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Posted on Mon, Jul 27, 2009 : 4:57 p.m.

Comment moderation guidelines meant to cultivate community forum

By Jen Eyer

Editor's note: Our conversation guidelines were revised in May 2011. See the new guidelines here.

We're committed to actively moderating the comments and posts on our site to help promote and maintain a civil forum where neighbors feel comfortable talking to each other about local issues.

Throughout the day, members of's staff take turns moderating comments using the following guidelines. We also contract with an outside company that moderates our site 24 hours a day.

Here are our conversation guidelines: aims to provide a lively community forum where readers can talk to us and talk to each other - in a neighborly way, of course. The best comments and posts are those that add more information to the story, express a different viewpoint or help create intelligent debate. We welcome constructive debate on our site, but we won't tolerate jerks. Don't be that guy - avoid comments or posts that are off topic, offensive, contain personal attacks or that don't further the conversation. We encourage everyone who registers on our site to use their real name, or at least a consistent screen name. We reserve the right to pre-moderate comments and delete or edit comments.

Tragic deaths Stories related to tragic deaths including homicides, traffic accidents, work-place deaths and accidental deaths, we discourage commenting that: -Is derogatory toward the deceased, including comments that attempt to place blame on the victim, on family members or friends, or on professionals who may have had some contact with the victim. -Involves speculation about the cause of death or emergency or medical services involved. -Involves using the death to make a political point. -Discusses graphic details related to the death. -Presumes guilt of the accused or calls for a specific punishment for the accused.

Editor's notes: On Jan. 17, 2010, launched a new commenting system. Read the FAQs for more information.

In April 2010 we posted a notice outlining some of our internal moderation policies.

This post was updated Dec. 7, 2009 with additional moderation guidelines for stories involving tragic deaths.

And here is a link to a previous blog we posted on the topic before launched.



Tue, Jun 5, 2012 : 6:28 p.m.

Just saw your little survey.....very cute mildly biased questions you came up with. How about you stop and take just a small moment to consider WHY you even sent that survey out in the first place. Just do what EVERYONE ELSE IS DOING.....using disqus. I bet it would be a LOT cheaper....

Tony Dearing

Tue, Jun 5, 2012 : 6:38 p.m.

Thanks for the feedback. We did consider both Pluck and disqus when we were choosing our current commenting system. Both had good features. I can't say disqus stood out as having better solutions.


Thu, Mar 29, 2012 : 3:28 a.m.

If you do not allow commenters to assume guilt then maybe you should start paying attention to the maelstrom circling around George Zimmerman. Delete the posts that assume his guilt.


Thu, Dec 8, 2011 : 5:17 p.m.

Why did you delete my comment on the Condo development? What did I violate?

Craig Lounsbury

Thu, May 24, 2012 : 11:12 a.m.

they delete because they can. In my personal experience they are overly sensitive too often. Their default setting appears to be "when in doubt delete".

Blazingly Busy

Wed, Dec 7, 2011 : 4:52 p.m.

I've been reading since it's inception. (I used a different user name back then but after being censored several times for non-inflamatory posts I asked to have my user name removed.) In reading the articles on Dr. Weinblatt (nice of to prosecute him right here on the website) and seeing that there is no need to comment because Dr. Weinblatt is OBVIOUSLY guilty because says so, I don't see any point in reading anymore. Every Thursday your publication lands on my driveway for me to throw away, how can I get that to stop? I don't even want your brand of news to be in my recycle bin.

Jen Eyer

Wed, Dec 7, 2011 : 8:58 p.m.

Thank you for reading, and for your comment. is reporting on this case in the same way we report on other criminal matters. Our policy is to name the suspect at the point of arraignment, which we have done in this case. In regards to the comments, we do not allow commenters to assume guilt on the part of the accused, or to blame the victim. We closed comments on this story due to the extremely high number of comments that violated these guidelines.

roberta friend

Fri, Nov 25, 2011 : 6:50 p.m.

i posted a constructive comment on the thread of 200+ comments about the winter warming shelter and it was rejected multiple times. very bad editorial policy. incompetence? poor software? censorship? why?

Jen Eyer

Fri, Nov 25, 2011 : 7:28 p.m.

I don't see any comments for your account other than this one? Were you using a different account?


Sun, Oct 30, 2011 : 8:06 p.m.

Could you please explain to me why my reply to Shepard 145 regarding the article about Eric Cantor was deleted?

Jen Eyer

Sun, Oct 30, 2011 : 9:15 p.m.

It was done in error, and has been restored. Our apologies!


Fri, Oct 28, 2011 : 6:36 p.m.

Arg... All of this cleaning up of comments seems to clutter the page with "A comment that violated's conversation guidelines was removed." Can we do something to also remove these?!?!


Sat, Oct 22, 2011 : 3:59 p.m.

I again ask someone to review my comment made at 9:02pm on 10/14 of this story: <a href=""></a> I do not believe I violated the comment guidelines. If I did, please explain for my understanding.


Tue, Oct 18, 2011 : 2:50 a.m.

Must have a new mod on board again. Yet another spate of lopes censored, our bad and reinstates... Don't suppose anyone wants to explain why my comment was removed from the deliberate bicyclist hit and run article? There is a very similar comment by someone else still there...


Sat, Oct 15, 2011 : 5:28 a.m.

Please review my comment made at 9:02pm on 10/14 of this story: <a href=""></a> I do not believe I violated the comment guidelines. If I did, please explain for my understanding.

Jen Eyer

Sun, Oct 23, 2011 : 3:06 p.m.

Hi, I reviewed the comment, and it was blocked for being too personally directed at another commenter. If you can rephrase it so that it doesn't come across quite so pointedly, please feel free to re-post. Thanks!


Mon, Sep 26, 2011 : 7:54 p.m.

Your commentary guidelines seem to be enforced in a very biased fashion. You allow people to relate personal stories as fact, yet delete anyone who challenges them. The standards seem very childish and lack a certain amount of professional integrity. I would encourage you to have a little more courage and permit disagreement. You also need to police the personal stories related as facts if you will not permit critique of them - they are NOT fact, they are NOT vetted and they are potentially harmful to the people they name. Its

Tony Dearing

Mon, Sep 26, 2011 : 8:03 p.m.

We do take these concerns seriously. I just reviewed and restored a comment that had been taken down, and after I did that, saw your commenting expressing appreciation that we were willing to reconsider and restore the comment. Thanks for the feedback.


Wed, Sep 21, 2011 : 2:53 a.m.

Jen: I had a comment on RecycleBank wiped today. The offending term is actually a literary reference (<a href="" rel='nofollow'></a> and I wonder if you would consider reinstating the post.


Wed, Sep 21, 2011 : 2:54 a.m.

Sorry, better link: <a href="" rel='nofollow'></a>


Sat, Aug 20, 2011 : 5:29 p.m.

Censorship is right! I made the mistake of complaining about the Washtenaw County sheriff's office and how they don't do their job and it was immediately removed. The editor must have a relative on the


Wed, Nov 30, 2011 : 6:18 p.m.

Obama is an idiot and needs to be impeached!


Fri, Aug 19, 2011 : 3:10 p.m.

This morning, August 19th, on the poorly titled article suggesting we should celebrate the new school year with beer, I referred to another article from this morning, in which someone was arrested on suspicion of drunken driving. I joked that perhaps the person had been celebrating the new school year with beer, as suggested in the title. Really, it's your decision to publish an article that links drinking and alcohol with school that's the problem here. I suspect you either decided you'd had enough of allusions to the prior article on dogs on leashes, another questionable decision, or you felt that I was implying that the accused person had definitely been drinking and driving. I think your decision is wrong on both counts, and would suggest that do a better job of writing titles, that don't suggest underage drinking, and making sure editorials don't suggest violence. It's the height of hypocrisy to say that we have to follow your guidelines beyond the letter of the guidelines, while making poor judgements yourself that are not open to scrutiny.

Laurie Burg

Sat, Jul 30, 2011 : 4:10 a.m.

i participate in several internet discussion boards on a regular basis, and this one, at is by far the most LAME excuse for a discussion board i have seen. the moderation is haphazard and makes no sense. participants are never notified why their comment was deleted. why is a comment posted, allowed to stand for several hours, with replies made, and some replies deleted and some allowed to stand, and THEN hours later the original comment (which was the thread favorite) disappears! and the most ignorant, inane drivel is allowed to stand. i guess you can post whatever you want, but don't use any of those naughty words like &quot;damn&quot; 'cuz that's just too profane for the delicate sensibilities of some i guess. oh, and the software is really substandard. replies only allowed to the original post? you can't set the default order to stay and display the comments from newest to oldest without resorting them all and waiting.... and to think i used to think the print version of the Ann Arbor News (Snooze) was bad, sheesh, this website makes me long for the old print version. oh, and btw, i NEVER click on the ads, and i very rarely even SEE any ... i use Firefox and Adblocker. just so you know :-)


Sat, Jul 30, 2011 : 6:20 a.m.

Your post was allowed until I responded to it. I have a day job and couldn't respond while at work. However, when I did respond all I did was copy your first paragraph and swap the words &quot;men&quot; for &quot;women&quot;, and then &quot;women&quot; for &quot;men&quot;. Low and behold my comment was deleted. I questioned this. As a matter of fact nothing was done until I posted a second comment and then your post was deleted. I won't repeat my second comment because it would probably get deleted. If you want to blame ALL white males for the crimes of one person can I ask you one question? Do you include your father in that group of white men? Have you ever commented in a NY Times article? Your comments would never see the light of day. They would be moderated even before anyone complained. Be grateful your venomous comment lasted as long as it did.


Sat, Jul 30, 2011 : 6:19 a.m.

Laurie Burg, Your post was allowed until I responded to it. I have a day job and couldn't respond while at work. However, when I did respond all I did was copy your first paragraph and swap the words &quot;men&quot; for &quot;women&quot;, and then &quot;women&quot; for &quot;men&quot;. Low and behold my comment was deleted. I questioned this. As a matter of fact nothing was done until I posted a second comment and then your post was deleted. I won't repeat my second comment because it would probably get deleted. If you want to blame ALL white males for the crimes of one person can I ask you one question? Do you include your father in that group of white men? Have you ever commented in a NY Times article? Your comments would never see the light of day. They would be moderated even before anyone complained. Be grateful your venomous comment lasted as long as it did.


Tue, Jul 26, 2011 : 4:16 p.m.

okay, moderator, how exactly do I find out what guidelines my comments have violated? I truly would like an explanation or is that something you people don't do? I have not placed the blame on any victim, I have not assumed any guilt of anyone, I made a remark about the similarity of descriptions regarding two sought by law enforcement suspects.


Mon, Jul 25, 2011 : 12:22 a.m.

please explain why my post was removed!


Fri, Jul 22, 2011 : 5:49 p.m.

I replied to a comment on an article about the recent string of sexual assaults in Ann Arbor, and his comment was subsequently censored and now mine is just.....gone. Reading through a few of the most recent comments on this page it looks like this has been happening to other people as well. has one of the worst commenting systems I've ever come across and its things like this that makes me wonder why I even bother to read this site or its comments at all.

Jen Eyer

Fri, Jul 22, 2011 : 5:54 p.m.

When a comment is blocked, all comments replying to it also disappear. It usually does not make sense to keep them, when the comment they relate to is no longer there.

Cable Chef

Sat, Jul 16, 2011 : 3:03 a.m.

Testing to see if my last comment was removed or just pending approval.


Mon, Jul 11, 2011 : 1:59 p.m.

P.S. What does it suggest to you when you continually delete the most popular comment?


Mon, Jul 11, 2011 : 1:58 p.m.

Okay, explain this one. You actually post, on a supposed news site, a story quoting a U of M professor about whether or not a chain letter will actually bring unexpected riches to those who pass it on and then delete my comment? Were you really serious in the first place when you posted this story? Did you really expect a serious discussion about the relative merits of participating in chain letters with the expectation of financial windfall? What guideline, exactly, did I violate? The humor guideline? You violated that one first. The sarcasm guideline? I don't see it. You are deteriorating very quickly. If you want to become News of the World please just state so and stop masquerading as news.

Tony Dearing

Mon, Jul 11, 2011 : 3:15 p.m.

Thank you for pointing this out. I reviewed your comment, and I have restored it.


Thu, Jun 30, 2011 : 6:56 p.m.

The #1 Conversation Guideline (unwritten) seems to be : do not comment on how strong the Conversation Guidelines are applied in any threads, otherwise it is deleted.

Jen Eyer

Thu, Jun 30, 2011 : 7:01 p.m.

Goofus: This is the old moderation thread. The new one, for future reference, is here: <a href=""></a> In those guidelines, we state: &quot;Comments on story threads that question moderation will be moved here.&quot;


Thu, Jun 16, 2011 : 1:07 p.m.

NOTHING has changed. More capricious moderation. Seriously why don't you get rid of all this nonsense and just change the guidelines as I have suggested over and over. Comments will be moderated at the whims of the moderators. Period. Full Stop. Don't bother to whine about it. - The Management.


Wed, Jun 15, 2011 : 10:02 p.m. refuses to moderate comments fairly. Given that Tony &amp; Stephanie are in charge, I doubt that will ever change.


Thu, Jun 30, 2011 : 6:58 p.m.

oh wait, stephanie already did.... one down, one to go.


Thu, Jun 30, 2011 : 6:57 p.m.

I agree. I also hope they both lose their jobs soon.


Wed, Jun 8, 2011 : 12:27 p.m.

I am curious why my previous comment congratulating the officer on a job well done was removed? It in no way violated conversation guides. Last I knew &quot; impolite&quot; wasn't a naughty word......


Sun, May 29, 2011 : 7:30 p.m.

Hate to be a pest, but I don't understand the deletion of my reply to Chase Ingersoll (10:47 PM, 5/28/11) in the story <a href=""></a>. If you would restore the comment, that would be swell. At least as important, though, is providing an explanation for why it was deleted in the first place. Sometimes comments are restored without explaining why they were deleted. In order for us to minimize the deletions of future comments, we need to know why they are deleted so the same &quot;mistake&quot; is not repeated. Thanks.


Mon, May 30, 2011 : 3:28 a.m.

First of all, I attempted to clarify for Mr. Ingersoll what I found disturbing about his original comment; in his reply, it was clear that he misunderstood the juxtaposition that made me uncomfortable (he stated a juxtaposition that had nothing to do with my original comment). I was trying to correct his misunderstanding. Secondly, I don't recall that the comment was any more personal than my original comment. I asked for information regarding the questions he posed and his legal background. He had not answered those, and it appeared he ran out of space in his second comment, possibly before he had a chance to answer the question. I was giving him the opportunity to address that particular question again. I think the deletion was inappropriate.

Jen Eyer

Sun, May 29, 2011 : 10:01 p.m.

Hi DBH: The comment was too personally directed at another commenter, and repeated the same questions and made the same point that you had already posted earlier in the thread.

Craig Lounsbury

Sun, May 29, 2011 : 6:15 p.m.

In the letters to the editor on the Pioneer prank I quoted the author and I quoted the guidelines and it was deleted. They weren't even my words. They were the authors words and's words. Thats all I did. Post his words and your words and it was deleted. How can you possibly justify that?

Jen Eyer

Sun, May 29, 2011 : 10:12 p.m.

This was a case of the moderator not checking the context. Our apologies!


Sat, May 28, 2011 : 11 p.m.

Now I see that my original comment regarding the results of the latest Health Department inspection of the restaurant, as well as a recounting of the definitions of what constitutes violations, has been deleted. What is going on?


Sat, May 28, 2011 : 10:56 p.m.

In the story <a href=""></a> I had two comments deleted (6:03 PM and 6:30 PM). I suppose the first was slightly offensive (though, in my opinion, proportionate to my being labeled &quot;Libelous&quot;), but I fail to see what the problem with the second comment was. Please explain. The comment containing the characterization of my comment as being &quot;Libelous&quot; was left intact, despite the fact that such characterization essentially accuses me of civilly criminal behavior.


Mon, May 30, 2011 : 3:21 a.m.

1) Did you see my question about any explanation for why the comments were deleted in the first place? 2) Accusations of libel being common or not in online discussions, such an accusation brands the person so labeled as having committed a civil illegality. When such an occurrence happens, are you saying it is all right just because it is common? Presumptions of guilt of defendants by commenters is common also, but is diligent about policing those. Why ignore an inaccuracy that unjustly maligns someone, just because it is common? It hardly seems as if the bar is being held very high on that count. Did you ever think that deleting a few comments inaccurately containing the word &quot;libel&quot; or &quot;libelous&quot; (or similar &quot;common&quot; terms used inappropriately) might be instructive for the readership?

Jen Eyer

Sun, May 29, 2011 : 10:13 p.m.

Accusations of libel are common in online discussions, often stemming from a misunderstanding of the term. I think the way you handled it worked well. Let me know if you disagree.


Sun, May 29, 2011 : 7:33 p.m.

Thanks, Jen; any explanation for the original deletions? Also, is it acceptable for commenters to characterize comments by others as &quot;Libelous?&quot; That is not a trivial accusation.

Jen Eyer

Sun, May 29, 2011 : 3:04 a.m.

DBH, I reinstated a couple of your comments. The original comment doesn't appear to be blocked at this time.


Fri, May 27, 2011 : 2:55 a.m.

Help me understand why @Cash's comment (9:04 AM, 5/26/11, <a href=""></a> was not moved to this site from the story thread. Her comments are really about moderation and not about the story itself.

Jen Eyer

Fri, May 27, 2011 : 1:22 p.m.

Her comment references moderation, but the point is really a criticism of our reporting. So that's why we left it there rather than move it here.


Tue, May 24, 2011 : 10:32 p.m.

Yeah, uh, my last question wasn't rhetorical either. Someone want to answer it?

Jen Eyer

Sun, May 29, 2011 : 10:11 p.m.

Here's what I wrote in reply to you on May 25: It's not explicitly stated in our guidelines, but we have consistently taken down comments that speculate about tragedies that are not crimes and explained our decisions as such. However the revised guidelines, which we are currently working on, will make this more clear. We plan to publish the revised guidelines this week.


Sun, May 29, 2011 : 10:04 p.m.

I think you missed it, but good try. So uh, when is this revised moderation guideline going to come out? I think we need to get a hard date to expect it, because it's been &quot;in development&quot; for quite a long time now.

Jen Eyer

Fri, May 27, 2011 : 6:25 p.m.

Answered it below.

Macabre Sunset

Tue, May 24, 2011 : 6:51 p.m.

It's gotten completely out of hand in the last couple of weeks. I have to question the mental competence of those editing the comments.

Macabre Sunset

Wed, May 25, 2011 : 6:27 p.m.

Since the regular opinion piece is ostensibly about religion, it has a lot to do with the reasoning behind what was written. The poster is anti-knowledge because of his religious perspective. It's no different from pointing out that Rich Rodriguez is an advocate of a specific offensive system in football in an item that discusses high school recruiting.

Tony Dearing

Tue, May 24, 2011 : 6:57 p.m.

I was about to email you on why I took your comment down, but I'm glad to address it here. To post a comment about religion on an opinion piece that has nothing to do with religion is off-topic, and that's why your comment was removed.


Tue, May 24, 2011 : 10:13 a.m.

I reported a comment that said LIbs sit on couches playing X boxes all day. The comment was not removed. I added my own, equally ridiculous reply about conservatives being ignorant, and it was removed. Why such political bias by your moderator??


Tue, May 24, 2011 : 10:53 p.m.

I don't always agree with Ms. Eyer but, FWIW, in this case I think her explanation of her decision and reasoning is clear and understandable.

Macabre Sunset

Tue, May 24, 2011 : 6:52 p.m.

I agree with Ray. Jen has made some rather ignorant changes to the way the policy is being implemented.


Tue, May 24, 2011 : 4:11 p.m.

Jen, you're not very convincing. I will remember well your rationalization.

Jen Eyer

Tue, May 24, 2011 : 3:03 p.m.

The decisions to leave one and block the other were not based on political bias. &quot;Playing x boxes all day&quot; describes a behavior and is obvious hyperbole. Calling people ignorant is a personal attack on intelligence, and is not allowed.


Sat, May 21, 2011 : 11:41 p.m.

It took you less than 1 minute to delete my posts. I'm waiting for an answer to this question.


Sun, May 22, 2011 : 12:33 a.m.

Good luck, Alan. If you will see my post immediately preceding yours, I have been waiting for a reply to two of my questions for over a week.


Sat, May 21, 2011 : 11:30 p.m.

Okay, please explain. Every time you run a story about Rick Snyder you get nothing but partisan bickering and name calling. You get very little which contributes to a productive, civilized conversation. I simply make the observation that people are calling names and you delete my comment. Twice. Yet you don't delete the offensive name calling. I can read the guidelines and all I can assume is that you are ignoring your own rules to encourage this sort of behavior by the same posters over and over. Good for business? Certainly not encouraging thoughtful, civilized discussion. Explain.


Mon, May 23, 2011 : 1:45 p.m.

Thank you for replying. My comment was not intended to address moderation, but rather to point out to posters that they were not discussing the issue. I guess name-calling could be a matter of perspective but comments such as &quot;all of you (insert perceived political affiliation here) make me laugh because you all must think (insert perceived ideology here) and you are therefore clueless&quot; is a name calling tactic used by most pre-teens. It is also used repeatedly by the same posters. Disagree with someone on one topic and dismiss them entirely by extension. This does nothing to encourage open discussion about what are actually important topics which affect us all. I think you are fortunate to service an incredibly educated population and allowing or encouraging such behavior is unproductive. We could all just go to Yahoo and throw insults at each other but we come to to avoid that type of behavior.

Jen Eyer

Mon, May 23, 2011 : 2:04 a.m.

Your comment was deleted because it was off-topic. We usually don't allow people to discuss moderation on story threads. If you have specific examples of name-calling, please let me know.


Sat, May 21, 2011 : 10:18 p.m.

When we readers pose questions on this site, is it reasonable for us to expect a reply from a moderator? I have two questions outstanding that have not been answered from 5/13/11 (6:53 PM) and 5/14/11 (1:04 PM). For the record, none of my questions in the two cited comments, nor in this comment, were or are rhetorical.

Jen Eyer

Mon, May 23, 2011 : 3:18 p.m.

DBH: I do try to monitor how many replies are on all the recent comments, and check them regularly. You can also send me an email when you post a question, just to make sure I'm aware of it.


Mon, May 23, 2011 : 10:49 a.m.

Thanks for your reply. Are you suggesting that we not post replies to comments, but only original comments always, to avoid our replies becoming lost in a thread? Regarding the restoration of RJA's comment, I think that is regrettable (no surprise, I am sure). Apparently (based on your explanation), I am not the only reader to have thought the comment violated guidelines, and also (apparently) one of your overnight moderators agreed with them. Additionally, I doubt that Heady99 (you did read his/her comment toward the end of that story, I hope) or the accused's children felt that it was consistent with your policy of presumption of innocence.

Jen Eyer

Mon, May 23, 2011 : 2:01 a.m.

Hi DBH, I'm checking to see if it's possible to auto-sort individual threads (such as this one) by newest response first. It makes sense for this type of thread. To your other question (which I didn't notice because it was nested in a reply), a reader must have flagged it during an overnight shift, and it was blocked then. I have restored that comment, in keeping with my previous explanation.


Sat, May 21, 2011 : 3:02 p.m.

Why were remarks on the Saline LGBT parade story closed off after only 9 comments, of which 5 were censored out? Some kind of &quot;majority rule&quot; trigger?

Jen Eyer

Mon, May 23, 2011 : 2:03 p.m.

Whenever a majority of comments on a thread violate our conversation guidelines, we consider shutting down the thread, and that's what we did in this case.


Thu, May 19, 2011 : 2:30 p.m.

Why do you guys refuse to answer questions that say &quot;show me the guideline&quot;? It happens again and again, the same argument over the same language above, and every time it's like the mods vanish and no one ever sees the question. What, have you been instructed not to talk about it?


Wed, May 18, 2011 : 4:42 p.m.

Seriously, guys? Re: the fire in Manchester story: &quot;No injuries were reported.&quot; Also, to the best of my knowledge, it's not a crime story at all. Why so eager to enforce guidelines that don't apply?

Jen Eyer

Wed, May 25, 2011 : 7 p.m.

It's not explicitly stated in our guidelines, but we have consistently taken down comments that speculate about tragedies that are not crimes and explained our decisions as such. However the revised guidelines, which we are currently working on, will make this more clear.


Thu, May 19, 2011 : 3:58 p.m.

Jen, I'm asking more about Tony's response: &quot;Just to clarify, our guidelines asking people not to speculate do apply to stories about things like fires and auto accidents, even if no crime was involved.&quot; I think THAT needs to go into the revised guideline, but it seems relatively arbitrary to me.

Jen Eyer

Thu, May 19, 2011 : 2:37 p.m.

loves_fall: It isn't spelled out in our guidelines, but we have never allowed people to make suggestions or allegations of criminal activity against other people without evidence. I'm not sure we ever realized that we'd have to spell that out, but we can put it on the list for our upcoming revisions to the guidelines.


Wed, May 18, 2011 : 8:39 p.m.

... That's exactly what I thought. It's not there anywhere. It says, &quot;avoid comments or posts that are off topic, offensive, contain personal attacks or that don't further the conversation&quot; and &quot;stories related to tragic deaths including homicides, traffic accidents, work-place deaths and accidental deaths&quot;. Nowhere does it say fires not related to tragic deaths, or fires, or crime not resulting in death or injury. I really do think you guys owe us an explanation of these &quot;enhanced&quot; guidelines that are regularly followed and cited but that don't actually exist anywhere except the secret document you circulate internally (yeah, I heard about that).


Wed, May 18, 2011 : 4:55 p.m.

Tony, where is that listed in the policies above?

Tony Dearing

Wed, May 18, 2011 : 4:46 p.m.

Just to clarify, our guidelines asking people not to speculate do apply to stories about things like fires and auto accidents, even if no crime was involved.

Jen Eyer

Wed, May 18, 2011 : 4:46 p.m.

Right, it's not a crime story. And we're not allowing commenters to suggest that a crime may have been committed without a shred of evidence.


Tue, May 17, 2011 : 9:05 p.m.

Jen, Not sure why my Jungle Java comment was removed today. Nothing inflammatory. Agreed with another comment speculating on why the franchise was closed and then reopened in the same location.


Fri, May 20, 2011 : 4:35 a.m.

Not intended that way, but thanks for the follow-up.

Jen Eyer

Wed, May 18, 2011 : 3:55 p.m.

The other comment was written in a general, theoretical way. Yours made allegations about these particular people and their motives, and that's why it was taken down.


Fri, May 13, 2011 : 10:53 p.m.

Is it possible for the comments on this forum to be displayed Newest to Oldest as the default? I think it is likely that most readers, like me, are interested in the newest postings rather than those from almost 2 years ago. It would save one more mouse click and some many seconds each time for the page to refresh if the default was Newest to Oldest. Thanks for considering my request.

Jen Eyer

Fri, May 13, 2011 : 6:52 p.m.

Two spam posts were removed.

Jen Eyer

Fri, May 13, 2011 : 6:44 p.m.

The following comment was posted on this story: <a href=""></a> Swamp Thing at 2:22 PM on May 13, 2011 Wow, I'd say is getting a little liberal with censoring comments on this article.


Thu, May 12, 2011 : 1:41 a.m.

Regarding the story <a href=""></a> , why are the comments by RJA and Urban Sombrero (4:28 PM and 4:34 PM, respectively) allowed? They clearly violate the guidelines regarding presuming guilt of the accused.


Sat, May 14, 2011 : 5:04 p.m.

Ms. Eyer, I see now that RJA's comment has been deleted (however belatedly, and likely long past the damage it has done - see Heady99's comment on the same story), despite your considered defense of it on two separate occasions, and my earlier flagging of it twice as abusive having been rejected. What prompted the reversal?


Fri, May 13, 2011 : 10:47 p.m.

I thought, and still think, Ms. Eyer, that the question &quot;No sympathy here, they both had good jobs and still felt the need to embezzle?&quot; is beyond question rhetorical. I have reread the statement multiple times and really cannot interpret the question in any other way that is reasonable. Is it necessarily an actual rhetorical (vs. interrogatory) question? No, I would have to have psychic mind-reading powers to determine that with certainty but, given the tone of the rest of the comment, the only possible interrogatory question (one in which RJA might actually be desirous of an actual answer, rather than using the question in the rhetorical fashion) is &quot;Get real, how would one know?&quot; Even then, I think that question is most likely rhetorical, though I admit slight doubt about that. Really, do you actually think RJA was posing the other questions in the hope or expectation that another commenter or moderator would provide factual information or opinion? To me it is obvious that the &quot;question&quot; in the first part of the comment is meant for persuasive effect and is not posed for a yes or no response. Even if there remains some doubt in your mind (and there is none in mine), under's presumption of innocence, allowing such a comment to remain when there is at least reasonable doubt about its accusatory nature is the wrong call. When there is reasonable doubt, why make a decision which is contrary to an accused's presumption of innocence? Replacing periods with question marks is all a commenter has to do now in order to get their comment to remain? Disappointing.

Jen Eyer

Fri, May 13, 2011 : 1:55 a.m.

DBH: I wish it were that cut-and-dried. But determining when a comment crosses the line into presuming guilt, unfortunately isn't always. RJA's comment, for example, contained questions rather than statements of fact. Were they rhetorical; was RJA really presuming guilt? I don't know, so we left the comment up.


Thu, May 12, 2011 : 10:44 p.m.

Ms. Eyer, are you (or in general) relaxing your standards regarding allowing comments that state or imply the presumption of guilt? In the past, all such comments would have been deleted, with the addition of a reminder comment by the moderator to not do it; now it seems you allow some comments to remain intact, while still issuing the reminder. Am I right? As you well know, what is more maddening than the moderation on specific comments is the lack of consistency in moderation in general.


Thu, May 12, 2011 : 5:22 p.m.

You don't find a comment that presumes guilt offensive? I think such an implication would be offensive enough. It seems as if you are relaxing your standards in that regard.

Jen Eyer

Thu, May 12, 2011 : 1:35 p.m.

Thank you, DBH, for the heads-up. Since the comments you referenced weren't really offensive, I just posted a reminder asking people to phrase their comments in such a way that doesn't presume guilt.

Jen Eyer

Wed, May 11, 2011 : 6:13 p.m.

This comment by user &quot;paul wiener&quot; was moved here from a story thread: With so many comments being censored A2.Com is proving to be a priggish, useless forum for bland blather. I have published literally hundreds of letters to editors over 40 years, most of them longer and far more pointed than anything I've seen here, and in larger venues. The monitoring here is childish and embarrassing. I only hope there are other venues being developed online or in print (or do they exist?) for intelligent, timely, passionate commentary in Ann Arbor.

Jen Eyer

Wed, May 11, 2011 : 7 p.m.

And a response from bedrog: 'Intelligent' and 'passionate' don't necessarily ( or even all that often ) go together...and when they are found, without any moderation, in a news medium its often a volunteer bloggy thing that can cause burn-out to the non- paid moderators, as happened with the now defunct ARBOR UPDATE. staff does moderately well ( albeit far from perfectly) overall in maintaining multipartisan openness... and i speak as one who has been &quot;moderated&quot; with no small frequency and who has similarly complained often enough about stuff that does sneak through that is some combination of malicious, mendacious or just plain crazy ( with , in some cases, the same posters being involved in all of the above).

Jen Eyer

Tue, May 10, 2011 : 6:35 p.m.

EyeHeartA2 and ERMG, regarding this story: <a href=""></a> The fact that Stonum has already been convicted of one offense plays a significant factor in the moderation on this story. Comments could easily be referencing the first offense and the arrest for the second, without presuming guilt in the second case.


Tue, May 10, 2011 : 5:39 p.m.

I find it ironic that my post pointing out the problems in commenting on the Darryl Stonum case got deleted, without even getting moved to the bozo bin, like ERM's post, which referenced mine. Confusing for the reader at best.. The bigger issue is: Why is it that somebody can let their dog run in traffic and if somebody points out that is not such a good idea, it gets deleted? Yet here is a kid who hasn't even been araigned yet, and people have him convicted and are calling for specific punishments, yet these comments stay up? I flagged them for your review. As the ghost mentioned, the inconsistency drives everyone nuts. Open up the moderation or turn it off or whatever, just please try to do it consistently.

Cindy Heflin

Tue, May 10, 2011 : 4:50 p.m.

The following comment by Edward R. Murrow's Ghost was moved from an article about Darryl Stonum to this thread because it concerns comment moderation: Jen, It's not so much the guidelines but their uneven enforcement. Frankly, I understand why so rigorously enforces its standards where crimes are concerned. But Eyeheart's post above pointed out that those standards seem not to be in force in this discussion. Good Night and Good Luck

Jen Eyer

Fri, May 6, 2011 : 8:55 p.m.

lionslover: When I removed your comment, I also emailed you to let you know that it was because it contained sentences in all capital letters, which we don't allow because it is viewed as shouting. You are welcome to repost it without the caps.

