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Policy

Rules

We encourage robust debate and we’re tolerant of dissenting views. But this site run for reasonably rational debate between dissenting viewpoints and we intend to keep it operating that way.

What we’re not prepared to accept are pointless personal attacks, or tone or language that has the effect of excluding others. We are intolerant of people starting or continuing flamewars where there is little discussion or debate. This includes making assertions that you are unable to substantiate with some proof (and that doesn’t mean endless links to unsubstantial authorities) or even argue when requested to do so. Such comments may be deleted without warning or one of the alternatives below may be employed. The action taken is completely up to the moderator who takes it.

Attacking the blog site, or attributing a mind to a machine (ie talking about The Standard as if it had an opinion), or trying to imply that the computer that runs the site has some kind of mind control over authors and commentators is not allowed. Making such assertions will often get the sysop answering you, because he considers that those are comments directed at him personally. As a computer programmer he knows exactly how dumb machines are. If you’re lucky he will merely give you an educational ban. But sometimes when time is available, he does like to point out in a humiliating manner that machines are not intelligent – and neither is the person expressing that fallacy. .

Similarly if you act like a machine (ie a troll) you will be treated as one – a form of spambot. A troll is generally defined on this site as someone who clearly isn’t bothering to engage their brain when commenting. The standard is that the troll could be replaced with a dictionary of lines and phrases, and no-one would know the difference. Typically trolls do not interact with other commentators as they either ignore what others say in reply or write a reply that ignores what they said. In either case it is ignorant, anti-social, annoying to read, and will often result in a banning so that others don’t have to read the comments of someone living with their sense organs turned off.

This site doesn’t allow anonymous comments or posts. Everyone must have a pseudonym and we don’t allow people to change them whenever they feel like it. We collect IP numbers and email addresses and have an active moderation policy. Ultimately the trust is responsible for comments put on the site and we will act against anyone who puts us at what we perceive as a legal risk.

This does not mean that simple blanket threats from people and their lawyers upset about content will be acted upon. At a bare minimum complainants should email our contact addresses with a link to the comment or post in question and explain exactly why they think it should be changed or removed and the legal basis (if any)  for doing so.

If we and/or our lawyers feel that the the comment or post oversteps a legal bound, violates good taste, invades the privacy of people outside the public domain, or goes beyond the scope of our site – then and only then will we do something about it.

As guidelines to consider. Publishing facts that are manifestly false is relevant to our decision, but clearly stated opinion is not. Hurt feelings or career damage are not particularly relevant. If you wish to claim copyright then you need to provide checkable details rather than merely asserting an unsubstantiated claim. The required freedom of expression for a democracy to function effectively is relevant as is the restraint required to continue exercising it in the future.

Most of the time the moderators will be harsher on offending content than any court in NZ is likely to be.

See here for an explanation of who writes for the blog. The authors write for themselves with the following exceptions.

  1. If we are putting up material from a guest poster, then it will go up under “Guest Post” and may or may not have a name or pseudonym attached.
  2. If the site is reposting material from another site with no opinion or minimal opinion from an author, then it will go up under the name of “The Standard” (aka notices and features).
  3. There are some routine posts like the daily OpenMike that will also go up under the name of “The Standard” (aka notices and features) because they also offer no opinion.

The bar is high because we like robust debate, but there is a bar.

Banning

We don’t really want to ban anyone. If you’re borderline we’ll probably warn you first. If you’re a consistent repeat offender we will ask you to ban yourself for a period.

If polite banning by the moderators is ineffective, then you may come to the sysop’s attention and get a permanent ban. Since he is a programmer, has a lot of tools and is very very persistent about killing bugs, it is inadvisable to go that far if you wish to continue writing comments here..

There are a number of topics and actions that are viewed as being self-evident attempts at martyrdom. They typically result in immediate and sometimes a permanent ban.

A partial list of these self-martyrdom offenses include:-

  • Generally wasting a moderators time is just not a good idea. We’re there to deal with isolated problems. People persistently sucking up our voluntary time won’t like the results.
  • Abusing the sysop or post writers on their own site – including telling us how to run our site or what we should write. This is viewed as self-evident stupidity, and should be added as a category to the Darwin Awards.
  • Describing the site as having ulterior motivations, being a tool of someone, or generally being ignorant of where you have come to. When visiting a blog site it always pays to read the About pages before making a fool of yourself. Then you will know what the site is about. Failure to do so is just bad bad manners.
  • Similarly, people should read the site policy before commenting on or even worse demanding that our policies should change. We might tolerate someone doing it once, but people asking about topics that are in this page are liable to get long educational bans because it is clear that they need time to read them closely.
  • Directly or indirectly advocating violence in any shape or form (including ‘jest’ and advocating self-harm) to individuals or groups is simply not allowed. Moderators will have a no-tolerance humourless response as the only possible response. If you want to talk about political conflicts around the world, then do so being mindful of this proscription.
  • Link-spamming when not in the context of the comment thread. We have advertisers who pay to hire our space to pay for the servers. Link-spammer do not contribute, so why should we allow you to advertise here? You can link to your own site provided it isn’t excessive, explains why you think it should be read (so people can decide not to go there without clicking into it), is short, and you either do it in OpenMike or within the context of the post or surrounding comments.
  • Similarly pasting long materials from other sites, especially copyrighted materials, is not permitted. Just link and selectively quote. Repeated offences is really dumb.
  • The Gosman (hypocrisy) ruling.  People using a pseudonym to comment who then claim that other people commenting/posting anonymously (or any words construed to mean that) will have their own comments treated as being anonymous. Since this site does not allow anonymous comments, they will receive an immediate long ban.
  • The political system changed in NZ in 1996 from FPP to MMP. We expect people interested in politics and especially polls here to have caught up with the implications of that change – all governments since 1996 have been coalitions. Arguing on the basis FPP politics for NZ is viewed as evidence of trolling.
  • Being banned and arguing that we have no ‘right’ to ban you. Arguing with moderation is a trait requiring darwinian winnowing that usually results in a rapid education about who runs the site (regardless which of your many pseudonym’s you use).

