The WP Tavern Comment Moderation Policy

Those of you who regularly comment on the Tavern may have noticed that your comments don’t show up immediately after submitting them. That’s because about four weeks ago, for the first time in the Tavern’s history, comment moderation for all comments was enabled. I enabled moderation to address concerns raised by members of the community and to sleep better at night.

At the request of a few readers and to be more transparent, I’ve created a comment moderation policy. With the help of at least a dozen people, I’ve crafted a policy that is easy to read and more importantly, easy to follow. It explains our expectations, has a few tips on writing better comments, and lists possible reasons a comment may be deleted.

The policy is CC0 licensed which is the least restrictive license offered by Creative Commons. Feel free to copy and modify it for your own use.

WP Tavern Comment Moderation Policy

We strive to create a fun, friendly, and inviting atmosphere. The ground rules for commenting on WP Tavern are simple. Treat people the way you want to be treated. Try to understand someone else’s perspective and if you disagree, respectfully explain why.

Text is a difficult medium to decipher context. Emoticons and emoji help, but it doesn’t solve the problem. Take a deep breath and assume the commenter has the best of intentions before responding and approach discussions with open minds.

We welcome different perspectives and viewpoints but we all need to clearly communicate them without tearing the opposition down in the process.

Stay on point using concise language. If your comment is more than a few paragraphs long, consider publishing it on your own site instead.

Your comment may be deleted if it matches any of the following criteria:

  • Advocates an illegal practice
  • Uses vulgar, profane, or unnecessarily harsh language
  • Is spam or appears to be written primarily to post a link or advertise
  • Is written anonymously
  • Contains copyrighted material not licensed for distribution on the site
  • Impersonates another user
  • Contains an affiliate link
  • Personal insults, including those using racist or sexist terms.

These guidelines are not meant to be an exhaustive list. The deletion of comments is wholly within the discretion of the moderators at WP Tavern and we will err on the side of maintaining a safe and friendly community.

How Do I Report Comments?

If you believe a comment published on WP Tavern violates any of the listed guidelines or that you feel needs special attention, contact us. Please do not publicly report comments using social media such as Facebook or Twitter.

Form submissions are sent to authors with comment moderation capabilities. Include a link to the comment in your email with a short explanation as to why it needs our attention.

The Goal

The goal is to reestablish the comment section as a place where people feel welcome to voice their opinions without the fear of being ripped apart. We encourage criticism, disagreements, and open conversation but it needs to take place in a respectful manner.


25 responses to “The WP Tavern Comment Moderation Policy”

  1. This is just a note that I’m aware of the fact that because of the way our theme is, it doesn’t tell you anything after you’ve submitted your comment. I’m working on a fix as it’s a terrible user experience.

    • Some sort of comment CAPTCHA (if you will) would be cool. That is, in the sense, someone reads an anon comment (name, etc. hidden) and determines if it’s kosher or not. The point being, this could help lift some of the burden off the site owners / admins. Kinda reminds me of wanting to use basic BuddyPress as an intra-site commenting platform.

      I’m not exactly sure how it would work in practice, but in theory is kinda makes sense.

      All that said, why not Disqus?

    • The missing comment moderation message issue is high on my to-do list. It’s fixed in my local dev copy. I just need to get the changes pushed live. In the meantime, please use the fix posted. I’ll even add it to your theme myself if you want.

  2. Makes sense, although I have a feeling that in a day or two, when/if you post about the new proposed shortcuts API, you will have your hands full…

  3. I was already scratching my brain and began to believe i became senile as i thought i had posted, but since i did not see it i began to doubt about it…. :-)

    thanks for lettings us know.

  4. Very glad to see this Jeff. Definitely a positive step.

    Personally I thought you should have made this bold: “Please do not publicly report comments using social media such as Facebook or Twitter.” :-)

  5. As much of a pain in the butt it is to moderate all comments, most popular sites hit a point where they simply have to resort to such measures, lest they lose not only commenters but credibility. The truth is that your comments reflect your site. I’ve always advocated a firm had with comments and tried to make sure I’m attentive and sensitive to other people and how a seemingly innocuous comment may be phrased poorly. Or perhaps phrased intentionally poorly.

    Thank you for doing this, Jeff.

  6. Hey Jeff,

    I appreciate you making the policy CC0. We’ll share it with our users for sure. We’re in the midst of putting together a mini site that focuses on native commenting best practices and a section on policies is part of it. This will be a great start. Cheers!

  7. Suggestion: When an entire novel is submitted as a comment, perhaps you should chop out one interesting bit from it and add [ABRIDGED] to it like newspapers and magazines sometimes do with letters to the editor. That’d at least let the comment be shown, but make it clear that the rest of it was just fluff.

    • And then who decides what is fluff and what is interesting? That’d make for a subjective and monotonous comment section don’t u think? Instead I’d make it a rule in the policy that when you do post a novel; there has to be a TL;DR at the bottom haha :)

  8. Often the comments are more interesting than the article that sparks them! I often think that comment sections are like NASCAR in that people come to see the crashes :-) Moderation is probably necessary on a board a popular as this one, but sometimes the fights are are fun to read too!

  9. The policy is unfortunate. I’m an adult and I don’t need Jeff or anyone else to protect me from ideas and words I don’t agree with or particularly like.

    Sure remove offensive stuff after the fact, but “we won’t let you see anything we don’t think you should see” is paternalistic and demeaning. It also suggests a hidden desire to control the narrative and prevent dissenting voices.

  10. Very much appreciate you sharing this, AND making it something we can use for our own sites. I am getting ready to launch a political site, and I KNOW we’re going to need moderation (in many ways). This is probably going to be one of the first things we post, and I may make it sticky for, like, a year or two. :-)

  11. Thanks for publishing this, and for offering it under such an open license! It’s nice to see more and more of the larger sites out there taking a stand for the quality of their community as well as their content.

  12. Jeff, I think this is a good move. Too often I have seen authors approve inappropriate comments because they do not want to censor anyone or control the conversation. The comment is not “spam”, so they let it through.

    When you have people from many different cultures and backgrounds trying to communicate, and you want them to feel able to get involved, you have to go for the highest common denominator, which is being respectful and polite.

    Rather than use the contact form to inform the author of a comment problem, I would suggest a “report a problem” button or link in the comments section, perhaps discretely under each comment next to the “Reply” button.

  13. Awesome! This will seriously reduce the amount of lawyer-threatening-bad-words-emails I have to send ;)

  14. Hey Jeff, I’m a bit late but I wanted to chime in: Thanks for doing this. I think it’s great that you’ve taken this on. Comment moderation is a drag but I think it will lead to better conversations.


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