Ken Boyd

Thu, May 19, 2011 : 2:45 p.m.

Youhave to be kidding me! You guys are worse than the Chinese government! Can you please tell me where someone can go for uncensored discourse? This paper is a joke.

Jen Eyer

Sun, May 8, 2011 : 3:44 p.m.

If you Google capital letters and etiquette, you'll find dozens of articles reinforcing this fact. The use of all-caps is widely discouraged online. If you have trouble seeing, you can increase the text size in your browser rather than use all caps.


Fri, May 6, 2011 : 11:19 p.m.

Are you going to answer mine or are you just ignoring it?


Fri, May 6, 2011 : 8:59 p.m.

that is utterly ridiculous. I didn't have my glasses handy and always write in caps when blind.


Fri, May 6, 2011 : 8:42 p.m.

I just wrote a comment asking readers to consider rising costs when they state that 3% cut isn't much. That has to be balanced against rising inflation - especially fuel, heat, electricity, etc. that aren't even considered by the Fed when measuring inflation. We can all agree that schools use a lot of energy in these forms. We can all also agree that these energy sources prices are going through the roof. I also mentioned that my daughter is a middle school teacher who spends MORE THAN 3% of her VERY HARD EARNED salary on goods/materials that her school is no longer able to provide due to rising cost and budget constraints. I wrote this comment with the exact same demeanor I'm writing with now. No bad language. No insults. Nothing offensive. A2.COM CENSURED IT!!!!!!!!!!! THEY HAVE LOST WHAT LITTLE RESPECT I STILL HAD FOR THEM!!!!!!!!! USELESS!

Ken Boyd

Thu, May 19, 2011 : 2:50 p.m.

I agree with you. If your comments are viewed as politically incorrect, away goes your comment. The standards are akin to Chinese Communist censorship. This paper is a joke.


Fri, May 6, 2011 : 12:13 a.m.

Why was my comment, the first comment, removed from <a href=""></a>


Tue, May 10, 2011 : 4:19 a.m.

I wasn't being deliberately snarky; I think it's a valid question. I've been working for years and can't afford to take on an expensive drug habit, so I'm not sure how so many young people manage to break into high-end addiction. I thought the whole purpose of the &quot;sin tax&quot; on similar but legal substances was to make using them so financially unappealing that people would choose not to use them in the first place. I understand that for many people, once they're addicted, it's an uphill fight to stop... but I don't understand the first few steps along the path to addiction. I don't really care about the comment, I'm just irritated about the moderation.

Jen Eyer

Sun, May 8, 2011 : 3:27 p.m.

This one was a really gray area, and I haven't been able to catch up with the mod on duty yet to verify. But if I had to guess, it probably was removed for being snarky and not adding to the conversation. However, if you feel strongly about it, I will restore it, since it wasn't really that bad.


Wed, May 4, 2011 : 3:56 p.m.

I just had a comment removed from Darcy Crain-Polly's &quot;A somber, prayerful response to Bin Laden's death more appropriate than jubilation&quot;. My comment was political and referenced other commenters with whom I disagreed, but I don't see why I violated the guidelines any more than anyone else. Can start telling us why our comments get removed? I really want to participate constructively, and I welcome constructive criticism of my own words. But I just wrote a carefully-worded comment that was soon deleted. I suspect why it got deleted, and I could have easily removed those few words. But I really do not feel like contributing anymore if my comments get deleted for no answer.

Jen Eyer

Wed, May 4, 2011 : 4:10 p.m.

Our sincere apologies. That was simply blocked by mistake. The error would have been discovered during our frequent reviews of blocked comments, but thank you for bringing it to our attention so we could fix it immediately.


Mon, May 2, 2011 : 12:35 p.m.

First of all. Congratulations on replacing the picture of Stephanie. That was a bit odd to still see here up there. Along those lines, would it be possible to ocassionally change the &quot;featured comment&quot;? I see it has been the same for a few weeks. If not, how about just deleting the &quot;featured comment&quot; feature all together?

Jen Eyer

Sun, May 8, 2011 : 3:28 p.m.

Ah, gotcha. Yes, the featured comments on the homepage did get overlooked for a while. We're back to changing them at least once a day.


Thu, May 5, 2011 : 12:34 p.m.

@DBH; That was indeed what I was referring to. I was under the impression that the &quot;Featured Comment&quot; was based on the staffs discretion. Especially since it was in place long before the voting/Pluck thing began. To me it seemed like put up the comment they felt was the most interesting, might generate hits to the article or maybe modeled the type of comment they wanted to see more of. Any one of these reasons is fine, it just seemed odd that it hadn't changed in a few weeks.


Thu, May 5, 2011 : 2:33 a.m.

Unless I am wrong, I think Jen Eyer and mentalNomad are confusing &quot;Most Popular Comments&quot; (at the beginnings of all stories once the # of comments reaches a certain threshold, apparently around 12) with &quot;Featured Comments&quot; which are listed on the Home Page, to the left of &quot;Active Discussions&quot; and &quot;Most Recommended.&quot; I believe EyeHeartA2 was referring to the &quot;Featured Comments&quot; and not the &quot;Most Popular Comments&quot; as s/he states in the comment above. I, too, had noticed that the 2 Featured Comments had remained stagnant for some time before they were changed a couple of days ago.


Wed, May 4, 2011 : 3:59 p.m.

I think the &quot;Featured Comments&quot; should be done away with, or at least presented differently (like a separate &quot;Highlights&quot; tab like the New York Times uses). If the featured comments always appear first, won't those be the ones people read the most while brand new comments at the bottom will be ignored? sounds like a vicious cycle to me.

Jen Eyer

Wed, May 4, 2011 : 2:20 p.m.

We can't manually change the featured comment. It's solely based on votes.


Sun, May 1, 2011 : 2:48 a.m.

wow say one thing bad about synder a you people remove it fast....


Wed, May 4, 2011 : 9:51 p.m.

So are you going to remove a comment if someone calls something Stalinist, given the numbers of people he killed in the Holodomor (2.4-4 M)? I speak as someone whose family was mostly exterminated by one party or the other, either by forced famines and Gulags or by Nazi cultural &quot;ideals&quot;. The Nazis didn't start on Day 1 with genocide; the ideas came from somewhere before they escalated. I think it should be fair game to liken ideologies and actions to other ideologies and actions. It seems silly to disallow debate on politics based on whether an official's intention is or is not genocide when there are other facets of that person's belief system that may in fact be similar to those of other ideologies. Not that I think Snyder is a Nazi, because I don't. I just think, as usual, that your moderation goes too far stifling freedom of speech.

Jen Eyer

Wed, May 4, 2011 : 4:12 p.m.

Because it trivializes the extermination of six million people. Comparisons to different political systems and theories (communism, socialism, fascism) are acceptable. But unless you're actually talking about a dictator who is attempting to exterminate a race of people, comparisons to Nazism are not allowed.


Wed, May 4, 2011 : 3:24 p.m.


Jen Eyer

Wed, May 4, 2011 : 2:28 p.m.

Likening people to Nazis is prohibited.


Thu, Apr 28, 2011 : 6:49 p.m.

I think its hilarious that A2dotcom makes such a big deal about being a source of &quot;local news and conversation&quot;, and makes a big deal out of &quot;readers talking to one another, in a neighborly way of course&quot;...and then the A2dotcom outsources overnight and weekend moderation of its comments to a Canadian company &quot;in a different timezone&quot;. Hilarious.

Jen Eyer

Wed, May 4, 2011 : 2:23 p.m.

It's cost prohibitive to pay people to work through the night. However, we work closely with our contract moderators and continually strive to keep things as consistent as possible.


Thu, Apr 28, 2011 : 2:39 a.m.

I post public information in duck story. See other OTIS information in story before. Why delete.

Jen Eyer

Sat, Apr 30, 2011 : 11:25 p.m.

loves_fall: I just need more information before I can make a public response. However, I haven't heard back from genericreg.


Sat, Apr 30, 2011 : 12:35 a.m.

No public responses now?

Jen Eyer

Thu, Apr 28, 2011 : 2:01 p.m.

I tried to email you, but it bounced. Could you please email me at Thanks.

Rork Kuick

Wed, Apr 27, 2011 : 12:30 p.m.

OK. Give the logic for the &quot;presumes guilt of the accused&quot; rule, if any.


Thu, Apr 28, 2011 : 6:51 p.m.

Exactly right on, freeform. I've laughed for sometime about A2dotcom's confusion that somehow it seems to think it is part of the legal system, and that all the commenters are potential jurors for every one of its pseudo-court cases...which are actually all just news and feature STORIES.

Rork Kuick

Wed, Apr 27, 2011 : 3:40 p.m.

Thankyou &quot;free form&quot;, for giving the obvious response anyone would have given to Tony's strange answer that confuses commenters with jurists.

free form

Wed, Apr 27, 2011 : 1:56 p.m.

Yes, in our LEGAL SYSTEM. Not on a message board in general conversation among privates citizens. As I am not a journalist, a police officer, a member of the court system or a juror, I have the right to express my thoughts about the guilt or innocence of a suspect in any case. This rule on the website is the creation of and has no basis in the law. I suspect it must come from a fear of litigation...

Tony Dearing

Wed, Apr 27, 2011 : 12:37 p.m.

Rory, in our legal system, every suspect has a basic right to the presumption of innocence.


Wed, Apr 27, 2011 : 4:56 a.m.

Dear Ann Arbor .com As I read comments from many readers I must ask very nicely and softly who is Jen Eyer ? And on the seventh day the heavens opened,the sun became a dancing wall of pure enormous unforgiving power of wraith! Then she spoke.......&quot;YOUR COMMENTS HAVE BEEN RESTORED&quot; child. If any moderator deletes a post and then changes there mind to restore the post doesen't this make the whole policy look indecisive and even a bit wishy washy. Please re-look and use great care in any censorship you must use because we should never ever forget what our forfathers faught so hard for in this great country. If my comments in this message are still not respectful and constructive plus funny in a clean way then i will stop adding my comments to your news storys................ Peace&amp;Love for all baby ducks!


Wed, Apr 27, 2011 : 3:15 a.m.

63 out of 214. Almost 30%. Find me any online forum anywhere else in this country that deletes almost a third of all user comments. Time to revamp the policy. &quot;Constructive&quot; is a just a word you're using to hide behind subjective censorship. Who are you protecting with these policies? What are you afraid of?

Ken Boyd

Thu, May 19, 2011 : 2:59 p.m.

Mike I agree with you. This &quot;paper&quot; is without merit. I believe Jen when she says that more people want more moderation , this would be because most people that like passion and discourse are turned off by this &quot;paper's&quot; bland, PC correct policies, and therefore no longer read it. The policies are vague and wishy washy as is evidenced by post removal and reinstatement.


Thu, Apr 28, 2011 : 6:54 p.m.

I'll be there's even more readers that you never hear from because they stopped reading long ago because of how gutless and spineless the paper is, and how devoid of any stimulationg or thought-provoking the sea of &quot;Name Withheld: Comment Removed&quot; comment boards now are.

Jen Eyer

Thu, Apr 28, 2011 : 5:32 p.m.

Mike: We are much more concerned with providing what our readers want than with what other sites are doing. And the majority of readers we hear from on this — both online and in person — say that they favor more moderation, not less.


Wed, Apr 27, 2011 : 2:07 a.m.

really? &quot;cultivate&quot;? anything but. you're moderating yourself out of a job. if you can't support the conversation and feedback, you won't last. it's funny that more comments on the duck-driving-over have been deleted than've killed all the fun and interest. i stopped my print subscription ages ago, and will abandon you online real soon at this rate.

Ken Boyd

Thu, May 19, 2011 : 3:02 p.m.

So Jen, you guys are now in the business of determining what is constructive? Wow! No wonder your paper went under as a print medium.

Jen Eyer

Wed, Apr 27, 2011 : 2:23 a.m.

At last count, we have taken down 63 comments out of 214 on that thread. I have reviewed each one, and determined that the blocked ones as of now are all for valid reasons, according to our guidelines. However "fun" name-calling might be, we don't think it's constructive.


Wed, Apr 27, 2011 : 1:40 a.m.

Where did my other post go on the ducklings thread about looking into the past, reported stories on They didn't speculate, didn't assign blame, just stated that it was atypical that one family should make the news three times in a year.


Wed, Apr 27, 2011 : 1:09 p.m.

Oops, no, nevermind. I lost my landmarks in the sea of deleted comments. -.-


Wed, Apr 27, 2011 : 12:59 p.m.

Uh, a bunch of them were deleted again overnight. &gt;_&lt;;;

Jen Eyer

Wed, Apr 27, 2011 : 1:53 a.m.

Yes, your comments on this story have been a great example of how to keep it constructive and within the guidelines. Thank you for that!


Wed, Apr 27, 2011 : 1:49 a.m.



Wed, Apr 27, 2011 : 1:46 a.m.

Oh and look, it's back! Magical.

Jen Eyer

Wed, Apr 27, 2011 : 1:46 a.m.

Your comments have been restored.


Wed, Apr 27, 2011 : 1:41 a.m.

Also, where did my last post that was deleted ABOVE go? I'm pretty sure I'm allowed to ask questions in this thread as to the fate of my posts. So again, the question was, what rule disallows self-posted information from myspace?


Wed, Apr 27, 2011 : 1:20 a.m.

Where is linking to myspace banned? I'm pretty sure if someone posts something on their personal profile with their picture it should be fair game to mention....


Wed, Apr 27, 2011 : 12:03 a.m.

The moderation on this website has gone WAY overboard. Someone really needs to revamp this policy. You are deleting about 30% of all comments on average! 30 PERCENT!!

free form

Tue, Apr 26, 2011 : 10:11 p.m.

With your &quot;conversation guidelines&quot; 1/4 to half of all posts get deleted. Does this not show you that there is a flaw in your system? It is now impossible to have any real or meaningful dialogue when we have to parse our words so carefully, never knowing what will pass the subjective parameters that could mean deletion. Posters are not journalists and we should not have to be nice and agreeable. Your guidelines need revisiting as they are creating a ridiculous mess. Allegedly.

Jen Eyer

Wed, Apr 27, 2011 : 1:06 a.m.

It shows us that we still have work to do in creating constructive community conversations. However, we will also be revisiting our moderation guidelines in the near future, and clarifying/adding some items.

Craig Lounsbury

Tue, Apr 26, 2011 : 5:15 p.m.

Is it against the guidelines to say &quot;I enjoyed your post&quot;?.... I hope not But evidently it is against guidelines to express that same appreciation with the near universally recognized side ways smile :) ? Is that not carrying censorship to an extreme?

Jen Eyer

Wed, Apr 27, 2011 : 1:04 a.m.

Craig's :) was re-instated after the moderator realized that it was in reply to someone else's comment. Initially she thought it was just a response to the ducks being killed, which would be pretty offensive.


Tue, Apr 26, 2011 : 7:03 p.m.

Yes, loves_fall, your recollection is correct. It was I who was moderated for the &quot;Yes.&quot; reply in response to a direct question from another commenter. See my postings from 3/29/11 (9:31 PM and 11:51 PM) below. As Jen Eyer's comment states, the blame fell on the overnight moderators for the deletion, subsequently restored. Since Craig's deletion occurred during the day, I agree with you that it likely is an extension of the &quot;Go Blue&quot; rule, but would welcome, of course, a moderator's input on that.


Tue, Apr 26, 2011 : 5:52 p.m.

I think that might fall under the &quot;Go Blue!&quot; rule. I think there was an incident where a &quot;yes&quot; response was cited under the same policy even though it was just an answer to an actual question. It seems that in an effort to run the comment boards like a &quot;letters to the editor&quot; section, seems to be willing to sacrifice on the communication needed between posters to develop rapport and foster an actual sense of community.


Thu, Apr 21, 2011 : 1:01 p.m.

&quot;Trustee Glenn Nelson said per capita income in Michigan had risen 25 percent during the past 10 years, citing state statistics. He said in that same time school districts are receiving the same foundation allowance they received 10 years ago, a fact that is causing cuts such as the ones announced Wednesday. He compared the situation to a family in which the adults' income went up 25 percent but they refused to share the money with their children.&quot; Maybe Trustee Nelson lives in a bubble? It seems he has not noticed that the cost of living has skyrocketed in the past 10 years? i.e. cost of health care and health insurance, food, gas, college tuition and on and on. All the adults I know are struggling to keep up with their bills. It's not that they refuse to share their money. There is simply nothing &quot;extra&quot; to share. Survival means make adjustments to the budget.


Mon, Apr 18, 2011 : 6:54 p.m.

I just had a recent comment removed from this article: <a href=""></a> I assume, because I was offering speculation on what might have happened in thew case. Of course, all the people assuming it was a case of domestic violence against men have no grounds to know what happened other than a guy was killed. Really, the tragic death moderation you use is all over the map. If you have so much trouble determining who should post, just kill commenting on the articles. that would be my suggestions.


Mon, Apr 25, 2011 : 1:44 a.m.

Once again, mods missed the point.

Jen Eyer

Tue, Apr 19, 2011 : 2:35 a.m.

Barb- You're absolutely right; we should have blocked those comments yesterday. The thread has been cleaned up. Thanks for bringing this to our attention.

Matt Cooper

Sun, Apr 17, 2011 : 2:53 a.m.

Just an hour or so ago I had a comment denied because I supposedly violated the rules of commenting. I did not attack anyone, disparage anyones character or do anything else that I know to be a violation of said rules. I wish Could someone from please e3mail me and offer an explanation of why my post was disallowed? Also, could someone explain to me why appears to be suer-ultra-sensitive sometimes in what posts it allows and which ones it doesn't? I honesly do not feel that my post was wrong in any way.


Thu, Apr 21, 2011 : 8:15 p.m.

They most certainly tolerate jerks. Just not ALL jerks. I know of at least a few people who spend all day insulting other people in the sports section and they're not only allowed, but defended by the staff themselves.

Craig Lounsbury

Wed, Apr 20, 2011 : 1:51 a.m.

Matt, your mistake #1 is to assume there are any set rules. They delete anything they want to. they don't need a reason or care. they &quot; won't tolerate jerks... or posts that ... don't further the conversation.&quot; That basically includes anything they feel like getting rid of.

Jen Eyer

Tue, Apr 19, 2011 : 2:39 a.m.

Matt: I restored your comment. Our apologies for this error.


Sun, Apr 17, 2011 : 6:18 p.m.

You likely were subject to the exceedingly conservative censorship of the evening/overnight service out of Canada, contracted by (I had a comment once that was censored, a comment that simply said &quot;Yes.&quot; in response to a commenter's question). Very often, after the staff reviews the censored material from the previous night, it will be restored, as it appears yours has been. A repeat in the future likely would benefit from just waiting to see if it is restored by noon the following day.


Fri, Apr 15, 2011 : 10:16 a.m.

How many times are you going to let Edward R. Murrow's Ghost use the term &quot;MCC&quot;? It means &quot;man crush crowd&quot; and is used 100% of the time as an insult to other posters like myself who don't have a seething hatred for the former Michigan football coach, Rich Rodriguez. There isn't a single use of &quot;MCC&quot; anywhere that is anything but a direct attack against those who don't agree with them. Whenever anyone makes a comment defending anything pre-Brady Hoke, we are attacked and belittled by people like Blu n Tpa, Edward R. Murrow's Ghost, and 1st Down. I diligently report these posts, but very few of them are removed. Why? Why are they allowed to belittle us directly, yet when I defend myself my comments are removed? I personally find &quot;MCC&quot;, or &quot;man crush crowd&quot;, to be not only homophobic in nature, but emasculating. Does condone this type of behavior? I can only assume so when nothing is done despite at least a dozen reports from myself alone.

Jen Eyer

Thu, Apr 28, 2011 : 1:40 a.m.

Well, EyeHeartA2, it's not like it's in Webster's. Urban Dictionary is *the* source for finding the various definitions of slang terms.


Sat, Apr 23, 2011 : 2:30 p.m.

Legitimate news source? By time it's filtered, slanted, skewered, and spun, there isn't much news left.


Tue, Apr 19, 2011 : 2:11 a.m.

This has GOT to be the funniest thing I have read in ages: A &quot;Legitimate news source&quot; is turning to the Urban Dictionary as a reference guide for the moderation guidelines? Help me Mr. Wizard.


Sat, Apr 16, 2011 : 12:28 a.m.

For what it's worth, I suggest giving the term MCC the attention it deserves; that is, ignore it.


Fri, Apr 15, 2011 : 9:57 p.m.

You can't possible agree that the context in which it is used isn't intended to be degrading in every single instance.

Jen Eyer

Fri, Apr 15, 2011 : 9:11 p.m.

We have allowed the term &quot;man crush&quot; because the common definition is that of a straight man having extreme admiration that is not of a sexual nature for another man. Check out this Urban Dictionary page: <a href="" rel='nofollow'></a>. So the term is not considered to be offensive or a personal attack.


Fri, Apr 15, 2011 : 5:10 p.m.

If this isn't the most textbook case of the pot calling the kettle black... I'd love you to find even one post of mine where I'm not either defending my opinion from you or Blu n Tpa or someone else, or where I attack someone personally without provocation. I disagree with people, sure. But I do it without telling them how stupid they are or trying to insult them in the process (unless it's in response to you or one of the other people who makes it a habit to target me directly). And don't act like that's not what you do. You use whatever literary technique you have to in order to get your insult through without technically violating any rules... even if the spirit of your post is completely in violation. You're constantly commenting about my opinions as if they somehow make me ignorant, immature, uneducated, stubborn, or, in the case of your use of the term &quot;MCC&quot;, homosexual. They're opinions, period. And they're about something as completely trivial as football. A game. A GAME. You never just disagree. You disagree with implications that anyone who doesn't share your opinion is stupid. Jen, I will be emailing you momentarily. Thank you for your attention.

Edward R Murrow's Ghost

Fri, Apr 15, 2011 : 3:29 p.m.

Might I suggest that if Dusty wishes a civil conversation, that he ought to act civilly. Many of his needlessly condescending posts have been removed, but these remain: <a href=""></a> <a href=""></a> <a href=""></a> <a href=""></a> <a href=""></a> I could go further back into the history but don't have the time. He wants to discuss football? Great. But it appears he his more interested snidely denigrating those with whom he does not agree (e.g., you ought to be a football coach). Fine. I'm up for that, too. Good Night and Good Luck

Jen Eyer

Fri, Apr 15, 2011 : 2:15 p.m.

Dusty, Can you point me to some specific comments that you have reported that weren't taken down? Email them to me, with links please, at Thanks.


Fri, Apr 15, 2011 : 10:31 a.m.

My God, at least it's not only me. If you go through and look at Edward R. Murrow's Ghost's posting history, 80% or more of his comments are pointed and condescending at best, and downright belittling at worst. It's as though he just goes around responding to people to tell them how wrong they are and how they aren't very bright to boot. Is he the uncle of the Editor in Chief or something? Letting people like him insult other subscribers constantly reflects horrible on your publication.


Fri, Apr 15, 2011 : 10:05 a.m.

Excuse me, but why do you keep deleting my comments when I defend myself from personal insults? Why not delete the insults themselves?


Thu, Apr 14, 2011 : 4:54 a.m.

Why is there selective enforcement of the rules? That's all I'd like to know. Sometimes comments that insult other posters with backhanded cracks are removed almost instantly, while other, much more blatant comments that insult multiple other posters are reported yet left alone.

Jen Eyer

Fri, Apr 15, 2011 : 2:14 p.m.

Dusty, Anytime you see a comment that you think violates the rules, please use the &quot;report abuse&quot; button. From there, you'll be able to choose the type of abuse as well as leave your own comment about it for the moderators. This will help us track issues such as this. Thanks!


Mon, Apr 11, 2011 : 1:34 p.m.

Mods, the story about the cocker spaniels seems based wholly and entirely based on speculation about how the dogs came to be where they were found. Most of the comments are also full of speculation about cause, place blame, and demand punishment for the unknown accused. Why aren't these posts in violation of the &quot;expanded&quot; crime guidelines?


Wed, Apr 20, 2011 : 2:12 p.m.

There are specific comments -- all of them.

Jen Eyer

Fri, Apr 15, 2011 : 2:13 p.m.

If there's a specific comment you'd like us to look at, please let me know.


Wed, Apr 13, 2011 : 12:29 p.m.

Hello? Anyone out there?


Thu, Apr 7, 2011 : 3:58 p.m.

They need to accept a 15% pay cut and pay 20% of their health insurance premium.


Wed, Apr 6, 2011 : 2:35 p.m.

You just deleted my comment on Borders moving its headquarters. I referred to the company as &quot;crawling off to die so we don't have to smell its corpse&quot;. Why was this poetic analogy deleted? It is a metaphor in reference to a corporation, harms no one and uses no profanity whatsover. Are corporations &quot;people&quot; at A2dotcom?

Tony Dearing

Thu, Apr 7, 2011 : 12:41 p.m.

Commenting on the site has taken an ugly turn in recent days and at times, when it begins to spiral into nastiness, we tighten up our moderating and try to restore some minimum level of civility to the discussion. We judged your comment to be below the minimum level of civility that our commenters normally maintain and that we encourage them to maintain. That's why it was removed.


Sun, Apr 3, 2011 : 12:04 a.m.

Could one of you moderators please tell me why there is so much selective enforcement here at I'm often targetted by other readers because I am of the very unpopular opinion that Rich Rodriguez was not the Devil himself. But when I defend my opinions from these backhanded insults with even the slightest bit of snark (and sometimes none at all), my posts are deleted. I would love some clarification, if it isn't too much to ask.


Sun, Apr 3, 2011 : 2:43 p.m.

Mr. Dearing, I very much appreciate your attention and time. Thank you.

Tony Dearing

Sun, Apr 3, 2011 : 1:21 p.m.

Dusty, I reviewed the comment directed at you, and you are right, it violated our conversation guidelines and should have been removed. I removed it. I will follow up with the moderator on duty at that time.


Sun, Apr 3, 2011 : 12:40 a.m.

Why am I not surprised to be ignored?


Sun, Apr 3, 2011 : 12:07 a.m.

It just happened yet again. I made a comment using the term &quot;homerun&quot; in relation to a player on the football team. Another poster (I won't use his name, but he does it to me all the time) berated my use of a baseball term as if it wasn't appropriate use of the metaphor. I tried to defend my rhetoric FOUR TIMES, a couple of them a bit pointed and at least one of them with absolutely zero attitude at all. All four were deleted, very quickly. Please, for the love of all that is good and just, give me one good reason why they, particularly the last one, had to be deleted.


Wed, Mar 30, 2011 : 3:51 a.m.

And then, presto, it is restored again. Can a moderator explain why it was deleted, and then why it was restored?


Thu, Mar 31, 2011 : 5:04 p.m.

Thanks for the feedback, Ms. Eyer.

Jen Eyer

Thu, Mar 31, 2011 : 1:58 p.m.

I checked with the overnight moderators, and the reason given is that they have been instructed in the past by us to block one word comments since they usually don't add to the discussion. In this case, they didn't look at the context to see that you were actually answering someone's question. I've spoken to them about making sure they look for context. Additionally, the one-word rule is something we will reconsider when we undertake a revision of our guidelines in the near future.


Thu, Mar 31, 2011 : 12:23 p.m.

I think the mods have been slacking these past couple days. I understand why they don't want to engage me any more than necessary, but I'm surprised they haven't found the time to look into your issue.

Moscow On The Huron

Thu, Mar 31, 2011 : 11:57 a.m.



Wed, Mar 30, 2011 : 1:31 a.m.

I submitted a straightforward and simple reply to @dading at 9:25 p.m. (my reply was &quot;Yes.&quot;) to his question on the EMU assault in the dorm room (<a href=",">,</a> asking if this was the same story reported earlier as a &quot;minor stabbing.&quot; And yet my reply was deleted. Why?


Tue, Mar 29, 2011 : 5:04 p.m.

Just an observation: Why is it that the moderators allow speculation on cause of death in the story about the homeless gentleman who passed away (<a href=",">,</a> but generally that is not allowed in &quot;tragic death&quot; threads? Why the inconsistency? I'd like to point out that in the story of the accident involving the young people on 23 near Lee Rd. earlier this year, all posts referring to any possible cause of deviating from the road were removed, but in this thread apparently it's OK to discuss any number of possible causes of death. Additionally, certain posts seem to place blame for the death, which is also not tolerated in other threads. As usual, I'd rather let all the posts stay, but this is inconsistent with moderation in other stories.


Tue, Mar 29, 2011 : 2:16 a.m.

You censored me so badly now I am just going to do the right and honest thing anyone who gets censored every day for nearly every post would do: log out and register a new profile under a different email. Sad, as I one of your earliest most frequent commenters. RIP Shadowmanager. Have a nice day, a2dotcom!

Jen Eyer

Tue, Mar 29, 2011 : 4:13 p.m.

Of your last 100 comments, 17 were blocked, all for clearly violating our guidelines. I can be more specific if you'd like, either here or by email. Just let me know.

Jen Eyer

Mon, Mar 28, 2011 : 8:53 p.m.

DBH, Moscow, sirotan and others: We spoke with our overnight and weekend moderating team, and have hopefully ironed out the inconsistencies that were occurring. As always, please feel free to bring any concerns you have to this thread going forward.

Jen Eyer

Fri, Apr 1, 2011 : 3:51 p.m.

DBH: It's cost-prohibitive at this point to have people here moderating through the night and on weekends. That's why we do the different time zone thing.


Fri, Apr 1, 2011 : 1:40 a.m.

Thanks, Ms. Eyer, for this additional information. Given the current method whereby handles the overnight and weekend moderation, this information puts the deletions and restorations during those times in a more understandable context. I hope is considering bringing the overnight and weekend moderation in-house soon to make it more consistent with that done during the day.

Jen Eyer

Thu, Mar 31, 2011 : 5:10 p.m.

I'd just add that overnight and weekend moderation is always going to be a little different/inconsistent with daytime moderating. The overnight moderators frequently lack the context needed to make informed decisions on comments that fall into the gray areas, since they are not on staff and haven't read most of the stories. We have given them a set of guidelines, and we continually refine and improve those guidelines, but our direction to them is that, if a comment is in the gray area, to err on the side of blocking it. It's much easier to restore a comment in the morning than it is to repair the potential damage of a comment that should have been blocked but was left on the site for hours. So while we can't eliminate the inconsistency, we can work to reduce it, and that's what we are doing.


Mon, Mar 28, 2011 : 4:55 p.m.

&quot;that there seems to be some inconsistent moderating happening with our overnight and weekend moderators&quot; Do you have an Biggest understatement poll to vote in? Be that as it may, is anyone else having problems with their user profile? Mine does not seem to be updating or adding my recent comments in the last few weeks...


Tue, Mar 29, 2011 : 1:26 p.m.

Also working again -- but it was down for a couple days. I still can't edit my bio, I just get a box to enter a (new?) bio. That might be how the site works though.

Jen Eyer

Tue, Mar 29, 2011 : 11:37 a.m.

OK. I will let our tech team know.


Tue, Mar 29, 2011 : 12:28 a.m.

Mine isn't working either. I can't edit anything or post status updates. I haven't checked whether any of my comments post lately.


Mon, Mar 28, 2011 : 11:17 p.m.

Actually as of today it seems to be working, but there's a large gap from most of last week.

Jen Eyer

Mon, Mar 28, 2011 : 9:02 p.m.

When I look at your profile page, I see all of your recent comments. Can you send me a screen shot of what you see?


Mon, Mar 28, 2011 : 1:35 a.m.

Well, all right, then. Now my reply to Jen Eyer within the story, asking for the courtesy of a reply as to why my original comment was deleted and then restored, has been deleted. Perhaps I will receive a response on this forum, perhaps not.

Jen Eyer

Mon, Mar 28, 2011 : 2:37 a.m.

DBH: We usually block comments that question moderation on story threads. We request that readers ask their moderation questions here, on this thread, as you have now done. Where our overnight moderators are located may make no difference to you, but I include it because people are often curious. As I said, we'll be talking with them tomorrow about the inconsistencies, and will provide an update here.


Mon, Mar 28, 2011 : 1:42 a.m.

Jen Eyer's reply to my original question is in the reply to my comment at 9:27 p.m. Still don't know why the comment within the story requesting clarification has been deleted. Perhaps it is the &quot;inconsistent moderating&quot; in another time zone, in Canada. However, I don't understand why a different time zone, or a different country, would have any relevance, as the time zone seems totally irrelevant, and I understood that the contracted moderators received direction from as to how moderation was to occur.


Mon, Mar 28, 2011 : 1:27 a.m.

