Moderation on NAR comments

Great question and feedback from everyone. I’ll try to answer as best as I can.

It’s a bit difficult to draw the line between free speech and censorship. And exposure to different ideas and perspectives is something that’s generally been allowed. We think it helps people to see the world differently and to overall become more informed. But it’s not something we want to accomplish at the expense of anyone feeling unsafe or unwelcome. For that reason, we have rules on hate speech, personal attacks, and offensive language. But then subjective interpretations of what’s acceptable is different for everyone. It’s very common for us to get an email asking we ban someone that they felt was being extremely offensive, when the other person was simply expressing a different viewpoint. This can get extra difficult when it’s regarding a sensitive topic. I humbly ask that everyone look at context and intent first. Our general rule of thumb: Having a different opinion or constructive debate is okay, but attacking or disrespecting someone is not okay.

Another major challenge is the limited amount of resources we have (mostly time). There isn’t someone that we can dedicate solely to reading the thousands of comments we get across the platforms every single day. So while we do our best to catch bad behavior, we rely heavily on readers to write in and let us know when there’s something wrong. For comments on the site, I highly recommend everyone make use of the flagging feature – it’s different from downvoting. Comments that get enough flags will automatically be hidden until one of us here has a chance to review it.

While this may not be a helpful answer, I want to reiterate that we’re recognizing toxic behavior has been a trending issue, and it’s not something we want to tolerate on the site or forums. What we’re going to be doing now is allotting time to finding the right solution for it. It’s just usually more work than we think it’ll be. For example, a strike system would be nice, but it also requires us to create a consistent and efficient way to notify users of bad behavior and then keep track of these communications. We will find a solution though. In the meantime, it’s absolutely needed help when bad behavior is reported or flagged (with objective lenses). Hope that sheds some light on the situation. :slight_smile:

TLDR: Subjectivity + freedom of opinion means we can’t make everyone happy. We also literally don’t have the resources to read every comment. But we understand toxicity has been a trending issue, and it won’t be a quick fix but we are prioritizing finding one. Meanwhile we ask everyone to report bad behavior whenever possible (flagging being the most efficient method).


Somehow I thought it was “bipolar”.

I think if a story happens because someone is Black or whichever in the writer’s judgement, then they, “OP”, will say so. And certainly they will have considered whether it’s so, because you do that whenever you encounter another human being. So to make that a comment will be unwelcome.

The one I thought of is the OP whose visitor screamed and ran from the blocked front door when OP climbed up on OP’s own porch to investigate. But instead I suggested… OP got taller.

Not always… the only one I can call over the back of my head which I think the OP might be BlPOC is the “Sarge” story I used as reference. Under the heading of “Christmas Karam” There’s no indication of what skin colour they might be otherwise. It’s only the actions of the employee and the manager of the store which makes me think OP is BIPOC.
Sarge Story. A story by the OP whom we know as Aryun (we don’t discover until he comments on his mother’s story that he’s BIPOC, but the “gang signs” in an early story makes sense with that information). That Op’s now brother-in-law who is deaf, his now-wife, and OP are at Disney’s Blizzard Beach and OP, sister and BIL are talking in ASL and a woman screaming that they’re “Doing gang signs”. and marchs out of the park saying “she’s going to contact the founder” and OP says to someone “hope she has a oujja board”
and the “Commond” story where Aryun says in the comment he’s First Person:

anyone tell me other stories where I or someone else “jumps to conclusion” about the person skin colour because it’s not mentioned in the story?

The only stories I know which mention skin colour are:
the two “they want to look at the kid(napped) menu”. One with the Middle Eastern family with a white kid and the server thinks the kid is being kidnapped and even slaps the kid but when the WHITE dad shows up the server (who is being arrested) “I didn’t know she took after her dad!” despite the family repeating it several times. And the African-American step-dad who took an Asian descendant kid to a story and the cashier called 911 because once again, the cashier thought the step-father was kidnapping the step-daughter.

