November 13, 2019

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Winnipeg Free Press Community Standards and Moderation Policy

The Winnipeg Free Press allows subscribers to comment on most news articles. This feature gives readers the chance to respond to our stories and engage in dialogue with others about issues that matter in our community.

We moderate our comments to ensure our forum is welcoming, inclusive and safe for all, and so readers will find the discussions lively, entertaining and intelligent.

Join the discussion. But before you do so, we ask that you observe some basic guidelines: Keep your comments on-topic, and be respectful to all who read your comments – our journalists, your fellow commenters, and all our readers.

By submitting your comments, you agree to abide by our community standards -- which you can find below -- as well as our terms and conditions and our privacy policy

If you have a question about our policies, check out our frequently asked questions below.  If your question is not answered there, you can email our online staff.  Due to the volume of comments on our site, we are not able to discuss the moderation of specific comments.

Community Standards

Keep in mind that your comments can be seen by everyone who visits the page, including the people involved in the story’s production and the people in the story.  Respect others and consider your impact when making your contribution.

We welcome debate, but personal attacks, insults, persistent trolling and abusive language will be removed.

We understand the people feel strongly about the issues debated on the site, but we remove any comments that other readers might find offensive, threatening or toxic.  Keep your language civil and your tone family-friendly. 

We remove comments that include inappropriate content, such as graphic, abusive, hateful or explicit language. Our system filters profanity and abusive words, so most comments that include these terms will be automatically removed.  We remove words with letters substituted to avoid our filters.

We do not tolerate any form of hate speech – or contributions that could be interpreted as such. We recognize the difference between criticizing a particular person, government, organization, belief or action and attacking a group. We do not allow negative commentary based on race, ethnicity, creed, national origin, citizenship, religion, sex, gender, sexual orientation, disability, marital status, age, or other protected groups.  This includes “dog-whistle” attacks where the name of the group isn’t specified.

We remove comments that may put us in legal jeopardy, such as libelous or defamatory comments, text that breaks publication bans, material posted in potential breach of copyright, and anything that incites, suggests, implies, encourages or instructs illegal acts or violence – including vigilante or jailhouse violence.  We don't allow "doxxing" -- posting identifying information about a person without their consent; this includes speculation about the identity of other commenters.

We remove comments that are commercial or otherwise spam-like. This also applies to people or organizations who frequently post propaganda or external links without adding substantively to the quality of the discussion, and to users who submit multiple repetitive or identical comments.

We remove comments that don’t meet our standards. If a contribution is perceived as breaching the community guidelines set out here, then it will be removed in the interests of keeping community areas of the site appropriate for the vast majority of the people who visit. We do not edit comments; if any part of a comment is perceived as breaching the community guidelines, the entire comment will be removed.  We do not warn or inform commenters if their comments are removed.

Participants who seriously, persistently or wilfully ignore our community standards or terms and conditions will have their posting privileges withdrawn. This is not an action that we take lightly or arbitrarily. However, we aim to maintain an online experience our readers will enjoy, and we reserve the right to make decisions which we feel support that.  We do not warn or inform users if their commenting privileges are suspended. Registration information connected with suspended accounts will be kept in our system as a legal record of the activity and to manage account privileges.

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 our comment forum, please report it. When we all take responsibility for maintaining an appropriate and constructive environment, the debate itself is improved and everyone benefits.

We reserve the right to take steps to benefit the whole community. The Winnipeg Free Press is ultimately responsible for everything which appears on this site, so all actions and decisions taken by our moderators are final. Unfortunately, the large number of comments on the Free Press website means that we can’t enter into correspondence regarding specific moderation activity, although all correspondence will be read.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do I read comments?

On any article, look for a button at the bottom of the story like this: Comments (0) The number in the brackets is the number of comments so far.

Anyone who can see a story can read the comments on it, even if the person does not subscribe to the Winnipeg Free Press.

How do I add a comment?

Only paid subscribers can comment, so the first step is to subscribe either to our print or digital edition.  If you’re a print subscriber, you’ll need to link your subscription to a digital account; our Audience Development team can help you with this.

Subscribers need to log in to our website to add a comment.  Then, on any article, look for a button at the bottom of the story like this: Comments (0). The number in the brackets is the number of comments so far.

Click on that link to see the discussion. If the bracketed number is 0, then you can grab the top spot!

