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Comment is free (but please don’t abuse the privilege)

General / Sun 10th Dec 2023 at 01:00pm

AS the year draws to a close, may we gently remind readers that our comments section is supposed to be a forum for debate and not a hub for hate.

This may be the fourth time we have written a version of this appeal but it still needs to be said.

We have had to ban more people and remove more comments in 2022 and 2023 than at any other time in the past fifteen years of running digital publications.

We welcome a healthy debate on all subjects. As the historian Evelyn Beatrice Hall once said: “I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it”. Actually, we disagree with that but moving on.

There is no law against being negative, sucking the life out of a story, not listening, repetition etc.It may drive us mad, but hey ho, it is part of our job to embrace that.

But we will not tolerate racism, rudeness and aggression.

We are too busy to enter into a dialogue. If we feel the comment fails to community standard then the comment goes and if we feel it is persistent offender, the off you go.

We have a very busy political year next yearn(2024) and so we want it to be an opportunity for reasoned debate.

We also have a responsibility to uphold the law and not be a hub for not just hate but breaches civil law as well. So, if you think all councillor and council officials are “corrupt” but have no evidence apart from “It’s the truth” then not on our watch you don’t.

Again, if your comment on every housing story and crime story is “immigrants” then again, this probably isn’t the place for you. No..really…

You should also appreciate that with just under 20% of Harlow’s population non-UK born, then we want every corner of our site to be a welcoming place, a safe space.

Having mentioned repetition. If you are simply writing the same comment every day, then we wil probably remove all but the first comment.

There is no doubt that post-Covid, the fragile people are still a bit fragile and the angry people are even angrier.

We are not alone. Headteachers, hospital bosses, police officers, shop managers, MPs and councillors all bear witness to the wrath of the angry man and woman. They kick off very quickly and have no notion of compromise.

We take a zero tolerance approach to any harassment, malicious communication etc.

We want real people interacting with real people. In short, if we suspect one or two persons are using multiple identities, then we will simply put the IP address on our banned list.

Obviously we don’t mind pseudonyms but there are a few people who are getting a bit carried away.

So in short, be yourself. Please.

In the old days, there would simply be the Letter to the Editor. Sometimes signed and some times “name and address supplied”. We still offer that.

But the Times newspaper has just decided that all comments must have a real name attached to their comments.

We really don’t want to go there but it is tempting.

We keep an eye on the Facebook comments as well and all we ask is that people are considerate and respectful. Oh and contributors don’t leave themselves open to legal action. There is no such thing as free speech. It comes with rules, obligation, qualifications and lines.

May we say thank you to all who do contribute across all our platforms, whether it is the main website, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube etc.

We are a trusted, respected award winning news source with a local, national and international reputation. That has taken a lot of work and with that comes a lot of responsibility.

We have had over 17 million page views in the last four years. We want to make sure that YourHarlow is everyone’s Harlow and no-one feels excluded.

We want to thank everyone who looks in.

Anyway, be kind……

Michael Casey

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2 Comments for Comment is free (but please don’t abuse the privilege):

RayMo
2023-12-11 10:25:27

But I have something to say... I mean that .... er How do I express .. I would welcome a debate about the ... Ok you win, I'm out of here.

Colin from Portsmouth
2023-12-15 20:19:51

So Comment is Free but you still deleted my comment....this site leans to the Leftys for sure...I've taken a screenshot of this to prove it.....

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