Or the storey about the white employee who thought OP (A white woman) was an “escort” of sorts to two black men (one of who was her boyfriend, the other her bestie) but they turned the joke on the employee lady.
the one where OP goes to a restaurant with a bunch of coworkers And the server keeps getting the BIPOC co-worker’s order wrong (orders Lemonade to drink gets Sweet ice tea, orders bacon cheeseburger with fries, and gets instead fried chicken sandwich and mashed potatoes, good thing they didn’t ask for dessert or the BIPOC might have ended up with watermelon)

Considering “the Sarge story”… it could be as you suggest and “Sarge” has chosen not to mention that “Sarge” is BIPOC. It also could be, well… here
are rules including that “If you don’t believe the validity of a story please ignore it and move on.” I don’t like that rule, frankly. But this isn’t my house…

Anyway, I take from the Rules, that if you believe that a story here does not tell all relevant facts of an incident, including who’s BIPOC, then you would be expected not to discuss that, too. It’s the same thing - if you take the standard as “to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth,” like a court witness.

And we could be mistaken.

But that’s about “truth policing” and I’m not truth policing… the people who are “truth policing” are the ones whom are saying “this story is fake!”.

I mean in the sarge story the employee literally followed OP around. And then accused OP of “not being able to afford” the purse “and wanting to steal it…” The manager also accused OP of “trying to shoplift”. If you read up about BIPOC experience that’s a common thing they have to deal with every day of their life- employees assume BIPOC=thieves so “must be watched closely”.

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Chiming in again here – let’s try to keep this on topic. I can’t speak for any comments that may have been left by anyone on previous stories. But feel free to create a new topic to discuss any nuances in the story details. :v:

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Yeah again I created this thread to primarily ask for more moderation on

  • Actual, objective hate speech
  • Repeated, malicious name calling and insults at other commenters

I will be flagging that when I see it going forward.
I think in the future we could consider a feature minimizing heavily downvoted comments, but I’m not as concerned with non-malicious-but-misguided comments or anything that can be countered with a reply explaining why it’s problematic.


The community itself has seen better days, but I’m a big fan of the way Slashdot handles moderation. Simplifying, but a random selection of the user base gets mod points to apply at their discretion during a given time period – assigning not just point value weighting, but limited context as well (e.g. informative, insightful, funny, flamebait, trolling, etc.).

Users can opt to browse posts at a given point threshold, effectively mass-blocking things that the community collectively decides are not desirable (with the option to see everything at will). It is somewhat vulnerable to sockpuppet exploitation, but actual moderators/admins can oversee that sort of abuse.

Granted, as long as the site uses Disqus for story commentary, this style of moderation would be a total nonstarter.

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Disqus appears to give web sites a fairly good system for receiving and managing community comments on articles. But the site has to use the controls properly. NAR does better than some; two other web sites have approximately no spam blocking, or for a still unknown reason blocked anything I wrote without saying so, or answering e-mails.

There are set options under “Flag as inappropriate” ranging from “I disagree with this user”, which I might usually ignore if I was moderator, to “User is a war criminal” or something… it’s open to NAR to treat some of these more seriously.

I said this above, but I feel it bares repeating… IMO the best way to handle this is for the editing staff and admins to become regulars of the site, with their fancy staff badges. Get to know the regulars of the site, and what and how other users respond to certain types of comments. It’ll put the mod team in a position to directly deal with toxicity, but also helps them learn about the users and what is normal and what is not.

Also give them a chance to tell people directly to knock it off if need be.

EDIT - It’ll also help staff learn how users react to certain stories.


Probably a good option honestly, though I know plenty that’d be happy to see me dissapear so I won’t be surprised if I end up being chucked into the bin if moderation goes the way a few desire.

If you’re talking about blocking - that usually operates on a user-to-user basis. If that means that no one talks to you then you were doing it wrong, morally at least.

