Bullying no part of healthy online debate

EACH day, our moderators go through hundreds of comments.

Their goal is to encourage healthy debate on local, state and national issues.

The rules for them are pretty simple.

We can't approve defamatory comments.

We don't allow those commenting to abuse one another.

But day after day, some people just don't seem to get the message.

Put simply, they play the man (or woman) not the ball.

Bullying on social media is already a national problem.

We don't want it on our websites.


  • Comments should be relevant to the issues.
  • No offensive, defamatory, obscene, misleading or threatening language will be tolerated.
  • Comments containing swear words, abbreviated swear words or implied swear words will either be edited or removed.
  • Comments should not be used for self promotion or spamming purposes.
  • Users should refrain from personal criticism of others. Please be mindful of the right of other people to voice opinions different to your own. If you find that you disagree with someone, engage them in a constructive debate, not an aggressive argument.
  • The editors retain the right to edit, remove or freeze comments at their own discretion. These decisions do not hide an agenda and are made sparingly.

So play by the rules and your comments are more likely to be approved.

As I said, we want to encourage debate. We are keen for a two-way conversation on news.

But we also have to play within the rules of Australian law.

That includes not allowing posts that vilify people because of their race, religion, sexuality or gender.

So comments saying all Muslims are terrorists - or words to that effect - won't be approved.

Nor will we approve comments attacking gay people or those in the indigenous community.

We respect that there are a variety of viewpoints on gay marriage, immigration, Islam, and the like.

We're happy to allow healthy debate on those issues.

But we won't break the law or allow attacks on people.

So if your comment is not approved, why not try reposting without the abuse. Reasoned argument and logic backed up by facts will always impress more than personal attacks.

Personal attacks are never a formula for healthy debate anywhere - that's why such comments won't get the green light.

If we slip up and approve such a comment (as we will with the many comments that are moderated each day), let us know just by reporting the comment.

Flagged comments go to the top of our queue so we can quickly remove them - or if we don't believe they breach our guidelines - let them stay.

Remember, our goal is to encourage healthy debate - a community conversation where everyone can feel confident to contribute without being attacked for just having a viewpoint.

Mark Furler is group digital editor with oversight of regional websites from Mackay to Coffs Harbour.

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