Moderation

Moderation is mainly used to control spam comments that do not get caught by the anti-spam tools. This means that you might get caught in it if you use some words, have an IP range that overlaps a spam source, or your IP comes from certain geographical regions.

Moderation may also be used if you get banned on a temporary basis (ie the moderators or sysop see some hope that you may have the capability to comment here) and don’t do it voluntarily. The moderators will put you there as a reminder that you aren’t welcome. It usually pays to ask the moderators to get you out of it if you do make it in there and when you have served your time. We usually forget otherwise.

Finally, the moderators may put you into moderation for what they consider is bad behaviour, while they get around to having a look at your patterns of behaviour. This is often used on people who just seem to be trying to start flamewars.

If you get moderated and don’t have a good reason why, don’t get too alarmed. It is probably the spam trap. Usually your message will get approved shortly, but sometimes during weekends and overnight it may take a while.

Of course people with permanent bans or who leave comments whilst on a ban tend to live in the automatic spam trap. We will keep feeding your comments to the wordpress and others anti-spam until it starts to refuse you at any site covered by them and we don’t see your comments any more.

Privacy

We do not disclose any information to third parties. This includes what you add to your profile that is not public on the blog. In particular your real name and e-mail. Similarly if you are not logged in and enter a comment, we do not disclose the e-mail you enter on your message.

E-mail addresses are only used by the sysop or moderators if they need to contact you. This will usually be because of your behavior or other peoples behavior to you on the blog. Sometimes it will be used if we’re really interested in something you wrote.

IP’s are only used when looking at moderation and banning. We will often look to see other pseudonyms have been used by the same person on this site. Very useful when dealing with repeat offenders.

What you write in comments, your name/pseudonym and website is public and will be visible to anyone who reads the site. That is far more than the number of people who comment. Don’t write something that you’d be ashamed of in 20 years because it will probably still be visible. Better yet, don’t use your real name – use a pseudonym.

In addition for the benefit of the government and other organisations.

Implied or explicit consent about privacy

Reproduced from Kiwipolitico for the likes of Paula Bennett

On this blog it is likely that, from time to time, the authors and commenters will criticise government policy, speeches, and political tactics.

We would like to reassert that this is neither explicit nor implicit consent to release any private information about the authors or commenters that is held by any government agency, minister’s office, local government organisation, political party, or any other person, organisation or agency.

For the purposes of clarification this non-consent includes, but is not limited to, the following information:

  • benefit status or history;
  • family status or history;
  • ACC status or history;
  • health status or history including information held by DHBs, PHOs, central government agencies and private providers whether directly or indirectly contracted by the state;
  • interactions with justice or law enforcement including complaints, interviews, interactions, documents supplied;
  • employment status or history;
  • any grants applied for or received; and
  • tax payments, status or history.

In addition we would like to restate that posting or commenting here does not give implicit or explicit consent for any private information held about any author or commenter to be used for a purpose other than the purpose for which is was supplied. This non-consent includes, but is not limited to, the reuse of personal information for political purposes.

Logins

Logins on The Standard are a granted privilege rather than a right. There has been considerable work done on the site to allow anyone to simply write comments without requiring a login. All you have to do is to not violate the general rules listed above and attract the ire of a moderator.

For obvious reasons authors & contributors who write posts get logins. They have to have on to be able to write posts.

People who just comment may get them, but we are quite restrictive about handing them out. It makes banning people so much harder (and easier) to do. In fact it’d be easiest for moderators to permanently disable the login if they tell you that you’re banned for a period of time and then you ignore that. So you’d have to invent a new identity.

However on the upside, having a login makes being able to retain your identity because it gets a whole lot harder to fake it. It makes it far easier to comment coherently across multiple computers and devices. Fewer mistakes typing those dratted handles and ‘e-mail’ shared secret. And less moderation when those same typos cause you to be treated as a “new” commenter (ie tossed automatically into moderation).

But there are other downsides. You have to remember yet another bloody password. You’d have to give us a valid email address and then update your details page when your email changes. Without a login, you can put whatever rubbish you want into the comment email field – it is just a shared secret between the site and yourself.

But you can get a custom icon that best displays your online personality…. Choices, choices…

So if the site’s systems offer you an opportunity to login, then you decide if you want to take the risk based on your knowledge about your behaviour on site.

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