Times of Malta Online Comments Policy

Q: What kind of comments can I make?

A: Most comments are accepted, especially if they are likely to add value in terms of additional insight or knowledge. We want this forum to be a safe, respectful and non-offensive place for stimulating discussion about issues.

Q: How long should my comments be?

A: Comments should be short and concise. Most comments over 80 words will be deleted.

Q: Is there anything I can't say in my comments?

A: Contributions which are deliberately offensive and off-topic are likely to be omitted. Please avoid vicious, name-calling or accusatory comments; comments which attack the individual rather than the argument or the position; abusive or defamatory phrases especially those attached to religious, sexual, racial, gender or ethnic contexts or offensive to minority groups. We will not tolerate any form of discriminatory or hate speech.

Q: How many times may I comment?

A: While we do not want to set a quota for the comments one may post, we want the discussion to include as many diverse opinions as possible. As a general guideline, we would like to avoid publishing more than two to three comments per individual on each story. We would like to avoid seeing individuals responding to, or arguing with each other, particularly when such interaction adds little value to the discussion.

Q: When should I comment?

Please read the entire article before commenting. We receive several comments from readers who clearly post a comment based on the title or the first paragraph of the article.

Q: Will my comments be moderated?

A: All community interaction is subject to some level of moderation to ensure our standards are upheld. No commentary moderation is fool-proof: occasionally questionable comments may still be published, especially considering the large volume of comments received. The Disqus system allows readers to flag comments. These will again be alerted to the moderator who will decide whether they are acceptable or not.

Q: Why do you have moderation on this site? Aren't you curtailing free speech?

A: As a significant media organisation we have a responsibility to maintain the quality of content on our site. The aim of moderation is not censorship, but ensuring that the community participation areas of the site remain appropriate, relevant and lawful.

Q: Can you tell me why my comment was deleted?

A: Sorry, but considering the large volume of comments we receive means we do not have the resources to discuss specific moderator decisions. Do not report comments as abusive simply because you disagree with them. Report them only if you feel they violate these guidelines.

Q: Why don't moderators just remove the part of a comment which is deemed objectionable, rather than deleting it entirely?

A: Our policy is that even if only a part of a comment is problematic, the whole comment will be removed. This is partly to avoid moderators editing your contribution to remove the offending bit (which might inadvertently change the meaning) but also to encourage contributors to think carefully before posting. However, the Disqus system allows the user to edit his own comment. Once this is done, the comment will come up once again for moderation.

Q: Can I have multiple usernames?

A: No. Users should not maliciously seek to pass themselves off as a third party. Setting up and using multiple usernames to try to fool people and subvert the moderation of the site may lead to your account being banned. Anyone posting should use their actual name and surname.

Q: Why is it possible to comment on some articles but not others?

A: In general we open comments up on all our material. However, as a matter of exception, we reserve the right to disable comments on certain sensitive posts.

Q: Will authors reply to my comments?

A: a general rule, we encourage authors to participate in the discussions sparked off by their articles. This may not always be possible, particularly in the case of articles that generate a significant number of comments.

Q: What control do authors have on comments?

A: None. Authors can't moderate comments on their own articles unless they highlight any inappropriate comments to the moderator.

Q: What language may I use?

A: We have several international readers, so comments posted should preferably be in English. However, we acknowledge that some feel more comfortable writing in Maltese and such comments will be accepted. Please avoid abbreviations.

Q: How do I know if my comment is legally risky?

A: Think carefully before making any claims, and do check whether they are supported by ethical and reliable sources. It is not safe to assume you are avoiding legal risk because you are quoting material already published elsewhere or if you use the term 'allegedly'.

Q: Why have I been banned from the site?

A: We don't like removing people’s ability to comment on our content, but in some cases when a pattern of abusive or offensive behaviour is demonstrated, and/or there are reports, certain users can be banned from using the site.

Q: Is it possible to send a message privately to another user?

A: We do not allow users to contact each other directly and we will never pass on your contact details to a third party.

Q: Who owns the copyright of comments I have posted?

A: By posting any text on the site you are agreeing to grant us a non-exclusive, royalty-free, licence to republish any material you submit to us in any format, including without limitation print and electronic format.