I find a comment offensive. What should I do?

We encourage all readers to share their opinions and challenge the views of community members by commenting on our stories. If you disagree with a comment, consider posting your own comment to share your perspective.

You can also share your opinion on comments by voting for or against them using the "thumbs up" and "thumbs down" icons on each comment.

Our editorial staff do review comments on some stories, but at any moment there can be dozens of active conversations on the site -- so unfortunately, we don’t see every problematic comment or user straight away, and in some cases we might not spot such issues for a while.

If you find a comment that doesn't meet the standards outlined on this page, click on "Report” button to flag it for our moderators. Moderators will review the comment and determine if it should stay or be removed.  The moderators work 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and will review any reported comment within a few hours.

Don’t rely on someone else to tell us about an issue if you spot one: it only takes a moment to send a report.

Do not report comments you disagree with.  Report only comments that do not meet the standards outlined on this page.

It seems like you’re asking your readers to do your job for you by reporting problems. Why should we?

We believe that when all those involved in a community - hosts and members, creators and contributors - feel and take responsibility for maintaining an appropriate environment, the debate itself is improved and all those involved benefit. We work hard to make and keep the environment constructive and convivial, but we need your help to do so.

If I click on ‘Report,” is the comment automatically removed?

No. When you click on the “Report” link, the comment goes into a queue to be viewed by a moderator, who will then judge whether it meets our community standards.  It is removed from your personal view of the story, since you find it offensive.

My comment was removed. Why?

Your comment was probably removed because it was perceived to contravene the community standards, or it included words that are not allowed in our forum.

If the comment disappeared within seconds of posting it, it included a forbidden word. In the interests of saving our moderators time, we block words that are often misused.  Try submitting your comment again without a word that could be blocked.

If you think your comment was removed by a moderator in error, please remember that at least two people interpreted it as not meeting our community standards: the reader who reported it, and the moderator who removed it. Try rewording your comment so your true meaning is more clear and submitting it again.

To keep our forum relevant to the story at hand, queries or comments about moderation should not be posted as comments.

Due to the volume of comments on our site, we are not able to discuss specific moderator actions or queries about removal of particular comments.  Moderator decisions are considered final.

How do moderators decide what stays and what goes?

Moderators use the community standards as the basis for any moderation decision, combined with the context of the conversation and their own common sense. In cases which are open to interpretation or aren’t clear-cut, we may err on the side of caution, but we try not to be heavy-handed.

Naturally, with any human-powered system, mistakes can be made, and a universal side-effect of any conversation is differences of interpretation. The vast majority of decisions made by the moderation team are sound and therefore we ask our community to support the authority of these decisions, even if you don’t necessarily agree with every single one of them.

Why don’t moderators just remove the bit of a comment which is objectionable, rather than removing the whole thing?

Because our moderators aren’t editors. This is partly to avoid moderators editing your contribution to remove the offending bit and inadvertently change your meaning.  We also want to encourage contributors to think carefully before posting a comment.

Why don’t you give a reason for removing a comment? It would help us learn what’s allowed.

Unfortunately we don’t have the resources to do this. In most cases, a comment’s author should be able to determine what the problem might have been by consulting these community standards.

Why are comments accepted on some stories but not others?

In general we want to open comments up on our material wherever possible, but time and attention is finite and we’ve learned from experience that some subjects and types of article attract less constructive or engaging debate than others.

Comments will generally not be open on content which is sensitive for legal reasons (such as where there’s a high risk of libel or contempt), or for editorial reasons (such as announcements of deaths, stories about particularly divisive or emotional issues).

Comments are often turned off on stories involving minor children, active court cases, when publication bans are in effect, and in situations where a large number of comments that did not meet our standards has been received, or has been received in the past on stories of a similar nature.

Who owns the copyright of comments I have posted?

You do, but by submitting content to us, you grant the Winnipeg Free Press an "unrestricted, royalty-free, irrevocable right to use, adapt, transmit, display, distribute and create any works from" your comment, and we can sublicense that, all without compensation to you.

How about a few tips on commenting? 

Can you give me some examples of comment moderation?

How about some legalese?

Sure! By participating in the Winnipeg Free Press' comment forum, you agree:

About this page

This page was last updated on Feb. 27, 2019.  The rules and community standards were developed by reviewing the moderation and community rules for several online communities, and is based heavily on those employed by The Guardian.