Amnesty!

You’ve been so good. Here’s your reward.

Effective today, virtually all blacklists and blocks that prevented readers from commenting on posts and tagging this site in social media have been removed.

It seemed like the right time. When presidential candidates talk about building walls, I remember the words of a wise president who urged another to tear down a wall.

The readers whose commenting privileges were disabled have been on their best behavior. They haven’t called out the amazing advocacy work we do on social media or sent toxic traffic our way. Maybe they’re warming up to our inclusive, egalitarian advocacy.

Here’s how things will change, starting now:

  • All blocked accounts on our Twitter feed have been unblocked. We love hearing from all of our readers and it pained me to cut off the conversation.
  • All blacklisted commenters can post again. We had a very short list of people whose commenting privileges were revoked, and each one was a difficult decision. But our moderation team believes in second chances.
  • Blocks on all other social media have been lifted, too. Social media is a conversation, and our writers and editors want to hear from you, even if you don’t agree with what we have to say.

With this amnesty, we’re also changing the way we view reader feedback. We’re moving from a more restrictive rule that quickly tags and blacklists commenters, to a more open-door policy that assumes the best of our audience.

Our moderation team has learned a few things about feedback. We’re determined to avoid the free-for-all that defined this site from 2007 to 2014, where many of you felt the comments were the “best” part of the site because they were an entertaining and almost uninterrupted snark-fest.

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On Twitter, although we unblocked all of our accounts, we’ll continue to keep a select few individuals on “mute.” This restriction is only reserved for a handful of accounts that continually try to provoke a social media brawl.

On Facebook, we’ll unblock all accounts except those of individuals who have advocated violence against the site or its writers.

Hey, we have to draw the line somewhere.

In the blog comments, although we’ve eliminated the blacklist, we will retain a whitelist. That means unless you have a proven track record of making helpful comments that conform to our reasonable comment policy, your feedback will still be held for moderation. If your posts are out of line, we will not approve them, but you will probably receive a notification from one of our moderators.

For a vast majority of our readers and commenters, that means you’re now free to comment and call out the stories on our site. And we’re letting you do it because we trust you.

See you in the comments.


Christopher Elliott

Christopher Elliott is an author, journalist and consumer advocate. You can read more about him on his personal website or check out his adventures on his family adventure travel site. Contact him at chris@elliott.org. Read more of Christopher's articles here.

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