IN recent months, the Bendigo Advertiser has limited the number of stories we open to readers for online comment.
We have also considered which stories are posted to social media, mindful of the risk of doing so because of the inability to monitor comments around the clock.
These decisions are not made to censor conversation or silence our readers – indeed we encourage engagement and intelligent discussion and debate based on our content.
Online comments are monitored to ensure those published are fair, respectful and issues-based, rather than attacking individuals, inciting violence or hatred. They are also monitored for legal risk to the publication.
What we are finding, however, is that moderating comments is becoming increasingly difficult.
Online trolling, abuse, comments which attack the person rather than the issue, threats, misrepresentation and hate-speech are becoming far too common.
We will not tolerate behaviour that threatens the safety of our online audience.
Equally concerning for us, is the increasing number of people making such comments using nom de plumes – and it is for this reason, we will no longer allow those who do not provide their full name to comment on our website.
This is a standard we expect from those who contribute to our Letters to the Editor section in print, so therefore we see the online community should behave with the same level of respect and have the same level of accountability.
Only those who supply a full name and email address through which we can contact them will be permitted to comment on reports on our website. Their identity needs to be clear.
This decision is made to ensure the debate is constructive and readers can continue to offer their own considered responses in a safe online environment.
We hope readers will continue to engage with us, and indeed each other, via a growing number of platforms offered by this masthead. But we ask you do so in a matter that is tolerant and respectful of the views of others. We reserve the right to moderate comments and we will not post those we consider to be defamatory and personal in nature.
The Bendigo Advertiser remains committed to encouraging debate and believes this move will create a better, safer and more respectful environment for discussion.
Nicole Ferrie, editor