If you’re referring to a system to block one user from writing a lot of entries, particularly on one article - my read is that that was proposed when someone is saying the same thing over again when someone contradicts them - that’s in the Rules arguably, which implicitly define spam as “repetitive and unwanted comments just for the sake of attention.” I think that strict social rules online can make participation less satisfactory on all sides - but some care and effort is appropriate when you’re trying to deserve the place that you’re being given on other people’s computer screens, including making your points in argument only as long as they need to be, and also remembering that when you have already said something, then anyone else who comments has probably seen that, before or after their own contribution: you don’t need to say your thing again.

Then again, I bumped into a participation limit already in this forum.

Or you could just…NOT call people awful names and tell them they should die. Or would that take all the fun out of it?


Fun? I use it as stress relief and a way to vent my unending hatred and anger at humanity as I’m too bloody poor to afford a proper shrink. Trust me, if I had more effective means to deal with my little situation I wouldn’t be subjecting those of you who are actually reasonable and worthwhile human beings to it.

But please, do tell me how some people like edward anderson deserve kindness and respect, I’d love to hear you explain that one considering how he’s actively spreading misinformation that’s been proven to cause deaths in our current situation.

Yes let’s start with flagging (when there are rules being broken). With the challenges I laid out above, the quickest change we can start making now is to be more diligent and thorough with flagged comments. And making sure our rules are clear and all encompassing. This is something I’ve brought up internally today and will continue to do so.

Hopefully no one has to get chucked into the bin. But stopping the spread of misinformation is a good point that I’ll have to bring up with the team. Traditionally we avoid political bias, but I think medical information is something else to consider. Anyone have thoughts on that?


I agree with having more moderation on médica misinformation. I am sure you are using “political bias” to mean “policies that reasonable people may disagree on”, but unfortunately nowadays some political parties object to human rights and public health.

I would propose stronger moderation (deleting posts and banning repeat offenders) that encourage dangerous anti-science stances like “don’t wear masks” or “vaccines cause autism”. This is a no brainer to me.

For more nuanced cases I would propose checking it against the following criteria:

  • How dangerous is it? If someone says “vitamin d helps colds”, that’s a common myth but following the advice will likely not cause harm. “Vitamin d helps covid” is very different and this deserves moderation.
    ^^^ This is the most important criteria IMO.

  • Is this advising/encouraging others or sharing one’s own experience? “Weighted blankets helped my autism” is different from “Everyone with autism needs a weighted blanket”.

  • Does it have a basis in scientific fact and medical knowledge? It’s fine to discuss unproven/disputed treatments as not everyone has the latest info, or things that work for some people and not others. “Antidepressants can help people with depression” should be ok even though they don’t work for everyone. Or discussing recent science that has not been replicated yet.

Again I don’t think this is actually an issue that requires a ton of worry/nuance, as the only time I see medical stuff that I think requires moderation is Edward Anderson’s covid stances.


Personally, I think it’d be a shame if you were “chucked in the bin”. I would like to see you tone down your posts, but I do think you contribute quite well most of the time.

Unlike you, I don’t think this person has actually contributed anything useful. All he does is get angry that his precious “freedoms” are being stolen from him, and rants about his conspiracy theories. I think over 75% of regulars on this site have him blocked.


Trolls enjoy provoking abuse. Bystanders don’t like seeing it. But Edward Anderson is sometimes civil. I think he doesn’t troll intentionally, but he has trouble telling what is and isn’t good to say. Either way, if you want to hurt someone who goes off the rails like that, say exactly what you think of their behaviour… out loud. To your refrigerator.

on the Ohio library stories in one story (it was one story reposted) two different guys didn’t see the “racism” in the story about the library being in a “BIPOC/Hispanic” neighbourhood.

With all due respect snowy it’s impossible to tell what effect edward the murderer has actually had because there are us regulars that show up all the time and actually comment, but we have no clue how many people who might be influenced by the twit who don’t say a single thing. I just have to take ONE look at the fox news comment section to know he’s FAR from alone out there.

That said you are probably right in that I’m overestimating his actual impact.

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