Well, for those reading my previous comment on this forum and who might care at all, my comment about the misspelling has been restored, and a reply to said comment by Jen Eyer notes that the spelling has been corrected. I am awaiting a response, presumably at the original story site (rather than here, though either site (or both) would be fine with me), to my question as to why it was deleted and then restored.


Mon, Mar 28, 2011 : 2:03 a.m.

Thank you for reply, Ms. Eyer. I do not understand the relevance of the time zone difference, nor particularly the country in which the moderators are located, as I understood that the contracted moderators received explicit direction from as to how to moderate, which to me at least seems country-independent. Am I wrong? While I understand how a fledgling organization rightfully deserves some latitude as it relates to consistency as they find their way, is well over a year old now and the excuse that the moderators are learning their way as they go is wearing thin. I have no interest in taking the time to verify the impression I have (even if I had a way of determining the relevant facts), but it seems to me that the consistency in moderation has become increasingly MORE inconsistent, rather than less so. As is obvious from many of the comments on this site, this creates animosity between your readers and, not what you or any organization should see as a positive outcome. Personally, I think either has to relax your moderation guidelines substantially, or you need to be very explicit and expansive in your published guidelines, enumerating as many forbidden transgressions as possible, so those who vary from those guidelines can see that they have violated a published limitation, and are not made to feel that their deleted comment was at the whim of an inconsistent moderation staff, in-house or not (to the reader whose comment is deleted, I doubt many or any really care if it was done in Ann Arbor or in Canada).

Jen Eyer

Mon, Mar 28, 2011 : 1:32 a.m.

Hi DBH: Thanks for raising the issue, and I apologize for the frustration. The bottom line is that there seems to be some inconsistent moderating happening with our overnight and weekend moderators (we contract with a company in another time zone — in Canada). We will work on this with them tomorrow.


Sun, Mar 27, 2011 : 10:34 p.m.

The comment below was submitted by me at 6:10 p.m. on March 27, 2011 and shortly thereafter removed. I would like to know why it was removed, as well as the original one in the same story, <a href=""></a> &quot;My comment from March 26, 2011 (9:04 p.m.), in which I pointed out that the original spelling of Grosse Pointe in the story was incorrect, was removed. Why was it removed? You have left intact a comment recommending the death sentence for the subject of this story, and yet you remove a comment pointing out an inaccuracy of the spelling in this story as violating the conversation guidelines?!?! Also, I see that the spelling has subsequently been corrected, and yet no acknowledgement of a revision in the story is made. My understanding from past comments by moderators that any changes to a story after original publication were to be acknowledged. Where is the acknowledgement?&quot;

Moscow On The Huron

Mon, Mar 28, 2011 : 4:59 p.m.

DBH, we share in your frustration. The replies you have been getting tend to give the impression that they will make a couple tweaks and then everything will be OK. However, the truth is the moderation always has been inconsistent and whimsy-based, and always will be. Blaming it on the nice people of The Great White North is a cop-out.


Sun, Mar 27, 2011 : 2:27 p.m.

We need to be cutting back, not undertaking another ill-conceived project. The city is probably cutting deals left and right for this, (property tax abatements?) and it will end up like our previous downtown hotel-a homeless shelter or up for grabs for something else.. Don't let desire for power and self-aggrandizement direct your decision.


Sun, Mar 27, 2011 : 1:42 a.m.

I'm really not understanding the moderation policy here. Article in question: <a href=""></a> Certainly, Planned Parenthood is a hot button issue. I'm sure some of the comments that were deleted contained inflammatory messages from one side or the other. But why would my post, that I attempted to write twice, where I pointed out for the information of people, such as the one who left this message... Why am I paying for abortion? We're in debt and KILLING unborn children should be illegal. Planned parenthood is evil. ...that abortions have not been federally funded since the passage of the 1976 Hyde Amendment? My post contained nothing inflammatory, no personal attacks. In fact I was directly replying to another previous comment that had specifically stated that they didn't understand why their tax money was going to abortions. Pointing out that this was actually not correct seems like it would be good information to your readers. Meanwhile, comments like the following remain: The parasitic classes and their armies are on the march. If what they are doing is so full of virtue, why aren't the people funding it directly ? &quot;Parasitic classes&quot;? Really?? I've definitely lost a some of the feeling of credibility I felt from

Jen Eyer

Mon, Mar 28, 2011 : 1:35 a.m.

sirotan: There seems to be some inconsistent moderating happening with our overnight and weekend moderators (we contract with a company in another time zone — in Canada). We will work on this with them tomorrow. I'm sorry for the frustration you encountered!


Sun, Mar 27, 2011 : 5:09 a.m.

Yeah, the mods don't actually know why things get removed, so no use asking them. If you look at my thread below, you'll see that there is a lot of miscommunication even though they like to act as though they are a united front. Also, the method of moderation sounds a lot like office gossip to come to consensus... so it's not really surprising that something would be errantly deleted. Happens all the time.


Sun, Mar 27, 2011 : 3:51 a.m.

I'm glad to see my comment was restored but I guess I'm confused why it was ever deleted in the first place, while other, much more inflammatory comments still remain posted on that article. Even if interpreted literally, my post violated none of the guidelines as far as I can tell.

Jen Eyer

Sun, Mar 27, 2011 : 3:10 a.m.

sirotan: Your comment has been restored.

Moscow On The Huron

Fri, Mar 25, 2011 : 2:47 p.m.

OK, I'm interested in hearing the explanation for this one. In the story about the sink hole (<a href=",">,</a> I replied to a comment and said, &quot;I'm with ferdcom. I'd love to hear how oil drilling and tsunamis are connected.&quot; It wasn't a personal attack, it didn't involve a tragic death (or any other kind of death), it can't be off-topic or the comment I was replying to and another response under it would have also been deleted, and it didn't speculate on the guilt of an accused.

Moscow On The Huron

Fri, Mar 25, 2011 : 3:54 p.m.

Yeah, either that or fascist. Or fastidious.


Fri, Mar 25, 2011 : 3:33 p.m.

Maybe someone thought you were being facetious.

Jen Eyer

Fri, Mar 25, 2011 : 11:43 a.m.

@loves_fall: The moderators make subjective interpretations about comments every day. Our system is designed that way, and we think it's a strength of the system. When a comment falls into a gray area (and there are many of those on a daily basis), the moderator will consult with at least one other moderator. Together they talk it through and come to a conclusion. In the case of your comment about the dog that was killed by a car, I consulted with several people, and as I already stated, we determined it was disrespectful to the dog's owner to liken her beloved pet to the squirrel and possum roadkill you saw that morning. We felt it was fairly obvious that you were being facetious rather than showing true concern, because you had already questioned why we had even written about the dog, since "dogs and cats are hit by cars all the time." I think it would be helpful for you and I to talk these matters over by phone, or better yet in person, so that we can understand each other better. You can call me anytime at 623-2577, or we can set up a time to meet in the Community Space. I'm there everyday during the week.


Fri, Mar 25, 2011 : 12:35 p.m.

Also, re: the dog story, I find your comment disrespectful to the possum and and squirrels I saw. Just because YOU have no respect for animal life outside of animal life owned by humans doesn't mean others don't respect all life. I take pains while driving to not hit animals. I've rescued turtles from the middle of roads and occasionally worms from the middle of sidewalks, move indoor bugs outside instead of squashing them, hosted baby sparrows until they were big enough to fly, and am pretty proficient in small animal first aid. I like animals a lot -- all of them, and not just the ones they sell in pet stores. Just because I say the dog story's not newsworthy because a million animals (that you guys deem worthless based on your comment above) die every day doesn't mean that everyone values (or devalues, more appropriately) these other animals the same way you do. That story was about some rich doctor's expensive rare dog. She'd had it for 6 months and had already lined up a replacement in the story. It is sad that the dog died, but it's even sadder that all it takes is some money and a rare breed to land you in the paper when Joe Average's dogs get hit by cars all the time and even if they're beloved family pets and have been with the families and kids for years, it's not newsworthy. But I'm glad that you guys admit that you value some life more than others. At least you're honest.


Fri, Mar 25, 2011 : 12:24 p.m.

No thanks -- from my previous conversations with your staff, it's clear that your objectives in &quot;talking&quot; are to convert me to your way of thinking and to explain to me why you're right. Until someone actually wants to take a good critical look at the policies, I am totally uninterested. I'm posting here to share my observations with the community. Please address the issue of derogatory language. You missed that in the post above.


Fri, Mar 25, 2011 : 3:05 a.m.

Wow. So in the past couple of days I've learned some things from Jen. Among them: &quot;Facetiousness&quot; is grounds for comment removal, and it's ok to be derogatory so long as the moderators are in agreement. So it's fine for them to call people jerks and nutcases, but please don't use that language when speaking of the mentally ill or anyone accused of a crime. This is really getting out of hand.


Fri, Mar 25, 2011 : 3:09 a.m.

Oh, and mods, yes, I do want an actual explanation of the guidelines behind subjective interpretations. If facetiousness is going to be grounds for comment removal, will that be for all instances or only for certain ones that you deem unpublishable? As far as I can tell, this basically gives you free reign and no guideline to follow for any comments. Also, I would like further clarification on whose judgement determines when derogatory language can be used towards whom, because you've made it clear in this thread that it's OK to use it towards people whose posts get deleted frequently but not OK to use it towards people who may or may not have some kind of alleged mental illness.

Macabre Sunset

Wed, Mar 23, 2011 : 11:54 a.m.

The moderation is still quite uneven, though it seems that the outside firm that works late nights is your wildest deleter. I hope you are still working on consistency. How do you change your bio, by the way? Mine doesn't fit the box, and now that Rich Rodriguez has been deposed, I'd like to change it anyway. I can change status (though no idea what that does). I can change the profile description, but that doesn't show up anywhere. But I can't change the bio.

Macabre Sunset

Thu, Mar 24, 2011 : 4:14 a.m.

Tony, I would have thought that, too. But editing that box does not change anything. What's in there is the bio from the pre-January system. Now when you first went to the new system, there was a page that allowed you to edit more fields. But that's apparently gone now. I think two fields were switched during the transition process.

Tony Dearing

Wed, Mar 23, 2011 : 1:56 p.m.

We are constantly working on the issue of consistency in moderation, and we acknowledge it is a challenge. We do review the moderating done by the overnight service, and give them feedback. We also communicate internally on a daily basis about moderating decisions, and the moderator on duty often consults with other moderators when a comment falls in a gray area. As for your profile, click on your name to go to your profile. On your profile page click on &quot;Edit Profile.'' That will take you to a page that includes your bio. Go into your bio box, make the changes you want, and then save. That should do it for you.


Tue, Mar 22, 2011 : 1:21 p.m.

It seems to me that there are an increasing number of comments on that violate the established conversation guidelines. Since the screen names are included with comments that meet the guidelines, why not include the screen names of people who violate the guidelines? It seems to me that people should take some modicum of responsibility for their comments - and showing the screen names for ALL comments would help readers identify &quot; true nut cases&quot; so that when they make future comments their screen names will be identify the comments as potentially being from a jerk.


Tue, Mar 29, 2011 : 2:12 a.m.

I'm proud violating these stupid oppressive and ninny-guidelines. Please put me at the top of the list of repeat offenders!

Macabre Sunset

Thu, Mar 24, 2011 : 4:17 a.m.

I'd like the opportunity to edit the deleted reply, with it appearing hidden until the edit is approved. Or at least email quoting the deleted reply and why it was removed, along with an invitation to resubmit if the guidelines are followed. Believe it or not, I actually try to follow the guidelines.


Wed, Mar 23, 2011 : 5:44 p.m.


Moscow On The Huron

Wed, Mar 23, 2011 : 5:16 p.m.

Agree with loves_fall - it would be more of a badge of honor.


Wed, Mar 23, 2011 : 3:19 p.m.

I personally wouldn't have anything against my name staying up on my many deleted postings. I wouldn't consider it punitive, either, because... well, I'm sure everyone knows how I feel about's moderation policy by now. The punitive part is deleting them in the first place. :)

Tony Dearing

Wed, Mar 23, 2011 : 12:58 p.m.

That's an interesting idea. Our current system does not allow us to display the name of the person whose comment is deleted, and although we could request that Demand Media, which powers our commenting system, consider that in a future release, we'd have to discuss whether we'd want to go that route. Generally, our philosophy has been not to be punitive toward people who violate our guidelines.


Sat, Mar 19, 2011 : 5:01 a.m.

I'm fairly certain A2dotcom will censor itself right out of existence. Lord knows their business model is failing.


Fri, Mar 18, 2011 : 4:33 p.m.

Wow Jen. Considering your lack of response to my questions and your admitted bias towards me in particular, why it's hard to think this isn't personal... I do realize that you specifically are 0 and 1 to me and is 0 and 4 to me but really? Ignoring the problem is not.... Never mind it's SOP isn't it? Your company may not like how I say things but bear in mind things need to be said and if those things might have been considered you wouldn't have to be the defacto &quot;Real Time Engagement Officer&quot;. More food for thought, gratis.

Jen Eyer

Fri, Mar 18, 2011 : 5:09 p.m.

Oh, I see it now, and will respond.

Jen Eyer

Fri, Mar 18, 2011 : 4:53 p.m.

Did you ask me a question that I didn't answer? I'm very sorry if so. Please point me to the question, and I'll gladly take a look. Thanks!


Thu, Mar 17, 2011 : 5:16 p.m.

Would a moderator respond to my reply/question (dated 3/6/11 1:28 p.m.) to a comment by Stefanie Murray (dated 2/6/11 3:05 p.m.) to @fman? Thank you.


Fri, Mar 18, 2011 : 8:14 p.m.

[I will reply here, as well as to the earlier posting of 3/6/11.] And yet the comment remains. Interesting. While I do not see that posting a comment &quot;Go Blue!&quot; adds any substantive material to a story, it is an expression of enthusiasm by the poster and, as such, should be banned by only if one of your goals is to dampen enthusiasm by those excited to read of a story on your site. I have to believe that your assertion that the &quot;average reader&quot; finds such postings as annoying is an assumption as opposed to a determined fact. If you actually surveyed your readership on this point (or on the more general question of the advisability/desirability of deleting nonsubstantive but enthusiastic expressions of support for whatever or whomever), I think you would find the majority actually would not mind much, or would support such postings. If you want your site to be one to which readers go with positive anticipation, please reconsider deletions of what are essentially harmless expressions of enthusiasm by some of those readers.

Jen Eyer

Fri, Mar 18, 2011 : 3:08 p.m.

Just replied! Thanks for the reminder.


Thu, Mar 17, 2011 : 5:12 p.m.

I made a comment about the argument style of a conservative post that call everyone who complained about Rick Snyder's honorary degree &quot;a bunch of whiners&quot; . My justifiable comment was removed and his remained. This looks a lot like censorship.

Jen Eyer

Fri, Mar 18, 2011 : 3:12 p.m.

I restored your comment. It's possible that it was blocked by mistake.


Wed, Mar 16, 2011 : 6:23 p.m.

I recently commented on an article asking what was wrong with today's youth but because I said black youth it was removed. the censorship of this site is ridiculous.

Jen Eyer

Wed, Mar 16, 2011 : 11:52 p.m.

Generalizations based on race, such as this, are considered offensive.


Wed, Mar 16, 2011 : 1:51 p.m.

The extreme moderation of the comment boards kills any sense of realism and destroys strong opinions. a2 dotcom should model their comment moderation on the very open forums of the Gannett Freep paper : no profanity or swear words, and that's it. The Freep boards are much livelier than the sedate censored A2dotcom boards. I'm batting about 50/50 on which of my comments even make it on anymore...and I'm one of the more prolific commenters. This kinda hardcore censorship makes your boards boring and uninteresting, and hence your paper and business model of &quot;being nice&quot; isn't actually very successful at all.


Wed, Mar 16, 2011 : 2:59 a.m.

In <a href=""></a> &quot;Kelly Davenport at 12:37 PM on March 15, 2011 As a reminder about the stricter guidelines governing conversations about crime stories, comments that speculate about the mental or physical states of suspects or victims will be removed.&quot; Please cite this rule in the above &quot;comment guidelines&quot;.


Sat, Mar 26, 2011 : 11 p.m.

Like I said, total failure to actually address the serious issues. @Jen, don't insult me.

Jen Eyer

Sat, Mar 26, 2011 : 1:23 p.m.

Thanks for your input, loves_fall.


Fri, Mar 25, 2011 : 10:13 p.m.

Really, @Jen? Is there also a big difference in calling a general bunch of people who engage in unwise behavior retards and calling someone developmentally disabled one? Is there a big difference in using the N-word referring to some groups of people but not all? My point is, if using &quot;nutcase&quot; in the context of talking about someone with mental illness stigmatizes them, doesn't any use of the term, in any context, perpetuate that stigmatism? Even used to refer to people like me whose posts get censored all the time, it still insinuates that we are in some way crazy or mental or something that has its roots in legitimate mental illness. Even if you call me a nutcase because I don't play well in the playground, you're insulting the mentally ill because it's the stigmatization of the mentally ill that gave the word its colloquial meaning. And if you can't wrap your head around that, maybe you shouldn't be making value judgments on what's acceptable and what isn't.

Jen Eyer

Fri, Mar 25, 2011 : 12:53 p.m.

This issue is all about context. There is a big difference between calling a person with a mental illness who is written about in a story &quot;nuts,&quot; and using the term &quot;nut cases&quot; to generally describe people who frequently violate the rules, in a comment on this moderation thread where, not incidentally, we give people greater freedom to express themselves. If the term had been applied to a specific commenter, however, we would have taken that down. Again, I would encourage you to give me a call or stop by the Community Space sometime. Even if we are unable to agree at the end of our conversation, I think our future discussions will be more constructive for having met in person.


Fri, Mar 25, 2011 : 3:27 a.m.

Oh AND, @Jen (I'm on a roll tonight), it really does seem like there should either be and acceptance of the term in all contexts or not. I have a problem with you saying that it's OK to use language such as &quot;true nut cases&quot; (a derogatory term for crazy folks) as long as it isn't being used to describe the mentally ill. It should be either usable or not. Is it ok for people to use &quot;retarded&quot; on the board as long as they aren't referring to the developmentally disabled? I'm also curious as to who will make the determination of who is mentally ill and who is just a run of the mill &quot;nut case&quot; -- isn't that forcing judgment from all potential posters just to be able to construct a response? Is that really helpful or does that just increase people's inherent biases? Then, if we decide that someone is mentally ill, it sounds like we should refer to them as &quot;mentally ill&quot; and not &quot;nutcases&quot;, but if they don't, then we can call them &quot;nutcases&quot; with abandon, regardless of the social stigma of the term to the actual mentally ill. I'm sure they'll just know that you aren't talking about them. You guys are in such a hurry to be right and tell us why you're right that you don't think the issue through.


Fri, Mar 25, 2011 : 3:06 a.m.

Also @Jen, don't you think that if someone is so extreme in their viewpoint that they &quot;*can't* be polite&quot; that you're also referring to people with some kind of mental illness that prevents them from following the rules? I'm sensing a double standard here...


Fri, Mar 25, 2011 : 3:02 a.m.

@Jen Eyer, so you're saying it's OK to be derogatory towards others so long as they don't have any known mental problems? I'm still not sure how that's different other than the assumptions that you as a moderator are bringing to the table about the inferred meaning.

Jen Eyer

Wed, Mar 23, 2011 : 4:25 p.m.

@loves_fall: The term &quot;true nut cases&quot; in this instance is not referring to a person or people with actual mental illnesses. It's a figure of speech referencing people who are so extreme in their viewpoints that they can't be polite.


Wed, Mar 23, 2011 : 3:23 p.m.

Ironically, here's a copy and paste from an above thread that is still standing and evidently not derogatory towards the mentally ill: Chicagobob at 9:21 AM on March 22, 2011 It seems to me that there are an increasing number of comments on that violate the established conversation guidelines. Since the screen names are included with comments that meet the guidelines, why not include the screen names of people who violate the guidelines? It seems to me that people should take some modicum of responsibility for their comments - and showing the screen names for ALL comments would help readers identify &quot; true nut cases&quot; so that when they make future comments their screen names will be identify the comments as potentially being from a jerk. So, true nut cases is ok, but nuts is bad?

Jen Eyer

Sat, Mar 19, 2011 : 2:46 a.m.

If you had written &quot;Ok he's mentally ill, so what was his accomplice's explanation?&quot; that would have been fine.


Fri, Mar 18, 2011 : 9:18 p.m.

Jen, So the first part of my comment &quot;ok he's nuts&quot; is derogatory? Wow PC run amok, I say since it is a common colloquialism. The second part &quot;so what's his wife's excuse&quot; invites speculation into her mental status in a derogatory way? Maybe I should start a poll and see how many other humans agree with your explanation. Or &quot;knowing what you know about me&quot; to paraphrase you, did an overzealous mod read with their biases and found excuse enough to remove my comment? You realize that's about the definition of profiling and prejudice, right? Would the more PC but meaning the same &quot;Ok he's mentally ill, so what was his accomplice's explanation?&quot; be removed as well for the same reasons? OR more likely if someone else wrote those original words, they'd still be up? As to the rest of your comment, might reiterate a suggestion of mine from hundreds of posts ago in this very thread. NEW COMMENT GUIDELINES: reserves the right to moderate comments at will, capriciously and without explanation. Your house, your rules. But follow your rules or not at all. Change your guidelines to the truth and I promise you'll never hear another argument from me over them. How's that for a deal?

Jen Eyer

Fri, Mar 18, 2011 : 5:20 p.m.

Hi Ricebrnr, Your comment was removed partially because you used a derogatory term for mental illness, and partially because you were inviting speculation about the wife's mental condition in a derogatory way. You are correct that when a suspect's mental condition is a part of the story, it should also be allowed to be discussed. But it must be done in a respectful manner, one that doesn't insult all people with mental illnesses. I'd also add as a reminder that our conversation guidelines do not spell out every single reason that we block posts. We are talking about revising them to include a few more common guidelines, such as the ones for crime stories that we've been using for many months. Still, we do not intend for it to be a comprehensive list because, like it or not, our moderation is done by humans who use their judgment to make the best calls they can on the many comments that fall into gray areas.


Thu, Mar 17, 2011 : 2:34 a.m.

Hey Jen, why no response for me? How about reviewing my deleted comments in the above named thread? How about answering why moderators are making stuff up and then citing said fallacies as gospel? hmmmm?


Wed, Mar 16, 2011 : 3:18 p.m.

Yeah, where did that rule come from? (And, as usual, why are tragic death guidelines being applied to home invasion stories?)


Wed, Mar 16, 2011 : 12:40 a.m.

Maybe whoever is left after the night of long knives can answer this for me: Why was my recent post on Officer Zook removed? Atticus F. (whoever he is) essentially called officer Zook a liar, and he invoked his status as 'someone who works with the homeless'. My take on it was I know who officer Zook is, but he could be claiming anything with no way to verify. Anyway, I'll be careful to copy this, as my original post was up for a few hours prior to censoring. It seems like our censors North of the border are a little heavier handed than the ones in Ann Arbor. I have worse &quot;luck&quot; on second shift for some reason. Maybe you can explain that as well.

Jen Eyer

Fri, Mar 18, 2011 : 2:25 p.m.

EyeHeartA2: It is true that the overnight moderators tend to interpret the guidelines more literally, and they err on the side of taking things down. That's why we try, in the mornings, to review the overnight comments and repost anything that may have been on the line. But since the comment you are referencing isn't anywhere in the system (not even in the deleted bin), I'm guessing it was just a technical glitch. As always, please don't hesitate to contact us with any further questions. Thanks!


Wed, Mar 16, 2011 : 4:51 p.m.

Jen; arrrgh; Who knows? I looked in the article. It is either back or never left and I looked in the wrong sub thread. HOWEVER, if I look in MY history, it is not there - stil. I suspect you still have some bugs in the new software. I also don't completely trust what goes on second shift. Two nights ago, they took down pretty much everything I put up.

Jen Eyer

Wed, Mar 16, 2011 : 4:14 p.m.

EyeHeartA2: I don't see any blocked comments from you on that article. Was this already remedied?


Wed, Mar 16, 2011 : 3 a.m.

no such thing as luck. Whimsy is more like. As in capricious...


Wed, Mar 16, 2011 : 12:26 a.m.

When I go to this page, I continue to see Stefanie Murray's picture. As wonderful as it is (very photogenic), it saddens me knowing that she is no longer with, as I always appreciated her thoughtful and timely responses (though I did not always agree with her). Have you given any thought to taking it down, or replacing it with a photo of the new Real-Time Engagement Officer (whoever that may be, if that position even still exists)?


Wed, Mar 16, 2011 : 3:27 p.m.

Thoughtful and timely? My responses from her tended to be superficial and deflective. I do find it humorous that her new title is &quot;director of digital audience development&quot;... maybe she can &quot;fix&quot; their commenting system just like she did's. I agree, though, her pic should come down. Hopefully the next person they pick for this brings some real skill to the table.


Fri, Mar 4, 2011 : 10:34 p.m.

So, is it that we're not allowed to comment on the wording of the headline of a story about a dog that died, or we're not allowed to comment on the wording of the headline of any story? I'm confused because I don't see either of those listed as deleteable offenses.


Tue, Mar 8, 2011 : 10:35 p.m.

Good and good luck to The State. He will NOT be missed.

Craig Lounsbury

Sat, Mar 5, 2011 : 4:03 p.m.

&quot;Somebody's pet was killed here, and that's what people were trying to have a discussion about.&quot; actually Tony Dearing what was happening was Ann was trying to confine the discussion to condolences to the bereaved. No sane adult would assume the guidelines for tragic deaths would include animals. Would you accept an obituary for a dog?


Sat, Mar 5, 2011 : 4:33 a.m.

That's because they don't want you to know what the rules are.... then you'd just take advantage of them.

Tony Dearing

Fri, Mar 4, 2011 : 11:15 p.m.

If you see an inaccuracy, a typo or a grammatical mistake, we welcome you to point that out and we will correct it. Otherwise, we ask that comments discuss the story. Somebody's pet was killed here, and that's what people were trying to have a discussion about.


Fri, Mar 4, 2011 : 10:01 p.m.

Who deleted my post from 4:27 PM on March 4, 2011 in <a href=""></a> ? There wasn't anything in violation about it. I pointed out that there had been other similar incidents and said that I hoped that the authorities had been alerted. I'd love to know why that's offensive.


Fri, Mar 25, 2011 : 3:03 a.m.

&quot;There was initially a miscommunication between moderators about which of your comments were to be blocked. After further review, we decided to leave the second one blocked. The facetiousness was disrespectful to the dog's owner and the situation.&quot; WHAT??? Facetiousness? Where's that in the moderation guidelines? How do you know I wasn't serious? You guys are horrible. I'm seriously going to quit again.

Jen Eyer

Wed, Mar 16, 2011 : 4:25 p.m.

There was initially a miscommunication between moderators about which of your comments were to be blocked. After further review, we decided to leave the second one blocked. The facetiousness was disrespectful to the dog's owner and the situation.


Sat, Mar 5, 2011 : 5:51 p.m.

I doubt it was a &quot;technical glitch&quot; Tony, as the comment had been restored after its initial deletion, and then it was deleted again (though I now see it has once again been restored). Also, it does appear that commenting has been closed on the story, but doesn't a moderator usually leave a comment to that effect within the story? I see nothing in the story to indicate that commenting has been closed.

Tony Dearing

Sat, Mar 5, 2011 : 5:07 p.m.

Not sure why the comment was deleted again after I restored it. It appears to be a technical glitch, having to do with restoring a comment on a story after commenting on the story has been closed. We'll figure it out and get it fixed.

Craig Lounsbury

Sat, Mar 5, 2011 : 3:58 p.m.

they operate on a &quot;when in doubt delete&quot; policy. They can do whatever they want as the 1st amendment isn't really applicable other than as a symbol. Its just sad that they feel so free to stifle other's speech if it doesn't fit tightly in to their vague guidelines.


Sat, Mar 5, 2011 : 2:03 p.m.

I'd say it is doubly weird, as I saw that your comment had been restored and now see that, once again, it was deleted. While I thought your comment was insensitive and in poor taste (while I imagined the owner of the dog in question reading your comment), as I understand the guidelines I also did not think your comment violated them. I think you are owed an explanation, given the deletion, restoration after Mr. Dearing's review, and deletion again.


Sat, Mar 5, 2011 : 4:31 a.m.

That's weird, because it isn't reinstated.


Fri, Mar 4, 2011 : 11:55 p.m.

So why was it removed? Who did it? If it was reinstated then what was their explanation.... Deja vu again!

Tony Dearing

Fri, Mar 4, 2011 : 11:03 p.m.

Thanks for raising this question. I reviewed your comment and restored it.


Fri, Mar 4, 2011 : 3:49 p.m.

A half-hour later, I'm asking again for what was wrong with my earlier comment, and I've submitted another comment on the same article. I would appreciate a response. You've directed me to this comment thread, and I'm attempting to use it to find out why my comment was removed.

Jen Eyer

Fri, Mar 4, 2011 : 10:17 p.m.

KJMClark: I replied to you on the thread. If you have further questions, feel free to email me:


Fri, Mar 4, 2011 : 7:48 p.m.

You might receive a more timely response with a direct email to (citing time, date, and story). No guarantees. Good luck.


Fri, Mar 4, 2011 : 3:15 p.m.

I made a comment this morning at 8:27 about the &quot;bikepaths&quot; article. I'd like to know who took it down and why.


Tue, Mar 1, 2011 : 5:07 a.m.

please make public statement lost comments never return. Supposed to return long time ago.


Mon, Feb 28, 2011 : 3:17 a.m.

Yep back when there were no auto tombstones, supposedly only a minor number of comments were deleted. Of course no metrics were ever release to prove that statement. Now are we seeing an increase or are we seeing the truth? Considering the last few comments mirror the majority of the 300 or so complaints....what are we supposed to think?


Tue, Feb 22, 2011 : 1:23 p.m.

a &quot;real time Engagement officer' what a joke --- liberalism is so funny........ Officer -- like she is somehow important ... what a joke.


Tue, Feb 22, 2011 : 1:21 p.m.

crazy.... but it is Ann Arbor........... Failed newspaper --

Craig Lounsbury

Mon, Feb 21, 2011 : 12:09 a.m.

I can honestly say the censorship in here is getting worse by the day. The sad part is that there really is no consistency. There is a &quot;vagueness clause&quot; in the &quot;guidelines&quot; you could drive a Mack truck through. Which is to say you could delete at least 50% of the posts in here. I think Ann should &quot;man up&quot; and move all deleted posts to an accessible &quot;enter at your own risk&quot; trash pile. Each post banished should have a specific explanation of the guideline clause it violated. I know your answer in part will be you don't have time for that nonsense. i understand why you wouldn't have time. The shear volume of posts you delete would make it prohibitive. I think thats worth repeating, the shear volume of posts you delete.....


Sun, Mar 6, 2011 : 11:33 a.m.

Craig, I agree. It's hard to understand why some posts are deleted.....I wonder if we checked every one as objectionable, they'd all be deleted. Strange place these days. I do believe posts should be moderated, but consistently.

Craig Lounsbury

Mon, Feb 21, 2011 : 12:11 a.m.

that ones for you Cash if you ever see it. I don't always agree with what you say but i respect the way you say it.

Terry Star21

Sat, Feb 19, 2011 : 7:01 p.m.

So much for Freedom of Speech.........

Jen Eyer

Tue, Feb 15, 2011 : 1:56 a.m.

The following comment from Ypsidog has been moved here from its original post on this story: <a href=""></a> I would like to say that I find it very interesting that articles involving all things except cupcake recepies, now have far more deleted comments than actual ones that are published.. What does this tell you about the seriousness of this pitiful online rag?? the dog


Tue, Feb 15, 2011 : 3:28 a.m.

Ypsidog, I happened to read one of the comments (posted at 10:01 p.m. 2/14/11) before it was deleted on the same story and I've got to tell you, it was bizarre and more or less advocated the behavior of which the subject of this story is accused of being guilty. I cannot think of any responsible news medium that can be criticized for the deletion of such a comment. As to the other comments deleted, I cannot speak of them as I did not read them before their deletions. However, such stories in the past have provoked comments that assume the guilt of the accused. If you or others feel compelled to comment under similar assumptions, perhaps prefacing your comment with &quot;If he should be found guilty,...&quot; or using words like &quot;alleged&quot; would increase the chances of the comment remaining intact.

Stefanie Murray

Thu, Feb 10, 2011 : 7:26 p.m.

@pu2um, I emailed you earlier as well — we don't have any record of you making a second comment. Are you sure you submitted it? Go ahead and try it again. @Townie, thanks for the feedback. I wanted to make sure you know that none of our writers have a hand in moderation at all. Our moderation is handled by a team of editors, producers and other administrative staff, as well as an outside company for overnight moderation. Additionally, we aren't experiencing declines in revenue; quite the opposite. We've seen very steady growth in audience and revenue and we're working to continue to build a strong business based on journalism and good community content in 2011.


