Be you. Be cool. Be civil.

Civil Beat was launched in 2010 as an online forum where our community can engage in challenging, thoughtful discussions that don’t devolve into a series of insults, where transparency and accountability are vital. Since then, many other sites (The Huffington Post for example) have adopted similar rules in hopes of cultivating a civil discussion.

We want to maintain Civil Beat as Hawaii’s civic square, a place where diverse and quality discussion thrives. But we need a few rules and guidelines. We welcome your feedback and input in crafting these, so drop us a line at becivil@civilbeat.com. These guidelines are also available on our Frequently Asked Questions page.

What are your guidelines on commenting?

We do not tolerate personal attacks against other readers, our staff and even the people we cover. Insults lead nowhere in a civil discussion. If you feel someone is wrong — whether it be another commenter, our reporter or a public official we cover — feel free to say why you think so. We encourage diverse — and often opposing — views on the many issues facing Hawaii.

Critiques of others don’t need to be direct insults. As an example, feel free to say, “I disagree with John on his views on the Honolulu mayor’s proposal, and here’s why.” But do not say, “John is an idiot.”

We will immediately remove comments that are racist, sexist, derogatory to anyone’s culture, faith, ethnicity or sexual orientation. We won’t tolerate bigoted or offensive language. We discourage profanity, and Facebook will automatically flag your comment anyway.

Comments MUST be pertinent to the topic at hand. We may remove comments that are spam, potentially libelous or violate a person’s right to reasonable privacy.

Should you find comments on our site that violate these guidelines, let us know at becivil@civilbeat.com.

Do I need to be a subscriber to comment?

No. You only need a Facebook account. However, Civil Beat is a subscription-based website, so you may not be able to read the story in question. For the best possible experience, we encourage you to subscribe for full access to our site and our journalism.

How do I comment through Facebook?

You only need to be signed into Facebook on the same browser you’re using to read Civil Beat. Keep in mind, each comment may appear on your Facebook profile and be visible to your Facebook friends. If you don’t want that to happen, make sure you uncheck “Also post on Facebook” for that comment. If you uncheck the box (as shown below), your comment will not appear on your Facebook feed. That setting should save for all future comments.

Facebook comment guide

You can review Facebook’s privacy policy here.

What if I don’t want to post comments through Facebook?

We understand that not everyone is on Facebook and some have privacy concerns. We still encourage you to comment. Email us your comment at becivil@civilbeat.com with your name and the story you’d like to comment on, and we’ll post on on your behalf.

Why does Civil Beat use Facebook for comments?

We use Facebook because of its functionality and accountability for comments. We want our civic square to have names to go with the people who are commenting.

We believe by integrating Facebook comments we can expand the reach and diversity of voices on Civil Beat, maintain integrity by prohibiting anonymous commenting, and offer functionality like customized privacy settings, commenting threads and notifications of discussions you’re in and want to follow.

What is your policy on anonymous comments?

We do not allow anonymous comments. We believe people should stand behind what they’re willing to say on a public forum, just as our journalists do with their reporting. Facebook has a similar policy on using real names. You can read its names policy here.

We understand that fake names can slip past Facebook or us. We do not have the resources nor the desire to check on every name, but we know Facebook will filter most of the fake names out.

Do users need to disclose their backgrounds?

No. But if you’re commenting on an issue you’re involved in, or if you represent a group or organization that has a position on an issue, please let the community know that.

Commenters should be people, not organizations. We don’t allow comments by groups in which the individual who is posting the comment is not named. So for example, we would not allow the Facebook Page of “Hawaiian Electric Companies” comment. But a named HEI representative with a personal profile is OK. Same goes with any “branded” Facebook account or page. Real names, real people only.

Are the comments prescreened for moderation?

As part of our Civil Beat ohana, we trust you to do the right thing. On most occasions, when you post a comment, it will be published immediately. They will be read and moderated by Civil Beat staff and its community manager.

People who violate the guidelines will receive a warning. We may delete or ban accounts of users who engage in uncivil discourse, extreme misconduct or spam.

What if my comment doesn’t appear?

Facebook sometimes flags certain profiles for spam, and this could be for a number of reasons. In particular, Facebook may flag as spam a profile with fewer than 10 friends. In those cases, the community manager will approve the comments for publication.

Can I post links to other relevant websites?

As long as they’re not spam, or offensive or lewd in nature, we encourage sharing of other news sources, links and documents under our stories. The more information, the better the conversation.

 

Not a subscription

Civil Beat is a small nonprofit newsroom, and we’re committed to a paywall-free website and subscription-free content because we believe in journalism as a public service. That’s why donations from readers like you are essential to our continued existence.

Make a gift to Civil Beat today and help keep our journalism free for all readers. And if you’re able, consider a sustaining monthly gift to support our work all year-round.

 

 

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