ALERT! : More info
Translink Buzzer Blog

Small tweaks to the participation guidelines

So the Buzzer blog has been up for over a year now, and it seems time to make some small tweaks to the participation guidelines.

Let me explain!

I think the discussion we have is great—you guys are super smart and I rarely ever have to moderate comments—so these changes are NOT intended to restrict or stop the conversations we have.

There’s only three tweaks to be made, and they’re really meant to cover unanticipated situations that didn’t quite fit the previous guidelines, or areas where I just missed something completely. (I should also mention these guidelines were used for BePartofthePlan.ca already.)

Basically, you know how I moderate now? Well, that’s how I’ll continue to moderate, and the guidelines will now explain what’s expected more clearly, based on a year’s worth of experience of what actually happens around here.

And here are the three changes, with explanations.

Old guidelines Change/addition Explanation
Be nice
A good conversation requires participants who are considerate with one another. So please be polite and treat authors and other commenters with respect. We won’t tolerate any personal attacks on the blog, and we’ll remove any content that advocates or encourages expressions of violence, bigotry, racism, or hatred.
Respect everyone
A good conversation requires participants who are considerate with one another. So please be polite and treat everyone who you refer to with respect, including TransLink, its family of companies, and its staff. We won’t tolerate attacks, and we’ll definitely remove any content that advocates or encourages expressions of violence, bigotry, racism, or hatred.
For the most part, we at TransLink have a high tolerance for insults and criticism, but when the abuse just gets egregious and unnecessary to making a point, that’s just gotta go.
No previous equivalent Don’t misinform or mislead
We will remove any comments that make obviously false or unsubstantiated allegations.

Intended to combat comments which are huge lies but hard to concretely disprove. They’re super poisonous to keep around. I’m talking conspiracy theories or totally left-field comments, like “TransLink wants to eat your babies” or “Over half of all transit employees have criminal records.” (Obviously neither of these are true!)
No previous equivalent Employees
If you’re an employee of TransLink or a TransLink subsidiary (SkyTrain, Coast Mountain Bus Company, West Coast Express, Canada Line, AirCare, Intelligent Transportation Systems, Transportation Property & Casualty Company Inc), you’re required to identify yourself as such whenever participating in the discussion.
I always thought of the blog as for the public, but employees certainly do come here to chat (and are more than welcome to!). I’d just like to ask staff to identify your affiliation, so everyone can know who’s who.

I think these are pretty sound, and I’ll put them in place starting today. Your comments are of course welcome though!


12 Comments

  • By Marvin B, January 19, 2010 @ 10:25 am

    We have to be nice? Dang it!

  • By Cliff, January 19, 2010 @ 10:47 am

    The guidelines are so liberal that they should have gone without saying to begin with.

    In respect to the first rule, however, I hope it won’t be used to filter statements that TransLink doesn’t agree with. TransLink being a public entity providing services to over two million people is undoubtedly going to have criticisms in nearly every facet of its infrastructure and operations.

    Everything from cycling to HandyDarts to SkyTrain to even the advertising on the side of buses is open to criticism and I hope the BuzzerBlog continues to be a place where open, frank, and respectful commentary can still take place.

  • By Jhenifer Pabillano, January 19, 2010 @ 11:51 am

    Cliff: Yep, it’s exactly as you say. Criticism is expected and accepted for all our services — it’s just the insane, over the top abuse that will be removed.

  • By Rob Taylor, January 19, 2010 @ 4:00 pm

    My feelings are along the lines of Cliff’s, but more focused on the second item, which seems problematic: if people believe crazy things about Translink, isn’t this a great place to address/debunk those beliefs, rather than deleting them (and thereby allowing them to grow)?

    I’d trust the intelligence of your readers a bit more – if you debunk what someone says after they say it (or if it’s so crazy it debunks itself), you’ve done far more good in countering unhealthy rumours than simply hitting delete, while at the same time promoting free speech and avoiding the appearance that you are muzzling criticism.

  • By Jhenifer Pabillano, January 19, 2010 @ 4:56 pm

    Rob: Well, virtually all comments are left up and I try to counter/respond to them with some kind of explanation. But there are some weird cases where something is obviously wrong but it’s very hard to prove, and it sounds a smidge bit real to someone out there, not necessarily you. Not responding in that case, when I usually respond to everything, does offer a degree of tacit permission somehow.

    But together with that, I also think of the environment that we create on the blog for everyone to participate in. For example, I certainly could leave up comments that say “YOU GUYZ SUCK AND ALL YOUR BUS DRIVERS ARE CRAP”. But I think having many crazy comments around creates a place that would drive thoughtful people away from participating. Sort of like YouTube comments, or Yahoo Answers.

    Not that we get crazy comments all the time — we mostly don’t. And not that I delete all comments I think are nuts (I usually don’t!) But it’s nice to have a guideline so the zanier comments might be mitigated if possibly needed (and it’s usually a last resort), and we can keep it welcoming around here.

    Edit: I just wanted to add that I don’t take moderation lightly around here. I’ve really had to delete very few comments on the blog so far, and I certainly agonize over it before hitting the button! It is so important to keep up as much of everyone’s commentary as possible, and that principle is always at the forefront.

  • By Andy, January 20, 2010 @ 10:32 am

    How do you want employees to identify themselves? Add the name of the subsidiary after our name?

  • By Jhenifer Pabillano, January 20, 2010 @ 10:33 am

    Sure, that’s fine.

  • By Rob Taylor, January 20, 2010 @ 12:30 pm

    Jhenifer,

    I hear you, though I think your example would fall in the first category (which I have no problem with). If someone is simply insulting Translink, that’s one thing – deleting it and avoiding a YouTube-like environment is something I think everyone can get behind, but I think your first category is adequate for avoiding that.

    Category two, it would seem, would only come in if someone said something that was respectful to the Translink family, and not an attack (otherwise it would be deleted because of category 1), but that is “obviously wrong but very hard to prove”. Assuming, though, that “obviously wrong” things are, well, obviously wrong, they therefore do little harm (remember, they aren’t attacks or disrespectful). In that case, what kind of awfulness is this that we are avoiding? It seems like a slippery slop to deleting difficult or obscure, but legitimate, questions and complaints.

    I love the blog, and have generally found it refreshing that a big entity such as Translink is reaching out to the community in this way, which perhaps is why I am protective of not having its comment streams slip into a platform for Translink boosterism. I don’t believe you intend for that to happen, Jhenifer, but it seems you’re building a system of rules around you that will allow that to happen down the road (by you or someone who follows you!)…

  • By Rob Taylor, January 20, 2010 @ 12:57 pm

    Hmm… I think I’m sounding grumpier than I feel.

    I’m only meaning to pass on the message that some alarm bells started ringing when I read this post, not that there was a fire.

    As I said, I’m a big fan of the blog!

  • By Jhenifer Pabillano, January 20, 2010 @ 5:18 pm

    Oh Rob, no worries. It’s good to know you’re engaged enough to be thinking of these things! And as we learned from Spiderman, with great power comes great responsibility :)

    Would it help if I added to the second item: “Deletion is the last resort–we will try our best to keep up as many comments as possible.”

  • By CJ Stebbing, January 21, 2010 @ 8:40 am

    Aw man…so I can’t come back with a snappy comeback? Dangnabbit! Lol

    jkjk ;p I’m not that mean on here. Although my height might help scare off those pesky people jhen. Lol

  • By Jhenifer Pabillano, January 21, 2010 @ 12:11 pm

    Oh, snappy comebacks are just fine :)

Other Links to this Post

RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URI

Leave a comment

Please read our Participation Guidelines before you comment.