Thu, Feb 10, 2011 : 1:33 a.m.

I am confused as to know why my second comment did not show up in today's blog on the U-M trespass warnings. The moderator did not remove it, and it is attributed to me in the list of all my postings. I would appreciate knowing why it wasn't included in the blog. Thanks.


Wed, Feb 9, 2011 : 3:35 p.m.

The heavy handed, time consuming 'moderation' (let's just call it censorship) is a waste of time and explains the poor content in Instead of researching and writing stories the writers are wasting time reading and censoring comments. The steady decline of the News continues (as does their advertising revenue) so this will be a moot question when they finally close their doors.

Stefanie Murray

Wed, Feb 9, 2011 : 5:12 a.m.

@Barb's Mom, thank you for your comment and I am deeply sorry for your loss. Your comment was a reply to a comment about our conversation guidelines and it was inadvertently removed by a moderator because it appeared off-topic to the story. However, in context of the discussion happening on that thread, it was fine. At Macabre, I'm very confident no one on our moderation team ever takes down comments for political reasons. Could you please cite examples? Thanks.


Wed, Feb 9, 2011 : 5:09 p.m.

Oh no you didn't!!!!

Barb's Mom

Wed, Feb 9, 2011 : 4:04 a.m.

Stephanie, I replied tonight to a comment on the suicide of a suspect. The comment I replied to was against your comment guidelines. My comment stated that my daughter was murdered and that comments in another newspaper blamed my daughter and we thought they should have been removed. Yet my comment tonight which was defending your policy was removed. Please explain.l

Macabre Sunset

Tue, Feb 8, 2011 : 9:12 p.m.

I've noticed, after a relative lull for a few months, that there has been a tremendous increase in comments being removed for purely political reasons since the pluck redesign. Also, the guideline of notifying a commenter as to why the comment was removed, and giving that person the opportunity to resubmit has again been abandoned. Political correctness is a poor standard. I think you need to take another look at your moderation philosophy. Because the intelligence of those enforcing the political correctness standard is greatly lacking.


Sun, Feb 6, 2011 : 11:43 p.m.

It occurred to me that when newspapers (when we had them) publish/published letters to the editor, they are/were essentially the written version of the Comments on this website. Newspapers could (and, I presume, often did) reject those letters that were inappropriate (using whatever standards or guidelines they deemed appropriate), publishing only those they felt were appropriate in terms of contributing something of use to the subject at hand. Readers never saw the letters, or the numbers of letters, that were rejected. With the format on this website, deleted comments (the online version of rejected letters to the editor) are clearly visible. I rather doubt that the nature of the content of the deleted comments on this website differs much from the nature of the content in the deleted written letters to the editor in times mostly past. It is just more obvious, as we see here from the tombstones that comments are deleted when the moderator deems them inappropriate. Finally, for those upset about the moderation policies of related to the deletion of comments that presume the guilt of an accused, how hard is to preface your remark with &quot;If he/she should be found guilty,...&quot; or describe the person about whom you are writing as &quot;alleged&quot; or &quot;accused?&quot; From my understanding of the moderation policies, such qualifications by commenters is likely to result in the comments being left intact and not being deleted. What drives you to necessarily characterize someone as guilty prior to an appropriate legal determination of such guilt? What is the point?


Tue, Feb 8, 2011 : 12:51 a.m.

loves_fall, I respectfully disagree with your first point, as a lively debate can occur all the while respecting civility toward other commenters as well toward story subjects. From some (though not all) of the comments I have read prior to their deletion, a lack of civility is painfully obvious at times. I think primarily where you and I disagree is the range within which you and I think such civil discourse occurs. I may very well be more conservative than you in this regard. Since I do not own this online venture, nor have any paid stake in it apart from being a paid subscriber to its twice weekly paper edition, I think has the ultimate right to set whatever standards they think are appropriate. Apparently, their standards correspond more closely to mine than yours. That is not to say that mine or theirs or yours is better or more desirable, only that gets to call the shots since they own the product. Nonetheless, they should be consistent and clear, a goal that they have admittedly failed to achieve at times. Regarding your second point, I agree with you 100%, and I have made my feelings known to a couple of moderators at via email exchanges over the past few weeks. They have understood and have acknowledged my stance (and, apparently, yours), but they have disagreed. I think the lack of clarity of their policy on presumptions of guilt in non-tragic-death stories is regrettable but, again, it is their product, not mine.


Tue, Feb 8, 2011 : 12:29 a.m.

@DBH, I think if wants to run a virtual &quot;letters to the editor&quot; section for every newspaper, they shouldn't purport to be an online community fostering community debate in Web 2.0, period. If that's what they want, fine, but the way it's deployed just doesn't work in the broader context of what many users expect from social media. I think I may have started the nonsense about the accused by griping about them to make a point about inconsistent moderation (sorry to everyone whose posts have since been deleted), but I don't think that the problem is the guideline itself, but the fact that it is described above to relate to &quot;tragic death&quot; stories -- not &quot;crime stories&quot; or &quot;general criminal news items&quot; stories. Calling things &quot;tragic death&quot; guidelines and then applying them to non-death stories is just plain wrong and I think is the root of most of the problems I have with moderation.

Stefanie Murray

Sun, Feb 6, 2011 : 8:09 p.m.

@loves_fall, thanks again for your feedback. We're definitely not trying to paint a utopian picture of moderating. It's a human process. All of our moderators are tasked to enforce the same guidelines and every day, we have discussions about how to handle comments. Can things be improved? Absolutely, always — and it's something we're working on.


Sun, Feb 6, 2011 : 11:50 p.m.

That party line has been put forward many times before, yet the same issues remain and every specific comment or request for accountability is ignored. But those like Loves Fall and myself are the outliers and hardcases, right? Or maybe we're the ones that ask the questions when others usually want to know the same thing but stand mute?

Stefanie Murray

Sun, Feb 6, 2011 : 8:05 p.m.

@fman, your post was removed because all it said was &quot;Go Blue.&quot; We encourage our commenters to add to the conversation more than that — or else we'd have comment threads in sports that simply said Go Blue.

Jen Eyer

Fri, Mar 18, 2011 : 8:25 p.m.

DBH: Thanks for your additional feedback. We'll certainly keep that in mind as we continually improve our guidelines going forward!


Fri, Mar 18, 2011 : 8:13 p.m.

[I will reply here, as well as to the more recent posting of 3/17/11.] And yet the comment remains. Interesting. While I do not see that posting a comment &quot;Go Blue!&quot; adds any substantive material to a story, it is an expression of enthusiasm by the poster and, as such, should be banned by only if one of your goals is to dampen enthusiasm by those excited to read of a story on your site. I have to believe that your assertion that the &quot;average reader&quot; finds such postings as annoying is an assumption as opposed to a determined fact. If you actually surveyed your readership on this point (or on the more general question of the advisability/desirability of deleting nonsubstantive but enthusiastic expressions of support for whatever or whomever), I think you would find the majority actually would not mind much, or would support such postings. If you want your site to be one to which readers go with positive anticipation, please reconsider deletions of what are essentially harmless expressions of enthusiasm by some of those readers.

Jen Eyer

Fri, Mar 18, 2011 : 3:08 p.m.

DBH: You are correct, that should have also been taken down. Sometimes comments such as these slip through the cracks, since they are not really &quot;bad&quot; per se. They're just considered annoying to the average reader, because they don't add anything of substance to the conversation.


Sun, Mar 6, 2011 : 6:28 p.m.

Ms. Murray, please see the comment by 1bit in the story <a href=""></a> submitted 4:34 p.m. on March 5, 2011. How is the comment by 1bit (not removed by a moderator) different than the comment by fman (removed by a moderator)? This type of inconsistency in moderation is what drives a lot of the complaints, and diminishes the credibility of the moderation on


Wed, Feb 23, 2011 : 2:21 p.m.

&quot;or else we'd have comment threads in sports that simply said Go Blue&quot; Oh, the horrors! Thank you for saving us from such evilness.


Sun, Feb 6, 2011 : 4:31 p.m.

well I posted &quot;GO Blue&quot; on the new story about former players and RR and they removed it! Whats up with that? Do we have BUCKEYE FANS RUNNING A2.COM?


Sun, Feb 6, 2011 : 3:25 p.m.

This thread says it all: <a href=""></a> Of the comments that are still standing, I would say most are critical of's moderation policy. Quick, mods, better go remove those for being off-topic before more people vote them up.


Sun, Feb 6, 2011 : 3:15 p.m.

@Stefanie, regarding your comment that &quot;all of our moderators enforce the same guidelines&quot;, based on what I've heard from other people on the staff, that just isn't true. From what I understand, the overnight mods work from a cheat sheet of rules that you guys believe should not be made available to us (so we can play the &quot;guess the rule&quot; game), and the staff mods come from a variety of backgrounds, with some pruning comments in a more heavy-handed fashion than others because they believe that comments should be selected for publication in the same way that letters to the editor are. So maybe at the heart they are all &quot;enforcing the same guidelines&quot;, but I am positive that they all enforce them differently. Therein lies the beef. My impression was that until the new system, it was difficult to track the moderation stats for each moderator (therefore, you would have no empirical evidence of whether it was consistent or not), but with this new system it is possible to track that level of detail. I was also informed that high consistency is impossible because it's a human process subject to interpretation. I personally don't see why you can't work harder to ensure you have a high inter-rater reliability -- it works in the social sciences for people researching online communities, so why wouldn't it work for those who are moderating them? I think you're painting an awfully utopian picture of your moderation process with your assertion that there is perfect agreement and teamwork, and that is really detrimental to the idea of transparency because the moderators' actions don't live up to the standards you're setting for them. I also think it's good to keep all the tombstones there so that all users can see exactly how many comments have been removed. If people are complaining that the tombstones are annoying, maybe a better response would be to not create so many of them in the first place.

Stefanie Murray

Sat, Feb 5, 2011 : 8:07 p.m.

@Ricebrnr, as I noted in an email to you, the comment you're referring to on the butcher knife story was off-topic, which is why it was removed. Your comment didn't have anything to do with the story and instead attempted to make fun of the weapon. Thanks for the additional feedback. Since our new system automatically leaves a tombstone whenever a comment is removed, you are very clearly seeing all comments removed. We put this in place for sake of transparency. I'm not sure what you think you might gain by seeing which moderator is removing which comments, as all of our moderators enforce the same guidelines and we work as a team. We monitor that consistency internally and take action when something's amiss. I have heard from folk that they think the tombstones clutter the threads and they'd rather just see a post from a moderator when comments are removed. We'll continue to watch that over the next few weeks to see if we need to make a change.


Sun, Feb 6, 2011 : 11:22 p.m.

Yet that same commemt was reinstated and remains... Which is it? Does it or does it not violate the guidelines? So does that reinforce my statements or yours?


Fri, Feb 4, 2011 : 6:03 p.m.

Ugh here we go again. Why don't you guys make it so we can see WHICH staff member is deleting comments? Is that so hard to do? Y'all ask us to use our &quot;real&quot; names but when it comes to moderating, nobody except Jan apparently will own up. How about some statistics? There's a huge uptick in moderated posts lately. Care to share if this coincides with some new hires perhaps? In any case, <a href=""></a> Another comment removed that did not violate any rules only someone's personal sensibilities.


Fri, Feb 4, 2011 : 6:08 p.m.

ooo and poof it's back! Still waiting for someone to own up or follow up on what happened and how it's not going to happen again... Let's see when I've bothered to make a stink about a comment removal, that makes 0, Ricebrnr 4 or 5? And you don't see any inherent problems


Tue, Feb 1, 2011 : 6:43 p.m.

And some more comments removed for violating non existent guidelines. re; The Father and Son theft team article evoking Norman Rockwell like images.. violates what? That a comment on the article not a decree of guilt or innocence. re; The theft from a purse at the market thread, I did poke at the moderator but and I will admit that but it was germane to the article at hand as well. Neither of these nor the other previously mentioned were moved here to be addressed in the light of day . Just poof and gone.


Wed, Feb 2, 2011 : 1:27 a.m.

&quot;a good example of how someone who makes the effort to understand our conversation guidelines&quot; A most ironic statement to be sure considering my numerous other complaints which have resulted in my comments being reinstated. I dear sir understand YOUR guidelines better than YOUR OWN staff. I'm still awaiting Stefanie's &quot;investigation&quot; into the comment removal by Jan Eyers last night. You might have noticed the post prior to the one you chose to comment on? No input on that sir? No comment on the blatant bias and over-moderation that I have so often accused your staff of and that Jan was so kind to provide proof of?

Tony Dearing

Wed, Feb 2, 2011 : 12:51 a.m.

Your comment on the father/son story presumed guilt on the part of the accused, while the comment by RJA did not. RJA's comment is a good example of how someone who makes the effort to understand our conversation guidelines can very easily find a way to make the point they want to make within those guidelines.


Tue, Feb 1, 2011 : 12:06 p.m.

I'd like to thank Jan for being so candid and providing the smoking gun, pun intended for exactly what 90% of the above complaints are for. Overzealous moderation outside of the established guidelines and with personal bias. &quot;Hi, Based on what I know of you and your position regarding gun ownership, your questions to me appeared, to me, to insinuate that the victim should have done things differently (i.e. carry a concealed weapon). We do not allow people to pointedly question victims like this and insinuate that they did something to contribute to what happened to them Regards, Jan Eyers&quot; if she really knew me at all or could see beyond her personal bias to do some actual research, she'd have found NO precedence for her accusation. I never have or ever will blame the victim. Explain away Brought to you by the Ann Arbor chapter of Wikileaks.


Sun, Feb 13, 2011 : 2:50 a.m.

No, I am helpless without links. I can barely keep track of my own deleted posts, let alone anyone else's.


Sun, Feb 6, 2011 : 11:29 p.m.

Loves fall, did you read the reinstated comment? There was no such advocacy in that comment. Nor was tha the excuse for removing it. As Jan stated she used her personal bias and moderating ability.


Sun, Feb 6, 2011 : 3:19 p.m.

That's an interesting interpretation. My experience and feedback from mods on similar stories has been that suggesting that a person should carry a concealed weapon &quot;advocates violence&quot;.


Wed, Feb 2, 2011 : 3:55 p.m.

FYI for those who enjoy my missives here. The comment was reinstated.


Sun, Jan 30, 2011 : 6:30 p.m.

Is this a new policy it seemed that knoking RR was just fine and anyone who stuck up for him had nothing but nasty replies all night from other posters. Now if you say anything derogatory about the current coach or any of the people supporting him and their obvious hippocritical opinions we are left off the discussion


Sat, Jan 29, 2011 : 4:18 p.m.

I posted a comment at 8:45 a.m. today (1/29/11) with a link to a state website that gave background info (previous criminal history) on Hans Adam Geise, the man convicted and sentenced to a maximum of 20 years in prison for the Mustang theft (<a href=""></a>. The comment was removed. Please tell me why it was removed. I posted it to provide a fuller context for why such a harsh maximum sentence was likely imposed. Or, as Stefanie Murray states in the Comment Moderation Guidelines, &quot;The best comments and posts are those that add more information to the story...&quot; I think the comment definitely added more information to the story. What guideline did I violate?


Thu, Feb 3, 2011 : 1:45 a.m.

Thanks for the update DBH. That is one way to interpret his statement. I believe they have a script because I often get the same vague we'll look into it responses also. Of course I don't mind poking a stick at them for more detail but in the spirit of openess and information that embodies journalism you wouldn't think I'd have to. Do as I say and not as I do I suppose.


Wed, Feb 2, 2011 : 5:23 p.m.

Ricebrnr, after reviewing Mr. Dearing's reply (1/29/11 at 3:38 PM), I now think his statement that he would address why my comment was removed meant that he would address it with the moderator who originally deleted it, not that Mr. Dearing would get back to me on why it was originally deleted (though that is what I had originally thought). As the comment was restored, I am fine with that. I agree that the moderation is uneven at times. I assume it is due to a steep learning curve and will improve over time. At least I hope so.


Wed, Feb 2, 2011 : 1:30 a.m.

It's been a few days now and if we look into the history of this thread, per the usual a promise of an investigation as to why something reinstated was removed in the first place has come to.... nothing.


Sat, Jan 29, 2011 : 9:08 p.m.

Thank you, Tony. I look forward to your reply.

Tony Dearing

Sat, Jan 29, 2011 : 8:38 p.m.

DBH, I reviewed your comment, and I don't see that it violated our guidelines. I have restored it, and I will look into why it was removed and address that.

Stefanie Murray

Fri, Jan 28, 2011 : 3:36 a.m.

Dusty, I just checked your comment history and I only found one comment removed. I don't see you having any record of making the comment you are referring to — are you sure you submitted it?


Fri, Jan 28, 2011 : 3:16 a.m.

I seem to have 2/3rds of my posts removed for violating commenting guidelines, and I have to say it boggles my mind sometimes. For instance, I made this post the other day: &quot;Bellomy had an offer from MSU before he committed to Purdue.&quot; That was it. That was the entire post, word for word. It was deleted. It was a response to someone who pointed out that we're stealing football recruits from places like Purdue and that we need to get recruits who have offers from schools like OSU, MSU, etc. I'd love to know why that comment, and many other comments I make, are removed.

Tom Teague

Thu, Jan 27, 2011 : 3:51 p.m.

I think that your guidelines for comment on stories about tragic death are well intentioned but just do not work. Looking at the 17 comments following the story about Mr. Chacon-Lopez's death, six of them have been removed, two of them discuss details of the accident and one of them points out that someone with the same name has a history of traffic violations which seems to violate your statement that comments should not be &quot;. . . derogatory toward the deceased, including comments that attempt to place blame on the victim. . .&quot; Another comment -- that you did remove but that was up long enough for several folks to read -- questioned whether the victim was a legal citizen of the United States. To borrow a phrase from the legal community, &quot;Death changes everything.&quot; With -- in too many cases -- it shows the futility of moderating comments from folks who could not care at all whether they are sensitive to the feelings of a victim's family, friends or the community. While I personally believe that commenting on this type of story should be suspended for a day or two or routed to a link similar to a sympathy book, I know that you have reasons why you feel you cannot do that. You should consider conducting an assertive review of each comment *before* it is posted to ensure it meets your standards. At the very least, add a link or a short description of your guidelines for stories about a tragic death to the end of those stories to remind commenters of your expectations.

Ann English

Wed, Jan 26, 2011 : 1:34 a.m.

I think there would be less criticism towards a journalist's news report on a vehicular accident giving graphic details of someone who survives than an article giving graphic details of an auto fatality. When the News was a daily, reporters did just that; I remember the great story of a motorist rescued by auto dealer employees after a collision on US-23, and the victim was visited by his rescuers later in a hospital. They were photographed together for a follow-up news story.

Stefanie Murray

Tue, Jan 25, 2011 : 9:05 p.m.

@genericreg and EyeHeartA2, it's not just you! We're still working on this problem. It's isolated to comments containing links. Hope to have progress shortly. Thanks for keeping an eye out on it - good to know we have loyal readers who pay such close attention.


Tue, Jan 25, 2011 : 2:36 p.m.

mistake, stefanie comment there. total number comment and dbh tony conversation same as previous conversation confused. sorry


Tue, Jan 25, 2011 : 2:34 p.m.

more comment disappeared. include stefanie comment &quot;we are recovering comment within next day&quot; from week ago.


Mon, Jan 24, 2011 : 2:31 a.m.

Thank you, Tony, for your reply. You need look no further than the initial story on the Tae Kwon Do instructor arrested for allegedly molesting a 12-year-old boy, (<a href=""></a>. The initial comments were sufficiently accusatory of his guilt that Stefanie Murray was prompted to post a comment reminding readers that he was only charged, and not convicted, of a crime. Nonetheless, multiple subsequent commenters stated that there was sufficient evidence in their minds to conclude he was guilty, or made comments that implicitly assumed his guilt. I had reported one of these (anothermom, replying to a comment by Just Some Guy, at 10:17 p.m. on 1/21/11 as abusive because it presumed guilt on the part of the accused in the last of her 3 paragraphs), but the comment stands. I could cite multiple other instances, either within the same article or others, but it appears that has a policy of tolerating these comments which include statements of obvious guilt (or something similar) because the comments remain intact even, as noted above, when reported as abusive. Your policy explicitly prohibits assumptions of guilt involving tragic deaths. If you wish to include those accused of other types of crimes, why not say so explicitly in your policy statement?

Tony Dearing

Wed, Jan 26, 2011 : 9:29 p.m.

Enforcing our guidelines on the presumption of innocence is one of the most difficult, ongoing challenges we face. It is a concept that some of our commenters do not recognize or agree with, and we find ourselves doing constant battle over it. It is particularly a challenge to continue to police on threads that are more than a day or two old. I looked at the comment in particular that you cited, and on first reading, I mistook what she was saying she had &quot;no doubt'' about. On second reading, I understood that she was referring to what she saw as his obvious guilt, and I removed the comment. Ultimately, our goal is to moderate consistently. Reviewing comments like this, I see evidence that our consistency has slipped on this issue. I will communicate with all of our moderators and reaffirm the need to be strict and consistent in enforcing this guideline. While we get on top of that issue, if you see a comment in violation, please continue to flag it, and feel free to call it directly to my attention as well.

Tony Dearing

Mon, Jan 24, 2011 : 2:09 a.m.

DBH, the presumption of innocence is a right that all defendants have, regardless of the kind of crime they are charged with. If you see an area or areas were our conversation guidelines have been applied inconsistently, please point it out to me and I will address it.


Mon, Jan 24, 2011 : 12:42 a.m.

Would someone with the authority to do so explain the rationale for discouraging AND prohibiting comments containing presumptions of guilt in stories about &quot;tragic deaths,&quot; but only discouraging but NOT prohibiting comments containing presumptions of guilt in stories about those accused of crimes other than &quot;tragic deaths?&quot; Why is it such a prohibitively bad idea in the former case, but an acceptable (though frowned upon) practice in the latter? Thanks in advance.


Sun, Jan 23, 2011 : 10:25 p.m.

&quot;we had trouble importing comments with links last night, so they are being reimported to our system tonight. That will restore all the comments you see that are missing.&quot; still am waiting.

Craig Lounsbury

Sat, Jan 22, 2011 : 6:13 p.m.

Please explain where I violated guidlines in the following..... A poster in the Jimmy Johns robbery thread says: &quot;OK Whats that tell ya They stole the money not the food&quot; My response was &quot; That they had Jimmy Johns for dinner earlier?&quot; My point being that stealing money and not food doesn't tell us anything for sure. Maybe they wanted to buy drugs Maybe they needed to pay their DTE bill Maybe they needed formula for an infant Maybe they...... So why did my response violate guidelines?


Wed, Jan 26, 2011 : 2:38 a.m.

Probably because it was &quot;speculation&quot; of some sort (even if it was meant as more of a stylistic way to counter the guy's argument). I have been equally perplexed for the same reason.


Sat, Jan 22, 2011 : 5:25 p.m.

I believe one of my comments was removed yesterday but I cannot figure out why. I was making a comment about the Habitat for Humanity article. I wish there was a way to ascertain why it was removed because I do not wish to violate whatever standard I apparently did.


Fri, Jan 21, 2011 : 5:34 p.m.

I'm apparently blocked now. Excellent.


Fri, Jan 21, 2011 : 6:12 a.m.

Yes, I too just had a sarcastic comment removed. It'd be great if they put as much effort into reporting as they did in censoring comments. Lemon, out!


Fri, Jan 21, 2011 : 5:24 a.m.

I love that comments are being removed from the comment moderation thread. Touchy much, mods? I learned today that sarcasm is not allowed by either, so posters be warned.

Stefanie Murray

Wed, Jan 19, 2011 : 6:38 a.m.

@genericreg, we had trouble importing comments with links last night, so they are being reimported to our system tonight. That will restore all the comments you see that are missing. @loves_fall, your comment was addressing moderation and was off-topic.


Wed, Jan 19, 2011 : 1:32 p.m.

@Stefanie, not the one that was removed. Unless you're saying more of mine were removed. I can have a sentence addressing moderation and the rest can address the actual post. That shouldn't be removable if the bulk of what I'm saying is real. PS, thanks for reneging on the meeting offer. Good to know you guys stand by your word.


Wed, Jan 19, 2011 : 3:56 a.m.

Dearest moderators, Why was my comment removed from the post on the Oxford robbery? I believe I said &quot;glock&quot;. Is that a bad word now? I'm pretty sure self defense is still self defense under our right to bear arms, and I'm pretty sure shooting someone who pointed a gun at you and demanded your money would be considered self defense. More importantly, my point was that with technology, I don't think anyone needs to be shot. Please clarify.


Wed, Jan 19, 2011 : 3:04 a.m.

This thread was 420+, now 294. Some not all my comment disappeared. Explain.


Mon, Jan 17, 2011 : 2:04 a.m.

Wow! I'm sure glad I read this page. Or rather the first 50 or so posts -- that was plenty, following on my own insta-censorship experience a few minutes ago. I get the picture. is run by a little band of control-freaks. It is clearly not a worthy recipient of intelligent contributions. I'm glad this is happening so fast (all inside a half hour!), so that I don't waste any more time here. I've been drawn in to heavy participation on forums or blogs, in the past, only to find out (AFTER I've invested a lot of time in the place) that the owner/moderator is a censorious jerk, is incapable of handling spirited discussion and dissent, wants to reject intelligent and thoughtful posts on caprice, or etc. Much better to find out early and abandon ship promptly.


Wed, Jan 5, 2011 : 6:47 p.m.

Ms. Cherrie, Thank you for your reply. And yet Ed Kimball's comment in the story remains, having been published after the day (Wednesday) was corrected (to Tuesday), and after you inserted the comment about the typo having been corrected. Curious.

Chrysta Cherrie

Wed, Jan 5, 2011 : 6:19 p.m.

DBH, the policy about small typos is for us to reply that a correction was made and to remove the comment referencing the typo. The comment explaining that a correction was made was removed in error.


Tue, Jan 4, 2011 : 7:45 p.m.

Regarding Pete Bigelow's story (1/4/11, 5:49 p.m.) on the possible firing of Rich Rodriguez, I do not understand why my comment about the wrong day (Wednesday) being initially reported by Mr. Bigelow was deleted (with no indication that a comment was deleted, or that the story was modified to correct a "typo") while the wrong day was still in the story, and Ed Kimball's comment about the same error was allowed to remain AFTER the day had been changed to the correct day, Tuesday. Would a moderator explain, please?


Mon, Dec 27, 2010 : 7:07 a.m.

In the very likely event this comment is removed from the Former U-M student competency thread without tombstone or moving here... Wow hypocrisy much? YOUR headline states this wackadoodle was a "former U-M student", yet when commentors discuss that very tid bit we're off topic. YOU OPENNED THE DOOR. So either we are on topic and being capriciously moderated AGAIN OR YOU'VE admitted to a sensationalistic and irrelevant headline. Which is it going to be? We all know that it's BOTH and if you had any self repect as an organization you'd admit it and restore all the comments that don't otherwise violate your "rules".

Chris 8 - YPSI PRIDE

Mon, Dec 20, 2010 : 11:29 a.m.

I would like instructions on how to remove my name and any information from your site. I get quite annoyed when my comments get deleted without any kind of follow up (even a short e-mail)explaining what guideline I violated. I read the above guidelines and I may as well be posting in something equivalent to the Bible when commenting here. I have also let others know about these guidelines and not to bother even saying anything here. For a New newspaper and especially one that allows comments to be posted on the internet, your guidelines are way to conservative. It's quite easy to speak my piece at and be confident that it will remain there and be discussed and open to other comments and opinions.. Good luck staying afloat.

Craig Lounsbury

Sun, Dec 19, 2010 : 2:59 p.m.

RDanzer@ don't let them take you alive my friend. Make them pry your keyboard from your cold dead fingers. I'm only posting from public computers from now on. I don't want them tracing my ISP.


Sun, Dec 19, 2010 : 2:41 p.m.

Deleting posts disussing moderation from the moderation thread? This is a new low even for you guys. But, Tony, the question remains: Am I allowed to prempt discussion by calling people who disagree with me a name prior to their post? If not, why do you allow this in PC instances? I'll wait patiently for you to delete this post again. It shouldn't take too long.

Craig Lounsbury

Sun, Dec 19, 2010 : 2:39 p.m.

explain the logic in removing "Rdanzer" post yet allowing The Ghosts response to the removed post remain?

Craig Lounsbury

Sun, Dec 19, 2010 : 1:20 p.m.

Mr Dearing, When you allow a post that blatantly misrepresents what I write stand and remove my post pointing out the blatant misrepresentation it reeks of cronyism. I would hope for better out of an organization representing the freedom of the press.


Tue, Dec 14, 2010 : 4:22 p.m.

First limit comment length, then remove comment for not explanatory. What policy state "No cryptic" or "no comment without multiple cite?" There many comment here that opinion. You just not like mine.


Mon, Dec 13, 2010 : 12:43 p.m.

please tell why fjord comment, for salvation army promote hate, stay, but my comment, same, removed three time, and two without notice. Showing real prejudice against commenter.


Mon, Dec 13, 2010 : 10:03 a.m.

"I should add that when our more responsible commenters also speak out in defense of the presumption of innocence, that helps as well. " Hmmm.."responsible" commentors? Careful you're letting some bias show. I wonder if the definition of responsible is as ever changing and elastic as the guidelines above? I've said it before and I'll say it again. From the very first comment to this latest by MichFan, you are getting the SAME complaints over the same issues OVER AND OVER. I guess we're insane by definition for anticipating a different result?


Sun, Dec 12, 2010 : 8:28 p.m.

Still waiting for clarification on the above.... any time now, mods.


Sun, Dec 12, 2010 : 4:04 p.m.

Well I just read the forum guidelines to see if I violated a rule. I thought maybe I wouldfi nd one that said I couldn't provide an opposing opinion, but, to the contrary, I found just the opposite. I wasn't vulgar or profane, I didn't personally attack anyone, I didn't break one rule outlined. Everything I stated was true and factual. I presented the other side of the story so that people would be able to form their opinions based on those facts. Not just the side of the story that you put any effort into fleshing out. You have no credibility in my eyes.


Sat, Dec 11, 2010 : 12:07 p.m.

Thanks for your response, Tony.


Sat, Dec 11, 2010 : 10:42 a.m.

Tony, were you going to get back to me on the headline examples I gave you in response to your request to me to provide you with headlines I considered prejudicial? I find it confusing when you (or other moderators) respond to a posting (such as from Ricebrnr earlier today) that is submitted after a previous posting (to which no moderator has responded) that invites clarification or other response from the moderators (such as from loves_fall from 5 days ago, or from me from the evening of 12/9/10).


Sat, Dec 11, 2010 : 8:42 a.m.

So in the gun dealer/Hutaree thread: Bringing up a past case with strangely similar events on this BLOG is irrelevant...funny in court when the accused (FBI and overzealous Gov't agents/prosecutors in this case) has a history of bad acts that can be used to indicate a pattern. Law enforcement might call that a rap sheet. In Court referencing past cases for use in current ones is called precedent. News organizations usually call this "background". But on here doing those things in a polite and informative manner and responding in like manner is not furthering the conversation and is off topic.... Just how are we "engaging" the readers again? How are the readers supposed to engage in "constructive debate" again? "a lively community forum where readers can talk to us and talk to each other - in a neighborly way, of course. The best comments and posts are those that add more information to the story, express a different viewpoint or help create intelligent debate. We welcome constructive debate on our site" Nice words in theory, not so much in practice.


Fri, Dec 10, 2010 : 3:23 p.m.

Hey uh, mods, is anyone planning to answer my questions from the posts above? I thought this was the appropriate thread for requesting responses on our concerns. I'm not posting for my health.


Fri, Dec 10, 2010 : 6:30 a.m.

OMG! Seriously the overnight mod(s) need some remedial English and reading comprehension. In the latest Hutaree thread, I defend myself against some fancy name calling and point it out to the mods and that post is deleted. -without a tombstone, ehem TONY? AND the one where I respond in kind (deliberately and with expectation of it being deleted) is left up??? SO the take away is if you can cast aspersions with multi syllabic words above a 9th grade reading level, go right on ahead?


Thu, Dec 9, 2010 : 10:44 p.m.

P.S. the suggestion to use real names in posts is a dangerous and unprofessional suggestion. It puts your users at risk for retaliation from employers, friends, and those who may disagree with their points of view on your forum. If your goal is to foster free speech and critical discussion in a safe and intelligent environment your suggestion to use real names is an excellent way to undermine this goal. This is especially dangerous for your less "internet savvy" readers who may not be as aware of issues with online security and privacy, or the ease with which ones phone number and home address can be accessed.


Thu, Dec 9, 2010 : 10:35 p.m.

