Advert online comments policy

Q: What kind of comments can I make?

A: Most opinions and 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 place for stimulating discussion about issues.

Q: How long should my comments be?

A: Comments should be short and concise. Comments above 400 characters will not be permitted.

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. We want to 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.

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

A: Remember to think carefully about your claims, and whether they are supported by 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: Will my comments be moderated?

A: All community interaction is subject to some level of moderation to ensure our standards are upheld. While we try to keep an eye on all community activity, we rely on our users to report abusive, offensive or otherwise inappropriate comments by clicking on the 'report abuse' link which appears next to each comment.

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

A: Participants should bear in mind 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.

Q: I have a complaint about moderation, how do I report it?

A: Unfortunately, the huge quantity of user content on means we can't enter into correspondence regarding specific moderation activity, although all correspondence sent to [email protected] will be read.

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

A: In general we open comments up on all our material, but we've learned from experience that some subjects (e.g. where there's a high risk of libel or reports on fatal accidents) attract less constructive debate than others.

Q: Will authors reply to my comments?

A: We encourage authors to participate in the discussions sparked off by their articles, when feasible. Obviously, for various reasons, this isn't always possible.

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: Can I write all my comment in capital letters?

A: No. Most regular online community members think you’re yelling.

Q: Can I have multiple usernames?

A: No. Users should not maliciously seek to pass themselves off as another user. Setting up and using multiple usernames to try to fool people or subvert the moderation of the site will lead to your account being banned completely.

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.

Q: Can I link to my own blog?

A: We encourage contributors to our website to include links to content which is relevant and provides more background about a particular topic. That means it's OK to link to specific posts on your own blog when it's appropriate.

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.

Q: If you click on 'Report Abuse' is the comment automatically deleted?

A: No. When you click on 'Report Abuse' the comment goes into a report queue to be viewed by a duty moderator, who will then judge whether it contravenes the community standards.We don't remove a comment because it's been reported, even if it's been reported several times. However, it's worth noting that the more abuse reports a comment gets, the higher it appears in the report priority queue.

Q: Why should users do the job for you by reporting problems?

A: We believe that when all those involved in a community - hosts and members, creators and contributors - feel and take responsibility for maintaining an appropriate and stimulating environment, the debate itself is improved.

Q: Why don't you leave bad comments up and let the community decide whether they were bad or not?

A: We actually only take down a small percentage of comments left by users and of those, there may be a variety of reasons for removal. In some cases, items are removed for legal reasons. In most cases, comments have been removed because they are offensive, abusive or threatening.

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

Unfortunately, we are not in a position to discuss specific moderator actions or queries about deletions.

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, certain users can be banned from using the site.

Q: Can I edit my comments?

A: It's not possible to edit comments already posted, which is why we ask you to think carefully before you post.

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

A: We don't allow users to contact each other directly.

Q: Will you pass on your my contact details or particulars to third parties?

A: Your contact details or particulars will never be passed on to a third party unless formally requested in writing by lawyers or police as part of an investigation.