Everything you need to know about the Deseret News comment section

We answer any questions you might have about the comment section experience at Deseret News.

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Illustration by Zoë Petersen, Deseret News

For years, commenters have been among the most loyal readers of Deseret.com. We owe it to you to create the healthiest community possible and also to be transparent about our processes. As part of this continued effort, we have updated our community guidelines to create a better experience for those who submit comments and also for those who read them.

Many of you have asked about our moderation process and why certain comments are not posted or are initially posted and later deleted. We hope to answer some of those frequently asked questions below.

How (and why) are comments moderated?

Deseret.com commenters engage in interesting discussions with people whose perspectives vary widely. That’s why we moderate comments — to promote purposeful and meaningful dialogue between people who want to disagree without being disagreeable. Orderly societies have laws. Safe roads have rules. Civil comment boards have moderators. 

We do not moderate based on any political, social or institutional ideology. The foundation of our moderation process is civility, as expressed in our standards and guidelines.

Here’s how the process works. We use a combination of artificial intelligence toxicity filters and human moderators to make decisions. 

All comments first go through a toxicity filter. In most cases, comments that meet a minimum requirement for tone and civility are posted automatically. A team of moderators reviews many of the comments, paying special attention to those flagged by the system or other users for potential violations of our standards and guidelines. Occasionally, this means a comment that was originally posted is removed.

Some stories, however, are set to “pre-moderation.” This means they are not posted until they clear the toxicity filter and are reviewed by a moderator. All opinion articles, as well as articles about particularly divisive or sensitive topics (race, religion, sexuality, etc.), are set to “pre-moderation.”

Why does it take so long for some comments to be approved?

Sometimes a comment is held because it included a banned or suspect word and needs further review from a moderator. 

All comments that include links to outside URLs must be vetted by our moderators, which can also delay approval. If your comment is simply a link, it could be rejected. If the link is appropriate and the comment provides context, it could be approved.

And while we have moderators working early in the morning until late at night, we can’t moderate 24 hours a day. Therefore, comments that are posted during off-hours that are flagged for moderation may be delayed.

And finally, the moderation process can take time. Your patience is greatly appreciated.

Will the Deseret News publish or share the list of banned or suspect words so I know what words to avoid using?

We’re often asked if we can provide a list of “banned” words. It’s not something we would share — nor would you really want to see it. That list includes vile words and expressions none of our regular readers would ever write. Some of the words that get flagged are words and expressions that could, in the right context, be objectionable or offensive. In these cases, the comments are automatically flagged and must be reviewed by a moderator before being posted.

Why are you censoring me?

Although it’s unpleasant to have a comment rejected, comment moderation is not censorship. As a privately owned enterprise, we reserve the right to reject and delete comments that violate our standards and guidelines and to turn off comments on certain stories. We value highly the First Amendment, from which we derive freedom of the press, and we also value your contributions that abide by our guidelines. If you want to learn more about the First Amendment, see the Constitution edition of Deseret Magazine.

Again, we moderate solely on our standards and guidelines, not political, social or institutional ideology.

Moderation, by its nature, is subjective. Reasonable people can differ on whether or not a comment violates our standards and guidelines. Please keep in mind that our moderators are human. Treat them with respect. We welcome questions and feedback.

Why wasn’t my proposed username approved?

All usernames have to be approved by our moderators. Common reasons a username is rejected include:

  • Duplicate accounts.
  • Trolling or disrespectful usernames.
  • Impersonation.
  • Objectionable language.
  • Double entendres.

How long do I have to comment on a story?

Comments close three days after a story’s publication.

What are featured comments? How can I get my comment to be featured?

Consider this a reward for a thoughtful, civil opinion expressed in a constructive way. We  strive to feature comments from differing points of view and political perspectives.

Why are some comments mean?

We understand that many of our readers feel very strongly about certain topics. Take sports, for example. Rooting for your team and against your rival is fun. We get it. We do allow more space for sports banter and criticism of public figures. However, we will monitor for comments that use derogatory terms, could be slanderous or are founded on rumors. We are also more strict about comments and criticism involving minors, which includes high school athletes. 

A commenter is bugging me. Can I mute them?

Sometimes another commenter might not be violating our standards or guidelines, but you have no interest in seeing their comments. That’s your prerogative. There is a way for your to block comments from certain commenters from your view. Here’s how to do it: 

1. Click on their username

2. Select “Ignore User”

Does the Deseret News allow slander on its comment threads?

No, we don’t. If you see something on our comment threads that could be libelous, please report the comment. Here’s how:

  1. Click the button that says “Report” in the  bottom right-hand corner of the comment 
  2. Follow the prompts to report the comment or the user

What is considered an unfair claim or speculation?

We hold our journalists to high standards. We don’t speculate in ways that could hurt other people, and we expect you as a commenter to hold to the same standard. This isn’t a game of Clue or Mafia. If you’re making a claim, we expect you to have done your research and be able to list credible sources.

If I have additional information about a story, how do I share it with the newsroom?

To submit a story idea or tip to our newsroom, send an email to news@deseretnews.com. To reach the assignment desk or to report breaking news, call 801-575-5600.

Why was I suspended and when can I comment again?

Just like in any sport, there are rules to the game. We have no interest in silencing anyone or banning someone from commenting. However, we have a responsibility to our readers to take action if someone is repeatedly violating our standards and guidelines. And like a referee in sports, these are often judgment calls. Suspensions could last anywhere from an hour to a week, depending on the severity of the violation. If you have been suspended three times, you may be permanently banned. If you post something that includes threats of violence, you will be immediately and permanently banned. 

Did we miss anything? Add your questions or thoughts in the comments.

This was originally published on May 16, 2022.