I have to say that in general I find the moderation on this site to be poorly and inconsistently done. I understand the desire to avoid negative conversation but the level of censorship is a bit over the top. The removal of comments seems to have no consistent rhyme or reason and has served to stifle and discourage meaningful adult conversation. I and many people I know have discontinued our participation on because of the arbitrary and often senseless nature of the "moderating". I would truly enjoy having meaningful and mature conversation on your site but that does mean that people need to be allowed to disagree and express serious opinions. I want to hear the thoughts and opinions of those in my community even if it may hurt my feelings and I believe that, as a voice for the community and outlet for honest journalism, should support more complex conversation then it is currently. I would like to leave the echo chamber of agreement and enter the forum of critical thought and stimulating discussion, could we please move in that direction? I will understand if you must "remove" this comment due to my level of criticism.


Thu, Dec 9, 2010 : 10:19 p.m.

I know you can't make personal attacks, but if I say that I was inspired to act stupid, that does not call anyone stupid but me. If you infer something different, that is not my fault. Also, why can't humor be used to make a point. My point about being old not giving a care was conveyed humorously and non humorously. The same meaning was conveyed, but it lightened the tone for the reader. Was it because of language? I could have done a rewrite and removed the questionable expletive. Then, the guy who I commented to let me know he liked what I said. His post was removed as well. Then my post thanking him was removed. You guys read 1984 too much. I shouldn't say anything more because I don't think Winston is the only one that doesn't like rats!


Thu, Dec 9, 2010 : 9:18 p.m.

Hi Tony, Thanks for your reply. These are three headlines I was able to find in a few minutes of searching. I don't have time to reread these or other articles to find references in the articles apart from the headlines. 1) Patient at University of Michigan Hospital arrested after punching a nurse in the face (I think it should have read, "Patient at University of Michigan Hospital arrested after allegedly punching a nurse in the face.") 2) Saline couple could face domestic violence charges for mutual assaults (Better, "Saline couple could face domestic violence charges for alleged mutual assaults.") 3) Man pulls knife on security guard at Fifth Quarter in Ann Arbor (Better, "Man accused of pulling knife on security guard at Fifth Quarter in Ann Arbor.") Many more of the headlines make accusatory statements, followed by something to the effect "police say" or "police charge." Nonetheless, while the headline might be technically accurate, the police are not determinants of the guilt or innocence of accused perpetrators. Their pronouncement of someone as having done something, and's repeating of the statement of the police, lends credence to the accusation when, in fact, it is only an accusation and the accused is not being given the presumption of innocence. The most egregious examples, however, are the commenters. Time after time, commenters write remarks with the clear assumption of guilt on the part of the accused, and leaves the comments intact. I sometimes see Moderator's comments that some comments were removed for this reason or that, but in my opinion all remarks that assume guilt without qualification should be deleted, consistent with's guidelines as they overtly pertain to tragic deaths. The stories from which you quoted the headlines were examples in which the commenters implicitly (or not so implicitly) assumed the guilt of the person of interest in the story, prompting my submitted comments. The headlines of those stories I do not find violate any journalistic standards. I am glad you and the rest of the staff take the presumption of innocence seriously. I think you need a tighter control over the commenter's comments that do not give the accused such a presumption of innocence, and I believe the three examples cited above also fall short of the best that could have done in those instances. I am grateful to you for your attention to this, and welcome any clarification, rebuttal, or agreement you may offer.

Merrill G.

Thu, Dec 9, 2010 : 7:41 p.m.

@Tony I'm sorry but I'm not sure why you feel that a long comment is offensive. If I don't want to read a long comment, I scroll down. It's not pushing anything out of the way. It's not preventing anyone from having his/her say. The amount of "moderation" that has occurred on this story's comments is fairly offensive. Isn't a newspaper supposed to be a bastion of keeping the right to free speech sacred (even if what is said is hateful and counter productive)? In my mind the only appropriate comments to edit out are spam like comments that don't have anything to do with the topic at hand such as "buy my product now" or "enlarge your whatever". I feel I have been shown a dis-service by not being able to read Pete Murdock and Andy Ypsilanti's posts. As a concerned citizen and supporter of the First Amendment, I urge you to reconsider your position on the 300 word maximum.


Thu, Dec 9, 2010 : 3:41 p.m.

Well, now that I know someone is reading these comments (as evidenced by Tony Dearing's recent posting in response to AndyYpsilanti), would one of the moderators (Tony?) mind responding to my question?


Thu, Dec 9, 2010 : 3:23 p.m.

What a joke. The ability of your organization to break the news never ceases to amaze me. You have shown a pattern of leaving out relevant information that, as it goes on, starts to look more and more purposeful than incidental. You allow totally baseless comments and accusations to stand all the time. But use caps or go on too long, and thats too much. You should be ashamed.


Thu, Dec 9, 2010 : 1:22 p.m.

@Cindy, @Tony, you really must be kidding me. You comments from myself and from Ypsilanti City Councilman Pete Murdock for being overly long from: Pete's comments in direct response from several attacks on him earlier in the commenting. Mine were in response to Pete. So you have comments from a city council member, and a member of his opposition on this issue, both of whom you quote in the article (In fairness, I guess not everyone here at is aware that Andy Ypsilanti and Andrew Clock are one in the same)and you remove them, not because of personal attack, but because they are too long? That would give the appearance that you are purposely withholding information relevant to the story. Hmmm. Have I ever seen this sort of thing happen here before? It does start to look like a pattern after a while, even if there isn't one. If there is any worth at all to your comments section, restore both comments now. If you are going to delete comments that contain debate on the issue from the actual people you are covering, then what is the point of comments at all? Is it just for people to poke fun, or rant, or just to fill space? These comments were furthering the debate, longer than you want or not, and shouldn't the fact that they are from two people deeply involved in what you are covering mitigate that one factor?


Wed, Dec 8, 2010 : 8:52 p.m.

In case there might have been a question on the part of the moderator who reviewed my previous comment, the question I posed, "What gives?" was not meant to be rhetorical. I am still wondering, "What gives?" regarding the question of prejudicial headlines and other story content by staff.


Mon, Dec 6, 2010 : 9:31 p.m.

Andrew MacKie-Mason and, to a lesser extent, I have commented over the last few months on seemingly prejudicial headlines and other story content by staff about persons ACCUSED of criminal behavior but not convicted of such. Why does not use terminology such as "alleged" or "accused" in reporting on persons charged with, but not convicted of, such crimes? I believe journalistic ethics (as well as simple common sense) dictate that accused persons be given the presumption of innocence and have their cases reported on accordingly. Am I wrong about this? If not, does think they are not subject to such journalistic ethics? If so, why? Your own guidelines for commenters (see above under Conversation Guidelines for Tragic Deaths) discourage presuming "guilt of the accused." What gives?


Mon, Dec 6, 2010 : 11:36 a.m.

Sorry, I meant "non-death", not "non-crime" up there. Same question, though.


Mon, Dec 6, 2010 : 9 a.m.

Dear mods, please provide more specific guidance as to when "tragic death" rules will arbitrarily apply to non-crime stories. Stefanie stated that "just because someone didn't die, but was in a horrible accident, doesn't mean we will allow speculative or jerk comments on the story." Unfortunately, that does not even apply to situations in which not even a "horrible accident" occurred. Two people sustained minor injuries at a house party, so minor that it took them an hour to seek treatment and they were both treated and released shortly thereafter. Are we going to call all skinned knees and bruises on this board "horrible accidents" now too? I'm not the only person to complain on this issue. The others include Stan (Jul 29 '09, Jan 5), EG (Mar 10), Paul the Malcontent (Mar 11 - involving the story about DOGS), Joe (May 23), me (12/4). You never thoroughly addressed any of these concerns and only made a superficial comment about mine. Please elaborate. I'm sure we'd all love to hear it. This place is playing out like a virtual Stanford Prison Experiment. Power corrupts?


Sat, Dec 4, 2010 : 7:44 p.m.

plenty my comment removed no message.


Sat, Dec 4, 2010 : 1:07 p.m.

ah you may have asked your mods to leave those tombstones but do you had a statistic to show who actually does? Cause my guesstimate of the number of deletions that get a tombstone is lower than 3%.


Sat, Dec 4, 2010 : 11:25 a.m.

So in the interests of reader engagement what are the chances of having a "Moderator on duty: Mod name" header placed on the site so we can see who all is heavily moderating and can contact them directly to appeal? As others and I have indicated on several occasions and which I have not seen addressed, those who have felt strongly and appealed their comment deletions here have often had them replaced. Usually with curt "we reviewed and agreed and have reinstated the comment". Leading me to ask 2 questions, is it the same moderator(s) that are the capricious ones or is it random? Also Tony indicated that only about 3% of overall comments are removed yet Stefanie in another comment indicated that there was not metrics established and there usefulness is then questionable. Which is it are there or aren't there ways to measure comment removal? A breakdown of what topics get heavy moderation and by whom would certainly engage many of the commentators here.


Sat, Dec 4, 2010 : 10:40 a.m.

Thanks, Tony, for the information.


Sat, Dec 4, 2010 : 9:28 a.m.

The following suggestion may have been mentioned before, but with 385 comments having been posted, I do not have the time to read through all of them to determine if it has. If it has, I would have no problem with the moderator deleting this comment. The moderators' comments on this forum seem to imply that there is only one moderator at any one time that makes a decision that a comment is to be deleted (or, I suppose, moved to this forum). Since I have read on this forum several instances of comments having been removed and then subsequently restored (probably long after anyone stops following the story and its comments), with a note by Tony Dearing or Stefanie Murray that they were going to discuss the improper comment removal with the moderator at the time, why doesn't simply require TWO moderators to agree on comment removal before such removals are done (egregious examples excepted)? I understand that this would increase the time commitment of the moderators and, for that reason, may be impractical, at least at this time. However, the obvious positive is that fewer (probably far fewer) comments would be improperly removed, and the ill will created by such improper removals would be diminished.


Fri, Dec 3, 2010 : 11:39 p.m.

So, on this story: You have now deleted comments by Merrill G. refuting accusations made by other posters, and in response to a far less than professional comment left by Tom Perkins. You have also failed to respond to comments left by people the story covers that call into question the validity of statements made in the article. You have also deleted five comments asking for an explanation of the deletion of Merrill G's comments. What she said could not have been more relevant to the story, but you haven't even acknowledged that she commented. How does this fall into your moderation policy. It would seem to be far, far out side of both that policy, and any form of traditional journalistic integrity.


Fri, Dec 3, 2010 : 11:21 a.m.

From an email from Tony Dearing: "On the issue of whether our moderation squelches the kind of conversation that the community wants and needs, I'm not convinced that's the case. Since our launch, I've always tracked the frequency with which we remove comments, and it's consistently remained right around 3 percent. If 97 percent of the comments posted on the site remain no the site, that would suggest to me that the community is having a pretty free and open discussion, and frankly, if an objective reader of the site sat down and read every comment that we've deleted over some defined period of time, I don't think that person would find very many of them to be Socratic." From Stefanie Murray: "It is absolutely true that some stories are much more heavily moderated than others. The reason is some stories, particularly crime stories and articles about accidents or tragic deaths, attract more inappropriate comments than others. So of course they are going to have a higher number of comments removed. The average number of comments removed from those kinds of stories is of course going to be higher than 3 percent, and there's nothing wrong with that. There have been a handful of times when we've had to take down more than half of all comments posted and in those cases, we typically will close the thread." So the take home point from these semi-parallel conversations appears to be that only some entire conversations are squelched and that's not censorship and not inappropriate because we can talk about other less controversial things as much as we want. What kind of logic is that? (And BTW, @Tony, I don't think an objective reader would find many posts on particularly edifying, deleted or not, so I don't think that's a particularly useful standard to use.)


Fri, Dec 3, 2010 : 11:06 a.m.

@Stefanie, you and Tony ought to talk, because I have gotten two different stories from each of you. I think there IS a problem if half the comments are removed because at that point it is undeniably oppressive and stifles the conversations that people clearly want to have. It's censorship, plain and simple, and not just to remove the occasional post that goes too far. If half the posts are going too far, it says something about your rules. Specifically, it says they are too restrictive. If you're going to extend at will, then don't say that the guidelines up there are for tragic deaths. That example I gave, the second one, wasn't even a major accident. They weren't severely wounded. There was no cause for treating it as a tragic death story, period. I can't believe you're in charge of reader engagement. I can tell you, my level of engagement with this site has really gone up recently, and not in a positive way. Ann Arbor people are too smart to fall for your arbitrary rule-changing tactics. There's no point in having a guideline, and no point in insisting that you follow it steadfastly, when it's clear from your post to me that you do moderate however you feel like moderating. I know every response you post is going to "explain" how you're right, and will be just as superficial and wrong as everything you've posted up to this date. You consistently give people cursory answers and seem oblivious to or in outright denial of the deeper issues they are trying to bring up. Nothing is really a two-way street with you, based on these comments and replies here. Your refusal to engage the readers at the level they want to engage makes your position even more laughable.


Fri, Dec 3, 2010 : 6:56 a.m.

Stefanie, Character limits do not explain why the several follow up comments in the pellet gun story without the citations but with the otherwise same information were deleted. Again no explanation, no tombstones. As for taking a shot at another commentor, if you mean asking a question of another commentor in the prostitution story, I vehemently dispute that assertion. The commentor made two statements which were contradictory. I asked for clarification. This is something that same commentor has been doing all over your blog. But the comment that was left up, in which I had to resort to an analogy but contained the same concepts and had actually nothing to do with the story was "constructive" and worthy of being left alone? Also that would not explain why comments that mirrored other posts in this thread and simply asked why my comments were being heavily moderated were similarly removed without explanation. The only shots taken and I freely admit doing so was at whomever was doing the moderating last night. Really that person had the capricious mod button smoking without looking at context or content. Sigh, I'm sure we'll be discussing this again...


Thu, Dec 2, 2010 : 11:29 p.m.

I would like to know why my original comments were removed from the pellet gun and prostitution stories.


Thu, Dec 2, 2010 : 11 p.m.

I took the liberty of calculating a rough estimate of comment removals on "hot topic" threads this evening. It was a convenience sample of stories made up from searches like "crash", "fatal", and "accident". I looked at 20 stories and assigned estimates of removal using the following algorithm: "comments" = 2 comments, "several comments" = 4 comments, "over 12 comments" = 13 comments. This is likely lowballing the actual number of comments removed, but I'd hate to be unfair. In counting posts, I added the numbers of removed but unrepresented posts (i.e., if a comment said that two comments had been removed, I added one comment to the total for that thread). Posts that were moved but not deleted were subtracted from the total number of posts as well as the total number of removals (essentially, they didn't count). I found that in these 20 stories, 59 comments out of 438 (~13.5%) were removed. This ranged from 0% in a couple of threads to 50% in one, where Stefanie literally posted that over a dozen comments (out of a minimally estimated 26) were removed. I don't know about you guys, but I think removal of half the posts in a thread should be grounds for reasonable complaint. I don't have a big enough sample or a sensitive enough method to get really accurate results, but since they have previously reported a removal rate of about 3% (per Tony Dearing), I think this at least indicates that there may be some stories that are particularly vulnerable to comment removal. I'd like to see be more transparent with their removal rates rather than sticking to their 3% when it's obvious that in some threads 10-50% of comments are being removed. The other thing I found (and actually hadn't considered before but thought it was funny) is that the moderators are extending the "tragic death" guidelines to accidents in which no death has occurred. This happened both in the story about the woman in critical condition following a rollover accident in/near Chelsea, as well as a story involving a much more minor accident ( I would really like to hear an explanation from the moderators on the rationale for this. There is no reason to apply "tragic death" rules to stories in which no deaths have occurred.


Tue, Nov 30, 2010 : 9:17 p.m.

Haha, where in the moderation guideline is "graphic language" prohibited? Sounds like mods don't want to hear any conversation that might make people uncomfortable, no matter how true it is. @Greggy, please phrase your victimization/trauma in a happier and more family friendly way and the gods here might consider giving it a second chance.


Mon, Nov 29, 2010 : 6:02 p.m.

I would like to know why my personal experiences about bullying were removed from the Lincoln bully story.


Wed, Nov 24, 2010 : 2:15 p.m.

I'm having a great exchange with @TonyDearing. Apparently, now any talk about what could have prevented an accident isn't allowed. So I guess we are only allowed to offer pointless two-line sentences or condolences to the family that doesn't read this site anyway. You know what they say -- an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. If we can't discuss issues as they happen, where are we as a community supposed to discuss them? And if we can't discuss them, how do we come up with ways to prevent similar accidents from happening in the future?.... oh that's what I thought. We'll just stick to condolences. If you guys actually respected those lost in tragedies that could have and should have been prevented, you would allow those comments.

dading dont delete me bro

Wed, Nov 24, 2010 : 12:08 p.m.

i still commonly see avatar violations. i got 'gigged' on this repeatedly this summer. someone whined and found mine offensive. the violations i still commonly see are real live people that obviously aren't spending time posting, rich rod, obama w/a photoshop sarah palin wig, shall i go on?


Mon, Nov 15, 2010 : 8:56 p.m.

I agree with EyeHeartA2. Many of the posts that stay up have so little substance that they contribute nothing, however inoffensively. @Stefanie, I don't actually believe you don't know what I'm referring to, since you were actually the person who deleted most of my comments in all of the threads, a few of which actually linked to other articles in question. Much as I'd love to say I have enough spare time to enlighten you, I don't. If you want to pay me to audit your moderation practices, drop me a line and we'll talk. Until then, learn to do your job professionally and fairly, instead of saying one thing and doing another. The multitude of complaints here about your practices aren't unfounded.


Sun, Oct 31, 2010 : 4:54 p.m.

I was approached at Meijer by someone who wanted to sell me a subscription to paper edition... needless to say I said no, solely because of how horrible the moderation is here.


Fri, Oct 29, 2010 : 4:49 p.m.

Wow, you guys reporting the magical posts are right! When my first post was removed/not posted and I posted a second a day later referencing the magically removed post, my new post was deleted but (magic!) the old one came back up! Amazing. You mods are a joke. PS, why no answer to my question above? Is there no line? I knew it -- it's totally arbitrary. Just put that as the position statement and be done with it.


Thu, Oct 28, 2010 : 10:04 a.m.

Such a fail tony. Just wanted to see how bad it had gotten since you guys started your "moderation" policies. Seems like it's only gotten worse. I checked a few recent articles and there were several comments removed. I also noticed that multiple comments I made in THIS article over a year ago were all deleted too. There are comments from YOU responding to them, but my comments are gone. Wonder how many other comments that were critical of your moderation you deleted too? Oh noes...gonna delete this one before other people see it I bet. That's fine though, I only ever come to this pathetic website when someone links an article off it to me. Just know that deleting this comment will only show that I'm was right and you were wrong. hey should move over to MLIVE or the're far to intelligent to bother with the 3rd grade reading level news here.


Wed, Oct 27, 2010 : 10:52 a.m.

@Tony, how are the rest of these comments not violating this guidance: "-Presumes guilt of the accused or calls for a specific punishment for the accused." Police don't determine guilt; courts do. Other posts are routinely removed for presuming guilt. Where's the line?


Wed, Oct 27, 2010 : 8:45 a.m.

Question for mods: Why is it ok in this story to assume the driver was drunk when he has not yet been convicted of drunk driving? Have conclusive toxicology tests come back already? If not, why is the comment moderation on this story more lax than others where alcohol is preliminarily suspected to be a causal factor (e.g., the story of the late 20-somethings who crashed on their way to football a month or two ago, where all stories suggesting alcohol may have been a factor were removed)?


Sun, Oct 24, 2010 : 1:23 a.m.

"At least be honest and change the comment guidelines to "WILL BE REMOVED AT THE CAPRICIOUS WHIMS OF THE STAFF AT ANYTIME"" Ain't this the truth! I have never seen such a degradation of free speech of moderation in my life as such exists on this site. Every other comment of mine gets removed lately, without reason. I actually sit and heavily ponder what was wrong with what I said? Now I really have a sampling of what a life without free speech would be like and its not very appealing. Thank you for giving us a taste of what it's like to live in a dictatorship society!

Macabre Sunset

Sat, Oct 23, 2010 : 11:35 p.m.

I don't know where to address this, but I am unusually disgusted with the blog today. Ryan Stanton, who has shown considerable bias in recent political stories, posted a Christine Green press release today. It essentially says that Richard DeLong endorses her. The nut of the story is that DeLong is a former Republican office-holder, so an endorsement of a Democrat is "news." However, DeLong switched parties and is now an elected Democrat official. So I'm not certain there's any news value in DeLong rehashing one of Green's talking points. Democrats endorsing other Democrats is what we expect. Stanton does not mention that DeLong is a Democrat. He framed the story as "ooh, even a Republican doesn't like Ouimet." So either 1) he is deliberately misleading the readers, because he is biased (his stories so far definitely lead me to believe he is an active member of Bernero's campaign, for one). Or 2) he simply reprinted the Green press release, adding his own catchy headline, without knowing who DeLong is. Which means he's both a mouthpiece for his party and doesn't have all that much knowledge of local politics. I'd fire the guy if I were an editor who cared about integrity. But I know you won't. My question, again, is whether you intend to hire an ombudsman to address questions about coverage and ethics?


Sat, Oct 23, 2010 : 9:59 p.m.

One sign that the moderation is too heavy handed is that there are so many responses from mods saying things like, "@SoandSo, I don't know why your post was erroneously removed," and "I agree that this was removed inappropriately, so I put it back," and "I don't know why this was removed, we never do this." This kind of moderation puts a burden of monitoring their posts on the posters, meaning that only those who have time to catch the erroneous removals are going to call attention to it, and those moderators who are behind them all never realize how poorly they're doing their jobs. If message board member behaviors are similar to customer behaviors in other industries, only 3-5% of people are complaining about poor service. If even a small proportion of those posts are reinstated, what does that tell you about the number of false removals that are actually out there?


Sat, Oct 23, 2010 : 9:35 a.m.

Guideline require judgment; say human using judgment affected by like, dislike not absurd. Did stop using outsource company? If no, not all journalists. Probably not work closely with outsource workers. Call names is against guideline "absurd". Comment should removed. This direct would be removed if by comment from reader. PR not strong point, even guideline call names "jerk".


Fri, Oct 22, 2010 : 1:53 p.m.

Stephanie, Again I applaud your resolution of this instance and your staunch defense of your staff BUT "@Ricebrnr, I'm not sure why that comment was removed" and "Our moderators do indeed follow our guidelines" are diametrically opposed. Either my comment was removed for cause (as listed in the moderation guidelines) and there can be a specifc citing of the offense and guideline broken OR It was removed without cause, without any rules being broken. IF as you indicated, you don't know why it was removed then what is the average user to think? I think that a mod or mods are not comfortable with certain topics and thus moderate based on their own baggage versus based on the cultivate community guidelines. This is a binary, yes or no equation. The comment either IS or IS NOT violating some rule. IF it is not, it should be left alone. IF it is then you can say why it was removed. If you can not say why it was removed then PERSONAL BIAS is the only other explanation, period. IF personal bias is the standard by which moderation is done then as I've said it before, "Your site, your rules" more power to you but don't then hide behind the guidelines and mission statements above. At least be honest and change the comment guidelines to "WILL BE REMOVED AT THE CAPRICIOUS WHIMS OF THE STAFF AT ANYTIME" or turn off the comment feature altogether and be done with it.


Thu, Oct 21, 2010 : 10:31 p.m.

Stephanie, While I appreciate your fixing this occurrence, "this can happen from time to time. I guess it's one of the downfalls of having human moderators" is exactly my point. Your human moderators are supposed to also be following your printed directives. They are not. That there are many complaints and my personal example (and there have been other examples of my protesting and getting comments similarly reinstate) should be telling you that "oh well we're only human" is an excuse that neither "cuts it" nor promises any remedies. Is there, will there be the same accountability from your staff that is expected from us?


Thu, Oct 21, 2010 : 9:44 a.m.

@Stephanie, It was in reference to where I responded to Stupid hick, unemotionally, factually and with cites of relevant law. The above comment was also posted in that thread and was also removed multiple times without tombstone or explanation or removal to this thread as noted. But for my posting it here myself (and anticipating it's removal also, so kudos for not and responding) it would as all too often happens be in the ether again. I might add as you noted I do post here quite a bit and on a very narrow band of topics with which I feel some expertise. I do not engage in others where I do not. On occasion where my comments are removed, if I feel the point is important enough I'll reword to what I think is's standards and/or simply remove anything snarky. Where I get especially incensed is when the standards your company sets is not followed, when an attempt at "intelligent debate", to "add more information to the story", "express a different viewpoint, "help create intelligent debate", "constructive debate" and "further the conversation" while following the other rules laid out is itself not followed. When this happens, who's credibility is undermined? Who journalistic standards and ethics are called into question? I asked it before in this thread, read what the majority of comments complain about (start with post # 1) and tell me are you accomplishing what you said you wanted to? Is my advocating legal, rightful, intelligent planning and self defense; my expounding on self determination and personal responsibility so repugnant, so anathema that it should be censored often and capriciously when the topic where I do so are always object lessons not just scary "it bleeds it leads" headlines?


Tue, Oct 19, 2010 : 10:55 p.m.

@ Mods, FYI, I am not "that guy" unless I see hypocrisy. Again with the comment removal and no tombstone. Not even the usual excuse that doesn't fit the comment. Please explain how the polite and reasoned follow up to a previous commentators question, that expanded on my previous comment, that was on topic AND would be good fodder for YOU to follow up upon for this and future stories violated the guidelines. Have the guidelines changed recently? No didn't think so. Once again, though I have violated nothing, because one of you mods didn't like the subject matter, the comment is removed. At least be honest and change the comment guidelines to "WILL BE REMOVED AT THE CAPRICIOUS WHIMS OF THE STAFF AT ANYTIME" I wont anticipate anyone having the balls to move this to the comment moderation thread and actually addressing it. aims to provide a lively community forum where readers can talk to us and talk to each other - in a neighborly way, of course. The best comments and posts are those that add more information to the story, express a different viewpoint or help create intelligent debate. We welcome constructive debate on our site Credibility = 0


Tue, Oct 19, 2010 : 8:41 p.m.

I see people putting hyperlinks in their posts, but sometimes it gets left as held for approval. Why? Sometimes it goes through and other times it doesn't.

Some Guy in 734

Fri, Oct 8, 2010 : 8:11 a.m.

Except, of course, for the times that they do edit comments. It happened to me--not that I minded at all. I was going a little too fast, commenting my foo' head off, and after one message, I posted another, apologizing for misplacing an apostrophe. Within moments that message was gone, and my errant punctuation had magically moved itself one character over. Again, I didn't mind the editing at all. It's exactly what I would have done, had I the opportunity. It didn't change the meaning and it's what I meant to have said. If it's normal policy to not edit comments, say that. If it's incredibly rare to have comments edited, say that. If those who comment can reasonably predict that their comments are unlikely to be edited, say that. I just find it disingenuous to say flatly that you "do not edit anyone's comments" when I have first-hand evidence that it has happened.


Mon, Oct 4, 2010 : 9:13 p.m.

Dear Ms. Murray, Thank you for your prompt response. I understand your rationale, though I regret that you apparently do not have the staff to edit comments in a constructive manner as I had hoped. Thanks again for the information.


Mon, Oct 4, 2010 : 8:08 p.m.

I would appreciate a response to my questions contained within my comment from 10/2/10 from anyone on the staff of capable of responding to such questions. While I had expected Mr. Dearing to respond, anyone with the answers to my questions is welcome to respond.


Sat, Oct 2, 2010 : 10:21 a.m.

Thank you for your reply, Mr. Dearing. I assume the staff has considered correcting at least spelling mistakes, or at least editing them with the usual [sic] insertion, as is done in print publications? If so, would you share the rationale for not doing so (as it is obvious that it is not being done)? For those (with a suboptimal ability to spell) reading comments with such misspellings, leaving such misspellings uncorrected or unnoted as being incorrect perpetuates such misspellings. For example (as I encountered recently), if I am not clear on how "servant" is spelled and I read a comment containing the spelling "servent," I believe it increases the likelihood that I will spell it "servent" in the future. Your publication should not be a medium that, by action or neglect, perpetuates sloppy grammar or misspelling. I contend that not correcting such errors does, in fact, result in the propagation of such errors on the part of I realize that coverage of newsworthy events is your primary mission, but such journalistic basics as spelling and grammar are not trivial either. Thank you for your consideration.


Fri, Oct 1, 2010 : 7:27 p.m.

To staff: Sometimes, in reading comments, I am appalled by the grammatical or spelling errors in the submissions. Would it be acceptable, as a learning experience for the commenters, for me (or anyone else who might so choose) to reproduce their comments with corrections to the errors in brackets? I would intend for it to be a learning experience for the commenter and I would be discreet about refraining from doing it in stories of tragedy. Thanks.

perfectly lubricated weather vane

Fri, Oct 1, 2010 : 11:44 a.m. moderators (and other interested in moderation guidelines) might find the following St. Petersburg Times story worth reading: "Shortly after the St. Petersburg Times announced Mr. Smith's death on its website, a reader posted a comment.... Web editors removed the comment, deeming it an offensive and insensitive insult to a dead man's friends and family. Though hardly unusual -- check out the comments beneath stories about any recent tragedy -- this one spurred the Times to make Mr. Smith the subject of this story, as a reminder that every life matters." Read the whole story here:


Wed, Sep 29, 2010 : 1:27 p.m.

@Ed, thanks - and I keep hearing about this new comment system... any idea when it's scheduled for deployment?


Wed, Sep 29, 2010 : 12:38 p.m.

I'd like to register a plea for you guys to stop removing comments that are in all caps. I would bet that once you do that, most people don't add their comment back in and as a result, we lose a voice in the discussion. And, I would also bet, these are people who don't comment often anyway so discouraging those folks from commenting makes no sense to me. We could use some fresh voices around's comments sections, quite frankly. Another way to handle it would be to email the commenter and make the request for proper capitalization offline. That way the discussion isn't derailed.


Fri, Sep 24, 2010 : 12:29 p.m.

Stefanie, why making new yahoo account any more "verifiable" than mailinator. I had to make new account. Did. Never check. Can not contact there, I never check. No reason contact anyway. Should be on TSA. No logic, just illusion.

same guy

Sat, Sep 18, 2010 : 7:14 a.m.

"We've published the policy for everyone to see and are glad to discuss how and why we make decisions to remove comments." But you keep removing my comments with no explanation... I'm serious. I sincerely don't understand why you have been removing my comments. I made a comment pointing out the irony of someone criticizing your paper, bragging that they went to journalism school, yet using "tenants" instead of "tenets". I also made a comment debating the points made by a commenter who called our President a "communist fool" (a personal attack), without attacking the poster personally. Those comments have been deleted, and so have my subsequent comments which ask for explanation of the deletions. All I'm asking for is an explanation.

Macabre Sunset

Fri, Sep 17, 2010 : 11:29 p.m.

Right. I think your reporters were intrigued by Snyder during the primary season, and now support Bernero. But that wasn't my question. Do you have a policy against writing stories reporting on a political race where the blogger intends to vote for one candidate over the other? I think an objective, ethical paper would have such a policy. Otherwise, you wind just reprinting press releases from one campaign, which is what we've seen the last week or so.

Macabre Sunset

Thu, Sep 16, 2010 : 11:53 p.m.

What is your policy regarding bloggers on your staff who intend to vote in a political race, and their coverage of that race? We've had a steady stream of "stories" being written on every press release put out by Virg Bernero, and the bias is becoming very clear. Seems to me a blog interested in ethical reporting would ensure that it doesn't assign political stories to reporters who have a personal interest in the race in question.


Wed, Sep 15, 2010 : 3:32 p.m.

It helps with understanding the reason, and I thank you for that. However...If I break up a 1,000 word opinion into three posts, that is acceptable, but if the same opinion is proferred in a single post, that is objectionable? I'll have to scratch my head over that for awhile. Exposing the detriments of a proposed policy so both sides of an issue may be properly weighed inherently requires more than twenty lines. The proponents won't do it, and it's rare that the media do, so it is left to those posting. I hope whatever limit you come up with accommodates that reality. The CIA presentations are a case in point. They are presented by the government bodies as pieces for discussion, but when you view them, nowhere are any detriments included. They are position pieces, not discussion pieces. Anyhow, though I may not agree with your moderation policies and techniques, I do understand them better now, and will make an effort to obviate your need to apply them.


Wed, Sep 15, 2010 : 1:24 a.m.

Wow. My very first post got "moderated". It was a moderate-length (are puns allowed?) one about the proposed CIA and a few of the very real detriments associated with them and the way they tend to be operated. I didn't save it; can I at least have it emailed back to me? I know another site or two that will find nothing offensive about it, and it will generate substantive debate concerning the benefits and detriments of tax capture. I have absolutely no idea what made it so offensive. I can surmise only that my skin is a heck of a lot thicker than most readers' here. I guess I'm an ex-contributor, because if that was offensive (there's absolutely no case for "it didn't add to the conversation"), I can't imagine anything I could say that would be allowed to remain.


