In recent weeks, you may have noticed a Houdini effect on our website and on our Facebook page — the mysterious disappearance of certain comments.
It might have been an angry insult in a thread, or a particularly choice string of curse words. Maybe it was in response to something you wrote; maybe it was one of your comments.
In advance of a new op-ed and discussion site we plan to launch this spring — and in a general effort to improve the quality of discourse on texastribune.org — we've begun moderating comments much more vigorously, in line with our previously published standards:
The Texas Tribune is pleased to provide the opportunity for you to share your observations about this story. We encourage lively debate on the issues of the day, but we ask that you refrain from using profanity or other offensive speech, engaging in personal attacks or name-calling, posting advertising or wandering away from the topic at hand.
This is an equal opportunity endeavor: We will be (and have been) booting comments on the left and the right and everywhere in between. We might not catch every single offensive or off-topic comment (that's where you come in!), but we can create a culture of sharp and informed discussion that doesn’t degrade into name-calling or obscenities. If you see something that strikes you as outside our stated standards, please feel free to drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Moderating comments can admittedly be a subjective process. What's persistence to one person might seem trollish to another. A pointed remark or a well-placed insult can have a place in political debate.
How will we decide, then? Texans pride themselves on their manners, so that’s a good place to start: Mind your manners. Be smart. Be civil. Try to make a well-argued point. No name-calling. No hate speech.
Of course, you can always just say, “Hey, nice story.”