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A recent backend site software update has temporarily changed how comments appear on the voiceofsandiego.org site: when editors approve comments in a certain way — all comments have to be approved by an administrator before appearing on the site — those comments are sometimes marked as “edited” by someone, even though nothing whatsoever has changed in their content. We are working with our software provider to correct this.

For the record, VOSD staff do not edit reader comments for content, meaning, language, tone, point of view, or intention, except by explicit request of the comment’s author, and then only rarely.

In fact, we usually refuse to change them when asked by their poster, instead preferring that the original stay intact and that the commenter simply leave a new comment making a correction to their previous comment.

What we sometimes do without being asked is make changes for readability, such as:

  • Remove lots of blank lines (caused by hitting the return key too many times).
  • Change an all-caps post to sentence case (initial cap at the beginning of the sentence, caps on proper nouns, everything else lowercase).

If you ever believe you have found a case where one of your comments has substantively been changed without your permission, please bring it to the attention of me, Andrew Donohue, or Scott Lewis.

By the way, we only approve comments that contain real, verifiable user information. Your full name and your email address are the minimum. If we think your information is bogus (maybe you’re a sockpuppet?), we’ll email you to make sure. The more information you include in your profile, the easier it is to prove that you’re on the up and up, and the quicker your comment will be approved.

We only publish comments that conform to at least a basic level of civility and courtesy. To get your comment approved:

  • Don’t make unverifiable accusations of criminal or ethical misconduct. If a person’s been convicted, fine, but otherwise, don’t treat the comments like a posse comitatus.
  • Don’t call people unjustified names. Words like liar, cockroach, and even worse have recently caused comments to be denied. Just like above: if you want to use these words, then they better be verifiable. Call someone a cockroach only if they belong to the suborder Blattodea.
  • Don’t make broadside attacks. Calling all politicians of a particular party liars without explaining what they lied about is a sure way to get your comment denied. Calling a particular person the cause of all of the city’s ills, without going into specifics, will send your comment to File 13.

That said, many comments are fantastic. We sometimes feature the best of them in Morning Report, on Twitter, or on our Facebook page. These comments tend to deserve special attention because they’re:

  • Witty, insightful, or emotionally powerful.
  • Courteous, generous, and prone to giving the benefit of the doubt.
  • To the point, pertinent, and not repetitive.
  • Carefully written in form, content, and style. Use line breaks. Capitalize appropriately. Give your spell-checker a workout.

May the best comment win.

I’m Grant Barrett, engagement editor for voiceofsandiego.org. Drop me a line at grant@voiceofsandiego.org, call me at (619) 550-5666, and follow me on Twitter @grantbarrett.

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