Thu, Sep 9, 2010 : 10:47 p.m.

Thanks for responding so quickly. If knows that the poll results are skewed then as journalist aren't you ethically required to inform people of such?.. particularly if the skewed results can influence a communities policy? People derive a portion of their opinions from opinion polls..especially people making laws. On another note research has shown that it is VERY easy to accidentally contaminate polls; it's really important to make sure that question and/or answer sets dont contain suggestions or bias. For example the answer set for the couch ban: Yes they're unsafe and unsightly. [suggests to the voter that they [are] unsafe or unsightly] No I don't see a problem with them. [suggests to the voter that they don't [see] the problem. (as apposed to 'there is no problem')] Still Undecided. [Negative influence] A much better poll answer set would have been: Yes No Undecided And to rotate these answers. On a third note, and very concerning to me; i'm fairly certain I watched a poll being manipulated today. It happened on the couch ban poll around 4pm. The rate of votes cast went drastically up and in a little over 30 minutes I literally watched the 'no' vote drop from 41% to 37% (may have been 36%). After that the rate of votes fell off and has stayed. Twiigs is a poor voting service for anything more than 'for fun polls' and I hope seriously considers a new polling service in the near future that isn't as easy to manipulate as: -vote, clear cookies, repeat- and has some form of fraud detection. Anyway thanks for reading; I hope this isn't taken in a negative light and is taken as a suggestion for improvement.


Thu, Sep 9, 2010 : 7:31 a.m. I was wondering why the polls dont have question order rotation turned on. Twiigs, service that is used for polling, clearly says on the polling setup page that there is a bias towards the first answer and gives the option to randomize poll ordering to eliminate this.... Why is this not enabled?

Steve Pepple

Thu, Sep 2, 2010 : 7:09 a.m.

This comment from reader Jimmy McNulty was moved to this thread. I wish the staff spent as much time researching and writing stories as they do policing the comment section. By the way, where are your "guidelines" for posting comments?? - Jimmy McNulty


Tue, Aug 31, 2010 : 1:16 p.m.

@Edward Vielmetti In all honesty, I like your official (at least to me) role of the "comic relief". Slicing through tension and making angry faces smile. Though most of my post was directed at the moderation aspect not so much the "assumptions/lack of facts" portion from the writers, I can see your advantage in talking with them face to face. That's not to say massive amounts of typing wouldn't work, perhaps we just need to work on our W.P.M.


Tue, Aug 31, 2010 : 12:51 p.m.

With the few comments I have posted I've already experienced what seemed like over-moderation by the staff. I was in a tug-o-war match with a moderator who seemed very determined to keep my post off the forum. Shortly after that back and forth game another moderator chimed in and removed every post linked to the originally deleted post claiming they had no relevance. It's sad I even felt the need to save the original posts, but I did. I had a feeling something like this would happen on So after reposting all the comments along with a disclaimer (overkill it seems right?) stating the relevance all the posts had, it was magically allowed to stay. Shortly after, several users commented on how it seemed the staff did remove relevant posts to the story for whatever reason. What's even more funny/scary/odd/silly is while at dinner that night at a local restaurant and sharing my story with friends, I had the waitress and two tables around me comment about how they've witnessed or been "victim" to's over-moderation. I can understand the need to remove comments that are only posted to incite hate/racism/violence. However, I also feel there should be less moderation from a "reputable" news-source. Your job is fact-finding, you already go overboard with speculations and assumptions, don't dig a deeper hole and police topics as you see necessary. We don't want baby sitters, we want facts.


Mon, Aug 23, 2010 : 1:34 p.m.

This page frozen. Comment by Edward still say posted moments ago.

Tom Teague

Tue, Aug 10, 2010 : 12:18 p.m.

This is a technical question: Kinda like the guy in the bed next to Yossarian's in "Catch 22," all my comments are showing up twice. I notice that others are having the same problem. While you generally find them, would it be possible for you to add a "Duplicate Entry" as an option in the "Report This Entry to Staff?" I'd at least feel as if I'm doing something about it when I accidentally refresh the screen and repeat myself.


Thu, Aug 5, 2010 : 10:53 a.m.

Ombudsman. Between this page and ethically vacant Snyder support, it is time to give readers someone actually listens.


Mon, Aug 2, 2010 : 11:25 a.m.

Hello? Anyone home? Could you also let us know if there is any updates since the Frequent Commenters Forum? I see a whole bunch of stuff under discussion but I don't remember if there were any actual changes...was anything accomplished? Was the meeting useful at all, will there be another, or was it a complete waste of time?


Fri, Jul 30, 2010 : 10:19 p.m.

So after 300 plus comments and at least one break off thread; is anyone seeing a common denominator or two? staff, anyone coming to any conclusions? I see two dominant themes: 1) Quality of the news stories or lack thereof. Especially with incorrect information or lack of follow up. General response give when confronted "we posted the information we were given." 2) Capricious moderation even when the guidelines are followed. At which point the nebulous "don't further the conversation" is offered when a reason is offered at all. Some time ago I asked is this a blog or a news organization? If a news organization do you adhere to general journalistic standards? In case anyone wants to know what those are, check the Society of Professional Journalists site: Please especially note the first and last items, including the examples. SEEK TRUTH AND REPORT IT &amp; BE ACCOUNTABLE. I had hoped I would be provided with a mission statement that would encompass many of those items in the SPJ Ethics Code. Be that as it may, look over these posts and the ones in the other link. You're supposed to be journalists, right? 300 plus comments from your constituents, asking you for some in depth reporting on yourselves. Any hope that we'll get it?


Wed, Jul 28, 2010 : 4:59 p.m.

Personally, I have found that comment moderation drives young and spirited debate away from a site. If I wanted to have my opinions censored, I would have subscribed to your daily newspaper when you still printed it and discussed the details with my grandfather. Is this comment qualified as a personal attack or can my dissatisfaction with the policy be considered a collective assault?

Macabre Sunset

Sun, Jul 25, 2010 : 12:17 a.m.

Swearing? I don't think I swore. Certainly not in a Carlin sense or at all in the first and last versions that were removed (which are still in my cut-and-paste). I hope your editor reviews the proverbial tape and there's an apology if warranted. I'm not a big swearer and don't find it appropriate in my own commentary. The first version did contain a more direct response to Pete, which I felt might have been the reason for the deletion, so I removed it from subsequent versions (I think 3-or-4 were removed before one remained). The other sentence I removed was wondering if the decision to print this as a news story may be related to the fact that The Ann Arbor News failed after more than a century of success. You've since added the "opinion" tag to the piece, and hopefully that will show up on the index page once it's no longer a featured piece. It still seems rather self-indulgent and I don't think the primary problem of having a reporter participate in the event he was covering is addressed. Seems like back-covering to me, as it's written like a news story, with the focus on the cute redhead's experience. I'm just trying to help, believe it or not. Though I believe much of the problem is actually endemic to journalism in general over the last 10-20 years, as practiced by editors who grew far too comfortable coming up in the post-post-Watergate environment. When the Grand Old Lady is struggling to sell subscriptions because it touts its columnists rather than its news gathering, I guess the solution can't start here. Ethics and impartiality just don't seem to be important to news organizations any more, and that does affect readers. It's why I don't subscribe - I just read a lot of different blogs and hope I'm getting good information. Oh, well. While I'm writing a novel here, might as well also ask why the time next to "posted" is completely and consistently inaccurate. I've gone back to look at something I wrote a day earlier, and if it's one of the last comments, it often says something like "posted 20 minutes ago." Why not just include the time and day it was posted? This has been the case since you started this blog.

Macabre Sunset

Sat, Jul 24, 2010 : 10:50 p.m.

Question: are comments critical of editorial decisions permitted? Or is discussion of the difference between modern journalism and real journalism ethics permitted? We have a case where a reporter has made himself the story rather than reporting an event. I'm rather dismayed by that and find it frustrating that my replies to the reporter's response to my initial complaint are being deleted - which would give readers the impression that my objections are to the event itself.


Wed, Jul 7, 2010 : 10:15 a.m.

What does this comment mean (From Tony Dearing on the Ward 4 candidates article: "A comment was removed because it was too personally directed at another commenter."


Thu, Jul 1, 2010 : 8:55 p.m.

Someone has dropped the ball yet again. Yesterday I posted a comment that included three helpful links. But because my comment contained links, it was quarantined so a staff member could make sure I wasn't spamming. But either the staff member has not gotten to it, or s/he did not do a good review. Please look at my comment on the article "Washtenaw County police agencies to participate in drunken driving crackdowns" ( And staff do, so this isn't a repeated problem? Providing helpful links should be supported and not require the commenter to come to this forum and ask for their comment to be reviewed.

Trevor Staples

Mon, Jun 21, 2010 : 12:34 p.m.

Please please PLEASE do what the Buffalo News did!

Chrysta Cherrie

Thu, Jun 10, 2010 : 5:17 p.m.

Comments by user Trespass discussing our moderation guidelines were moved to this thread: Why was my previous comment removed without a trace? I had specific researched information. I even gave my sources. How can anyone understand the moderation policy on this site? My comment was not unsubstantiated, it was well researched. My reply was taken down because I questioned the moderation policy. Thank you very much for unbiased moderation policy enforcement. Tell me what you objected to and I will reporst the rest.


Wed, Jun 2, 2010 : 10:27 a.m.

Noticed when you updated to include tragic death rules, but I did not notice when you included these VERY important changes to policy. Was a note made of it at the time? May be this is why you cannot get consistant moderation? "We also contract with an outside company that moderates our site 24 hours a day." You are using Chinese or Indian labor to moderate the site? This was also add at some point: "We reserve the right to pre-moderate comments and delete or edit comments." So you reserve the right to change the content, not just the existence of posts. This is 1984 stuff.


Fri, May 28, 2010 : 10:49 p.m.

It must be argued that a huge number of the 300 comments and a huge reason they keep showing up is that the policies are NOT clear and they are applied in a way that is NOWHERE CLOSE TO CONSISTENT. It is exciting that you actualy recognize this is the goal, but I think this page makes it clear that you're very, very, very, very far from it.


Sun, May 23, 2010 : 3:51 a.m.

I would like to ask whoever is in charge of these conversation guidelines to please review the guidelines with respect to not "blaming the victim" (particularly with respect to the article about the bicyclist run over by the dog), and stop deleting posts that appear to do so. While I fully understand and support your attempts to keep trolls (or whatever they're called these days) off of your website, I believe that you are inadvertently stifling different, valid, and useful viewpoints in the process. First of all, your guidelines specify only that placing blame is taboo in the case of tragic death (and I can understand that). However, nowhere in the more general guidelines is this requirement written. Therefore, since the bicyclist survived the accident, this "don't blame the victim" guideline shouldn't apply. In addition, your guidelines ask us to "talk to each other - in a neighborly way, of course." Well, being neighborly doesn't always mean that you are going to be sipping tea with each other and talking about the weather. Sometimes, serious issues have to be addressed, and pussy-footing and side-stepping are not going to resolve them. Sometimes a neighbor has to be told the hard facts, simply perhaps because the person is too deluded or ignorant to make a safe decision for his or herself, or perhaps because the person doesn't have any friends or family who will talk sense with the person. While I have no way of knowing whether the bicyclist has read the associated article, I believe that AnnArbor.Com is doing her a disservice by not letting her see how many neighbors are trying to be neighborly and give her some good advice (even if they ARE blaming her). My deleted comments were written with the spirit of helping this poor person out, though I will admit that my Darwin Award portion of my comments may have sounded sarcastic and perhaps as a personal attack. However, as I stated above, I fully believe that sometimes you have to call a spade a spade when necessary, because noone else is going to. And frankly, sometimes sarcasm gets the point across best, even if it makes the comment appear like an attack. If I saw that someone was about to walk into the path of a speeding car, should I say, "Excuse me, sir, but it appears that you are going to be run over by that speeding car," or, "WATCH OUT!!!" Well, implying that someone deserves a Darwin Award for not wearing a helmet, using headphones, and riding past the same loose dog day after day is probably more effective than just saying, "well, gee, you really ought to wear a helmet and not wear headphones,..." The odds are very good that the bicyclist has heard similar gentle advice multiple times in her 30 years of riding, and has chosen to ignore it. I'm sorry to have to say this, but a person who has been riding for 30 years, doesn't wear a helmet, and uses headphones while riding more than once past a loose dog, does not appear to be in his or her right mind. My comments were not a personal attack -- they were my attempt to talk sense into someone who appears to have a death wish. You can call it "blaming the victim" all you want, but that is not the spirit in which it was intended. And by not allowing the bicyclist to see comments such as this, you are doing her a grave (and possibly deadly) disservice. Thanks, Joe


Thu, May 20, 2010 : 1:47 a.m.

Why doesn't Ann properly attribute quotes to other people? I won't name names, because that would probably be construed as a "personal attack" on this website, but in the one day that I have started reading posts on this website, I have seen many examples. The simple use of quotes surrounding the (indented) quoted text has been a staple of publishing for many years, because it makes it much easier for the reader to delineate between that information which is being quoted, and that information which is being written by the author of the current article. I'll admit that having the indented text makes the HTML more difficult to maintain, but there is no excuse for not surrounding quoted text with quotation marks.


Thu, May 20, 2010 : 1:37 a.m.

Please remove the sexist term "guy" from your "guidelines" above. Not all jerks are male. Thanks, Joe


Fri, May 14, 2010 : 8:38 p.m.

Why was my comment on the recent "What do you think about roundabouts? MDOT wants to know" article not posted? If a staff member moderates a comment, why can't it still be visible to the poster (perhaps as a separate section on their "recent activity" page) with the reason for the moderation visible? Wouldn't that be better than having to come here and ask?

Duane Collicott

Fri, May 14, 2010 : 3:03 p.m.

They're just swans!


Fri, May 14, 2010 : 12:49 p.m.

It would be nice to enjoy the SAME freedom of speech as, however since you won't, and don't allow that, I will keep posting away on sites that do. By the way its not "blaming the victim" when you point out the OBVIOUS flaws in their thought process that put them where they are. Some "victims" have their hands clean have done nothing to bring about their dilema, then there are those who thought they wouldn't do that to them, therefore the later "victims" bare some responsibility for their choices.

Steve Pepple

Tue, May 11, 2010 : 8:11 a.m.

The following comment from mike from saline was moved here from this thread because it contains questions about our moderation process. (For the record, we do not edit or change comments made by our readers). I was under the impression that you were not allowed to edit or change your comments. Suddenly "tigger" has become Edward R. Murrow! I've also noticed that several comments I posted earlier this morning [and proof read] are now riddled with miss-spelled words. I know I make a mistake occasionaly, but these mistake's were not there earlier. WHAT'S UP


Fri, May 7, 2010 : 6:15 p.m.

Reading through the threads here I see this is the proverbial woodshed! Well, I think Ill just take your switch and beat you with it. First your provincial view of things happening around you and wanting others to see only that, is controlling. Second, your acorn symbol tells all. Third, to flagellate us on this thread because of different views show your Progressive stance, and that is the Socialist way. Ann and newspapers nose dive is proof of readers choice to chose something more fair. You will soon be joining the ranks of the liberal failure Newsweek. Maybe you guys can get together and start a newspaper for Hugo Chavaz! Change is coming, and not the one you voted for.

Duane Collicott

Wed, May 5, 2010 : 8:20 a.m.

"Madison introduced the club to the PTO in February as part of the school and districts equity work." Equity can be achieved by splitting people into separate groups based on skin color? I guess I have to adjust my understanding of what "equity" means.


Wed, May 5, 2010 : 1:28 a.m.

Another win for moderation!, you continue to help me understand why the world is so messed up. It is run by adults with the critical thinking skills of third-graders. OMG! Bad words! OMG Shut it down! Still Waiting to hear about Tony's promise ("I'll follow up on that") from WAY BACK IN NOVEMBER to call together the advisory board for an update on how things are going.


Sun, May 2, 2010 : 7:48 a.m.

I would like to know why my comment on the "What did you think of President Obama's speech at Michigan Stadium?" ( thread was removed. Another poster claimed that Obama's speech was, "full of the usual exaggerations, misrepresentations and inaccuracies." I challenged that claim and asked for specific examples. I also pointed out the irony of someone making such a claim who was likely guilty of that very claim. My comment has been removed (w/o a comment by staff indicating why any comments were removed). Another comment that backed up my comment was also removed.


Mon, Apr 26, 2010 : 11:58 p.m.

I'm pretty upset. You have deleted my comments in the Tea Party article twice for 'being mean'. Not only was I AT that rally - I am in the pictures you have used on this site without my permission! I let that slide, it was a public place and privacy issues are moot in that kind of environment. However - this Rick guy writes an article that is filled with absolute lies, and you do not allow those wo were there and subjected to his verbal abuse (coupled with the saliva spewing) to state what took place from their perspective? That man was drunk! He smelled drunk. He was yelling at me three inches from my face, I experienced the smell of alcohol reeking from his mouth at close range. He poked me in the back yelling a question in my ear. My husband told him to 'back off' and he called my husband a MFer... That is factual information. His version of that rally is far from the truth. I find it extremely questionable that a supposed 'news' site refuses to allow BOTH sides of a story. or is this NOT a news site? Is this your pet project to further your own agenda and your own views?

Duane Collicott

Sun, Apr 25, 2010 : 8:56 p.m.

"The only news site I can think of that does not have comments is" That might be because nobody actually reads their Web site or watches their TV shows.

Alan Benard

Fri, Apr 23, 2010 : 9:43 a.m.

Aaaaaand off to the Memory Hole! Thanks, Stephanie! You guys never disappoint.

Jake C

Wed, Apr 21, 2010 : 6:53 p.m.

Fair enough reason!

Jake C

Wed, Apr 21, 2010 : 5:22 p.m.

I'm kinda curious why you found this comment of mine inappropriate enough to delete from a story which deals with the nation's DADT policy: "@Deadhead: "The problem I've seen is that they don't always take no for an answer for some time when they have approached "straights" that they think they can convert to their lifestyle." If you replace "gay men approaching straight men" (which almost never happens) with "straight men approaching women" (which happens all the time), you've just created a the old argument that has been made thousands of times in the past for why women should be banned from the military. "Oh my goodness, how will these testosterone-laden men be able to restrain themselves while there are hot women serving alongside them?" The answer is for the most part, that soldiers really don't care as long as their buddies do their jobs. Sadly, there are still lots of people who still think that women and gay people are somehow a "distraction" that prevents the "normal" soldiers from doing *their* jobs. Right now, the military needs all the competent people it can get. Heck, the military just released a report saying that sub-standard public school meal programs are producing a new generation of obese teenagers who are too fat to serve in the military. Kicking people out for something that has nothing to do with job performance is just infantile." --- Are we not allowed to respond to other commenters, even if we don't use any name-calling? Was my post merely deleted because the post I was responding to was deleted, even though I wasn't being offensive? Otherwise, I find it hard to believe that you think this statement is somehow "off-topic" to the issue of why the current Don't-Ask-Don't-Tell policy is in place...

Terry Star21

Wed, Apr 21, 2010 : 12:31 p.m.

WOW... a lot of unhappy people here. Hey, it's 65* and sunny outside, get out, get an ice cream.. go for a walk, there is a great life going on out there. Remember when we wished we could have gone back to a time we all enjoyed in our life, we said, 'I want to take time to enjoy everything more then I did, savor - take time to smell the roses, etc.'. Guess what - that time is now! Seriously, constructive arguments are fine here, just seems like many people are complaining, complaining. Some of your anger is evident in your writings, but are you really upsetting yourself? Do you find you get angry, real quick at loved ones for little things - when kindness is the answer. I think everyone has the right to disagree, don't let it control your piece of mind.


Wed, Apr 21, 2010 : 11:27 a.m.

So what you're saying is you left things deliberately vague so that you can interpret them as you see fit at the time. The guide line you quote, "Avoid comments or posts that are off topic, offensive, contain personal attacks or that don't further the conversation." says nothing about language, you see things like a**es printed in publications all of the time in order to project a point or convey a quote without being offensive. My post was on topic, and followed in the flow of conversation regarding the DDA and City Council congratulating each other. You read the moderation policy of any respectable on line publication, and they spell out their guideline very clearly, not leaving any question as to if a policy was violated. Here, you have a thread that is already 241 posts long (assuming none have been moderated) that is devoted entirely to the vagaries of you comment policy. Instead of wasting all of this time and effort, why don't you just clarify your policy, like other, respectable online publications do? Or hide them, again, the way most news outlets do, behind another link where they won't offend the casual reader. You could even turn them off, and spend that time on little things like better reporting and editing. Something needs to give, because as it is, the process is a mess, and is distracting everyone involved from the real issues.


Tue, Apr 20, 2010 : 10:52 p.m.

Hmmm. I was moderated for using "a**es" in a post, yet I don't see anything about that in the above conversation guidelines. Admit it, you guys are making this stuff up as you go along. (I bet you use "a**es" to justify removing this post, too....)

Chrysta Cherrie

Mon, Apr 19, 2010 : 4:15 p.m.

A comment posted by LLspier on another story was moved here because it addresses our moderation policy: I find it extremely enlightening that a post of mine was removed and called an 'attack'.I made no attack against anyone. I simply pointed out that a great many of the posters made reference to the supposed 'right-wing' philosophy of this group and that logic then led them to believe they were guilty and/or therefore deserving of possible mistreatment. I also pointed to the fact that the citizens of Ann Arbor have had NO problem welcoming a known domestic terrorist more than once and have treated him with respect, even though he and his group were responsible for injury, property destruction and death of policemen, simply because he professed a 'left-wing' philosophy! That truly IS a scary thought and I have little respect for either citizens who mutilate the parameters of democracy in that manor or a so-called newspaper that chooses to distort the news to serve that same left-wing bias. The Ann Arbor News died for that reason...and this forum will likely die due to the same single-viewpoint reporting.

Macabre Sunset

Sun, Apr 11, 2010 : 6:39 p.m.

Is there any chance we're ever going to see consistency or fairness in the moderating here? Some of the people with delete keys seem to gain far too much pleasure in using them. They use them to protect narrow political biases and refuse to explain why.

Paul the Malcontent

Sat, Apr 10, 2010 : 10:19 p.m.

genericreg wrote: "Thanks for the clarification. I am sorry for assuming I was the target of grouch profiling." Same thing happens to me too for some reason! :-) ----- Funny thing is after 235 posts, eli neiburger's very first one on this page is still prophetic: "The perception of the intent of the moderation can get away from you fast." Eli perhaps failed to foresee the actual moderation process also getting away from its original intent (or at least, in a number of readers' opinion, away from its reasonable implementation).


Thu, Apr 8, 2010 : 10:32 a.m.

I am blown away by the number of comments here by staff since the last time I visited. It would seem to me, given the number of factual and editorial errors that I find, or that ar pointed out by commentors, that staff should be spending a lot more time working on their own writing skill instead of removing comments for things like "writing in all caps is yelling at people" Well, GIVE US A BREAK AA.COM! SPEND MORE TIME CHECKING YOUR FACTS THAN CHECKING THE COMMENTS ON THE ARTICLE YOU'VE WRITTEN. YOU WOULD BE SERVING THE COMMUNITY MUCH BETTER IF YOU PUBLICATION WERE DOING MORE REPORTING AND LESS MODERATING.


Wed, Apr 7, 2010 : 1:02 a.m.

IMO is over moderated. It seems no one on the staff has a sense of humor and loves to delete comments at will. I would say I try not to be the "Jerk" but when someone beats a two year old that is fair game. One should be allowed to heckle the accused, especially when they have prior (yes, I do my research). Why does everything have to be "constructive?" Nothing wrong with making fun a baby beater. If I knew YOU beat a child and I saw YOU on the street YOU better know I'm going to give you some grief over it. They obviously didn't learn parenting 101. Another example, ignorance should be fair game, when one chooses not to wear their seat belt, hits a tree, and is ejected from the vehicle and dies, one should be allowed to place blame. Its kind of obvious the reason the said died. They were not wearing a seat belt, duh (excuse my childish word). It was ones choice not to wear a seat belt and by doing so one accepts the outcome of any possible situation. In this case being ejected from a moving vehicle. Now don't get me wrong I'm not trying to be insensitive toward the deceased's family. However, just maybe, they should of taught their child the importance of wearing a safety restraint. Lesson learned the hard way on that one, eh? Maybe you could try letting a few harmless comments slip through the, dare I say, Nazi News Comment System (NNCS for short) every once in a while. You need to look at other news agencies and see how their comment sections read. Your making your staff look like a bunch of prissy babies that are afraid of reader feedback. After all it is us, the readers, that allow you to keep your 'kush' (hehe) job. I just hope you allow this one to remain posted so others can say yay or nay on my humble opinion. In fact I encourage it because after all discussion is how we adults learn from one another.

Duane Collicott

Mon, Apr 5, 2010 : 8:52 a.m.

Why does my cursor disappear with I'm at Firefox 3.6.3 on Windows XP, by the way. It also does it to my cursor in any tab or any other Firefox window.

Chrysta Cherrie

Thu, Apr 1, 2010 : 2:30 p.m.

A comment posted by Delete This Profile on another story was moved here because it addresses our moderation policy: Let' see, on you can't make a comment that's "off-topic", you can't speculate on why someone committed a crime, you can't call out another commenter, but if you want to make negative comments about Judaism and Christianity, no problem. I have to wonder how long a post attacking Islam would stay on-line.


Tue, Mar 30, 2010 : 10:47 p.m.

Thanks for the clarification. I am sorry for assuming I was the target of grouch profiling.

Terry Calhoun

Mon, Mar 29, 2010 : 11:28 a.m.

Just had a comment removed that did not violate any guidelines. And a conspiracy post remains. "False flag," indeed. Nice. As persons you folks seem mostly quite nice. As a corporation, is a coward. It should *require* full, identifiable names for all posters.

Macabre Sunset

Sun, Mar 28, 2010 : 11:14 p.m.

I just wanted to point out that this blog is being run by morons. Entire batches of perfectly on-topic and non-inflammatory commentary removed because it doesn't match Dearing's simple-minded view of the world. Yet print an obscene reference to a weird sexual act, and he's probably giggling like Beavis and Butthead.

The Picker

Sat, Mar 27, 2010 : 5:30 p.m.

Creg, I'm glad you are attending the rallies, keep up the good work!

The Picker

Sat, Mar 27, 2010 : 8:57 a.m.

Sunset, You've hit the nail on their head. The staff of cub reporters has assembled, lacks a certain depth to their thinking and a bias I attribute to an unchallenging education of fluff and feel good, very common in todays world. Their smugness is only eclipsed by their arrogance. Our future is in their hands and that frightening.With them its "Only the News that fits". I'm sure Big Brother is proud of them.

The Picker

Sat, Mar 27, 2010 : 7:31 a.m.

So do you need me to define teabagging? You continually allow this term in Some comments, perhaps you don't know what teabagging is or the differance between the two.

Macabre Sunset

Fri, Mar 26, 2010 : 8:16 p.m.

I've pointed that out to them a couple of times. Given the usually over-zealous moderating on this site, my conclusion is that those who harbor extraordinary hatred toward moderates or conservatives are given carte blanche on this blog because they share the political viewpoints of the editorial staff. Otherwise, why would they preserve this obscene and hateful content while practicing search-and-destroy on the commentary of those who don't share those views?

Bob Needham

Thu, Mar 25, 2010 : 2:26 p.m.

This comment from saisondupont has been moved here, from the story on Bridgewater Township getting help from militia members: " this what staff at does all day? So far I have seen 3, maybe 4 staff members troll around on here and censor other people's comments. That's crazy. Perhaps at this point you guys should think about disabling comments and move onto something else."

Steve Pepple

Thu, Mar 18, 2010 : 12:15 p.m.

A comment from lee miserables was moved here because it discusses our comment moderation. Here is the comment: Comments that attempted to place blame for this incident, and one that attempted to advocate violence, were removed. wow what a communist place we live in. once upon a time violence was a way of life. Now they, (the people in power) hide behind the cover of law and use the violence of foreclosure, the violence of stealing the freedoms of being able to earn your way in life via the new health care bill. Look if you think this is a good idea? you are truly loonie. Socialism has never worked anywhere, nowhere on this planet has it ever worked. Those that produce, will soon see that those who do not, recieve the same as those who produce. and when that happens those who work and support those who refuse to work will soon sit down and who then will work? Even a dummy can see that. SO we now have this communist ACORN adorned paper/website limiting free speech. Violence? Placing blame? if no one is to blame, the only people left to carry the load are those charged with bringing us the truth....and we all know who the people associated with anything acorn are and what they support....child prostitution. It made national TV. But it never was brought to you here, was it? beware these people who purport to uphold freedoms, and then remove the debate altogether! Just as has been done with the health care debate. Why do you think they have been buying votes for this thing.....? the prostitution that is our government and just happens to be the only thing that actually did flourish during communist rule in any country that used it, knows nothing more. you can remove this post too, but you cannot remove the truth within it!

Ming Bucibei

Thu, Mar 18, 2010 : 11:24 a.m.

the heavy handed censorship of comments is reminiscent of the style of pravda you even remove comments commenting about the moderation!! the people not not want agressive moderation should change the name to same as the style of the old leftist aanews there is plenty of other media compeating with; keep offending your customers and you will go the way of the unlamented aanews!! Ming Bucibei

Mumbambu, Esq.

Thu, Mar 18, 2010 : 8:29 a.m.

Thanks Tony. I was referring to the comment (conincidentally by JCJ) that discussed how some people want to see the driver that killed the bicyclist receive severe punishment. The comment also said something along the lines of "the kid made a horrible mistake, why do we keep trying to prosecute". I was making a comment (or perhaps commentary is more accurate) on how a "mistake" still resulted in a death and that by calling it a mistake doesn't take that away.

Mumbambu, Esq.

Tue, Mar 16, 2010 : 12:42 p.m.

Tony, just as JCJ was responding (as seen above), so was I. My comment was no more off topic than the one it was responding to. As JCJ saying it seems like some commenters wish the driver were hung, others speak as if the cyclist deserved to die. Please consider restoring my comment as you rightfully restored JCJ's. I still feel I can defend every single comment that I have had removed on this site but now sometimes I don't even get responses when I post here.


Sun, Mar 14, 2010 : 9:43 a.m.

I find it sad that there are a couple commentators that keep bringing up the cyclist that was killed. It appears that the commentator would have preferred the driver were hung! The commentator weaves this into other stories without the comment being removed. I respond to these post in what I think to be very civilized post and they are removed! It would appear that nothing has changed and no policy has been reviewed. If you have a particular take it doesn't matter what you say! While if you have a different take the censors remove your comments. The moderators try to hide their bias, but they don't do a very good job of it.

Paul the Malcontent

Thu, Mar 11, 2010 : 9:23 a.m.

Reconsideration of moderation policy in light of the story about dogs hit by truck leads to this: "Commenting on this story has been closed because of the volume of inappropriate comments being posted." First of all, I don't hear ANY sound in the comments section; is there a computer setting I need to adjust? Are inappropriate comments allowed if we just whisper? And while some of us continue to come here and advocate for changes to the moderation policy, I don't think this is what we had in mind; sometimes I feel like we're just beating a dead horse here (no offense, PETA). @E G (ironically?) asked this provocative question of in the comments on that story: "Are there reporters?" Surely that wasn't meant to impugn the objectivity of the author or the moderators removing comments that express a particular (perhaps unsympathetic) viewpoint, was it? @Jen Eyer (of commented: "I would bet the Ticknors are aware that if the dogs had been restrained, this wouldn't have happened. They probably don't need commenters on to tell them that." The story quoted Ticknor, to wit: "We dont chain them up - we never have. They always stay in the perimeter of the yard,..." Well, maybe not "always!" So if they were aware that restraining the dogs would have prevented this as you assume, it follows that they consciously chose not to do so, and thus knowingly putting the dogs at risk. Or perhaps they became aware only after this sad incident? As to the second sentence, I highly doubt this family (or any victims' families in these "tragic" situations) are sitting at their computers reading the comments section of as part of their mourning process. Narcissistic much? Lastly, here is an excerpt from the story (notably, written with quite interesting sentence and paragraph structures): "Ticknor said both dogs crossed the road she lives on with her husband Brian and two children, Taylor and Meena. Ticknor saw the dogs AND CALLED THEM BACK. As the dogs CROSSED THE ROAD TO COME HOME, a silver late-model truck struck both dogs. THEY WERE COMING BACK ACROSS WHEN THEY WERE HIT, Ticknor said. [Emphasis added]" So, aside from whether or not the dogs should have been on leashes or tie-outs, it appears from the owner's own quote that instead of going TO the dogs and securing them, she instead called them back to her house, which required them to RE-cross the road, and only then were the struck by a vehicle. None of which excuses the driver if it actually was an intentional act, but all of which would constitute contributory negligence. Maybe pointing that out is lacking in compassion, but journalism is primarily intended to disseminate facts, not make people feel good. {/soapbox}


Wed, Mar 10, 2010 : 10:18 p.m.

