Here are a few questions we’ve been asked over the years, and we thought it helpful to provide answers to on our site.
Why do you moderate reader comments?
The internet, for all its vastness and accessibility to people from all walks of life, can be a wonderful place, but like all things in life, it requires moderation to exact the full benefits. Disruptive commenters can wreck otherwise healthy conversations, which is directly at odds with what our site intends to do. Trolling often distracts readers from the actual substance can turn comments sections into volleys of vulgar personal insults, which serves no one.
That said, we don’t like rejecting comments, and do so only when we have to. Comment removals will always be in line with community standards. If you believe your comment was rejected and you don’t think it should have been, we encourage you to reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We also suggest you provide a real email address with your comment in case we ever need to reach out to you about a comment.
Because Armenian Weekly is an Armenian Revolutionary Federation (ARF) paper, does that mean all comments that are critical of the ARF will be censored?
No. The ARF is a socialist, progressive party out of which this newspaper emerged over a century ago, and what kind of progressive platform would we be if we censored a comment simply for containing critical content? Additionally, though we remain a party paper and regularly publish updates and statements from the ARF, the Hairenik and Armenian Weekly newspapers have also flourished as a platform for community journalism, and today, the Hairenik is the eighth oldest ethnic newspaper in the United States. Out of journalistic integrity, we have historically welcomed a wide range of dissenting voices from the community, and as you will quickly see, much of the very content we publish is critical in one way or another. Simply voicing criticism of the party does not, in and of itself, warrant moderation. However, if your criticisms involve name-calling and/or vulgarity (which, sad to say, it often does), then it’s likely to be moderated.
Can’t you just remove the part of my comment that is vulgar?
No. Moderation isn’t editing. Commenters should bear in mind that even if only one little bit (or line, or paragraph) 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. By including a vulgarity in an otherwise great comment, you put your entire post at risk. Is it worth it?
Do you moderate genocide denialist comments because you worry people reading will believe those comments?
We do not moderate denialist comments because our editorial staff feels threatened by them, or worry that people might “convert” to their side. Rather, we feel comments to the Armenian Weekly should serve the purpose of educating readers or providing a fresh perspective, and based on our experience, denialist comments are not educational nor fresh for our readership. Instead, these comments gaslight the members of our community, and those posting them rarely do so with the idea of engaging in a dialogue.
What if my comment is insult-free, but my username contains profanity?
If your comment is appropriate, but your username is profane, your comment will still be withheld from publishing. In general, we ask that you use a real name when posting and take ownership of your comments. Studies show we are most prone to engage in cruel behavior when operating behind the guise of anonymity, so help us promote a culture of trust within our community interaction areas. In short, be yourself.
Can I comment on articles in a language other than English?
You can, and all the same rules regarding moderation will apply (we use translation tools to verify the content of your comment). But we discourage commenting in languages other than English and Armenian—we want your comments to be accessible, part of a larger conversation, and if most readers don’t understand them, that will be difficult.
And as the Brits over at The Guardian say, “Don’t be unpleasant. Demonstrate and share the intelligence, wisdom, and humor we know you possess.”