters, with allowing anonymity to serve as a shield for attackers. Some bloggers have called for a code of conduct for the blogosphere, and we at the Traveler support that movement.

We view the Traveler as more of a web magazine than a blog. But that doesn't lessen the need for a code of conduct, both to guide the Traveler's writers and to let those who desire to comment on our articles to know there are limits as to what is appropriate.

For those who might immediately jump to the conclusion that we're implementing a measure of censorship, that's not the case at all. Rather, just as there are accepted norms for what can be broadcast and printed in mainstream media, there are accepted norms for the interchange of ideas on the Traveler.

All we expect from you is a measure of civility.

Here's how Colin Rule, director of the Center for Internet and Society, addresses the expectation of civil discourse:

"So is it true that civility and politeness should go out the window when confronted with deep and intense feelings? Well, not to sound too much like "Mr. Manners," but I think it's at that point that civility and politeness come to matter more. When emotions get the better of someone, and that person uses language intended to incite and shock rather than reason, it creates an easy target for the other side; the most likely response becomes a similar provocative statement, and then the exchange becomes focused on the excesses of each statement rather than the issues at hand."

Beyond an expectation of civility there are times when, quite frankly, just as radio and television moderators feel a need to redirect their guests back to the subject at hand, it might be appropriate for us to steer the flurry of comments back to the topic at hand. And we won't hesitate to do that, as we have a very well specified mission statement that guides this patch of cyberspace.

With that said, here are some general guidelines that will guide the code of conduct for the Traveler (with the understanding that they could continue to evolve):

* The authors of posts take responsibility for their words.

* Abusive comments and personal attacks will not be tolerated and will be deleted.

* Those behind abusive comments and personal attacks will be contacted privately and asked to be more constructive in their comments. If the comments and attacks persist, the author will be blocked from the site.

* Don't say anything online that you wouldn't say in person.

* If a subject of a post feels they have been wronged or simply wishes to respond in a post as opposed to a comment, that will be allowed.

In general, we at the Traveler have been pretty tolerant of comments. We do not want to sanitize this forum, nor do we want to create the impression that it tilts one way or the other politically or philosophically.

Yet there is a line, one that should not be crossed, in the common decency of civil discourse. If all you can do is throw stones and slurs, take it elsewhere.

Anonymous comments will continue to be allowed because there obviously are times when whistleblowers want to shield their identity, when the topic is political dissent, and when the individual doesn't want his/her comments attached to the organization they work for.

That said, we encourage those who do not fall under those situations to be up front with who they are and not rely on what's been termed "drive by anonymity" to attack someone. Regardless of how you decide to identify yourself, you are expected to adhere to the points above.

Comments

Thank you for the much-needed refresher course. I know I get carried away, but you should see the ones that I never actually finish sending!

Dottie dittos. Kurt, you are much better at this than Anderson Cooper:). Rock On, Traveler!