"Given how much concern has been raised about our moderation of this discussion, we plan to step back and reassess our guidelines and our moderating decisions on this story." Drag your feet and we will all move on. I suspect that is what you are waiting for. There are plenty of places on Mlive to voice my opinion without coming to!

Duane Collicott

Wed, Mar 10, 2010 : 9:39 p.m.

"They probably don't need commenters on to tell them that" And commenters don't need nannies to tell them what to say or not to say. Get over yourselves.


Wed, Mar 10, 2010 : 9:04 p.m.

While I believe that we need to be careful when commenting on certain events. It seems that persons are able to make all kinds of accusations in the body of a story and even in the comments as long as the comments agree with the accuser. I saw a dog hit and killed tonight by a girl that had no chance to avoid the collision. I suspect she will have more than one sleepless night through no fault of hers. Animal lovers always get the benefit of the doubt when THEY make accusations. While I have no problem with removing some comments. I have had some of mine removed in the past and after taking another look I did not object as my comments might have been off base. I made no comment on the dogs but wanted to. Either you will give people a chance to voice their opinions with restraint or you won't have any one to moderate.


Wed, Mar 10, 2010 : 4:29 p.m.

This paper's bias towards the dog owners and hasty persecution of the driver who struck the dogs betrays the amateurish and unprofessional nature of this publication. The owners need to realize that if they're going to make a public plea for assistance, they are likely to face some questioning and possibly criticism.

Bob Needham

Wed, Mar 10, 2010 : 3:35 p.m.

These two comments critical of our comment moderation on the story about two dogs hit by a truck have been moved here: Comments were removed because they violated our "conversation guidelines" Censorship of comments sounds like we are moving towards a socialistic obama nation, way to go staff. It's simple enough to understand that if you aren't in control of your dogs and they run in to the road and get killed it's your fault for not being in control of your animals that you love. This is sad and nobody wishes for their dogs to get hit and killed but use common sense. has posted a plethora of stories that are controversial in nature and then censors readers comments that are posted. Sling Blade My comment was removed despite the fact that I did not assign blame to the dog owners for the dogs' deaths - I ONLY cited two contradicting statements given by the owner and urged OTHER pet owners to take care of their pets. not only that, there's a comment IMMEDIATELY after the removal notice that says the same dang things. For F's sake, get over yourselves! Did ANY of you pass the reading comprehension part of standardized testing? genericreg


Wed, Feb 24, 2010 : 9:56 p.m.

You moderators are getting sort of ridiculous. YOu decide nearly randomly what is "harassing" speech and what is "off topic". I have had 2 comments removed for these things and what you are doing is quelling discussion and conversation. I appreciate that you are "trying to keep discussion on track" and be a peaceful atmosphere, but when we disagree with each other (the whole point of discussion, no?), are we not allowed to discuss freely? this week, I have lost a lot of respect for what you are trying to do in replacing the print version of the A2 news--at least their pages had a place for more dynamic discussion with opinions allowed. WHat are you afraid of?

Macabre Sunset

Tue, Feb 23, 2010 : 1:03 a.m.

You're missing the point. You're treating comment streams as if they are part of some record that has to hold up to whatever whimsical standard each one of you conjures up at a moment's notice. By doing so, you're deleting remarks that are actually on-topic, because the topic has changed. You're censoring people who didn't even come close to breaking any rule. That makes people dislike you, distrust you, think you're perhaps mentally challenged. Most importantly, you've lost respect. Ever had a discussion around the proverbial water cooler? Topics change. If you have three discussions going about the fact there were eight inches of snow, people will talk about all sorts of things. Snow removal, shoveling, where to buy a snow blower, global warming, the record snow storms of 1975, what happens when a kitty cat first steps in the snow. Whatever. From what you've said, someone just doesn't get it. I'd give you my full theory about the demise of the A2 News, but that, too, would be off-topic. It once was a great paper, but the wrong people rose to the top. Obviously, that's carried over to this project. You still, after 20 years of steady decline, do not understand your community.

Macabre Sunset

Mon, Feb 22, 2010 : 8:58 p.m.

The sudden removal of all the global warming commentary from one of your THREE stories about the snow storm is the perfect example of you having too many cooks stirring this pot. All it takes is one "editor" in a bad mood to remove a whole series of posts. Those weren't off-topic any more than 100 other things are every single day. That one definitely looks for reasons to remove posts rather than reasons to include people. She's not very smart. There needs to be some consistency on your side. And I think you'd get better commentary if people respected you.


Sat, Feb 20, 2010 : 4:42 p.m.

I have to agree with LocalResident on his point. When there was an ongoing dialog about a van/bicyclist accident there were all kinds of comments and accusations about both the driver and the bicyclist long before a trial! It would appear that different moderators have different standards.


Sat, Feb 20, 2010 : 2:27 p.m.

Wow, I had no idea this article was here until my comment got moved here. I haven't had time to read through this yet, but I am eager to do so. The constant removal of comments on this website is actually quite comical. I find it ironic that I post my opinion in the "YOUR VOICE" dialog box, only to find your staff members constantly deleting them because I've violated some type of rule. Why bother having a comment section if you don't allow your readers to voice their opinions? You'd be better off just disabling this feature, since they're so heavily filtered anyhow. You are unable to have an intelligent opinion, conversation, or discussion here because of this. This truly is a joke, and I will no longer be reading.. and telling fellow readers to do so as well. On an article titled, "Pittsfield Township police arrest drunken driver accused of causing 3-car crash" I made a comment about how the person should be charged with a DUI and what a selfish act it is... only to find my opinion quickly deleted because we cannot assume this idiot is guilty. hahahhahahahaa. The ARTICLE ITSELF states that she has a BAC of.22 based on the police report. So it's unreasonable for your reader/site supporter/YOUR VOICE user/a person who wants to add valuable content to your site, comment about a DUI because we cannot assume she had been drinking? Wow, just wow.

Hot Sam

Sat, Feb 20, 2010 : 1:15 p.m.

Some of us had some valid points that remain to be heard...

Hot Sam

Sat, Feb 20, 2010 : 9:17 a.m.

Was in a discussion regarding the supreme court decision on funding...seems to not take comments...have you shut down this discussion? It seemed rather civil....


Thu, Feb 18, 2010 : 10:51 a.m.

Here is a link to a discussion on's moderation policy taking place over on It centers around taking down a comment written in all caps WHICH IS NOT AGAINST ANY POLICY LISTED IN THE GUIDLINES, SHOWING THAT AA.COM CONTINUES TO ARBITRAILY REMOVE COMMENTS;cpage=1#comment-89242 Be careful, Mark doesn't moderate his site, so things can get a little crazy over there, with the lively and informative debates and all...

Jim Knight

Thu, Feb 11, 2010 : 11:29 a.m.

Dr. Billy: Race is part of the discussion on that thread, and people are free to chime in as long as they avoid personal attacks. By the way, I reposted your comment on that thread.

Mumbambu, Esq.

Thu, Feb 11, 2010 : 10:06 a.m.

Tony, or someone: Could you explain the rationale behind the deletions and those comments that are being allowed on the most recent article on Matthew Freeman? It is so frustrating to try to be part of a good conversation and then have it just deleted. I'd also think it would be great if the whole string of comments could be posted as a comment here. Thanks!


Tue, Feb 9, 2010 : 6:44 a.m.

By slow to take down the comments and we've learned from that I'm assuming you mean we'll continue to have what a appears to be an utterly random process for moderation because one of the posts I directly referred to above is still up, and you have totally ignored the main thrust of my question. I would really like to know why you were so fast to pull my posts, which I don't believe violated your written policy, but took days to pull Midtowner's post(s) which used insulting language directed at me and were clearly against your policy. My posts were longer so they were more obvious? I post more so I'm watched more? What? Two of my posts, which were removed, spent two paragraphs questioning why my previous post was removed and not the original offending post. You removed that one twice. I know the part questioning enforcement of the comment policy was off topic, but 75% of the post gave facts defending myself and my position. It took a third (also removed) comment before someone finally went back and removed the original, offending post, even though I flagged it at the outset. For that matter, who looks at flagged posts? The original post by Midtowner was a clear personal attack and that would be obvious to anyone who read it; reading my response to it would make it more obvious. So that leads me to ask who is doing the reading, and are they paying attention? When staff does leave editorial notes they tend to fall into two categories, either off topic or containing personal attacks. I got a hogging the topic post once. All of this is usually wrapped in some form of keeping the discussion relevant, but in my case, my post was filled with verifiable fact. Doesn't removing such posts in fact hinder the discussion? In my opinion, flagging and removal should be reserved for name calling and misinformation, but here again, I flagged post that were full of both, and you did not remove them. With this kind of track record, how can we help but question your moderation practices and explanations of it? I frankly don't care how hard it is to moderate this site; poor, having such a hard time stepping on the first amendment. Wait, stop, I know, this is a private enterprise so you can print or remove what you choose; but your actions are damaging your reputation as members of the Third Estate. Perhaps if your staff wasn't so busy making sure all the commentators were playing nice, there would be time for some more in depth coverage of the news. Or, I might suggest, no comment section at all is preferable to you deeming who has something relevant to say. Those policies seem to be working out just fine for most major news sites. If you must moderate (an for the record, no one asked you to) transparency, fairness, and openness are the only way to go, no matter how much extra work you wind up with. After all folks, you did this to yourselves. If you are going to moderate, especially if you are not going to really pay attention to the thread (it certainly appears that way in my case) then you will never be free of questions regarding the choices you make. You will only make it worse by not including a least the most basic editorial note. You need to step up your game, ladies and gentlemen, the public grows impatient. Sigh. Where are Woody and his machine when you need them?

Paul the Malcontent

Mon, Feb 8, 2010 : 4:13 p.m.

@Tony, re: your answer to Andy: Isn't there a way to automate the entire moderation process that would make it easier for the moderators, while ideally also do the following: 1) notify the poster of the removal, 2) provide a copy of the removed post, 3) give a brief explanation of the reasoning behind the removal, 4) give contact information for the moderator (or some other 'appeals' process) if poster needs further clarification, and 6) insert a "A comment has been removed for violating our commentary guidelines" post along with a link to this page.

Macabre Sunset

Sat, Feb 6, 2010 : 6:22 p.m.

Tony, while I appreciate your response, I don't think you guys are doing a good job here. I know it must be tough for those of you who think of yourselves as journalists to be reduced to bloggers. But there's such an arrogance in the way comments are deleted, whether they violate the guidelines or just disagree with one staffer's point of view. It makes all of you look like hacks. The Ann Arbor News was once an award-winning newspaper. This is just a blog. And when I point out that whining that the police made an error in a press release and that justifies really screwing up a story about a girl in very real and immediate danger? My comment chastising the excuse-mongering of your staffer was immediately deleted. You guys might be getting a good hit count, but you are trashing your reputations in the process. The newspaper industry is dying because people like you just don't understand journalism.

Paul the Malcontent

Sat, Feb 6, 2010 : 5:08 p.m.

Here's a new twist to moderation, from February 6, 2010, around noon, @ "A comment was removed because of excessive length. We welcome discussion, but please keep your comments to a reasonable length." More guidance please.


Sat, Feb 6, 2010 : 3:37 p.m.

I thought I'd come over to this thread and ask why several posts by Midtowner, which were directed at me and were clear personal attacks on myself and my credibility, were allowed to stand. These posts have been lies or misdirections wrapped in personal insults, and are in clear violation of your comment policy. The first post, even though I had flagged it, as offensive was not removed for two days. It stated quite clearly that I was being paid to spread propaganda, and that my information was not to be trusted. My response was removed four times before the original personal attack by Midtowner was removed. While I my response was aggressive, I did not call Midtowner names, I did not swear. I refuted vague and misleading information posted by Midtowner, and questioned his motives. This post was removed with no editorial note. I then repeated my defense of myself, toning down my response to Midtowner, and questioning's enforcement of their comment policy. Again, I will admit this post had an aggressive tone, but did not contain personal insults or foul language. This post was removed twice with no editorial note. I then posted a totally toned done version, omitting any aggressive language (note: it's not like I was threatening the guy, I was just being real sarcastic) and at that point, you removed all of the offending posts from the thread and left the following editorial note: A number of comments have been removed because they violated our conversation guidelines. We welcome debate and disagreement, but we discourage having the discussion taken over by commenters who are primarily going back and forth at each other. Please keep your conversation civil, and please share the conversation with others. I have no problem with that, but you allowed someone to leave a post that was clearly directed at me and was clearly an attempt to damage and discredit me and did not remove it, even after it was flagged! Why can't I defend myself against this? I want to say that I hate flagging. I have never done it until I was attacked directly on this site. On a site that does not attempt to moderate, it can get carried away easily, but the point can be hammered out sooner or later and others can weigh in if they want to further the discussion. On this site, because you remove personal attacks, flagging can become the only option. Midtowner put made statements in his post that can easily be proven false, but others were nothing but attacks on my credibility. He said I was a paid propagandist, for cry'n out loud! If you don't police that of course I'm going to respond! I will gladly debate the facts of an issue civilly, but I will rebuff that kind of personal attack with the strongest language. I don't think it's fair to penalize me for that. Here is today's post by Midtowner, in response to a post I left several days earlier. Up until this point, the thread was what I thought an interesting conversation on the Ypsilanti Budget. "get another clue andy. please. my father was the dpw director in ludington for 12 years. the dpw budget doesn't come from property taxes. it comes from state gas taxes. it can't be spent on police or fire. it has to be spent on dpw. i agree with you that we should cut council's pay. maybe even eliminate it all together, but other than that you have no idea about what you're talking about." Again, I have flagged this post, and left the following response: "Midtowner, you are wrong again. The DPW budget comes from the general fund and can be used anywhere else in the budget. There is specific state money for roads/trunk lines. Please stop following me around and insulting me every time I post, especilay if you have no facts to back up what you are saying." I guess I should have probably left out the you are wrong part, but here again, he makes a statement that can be easily disproved, wrapped in get a clue, andy and you have no idea what you are talking about. I'll gladly debate the point on the DPW budget, but doesn't the framing of the statement put it in violation of comment policy? I understand that trying to moderate a public forum like this is not easy. But you have to leave an editorial note, otherwise you are bound to exasperate the situation, and you don't give the chance for a response in what you deem as a more appropriate manner. And if you remove a comment that is clearly written in response to an personal attack, you really need to make sure to go back and look at the original comment again, and leave that clear editorial note explaining the action you take. Or we can come over here and have this discussion over and over again. Thanks for your time.

Macabre Sunset

Thu, Feb 4, 2010 : 3:34 p.m.

Tony, people with an Ypsilanti address pay taxes to support the Ypsi Lincoln schools. It's no more misleading than the post office. We've been calling the high school Ypsi Lincoln for decades. Anyway, re-read what Eli said at the beginning of this comment section. It's bleeping infuriating to have a comment removed arbitrarily. Nowhere in the guidelines does it indicate that school districts must be addressed directly, not by the post office district that contains them. In fact, there's nothing in the guidelines that even remotely refers to any standard of "misleading," according to whatever dolt happens to be reading. It's certainly not a consistent standard. There are tons of comments in the football section that mislead people in that the person posting doesn't know much about football and has a strange view of how it works. I thought you were going to do a better job of moderating. Try to explain why posts were removed. Think of why you have a comment section. You want the community involved, you want to give them a place to discuss the news. Now try and imagine how you'd feel if you were in a forum and your comments were frequently removed. No explanation, no consistency. It varies from person to person and you have too many people moderating, some of whom frankly have no clue what they're doing. Makes you feel the community is run by bozos. Now, instead of having community members who are grateful to have a place to express themselves, you have members who don't feel comfortable with you. Always worried about having posts deleted, afraid to say what they really think. I'm someone who will test the lines, obviously. I've had at least a couple of dozen posts removed, maybe a handful of those truly deserved. The rest, just an arbitrary decision like that one. I'm obviously not trolling - I only post under one name and I've tried to add to most discussions. The point being you people are looking for reasons to remove posts rather than reasons to include people. Your guidelines are mawkish and inconsistent. That is your right and I'm free to go, but I prefer to tell you what I think. And it's that you have people moderating who don't know what they're doing. Why wouldn't you, instead of completely deleting my comment, add a mod-note at the bottom explaining that while the Lincoln district has an Ypsilanti address, you are deathly afraid people will be confused by my comment and think badly of the Ypsilanti school district instead? Even though it's spelled out in the story.

Macabre Sunset

Thu, Feb 4, 2010 : 2:29 p.m.

I am absolutely stunned that my comment was removed from the story on Ypsi-Lincoln getting suckered by the who's who people. It was on topic, it didn't insult anyone. A true WTF moment on your part. A2com has a bad apple in the bunch, no question about it. Your choice obviously, but you definitely have an idiot with a hyper-active delete key in your office.

Paul the Malcontent

Thu, Jan 28, 2010 : 10:31 p.m.

@Tony: In your hypothetical rape scenario, you say "I think we'd all agree that if a woman were at a bar and raped by a man who followed her outside, it wouldn't be fair for someone to post a comment saying, 'Well, she shouldn't have been drinking.'" Actually, no, I don't think we all agree, which is why this moderation thread continues to be active. I would agree that YOU ( shouldn't say that, and I understand that comments like that could be hurtful to relatives of the alleged victim, but EVEN IDIOTS (or JERKS, to use your terminology) ARE ENTITLED TO THEIR VIEWPOINT; if the comment had instead referred to the alleged victim as a "whore" or some other derogatory term, or EXPLICITLY stated that she "deserved to be raped," I wouldn't take issue with it being deleted (although you could instead move any deleted comments to a separate thread, without a time stamp or any reference to the original article, so everyone can see what is being deleted and if certain commentators are repeat offenders). I also understand that these threads can get hijacked by the back and forth arguing about the propriety of such a statement instead of sticking to the article's original subject, and those pissing matches need to be prevented or shutdown, but that intervention can be done (or at least begun) by a post or message from a moderator to the involved parties. Frankly, unless you are going to be just as vigorous in deleting any and all posts that only indicate support or well-wishes for the alleged victim too, you end up performing EDITORIAL OVERSIGHT of the comments INSTEAD OF merely MAINTAINING CIVILITY amongst the commentators. That is your prerogative, but it does not seem to fulfill your stated intentions "to provide a LIVELY community forum where readers can talk to us and talk TO EACH OTHER" and to allow posts that "EXPRESS A DIFFERENT VIEWPOINT." I would add my vote to the other commentators that have suggested you incorporate a "thumbs-up/thumbs-down" or some other similar voting system for the comments that would allow some self-moderation by the members of the community you're attempting to cultivate.


Wed, Jan 27, 2010 : 7:48 p.m.

Why is it wrong for someone to presume guilt or not about a person in an article? They are not the judge nor the jury, they are only giving their own opinion? If the point is NOT running on and on why is it wrong for someone to relate a death to a political point? Say you guys have an article about a 10 yr old that shot himself with his dad's gun, it is wrong for someone to commment and say "if gun laws were stricter, maybe his life could have been saved?" For as liberal of a town as Ann Arbor (been here over 35 yrs), this is not a good representation of freedom of speech, which most of us ANN ARBORIGHTS have been passionate about for years!


Fri, Jan 22, 2010 : 10:50 a.m.

My comment was removed from the story because I questioned on their moderation policy prior to explaining actual information relating to the story, yet they allow these to remain: "they just needed a ride.they borrowed it" -d obryan "They were looking for a foreclosed home to occupy. Set them free." -survivor "did they drive it like they stole it?" -dading "They aren't homeless any more." -David Briegel "Hey, at least they were able to sleep in a nice jail cell." -walker101 "Hey, County-wide Zip Car Service... Why not?" -Seasoned Cit And these above comments contribute to the story???? I suppose calling homeless people "flotsom and jetsom" (sic) is not considered a personal attack but questioning is.

Chrysta Cherrie

Tue, Jan 19, 2010 : 7:54 p.m.

The following comment posted by BlueInSC has been moved here from its original post on a story about Big Ten signing projections: " aims to provide a lively community forum where readers can talk to us and talk to each other - in a neighborly way, of course. The best comments and posts are those that add more information to the story, express a different viewpoint or help create intelligent debate. We welcome constructive debate on our site, but we won't tolerate jerks. Don't be that guy - avoid comments or posts that are off topic, offensive, contain personal attacks or that don't further the conversation. We encourage everyone who registers on our site to use their real name, or at least a consistent screen name. We reserve the right to pre-moderate comments and delete or edit comments." This is crystal clear, yet referring to Rich Rodriguez as "The King" does not violate the moderation policy above. The previous posts are neither off-topic nor derogatory. Please cease the abuse of this policy for pure censorship purposes.


Fri, Jan 8, 2010 : 1:33 p.m.

Follow-up: did contact me privately to explain my post removal, I had just not received their email prior to my last post. It is appreciated that their reasoning was explained, and I will be more careful in the future. No personal attack was intended on my part, but I am receptive to the point that it could have been construed that way. Regards.


Fri, Jan 8, 2010 : 11:21 a.m.

Well, I'm new to the site as a poster, although I had been reading since inception. Just had 2 posts in a Poll about Pets removed without any explanation, while they allowed a regular poster to make two posts complaining about the Poll itself and not contributing anything to the issue at hand. Sure seems like double standards to me. Guess they have already file my name in the 'Jerk' folder, so I'm off to another site where my "freedom of Speech" is still intact. Been real, you have my email address if you ever feel the urge to explain yourselves.


Wed, Jan 6, 2010 : 11:13 a.m.

Any chance of getting my original or even second comment re-posted? Chrysta clearly has an overzealous interpretation of the posting guidelines. Again, I can clearly understand not calling for specific punishment in the case of a tragic death. The story in question does not involve a death, and furthermore there were people calling for life in prison, which would also be a specific punishment.

Chrysta Cherrie

Tue, Jan 5, 2010 : 8:25 p.m.

A comment posted by Stan on another story was moved here because it addresses our moderation policy: Chrysta, your own guidelines state that specific punishments should not be discussed in regards to tragic deaths. My comment that castration should be an option for a violent crime that did not lead to a death is a valid opinion and did not violate your guidelines. Others have suggested life in prison and there comment has been left up. That sounds like a pretty specific punishment to me. I know that this probably won't be left up because it addresses the moderation, but I'd ask that you either 1) Move this to the not so easy to find moderation thread or 2) re-post my original comments.

Paul the Malcontent

Sun, Jan 3, 2010 : 4:11 p.m.

@ypsidog: Please be advised that the proper term for us bad people is "jerks," although I personally prefer "malcontent."


Sun, Jan 3, 2010 : 11:20 a.m.

You have invited me to discuss your moderation policies, but because no discussion is allowed, how can I accept your invitation? I'll just make a statement, people, don't waste your time commenting unless you agree 110% and above all, don't make waves all you bad people!!

Paul the Malcontent

Sat, Jan 2, 2010 : 7:26 p.m.

"...we won't tolerate jerks." This comment violates's guidelines and should be removed.


Mon, Dec 14, 2009 : 4:36 p.m.

djm billy m is it just me or does it seem that the first shot that is allowed is by left wing liberials who start with the name calling? I think A2 is typical of ann arborites " its ok to think,believe,do anything you want as long as we agree with it.If not you're stupid,ignorant.bigioted do not understand reality"it seems A2 is always happy to promote this idea


Mon, Dec 14, 2009 : 3:52 p.m.

I must agree with the previous two posts, the comment by rusty shackleford and kate boyd were both outside of thread. Neither had anything to do with the spirit of the article or the conference in Copenhagen, so HEY MODERATOR, WHAT GIVES? Pick and choose what standards are for certain people? Not fair. Either play nice, be fair and don't blatantly show favoritism. So high school....


Mon, Dec 14, 2009 : 2:59 p.m.

Why was'nt kate boyds comments removed?I guess calling a group of people trolls,militia, regilious nutcase's is not a personal attack. another fine job by A2


Fri, Dec 11, 2009 : 2:40 p.m.

My comments have been removed because of whatever reasoning the moderator chooses...most of the time I believe that anything that the moderators disagree with is removed. I've seen posts that have in some degree violated the "standards" in my opinion but if the moderator agrees, they seem to stand as is. Really a shame to not have a discussion where all sides and opines are heard...kinda like Europe in the late 30's or Russia in the 50's...


Wed, Dec 9, 2009 : 9:38 a.m.

As someone who's comments are removed almost immediately after being posted, I have to say that it seems like a HUGE waste to contract a company to moderate comments 24 hours a day. But I do hope that my comments are keeping them busy.


Wed, Dec 9, 2009 : 9:36 a.m.

Fwiw, I rarely comment now but I've never had (to my knowledge) any comments removed. Still, this seems like an amazing waste of the staff's time, monitoring this stuff. Either allow comments or don't. You guys are using subjective criteria and it varies greatly between moderators. Is this really worth the energy?

Jody Durkacs

Fri, Dec 4, 2009 : 11:27 a.m.

I think you guys are overdoing it with moderation of the shooting comments. We are adults. We can handle it. It doesn't make sense to me that you bill yourselves as this big community news website open to public discourse on your articles, but when a tragedy strikes, it's time to batten down the hatches. Every news article and comment thread can't be sunshine and roses. Sure, inflammatory or lewd comments should be removed, but I doubt all the comments removed fit under those categories. Let us discuss an important event that occurred in our community! I know its your site and you can do what you wish, I just think it detracts from your usefulness if you can't handle honest discussion of a 'sensitive' topic.

Alan Benard

Thu, Dec 3, 2009 : 9:50 a.m.

Be sure to bury every comment about moderation of ongoing stories here in this graveyard where the discussion will not embarrass Tony or Laurel. We wouldn't want that.

Chrysta Cherrie

Tue, Nov 24, 2009 : 7:03 p.m.

A comment posted by Michael on another story was moved here because it addresses our moderation policy: Thanks Stefanie! FWIW, I honestly don't know why supports comments. They seem to be mostly useless overall, and detract from your brand image in my eyes. I guess they do tend to make the site "sticky", but at what cost? I'm not referring just to this article, but to most comments I have seen here over the past few weeks. I am going to give up on comments. Just no quality, rationality, or linearity to most discussions. Although the comments seem less reactionary or psychotic than those at I just hide those comments.;&gt;) Also, FWIW, I would be willing to do analysis and statistical support for articles such as average home price, etc., in AA &amp; Washtenaw county if you have access to the data. The input you folks get from Realtors is fairly limited. They are basically sales people who *always* seem to think the worst is over, and that it is a good time to buy. Real estate is a lagging indicator. Which means that 2012 may be the earlist that we see any real rebound in Michigan overall, based on the recent U of M projections of 15%+ unemployment through 2011. Much better to look at things like the same home sales prices that the Wall Street Journal and others use. "Median" prices are unduly influenced by things such as the recent $8K tax credit for first time buyers, etc. Please e-mail me if you like if you have my address here. Or post. Cheers! Good luck.


Mon, Nov 23, 2009 : 11:31 p.m.

What on earth is wrong with speaking about moderation. I do not know what you are trying to say. My point was: I am a victim of this kind of intimidation, and it is, indeed frightening. It is the Parent who was at fault her, in addition to her "mischievous". I also added, that they did not deserve to be shot with ANY type of message. I have a BS in Psychology, a BFA in Painting, and a PhD in Philosophy. I said nothing to hurt, or insult anyone. Who are you to call me a "jerk"? Name-calling is not permitted on most sites. I am deeply insulted. julie a. woods

Tony Dearing

Thu, Nov 19, 2009 : 5:49 p.m.

@genericreg, the rate of comments being removed has stayed pretty constant over the past couple of months, at about three or four per 100. To spot check that, I just looked back over the past 200 comments, and we removed nine. We don't post a comment on the site every single time we remove a comment. Sometimes, we e-mail the commenter directly, explain why the comment was removed and let them know that by removing a word or two, they could post the comment again and it would stay up. We get constant feedback on our moderating on a very, very regular basis, but your suggestion that we bring together some of our community advisory panel members for a check-up on our moderating policies is a good one, and I'll follow up on that.

Chrysta Cherrie

Wed, Nov 18, 2009 : 6:30 p.m.

A comment posted by Marvin Face on another story was moved here because it addresses our moderation policy: While I post under my real name, I absolutely do not agree that other people be requird to do so. If that happens, you will likely see the comments and traffic on this site drop dramatically. I do like the moderation and will completely understand if this comment is deleted.

Tony Dearing

Mon, Nov 9, 2009 : 1:43 p.m.

Here is the number of comments posted on our site by month, acccording to Omniture: August -- 6,229 September -- 11,310 October -- 19,078


Mon, Nov 9, 2009 : 1:18 p.m.

"Billy, we continue to remove very few comments from the site." Just because you say it, doesn't make it so. I would call that a lie. If it's not a lie, then one has to wonder how low the total number of comments has dropped. Of course you'll remove less comments with less people commenting.

Tony Dearing

Mon, Nov 9, 2009 : 10:27 a.m.

Billy, we continue to remove very few comments from the site. If you post a comment and we remove it, and you don't understand why, you can raise that here or in an e-mail to me and I'll be glad to address it.


Mon, Nov 9, 2009 : 2:08 a.m.

Well Tony, your censorship has failed. Here we are not even a month later and nothing has change. Comments are consistently removed that only technically violate policy. You censor entire ideas and concepts based on something as weak handed as "insults" or "name calling." Hey, welcome to the internet, is this your first computer? You didn't even have a rebuttal to me when confronted about this, you just ignored the email and went about your business. And now I laugh at you because you're about to delete this post, as I'm sure you've deleted many other posts critical of the censorship here. Remember, once you delete this comment you've just admitted how wrong you are.

Tony Dearing

Fri, Nov 6, 2009 : 2:09 p.m.

My apologies for what occurred here. We did not handle this properly. The story in question was about the robbery of a Bank of America branch. There were several comments posted on the story that were inappropriate and should have been removed, including one from David Bardallis. Here is the comment that David posted: Now Bank of America knows what the rest of us feel like since it's been robbing us blind with help from its buddies in Washington for the past year and change. David is not a member of our staff, but he regularly writes for us, blogging on local restaurants. You posted a response to David, and your response was removed, though it should not have been, as long as his comment still appeared on the site. Here is your response: David - really? Your comment on this violent crime is both hackneyed tripe and appalling. AND you freelance for Do the editors not care that snide office chatter is available on the forums? Please display some journalistic pride by moving the writers' sophomoric humor to the Op-ed pages and their small talk ("Great article co-worker. I will try that next time I'm at Zingerman's") to Twitter. "Your Voice" -- that's a hoot! Davids comment has been removed from the site, as have several other inappropriate comments. Since Davids comment is no longer on the site, we are not re-posting your comment, but I acknowledge here this was not well-handed and I offer you my apologies. We have reviewed this, and we will work harder to do a good, consistent job of moderating on all posts in the future.

stinky mcgee

Fri, Nov 6, 2009 : 1:16 a.m.

Can someone explain why my post on "Masked gunmen rob Ann Arbor bank this morning" was deleted? Can you return a copy to me too? I'm guessing it's because it was "about our moderation and not the story itself" but I was commenting on how one of your employees -- freelance, but getting paid by you I assume -- found a violent act so amusing. So I have to comment here? This disgruntled poster graveyard? That's banishing my post, and I think that's your intention. If there's a buzzword or way to edit the post so it could still appear on the page, please let me know. Your freelancer quipped and I thought it deserved a response from your readers. Keep writers' jokes and small talk out of "Your Voice" if that's the way it's gonna be. I think I'll just cancel my home delivery subscription and print out the freelancer's comments. All the employess at the local Bank of America should get a kick out of it tomorrow, and it will make them real proud of their hometown newspaper. Hopefully, it will also make them forget they just had a gun shoved in their face and forget how they felt when they thought they'd see their family again., "don't be that guy".

Mumbambu, Esq.

Mon, Nov 2, 2009 : 11:15 a.m.

It would be interesting to write an article about the moderation and provide examples of things that were removed and why and also some that were not remvoed and why. I think it would be interesting and facilitate more interesting conversation. Heck, you could even throw in one of thos nifty voting posts.

Tony Dearing

Thu, Oct 29, 2009 : 5:02 p.m.

Billy, I went back and reviewed the comments on the post you cite here. I did see one comment that constituted a personal attack, and that comment should have been removed at the time. Other comments included references to commenters and vehement disagreement, but I didn't see personal attacks in them. We do need to be consistent, and we're always working toward that consistency. If you see comments that you think violate our commenting guidelines, please flag them.

Mumbambu, Esq.

Sun, Oct 18, 2009 : 8:16 a.m.

Tony, Many thanks for the response. Your reasoning makes sense while I continue to disagree that my first comment should have been deleted. I feel better after I saw that the third iteration of my comment was not deleted. My frustration was that I felt my comment was being censored by a moderator who was looking for an excuse to eliminate a comment that used "the twin towers". I understand the need to get away from constant name calling and back and forth. I still think a bit more leeway would help! Thanks again for your response, Tony!

Tony Dearing

Fri, Oct 16, 2009 : 6:45 p.m.

Glad to discuss how we moderate comments. Here's the first comment you posted, which was taken down. "Both men were at fault" Yea, just like the people who died in the twin towers should have thought about their families before they went to work at a terrorist target. Morons. The comment itself is fine. Our only concern with it was that we ask commenters not call each other names. If you had posted exactly the same comment, but without the word "morons'' it would not have been removed. The second comment repeated the first comment, without the "moron'' and that would have been fine, too, except that it went on to talk about our moderating. We ask that comments on on the story be about the story, and that comments about our moderating be posted here, which is what you did after we unpublished your second comment. Bottom line: We give commenters pretty wide latitude, but we ask you not to call people names, and when you disagree with our moderation, send me an e-mail or post your objection here and we'll discuss it.

Mumbambu, Esq.

Fri, Oct 16, 2009 : 3:36 p.m.

Tony...boy am I hot. I'd love to have the last two comments I had deleted moved here so they could be discussed as to their "appropriateness". I know a lot of what I can say can be condescedning, sarcastic and funny but I never post something I think to be inappropriate. It would be great to have a place to go for commenters to review deleted comments and discuss them further with staff. I appreciate's continued interest in this important discussion.

Mumbambu, Esq.

Wed, Oct 14, 2009 : 9:27 a.m.

With all the comments here about the percieved over-moderation and zero instances (I'm aware of) where people have commented on how a comment should be deleted (not counting flag this post). Is it maybe time to test the waters on the other side of the moderation spectrum? We're losing valuable member of the commenting community.

Tony Dearing

Thu, Sep 24, 2009 : 2:55 p.m.

A comment posted by Top Cat on another story was moved here because it addresses our moderation policy. Here is the comment: Chrysta, is it really your role here to inject your opinions when you are also providing the forum and serving as moderator? The comment is directed at Chrysta Cherrie, who is our entertainment producer/copy editor, and who posted a comment. On this site, our staffers are clearly identified as such, as we do allow our staff members to comment, as long as they follow the conversation guidelines that apply to any other community member. To see Chrysta's comment the post she was commenting on, go here:

Tony Dearing

Thu, Sep 17, 2009 : 10:27 a.m.

A comment from EyeHeartA2 is being moved here because it discusses our moderation policy. Here is the comment: OK. This censorship is out of control. I criticized the article and questioned the bias of your star reporter and it is GONE. Get a grip and run a paper/blog whatever and quit running a propaganda machine.

Paul Taylor

Tue, Sep 15, 2009 : 5:19 p.m.

Moderation seems to be distributed unevenly. I could accept that one of my heated (figuratively) comments was removed on the original puppy-beating story, if not for the fact that a far more LITERALLY imflammatory post remains, as of this time, on the follow-up story.


Wed, Sep 9, 2009 : 12:18 p.m.

It has become quite evident that the "Ann Arbor dot com" organization has decided to run censorship at its highest level. Lets see - had a comment removed, a short one, because it referred to the FACT that Jets require a longer runway. In fact, the runway needs to be lengthened to accomodate bigger jets (which is what I said). Anyone who knows the AA Airport should also know that jets (small ones) have indeed used AA Airport as a FBO (aviation speak AA dot com, look it up). In fact, they ran LearJets (the small one) for "executive service". So, the size of jets is off limits. The FACT that bigger jets make more noise than smaller ones, was also removed. Again, the article was about AA Airport trying to get its runway lengthened. Oh, I know, its because you expect the Prius version of a jet to come into AA Airport and make no noise, right? Probably not in your lifetime, guys. So once again, the ugly head of Ann Arbor political correctness has arisen. You may think you are the voice of righteousness, but I assure you, although you may be resting on a bed of shoe deodorants and scented tissues, under that bed lies the muck and mire and stench of communism, socialism and facism. You may say whatever you want, so long as it is in agreement with the LOUDEST group, not necessarily even the majority. Political Correctness and censorship do not live in a free society. But a few simple questions before I go - has anyone clocked the distance to Willow Run Airport (YIP) from Ann Arbor? And the reason we need a bigger airfield for what is supposed to be a GA field is, what? People with million dollar aircraft and multi-million dollar aircraft can't spring another $20 for the taxi ride? this isn't an electronic newspaper. This is just an electronic version of a poster ridden kiosk on the diag. I don't read those any more, either.

Tony Dearing

Tue, Sep 8, 2009 : 10:24 a.m.

Alan, I went back and reviewed the three comments you questioned. The first comment violated our guidelines and it was appropriate for us to remove it. I thought your second comment was fine, and I have re-published it. I'm looking into why it was removed, and I'll follow up on that with our moderation team. Your third comment was removed because it addressed our moderation, rather than the story, but my preference is that such comments be moved to this post, rather than deleted, and we're always open to a discussion here about our moderation.


Sat, Sep 5, 2009 : 9:47 p.m.

You still did not print my original comment.


Sat, Sep 5, 2009 : 8:48 p.m.

My comment did not post on michigan football it was about the abused puppy and a former ann arbor probation officer who was fired for pending animal abuse charges. A dead horse was found in his driveway. It is big news in Jackson County! Why is there not a decent paper with editorials and opinion in ann arbor????!!!!

Tony Dearing

Sat, Sep 5, 2009 : 8:27 p.m.

A comment by barks74 was moved here because it dealt with our moderation policies. Here is the comment: Ann deletes any material that is not suited to their "opinion". This is not community journalism. This is censorship and not right It is a shame that ann arbor does not have a online discussion board to discuss current issues!

Alan Goldsmith

Sat, Sep 5, 2009 : 6:56 a.m.

Just had three comments pulled about racism being a possible issue in the anti-Obama speech to schools attacks. One wasn't so subtle, the second one was more to the point and diplomatic and the third was a bit more anger filled and made the point I could slander Free Press reporters with hatred and vile-filled comments but if I bring up racism I got deleted. When you include quotes from Fox News and the Washington Times attacking the President, you don't think it's a fair response that racism might possibly be benind some of the attacks? I'm curious about your thought process.


Fri, Sep 4, 2009 : 8:29 a.m.

Huge thanks for actually moderating posts here!!!! I am repulsed by typical comments on news stories in other places.

Paul Taylor

Tue, Sep 1, 2009 : 6:47 p.m.

Perhaps it is time to consider alternatives to staff moderation. There are plenty of healthy discussions taking place on web sites where "jerks" are allowed to post to their heart's content, and others (readers, not specifically staff) are empowered to moderate them up or down, thus removing them from the average reader's screen (unless said reader chooses to read comments 'below' a certain level of moderation). I think has a robust and healthy system. Rather than simply flag comments, readers who are offended should be able to rate them, moving them up or down in a reader's feed. The inability to comment on stories and have your insights (warts and all) viewed and integrated into the discussion will only drive people who are otherwise actively engaged to stop reading, which will only realize, for you, a drab daily thread, rather than a robust discussion, "jerks" and all. Then, moderators will be freed up to report the news.

Paul Taylor

Tue, Sep 1, 2009 : 6:38 p.m.

I was right!!!


Fri, Aug 21, 2009 : 2:27 p.m.

I meant to say I was glad the first one was added back, not that it was deleted in the first place. We really need the ability to edit our own posts for grammar/spelling mistakes.


Fri, Aug 21, 2009 : 2:25 p.m.

I'm happy to see my first of now three (sorry about that) consecutive posts was at one point deleted. I'm glad that someone added the comment back, because I believe it was a legitimate gripe.


Fri, Aug 21, 2009 : 10:16 a.m.

Wow, this is getting really frustrating. We really should be able to have legitimate views without them getting deleted.


Fri, Aug 21, 2009 : 10:01 a.m.

I'm seriously getting tired of ONE person's subjectivity with removing comments. I got an email that stated because I didn't like soccer and called some fans who will fight to the death "soccer hooligans". I was told that is racially offensive. Again, as a paying customer to a product that I do really like to this point (I LOVE the Michigan Football coverage), this one person's subjectivity is really starting to weigh on me.


Tue, Aug 18, 2009 : 11:45 a.m.

I knew Jimmy Hoffa was not dead.

Duane Collicott

Tue, Aug 18, 2009 : 8:17 a.m.

Yes, jh, and you must also somehow prove to him that you're not John Hancock, Jesse Helms, Jimi Hendrix, John Henry, or Jack Hanna.

Marvin Face

Mon, Aug 17, 2009 : 4:17 p.m.

jh, do not be baited by "David Cahill" (who I actually think is Sabra Briere's screen name...after all, they do hold the same views on most things). He is known on several other websites to have used this same ploy of trying to "guess" the identity of commenters and has been proven wrong every time. He likely wants you to "out" yourself to prove his point about using your real name. Don't feed the trolls.


Mon, Aug 17, 2009 : 10:21 a.m.

Also, the fact that you allow fake names can create unusual results. In the parking structure article there is a comment by "jh". From its content, I am pretty sure that jh is our mayor, John Hieftje. Why should be be given anonymity? David Cahill I am not John Hieftje, stop trying to guess. There's nothing wrong with pen names, if for no other reason than they require a reader to interact with the content of a comment, rather than their preconceived notions of the individual in question. Sure, they can be abused by trolls, but I don't think that's what I did in my comment on the parking structure article. I stated my opinion, one which I believe broadened the issue under discussion in a relevant fashion, linked to additional resources that supported my statement and might be of interest to others, and I did it without being offensive or calling our any individuals who posted on the article. Speculating on the identity of an online pseudonym rather than addressing the comment itself = massive fail!

Marvin Face

Sat, Aug 15, 2009 : 9:23 p.m.

I agree with David Cahill. Those of us using our real names take real offense at those who don't!


Fri, Aug 14, 2009 : 3:48 p.m.

The Ann Arbor dotcom censors, er, moderators, seem to delete any comments that negatively reflect on article topics, even if there is no profanity or vulgarity. All of my comments about Zingermans being overpriced were removed from the article on Zingermans Roashouse, and all of the other comments on the location of the closing Krogers I left about people shoplifting from that store were removed. Apparently, the local watchdogs still can't bark.


Fri, Aug 14, 2009 : 10:22 a.m.

Hey, anyone living in the lower peninsula is a troll, ya live under the bridge. Some people like to use nicknames because it shows they are a little more creative, it is called a pen name in literature. check it out on wikipedia. As for my pen name, i cannot take credit for it on my own, I garnered it off of a spray painted sign at Riverside Park circa 1986.

David Cahill

Fri, Aug 14, 2009 : 8:32 a.m.

I approve of strong moderation. Keep it up! A requirement that people use their real names unless they have a good reason not to would greatly improve the atmosphere here. I'm sure knows that there is an entire subculture of people called "trolls" who do nothing but dump anonymous negative comments into blogs. The trolls are here, just as they were on If you want to get rid of the trolls, be firm and insist on real names. Your competition for news is the Ann Arbor Chronicle. It also allows comments. However, the majority of its commenters use real names. The majority of's commenters use fake names. Guess which discussions are taken more seriously? Also, the fact that you allow fake names can create unusual results. In the parking structure article there is a comment by "jh". From its content, I am pretty sure that jh is our mayor, John Hieftje. Why should be be given anonymity?

Duane Collicott

Fri, Aug 14, 2009 : 8:20 a.m.

treetowncartel is right, and cantleaveA2 is as well. Comment activity is down, and it's no surprise to me. The arbitrary and deletion of comments tells people that either their own comments will be deleted or they see that other people's comments, that they just read a moment ago, have been deleted. Either way, it creates a lack of trust and interest and makes people feel it's pointless to contribute. There's no point in talking to people when some of them, even if they're the sillier ones, keep getting removed from the room, because you feel like you might get removed next if you make a mistake and say something the boss doesn't like. The first comment on the last swan story was funny and fit in well with the story. It was deleted, then put back in, then deleted again. What's with that? On that same page there is a double-posting. It's still there, even after the moderators were told it was there. Arbitrary. When this site launched, it had some real momentum and buy-in from those of us who were excited about it (and tried hard to forgive its horrid, glorified-blog format), and we got involved and personally invested. However, our excitement has now been dampened, and the site has regressed to what will be it's regular audience who leave fascinating, insightful comments like, "Yeah, I like that musician, too!" or "Thank you for writing this article." The renewal mailing for the printed version came in the mail the other day, and it went right into the recycling box. If you ever decide to allow real discussion, let me know and I'll consider participating again.


Wed, Aug 12, 2009 : 1:17 p.m.

I want to thank you for removing my comment from one of the crime stories this morning. Since it said virtually the same thing as the comment that is currently there I will assume it was removed simply because I had the audacity to critique your previous censorship. You have made your point, I won't waste my time to comment on, let alone read, your articles in the future.


Tue, Aug 11, 2009 : 1:13 p.m.

It kind of seems like there are a lot less comments to the articles in general this week. I don't know if that is correlated with the moderation guidelines, or the news thats fit to print. What do others think?

Tony Dearing

Tue, Aug 11, 2009 : 7:29 a.m.

Billy and genericreg, there's always going to be a some subjectivity in deciding what adds to the conversation, but we've increasingly tried to be lenient on that issue, and that's resulting in fewer comments being unpublished. We're removing so few comments now that we can probably just deal with each other directly if we unpublish one of your comments and you want to know why.


Mon, Aug 10, 2009 : 8:28 a.m.

Tony, I am sure that you think you and your team are doing a good thing, saving us with your heavy handed moderating, but your not. With the exception of obscene content and vulgarities, I think you should leave up posts until they are flagged. Don't use your judgement on what furthers along a conversation. I think people would rather have 100% of the conversation rather than your select 96%...honestly, if you're spending the time reading 100 comments on a story, do you think you would care if you had to skip 4 b/c they were off topic?! "Oh my goodness, that's 12 seconds of my life I will never get back! I wish there was someone who's job it was to delete that commentors post and opinions before I had to read them!"

Tony Dearing

Sun, Aug 9, 2009 : 8:17 a.m.

Shepard, I take concerns about our moderation seriously. I went back and reviewed the 150 most recent comments posted on our site. We unpublished six of them. I looked at the six comments we took down, and none of them could reasonably be described as polite or articulate. We've been working very hard to find the right level of moderation, and I would not argue that our moderation has been perfect from the start, but it's something we discuss on a daily basis and we've improved our touch. I don't think we'll ever get to the point where 100 percent of the comments are published, but 96 percent represents a pretty open conversation.


Sat, Aug 8, 2009 : 11:33 a.m. is deleting posts that MLive never would have. While this is not obviously not a first amendment violation, the ethics involved do relate. While the ramblings of nuts, cranks and haters need to go, it appears to me that AAN is deleting reasonably polite, articulate posts that do no align with their political platform... I suggest AAN manage or replace the moderators - I will some management next week.

Mumbambu, Esq.

Fri, Aug 7, 2009 : 2:21 p.m.

I think what Ghost is getting at is that we ARE the community. Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?


Fri, Aug 7, 2009 : 2:12 p.m.

Stephanie, you're obviously also hearing other members of the community saying that they want to moderate themselves through a flagging system. so what makes one sides oppinion more important than the other? and as a matter of fact I have NOT read one posting asking for more moderation, but have read several representing the exact opposite viewpoint. In the intrest of transperancy, would you be willing to point out some postings that call for more moderation, and then compare that to the number of postings asking for less moderation? I would think that a newspaper in ANN ARBOR would tend to be more supportive of people who want to speak their mind, than a small minority of people who want to controll what is said and heard.

Mumbambu, Esq.

Fri, Aug 7, 2009 : 1:26 p.m.

So it's ok to call the people that get robbed dumb in a comment but you can't call the anonymous posters that say it the same thing?

Tony Dearing

Fri, Aug 7, 2009 : 11:49 a.m.

Moose, public officials are accountable to the public and someone who believes a public official is not properly performing his or her duties is allowed to say that, and explain way. However, to identify a public official by name and merely say that person shouldn't have her job, or should be asked to retire, without any discussion of that person's performance, is taking a personal shot at someone, and our conversation guidelines don't allow that. Ghost, we do welcome conversation about our moderation policy and this is the right place to raise those questions. Your post from yesterday has been restored. Our comment guidelines ask people to add something to the conversation and to be reasonably civil. Some commenters use sarcasm to make their point, and we give people pretty wide latitude on sarcasm, as long as they retain some level of civility and don't turn the sarcasm into a personal attack on someone else. However, we do also ask that the comment add something to the discussion. A comment that merely says the swans committed suicide is flippant and adds nothing to the discussion. If you think people overreacted, you're welcome to say that, and that contributes to the conversation.

Top Cat

Fri, Aug 7, 2009 : 9:37 a.m.

Any post containing profanity or a vulgarity should be removed instantly. Agree or disagree, we should be civilized and respectful.

Matt Hampel

Thu, Aug 6, 2009 : 6:15 p.m.

treetowncartel: If you use Firefox, you can right-click (or control-click on the Mac) in any text field and select "Check spelling".


Thu, Aug 6, 2009 : 4:01 p.m.

One other thing, can you put a spelll checker on the comment box? When you are trying to fire something off real quick without proofing mistakes seem to be abundant.


Thu, Aug 6, 2009 : 3:47 p.m.

Mr. Vielemetti, I guess I am still going through withdrawal related to the demise of withdrawal. It is too bad it is not still around for the advent of, they would have had a field day n there. I also still kind of miss the snooze. It nurtured my reading skills many moon as i sat in the living room sharing it with my dad, and it was even my first paycheck as a delivery boy. I know you all are ferreting out the product in its infancy and I really do hope you can keep an informative media going in the community. Thanks for the information, unfortunately I pop in here now and then for a break from my work and the downtime I can find at home. So, that is your job my friend, do it and do it well.


Thu, Aug 6, 2009 : 2:56 p.m.

Would it be too much to ask for a discussion board for those of us who like a litlle jovial, sarcastic banter, but are not out to be a jerk, offensive or make personal attacks on others? Sometime it is good to break things up a bit. Ustypes live in this community too. Thsat was one nice thing about some of the discussions on m-live is that you could do that and also refer to other current stories on a different thread. I understand you are trying to give the people what your poles show they want, but in some sense it becomes as pallatable as dry burnt toast. Although, I guess I should hand out some props to those of you monitoring this specific discussion board, since it allows some of that to take place and has been pretty tolerant about what people put on here. Anyhow, enjoy the weekend, I am headed up north to celebrate the arrival of Summer this weekend.

Tony Dearing

Thu, Aug 6, 2009 : 1:22 p.m.

A comment from Dave Trollson was moved here because it involves our moderation policy. Here's his comment: It's estimated that a2dotcom censors about 80% of the comments it recieves. Is there any truth to that Tony? My response is that everyone who registers on our site agrees to our user guidelines and we do not consider it censorship to remove the comments of people who violate our guidelines. In the less than two weeks we've been in existence, we have published some 3,000 comments on this site. We have a very small number of users, maybe five or six, who have consistently had most of their comments removed, and we would be very glad to work with those people to help them understand our guidelines and comment regularly.


Thu, Aug 6, 2009 : 11:37 a.m.

Noam Chomsky wouldn't like it one bit. The problem is the discussions can get above what the average reader or deleter can comprehend. It seems to be some type of stuck in a box of context effect here. But hey, it is associated with Ann Arbor, that explains a lot.


Wed, Aug 5, 2009 : 2 p.m.

I think there is a doable common ground here if you are worried about the flow of discussion in comment threads. I would recommend leaving the comments in place with the content replaced with your reasoning for deletion. Have these comments marked with a deleted or something other class and have a default css rule to hide these comments from view. Have a link near the top of the discussion to show deleted comments with a number of how many comments. I'm guessing this should be doable with some templating, css and a little javascript. This would allow you to keep your conversations on track while being completely transparent about what is going on. They can tell which comments were deleted and why. There is also no questions that can arise when some says "my comment on this thread was deleted" as it will all be in plain view. I can argue about whether I think offtopic or whatever policy is too much but I think this is a good first step at making things better.


Wed, Aug 5, 2009 : 1:10 p.m.

Ironic that a comment was removed from a section about removing comments. One suggestion: remove the message, but leave the name. If one person is always out-of-line, you can stop paying attention to that person. (like the "troll" list that people in the sports section maintain) One question: my comment was removed because it linked the sensationalism (and incorrect conclusions) of the swan story with the potential sensationalism of the child exploitation stories [which appeared in the same printed AAcom section]. Off topic? perhaps, but still relevant to a story the AAcom screwed up. Why can people mock the AAcom about running hypothetical "road-kill" beat stories, but real stories are off limit?

Duane Collicott

Wed, Aug 5, 2009 : 12:36 p.m.

Dave, you're right censorship is illegal. But this isn't censorship (though it is bad business). This is private property, and the owners have the right to allow or block any speech they want, just as you and I have that right on our own private property.

Matt Hampel

Wed, Aug 5, 2009 : 12:25 p.m.

Uh, no, private censorship is certainly not illegal. In fact, it's excellent. It keeps threads -- and this whole site -- from devolving into a stinging hive. I do support marking off-topic comments as such instead of removing them, though. It shows active consideration.


Wed, Aug 5, 2009 : 12:07 p.m.

It's called censorship, and it's illegal!!!


Wed, Aug 5, 2009 : 11:53 a.m.

I have to agree with eli, trek, et al. I would rather scroll through many "comment deleted due to being offtopic" with the name info and placeholder still there. It lets me know that moderation is taking place on that thread and why. The silent deletion on the other hand, including the random x posts were deleted, makes the conversation more jumbled, as comments refer to comments that are no longer there, and also more questionable. Silent deletion also gives the impression that you are not being transparent about things and not to be trusted. Please be more obvious about your deletions. If people get the impression that you are overzealous due to the amount of them in some threads, then so be it. At least I can trust that you are being honest about what you are doing even if I may or may not agree. In short I think you should change the way you delete comments first. Then we can have a more civil discussion on your actual deletion/moderation policy as it will be clear what you are actually doing.

Duane Collicott

Wed, Aug 5, 2009 : 11:36 a.m.

Amalie - at the same time, you're getting a strong message from your actual active users about your overuse of moderation. Topics can evolve and branch in the comments section, and if one person heads off one way and others don't follow, that branch will die. If others follow, then perhaps that's where the topic should go. One useful way to exercise your moderation powers would be to delete one of the duplicate posts on that page. I'm guessing Trek won't complain.


Wed, Aug 5, 2009 : 10:57 a.m.

Uhm, Mr. Fitzpatric, the Federalist Papers were written under pen names. And to get off topic, It is too bad that the concept of "free association" is not allowed on the discussion of the articles. Getting off topic allows people to discuss and use a bit of wit at the same time.

Duane Collicott

Wed, Aug 5, 2009 : 10:55 a.m.

When you click on a person's name and go to the profile page, I think it would be good to add more notes. In addition to things like, "1 hour ago / Commented on Circus returns to Ypsilanti on Friday," it would be accurate have, for certain staff members, "5 minutes ago / deleted a bunch of harmless comments from Lodi Township swans died of blunt trauma consistent with being struck by a car, DNR says."

Tony Dearing

Mon, Aug 3, 2009 : 6:30 p.m.

Two comment posted on another story have been moved to this conversation because they deal with our moderation policy. To see the story they were originally posted on, go to: Here is a comment posted by Macabre Sunset: I said highest compensation, not highest pay. And asking the paper to shut down my voice because you don't like what I have to say isn't the sign of a community-minded individual. I could just as easily choose the name David Smith, or Ron Fitzpatrick, and no one would be the wiser. In fact, those of you who have lived your entire lives with the relative anonymity of a common name probably don't understand the ramifications of what you're asking. Here is a comment posted by David Fitzpatrick: The Ann Arbor News would not publish Letters to the Editor w/o a verifiable name (emphasis on verifiable--cannot be made up). I see no reason why, the News's progeny, shouldn't have the same policy. Far from asking you to shut down your voice, I'm asking that your voice be YOUR voice, not that of some made up name. I have written Letters to the Editor to the A2 News and, apparently, my name is not as common as you suggest, because I have received hate mail in reply. It has not stopped me from exercising my right to express my opinion. Democracy demands full and open debate; the anonymity of fake names subverts that process.


Sun, Aug 2, 2009 : 11:17 a.m.

Can you at least give me a link as to whom I may contact to have my comments deleted? It's been a week. This is horrible customer service. Also, there needs to be an option to delete one's own profile/account. I don't see where that is either. Are we here forever and our comments here forever once we log on?


Sat, Aug 1, 2009 : 4:50 p.m.

Ironically, I actually WANT some of my posts removed, but unfortunately this forum gives me no means to do so. I actually flagged them in an effort to see them removed (I changed my mind on my opinion) but they still sit there, untouched, in the Community Comment section (WCHO/budget cuts). Sigh.


Fri, Jul 31, 2009 : 3:13 p.m.

It's a joke to even imply readers have any control at all of content here on this site if they can't even remove their own posts/content. It's like "better get this right the first try..."


Fri, Jul 31, 2009 : 3:11 p.m.

I sorta think the ability to delete or edit one's comments is a NO-BRAINER and am really surprised the blogs and comments don't have this functionality yet. I won't be posting or commenting until thhey do as I don't want my typos floating around in cybersppace without some abbilityy to fixxx them myselfs.(sic) Earlier, I even flagged one of my own comments in frustation from my inability to delete it myself as I didn't like it anymore.

Duane Collicott

Thu, Jul 30, 2009 : 11:26 p.m., you have been given some good input about comments. It is obviously taken seriously by your readers, and hopefully it will be by you, too. If you wait until the rewrite of the site that you are planning for several months from now, it may be too late. Here are some more ideas: - Threaded comments. - Allow editing and deleting of one's own posts. Several people have asked you for this. - Provide a notification when others comment on the same stories I comment on. - Implement a reader-input scoring system, and collapse comments that receive a negative score below a certain number. That way they won't take up space, but they will still be there if somebody wants to see them.


Thu, Jul 30, 2009 : 8:06 p.m.

Why can't I edit or at the very least DELETE my OWN comments yet? This is horrible if I commit a typo or write something I later change my mind about and then can't go back and delete. This will discourage me from posting in the future unless it is fixed, and I'm sure I won't be the only one. What an online conversation killer = no way to delete, correct, or edit one's own posts.

Macabre Sunset

Thu, Jul 30, 2009 : 12:01 a.m.

I was reading a story today that had four consecutive comments removed. While I think it's a good idea to let people know when you've removed a comment, that kind of display tells me that maybe you're using the red pen excessively. I've never seen a forum where people have successfully remained "on topic" with every post. Some items just don't foment that much discussion, but there's an interesting tangent. I'd focus, instead, on trying to eliminate the posters who are here solely to cause trouble (haven't seen any so far, but MLive's football discussion had quite a few, so I'm sure they're around). If you find yourself in a position where you're reading every single post solely to determine whether it belongs on the forum, you're going to wind up with a fairly dull community. And just wait until you hit high school football season. You're going to be removing posts every 22 seconds.

Trek Glowacki

Wed, Jul 29, 2009 : 9:46 p.m.

I'm with Eli, Matt Hampel and Ryan on this. The current comment policy is far to aggressive. With the exception of spam, leave the comment in situ, hidden under a "this comment has been deleted" notice. Don't actually delete it. Allow readers to view the comment, in its original location, if desired. I've already come back to several articles to find other's comments (ones I considered totally on-topic) have disappeared without notice. Worse, several people have extended the conversation to other locations with quotes from now non-existent comments. I'm already automatically running `diff` against the site, tracking changes. Maybe we should bundle this as a service and host it under the auspices of the library as a local media watchdog.


Wed, Jul 29, 2009 : 5:11 p.m.

I agree with genericreg's complaint about the subjectivity of the removal of posts. In the bike accident story, my initial comment about the issue of bicyclists and drivers sharing the road. Many people have stated that it was only a matter of time before a tragic event like this occurred. My post was directly relevant to the story at hand. I'm a subscriber to the print product and want this new company to succeed. I'd prefer to not be alienated by having my posts subjectively removed.

Mumbambu, Esq.

Wed, Jul 29, 2009 : 10:07 a.m.

Since I've already had three comments removed, I thought I'd post a message here. The removal of comments, for example, on the recent story where a bicyclists was killed in a crash makes total sense. I don't understand how any of my comments have violated any of the reasonable guidance in this post. I THOUGHT the whole point was to foster a feeling of community and to offer the ability to contribute. I have been a vocal supporter of in a sea of negativity. I have resisted the strong temptation to write about which comments have been deleted since it is not my attempt to rile anyone else up. Humor, sarcasm and discussion between commenters needs to be allowed when appropriate. If it's not, commenters will quickly disappear and there will be no "community forum" to cultivate. When I inquired about my comments being deleted I was told none of my comments had been removed. Perhaps they were just lost in the shuffle of operating a new website. If they in fact were, no blood no foul. Might I recommend that when a comment is deleted the space where the comment was originally and the commenter's icon be spared with the comment being changed to something along the lines of "this comment has been removed by the moderator".

Cindy Heflin

Wed, Jul 29, 2009 : 6:35 a.m.

The following comment posted by cook1888 has been moved here from its original post on a story about a robbery at a drug store. It's here because the comment is about our moderation and not about the robbery itself. How Big Brother to remove comments you deem "off-topic." The FACT that the robbery occurred in the middle of the night and whether a store open as such a time is inherently unsafe is absolutely part of the topic.

Tony Dearing

Tue, Jul 28, 2009 : 6:54 p.m.

Macabre Sunset posted this comment on another story thread and I am moving his comment and my response to this discussion. I had removed a string of comments on a story about a robbery at a drug store. Here's his comment in response to that: I wasn't part of this discussion. But while I'm pleased that you're finally taking an active interest in moderating the comments on your site (MLive was a little out of control, mostly because of the one-note posters), I think you're erring on the opposite end now. This is how your community responded to the story. Sure, it would be nice if we all expressed proper outrage that this kind of thing happens in Ann Arbor - especially in an area that's considered relatively safe. But the reality is a judicial system that lets this type of offender off with a slap on the wrist. Over and over. So our society is different today. Since our politicians, protected by armed guards and living in the most exclusive neighborhoods, make the rules, they have no interest in the true cost of crime. Avoiding crime by reducing opportunity becomes the topic when a story like this comes out. I hope you reconsider over-moderating. I've been on message boards for more than a decade now, and there needs to be a careful balance in moderating. Not everyone can find it. This is your community, though, so I hope you're listening when it has something to say. Here's my reply to Macabre's concern: We do welcome challenges to our moderation, but I also want to assure you that we are listening to the community. Since we were first announced, we've heard from many people and what they have told us, clearly and consistently, is that they are disgusted by the way the conversation has deteriorated on other sites, and they have urged us to moderate in a way that keeps the conversation here worth reading. I agree with you that it's very hard to find the right level of moderation. But the comments I removed from the robbery story started off-point and deteriorated sadly from there. It was exactly the kind of conversation that people have seen on other sites and have told us they don't want here. So far, there's been a lot of good conversation on this site, and very few posts have been removed. You've been a frequent commenter on this site, and we welcome your continued comments. Our commenting guidelines allow for wide-ranging conversation and disagreement, and all we are seeking to do is apply them consistently.

Matt Hampel

Tue, Jul 28, 2009 : 10:47 a.m.

I still think that collapsing unwanted comments or posting a short note is preferable to deleting them entirely. I also think that plain-English explanations are much nicer than conciliatory language.

Bob Martel

Mon, Jul 27, 2009 : 8:13 p.m.

Hi Stephanie, I also encourage you to minimize or preferably eliminate anonymous postings as, in my experience, full disclosure (or lack of anonymity if you will) discourages the BS. As I've noted on a number of occasions, I will only post using my real name (note no "quotes" there) so that my reputation is on the line with each post. I believe that this philosophy eliminates a lot of the crap that can occur in these types of situations. All you need to do is visit the Free Press site to see the impact of anonymous posts on the discussion, they basically shut it down. Another way to look a this is to ask yourself: "how may anonymous letters to the editor do the MSM typically print?" B

eli neiburger

Mon, Jul 27, 2009 : 4:31 p.m.

The perception of the intent of the moderation can get away from you fast. When you remove a comment without publicly noting that a comment has been removed and what guidelines it broke, you drive people to post about their deleted comment elsewhere and provide their own documentation with commentary, usually turning their whole social network against the moderator. If you moderate transparently, people don't have to like your choices, but they'll be a lot less likely to take it to the streets. To build some credibility, comments can't disappear down the memory hole, there needs to be a post from a moderator in the thread that says what happened and why. This is the biggest difference between sites where the moderation works and sites where the moderation is a disaster. Hope you'll consider this approach.