Business & Economy

Revisiting VTDigger’s community guidelines

VTDigger is changing its commenting platform to Talk, a tool created by The Coral Project. Learn more about the transition and sign up before our posts switch over later this week.

[A]long with our new commenting platform, VTDigger is working to rethink the way we host reader responses on our site.

Our goal is always to engage readers in a constructive conversation about how to address the issues faced by our community. But in order to succeed in that, we need your help.

We strive to be fair and accurate in our reporting. In return, we ask that respondents stay civil and open-minded in their responses. Please keep in mind that what you write on this site can have an impact beyond the screen.

As always, there are multiple ways to engage with VTDigger. You can:

The comments section is just one piece of our effort to create an active community. But it’s a piece that tends to overshadow the rest.

While we moderate these areas carefully, we often hear feedback from users who have issues participating. Some believe we allow too much negativity to dominate; others say that filtering out their posts amounts to censorship.

In either case, we owe you some clarity. So we’ve updated our Community Guidelines to be more specific about what we’re looking for in reader responses — and about what will get your comments withheld or your account suspended.

Here’s what we’re looking for:

  • Direct responses to the article about how your experience relates the topic at hand
  • Factual information that enhances or provides context to the article
  • Thoughtful answers to questions raised by the article
  • Tips that could advance our reporting on the topic

Here’s what we plan to block from our comments section:

  • Arguments with other commenters
  • Repetitive talking points
  • Using an article about a specific topic to disparage a broad ideology
  • As always, hate speech and personal attacks

In short, treat your responses to VTDigger articles like brief letters to the editor. Do not treat the comments section like a chat room.

Please be aware that this may change the way your comments are moderated, even if you’ve been posting on this site for years. Our hope is that re-emphasizing civil and thoughtful responses will encourage new voices to enter the conversation, including those who may not have felt welcome in our comments section before.

We disagree with the notion that moderating comments is “censorship” — it’s a necessary method for ensuring that our community is inclusive and fair. As with our news coverage, we strive to be nonpartisan in our moderating. Our decisions are based on each submission’s adherence to our guidelines.

We’ve arrived at these guidelines after years of moderating discussions on VTDigger and listening to your feedback. We’ve also taken into account research provided by The Coral Project, the organization behind our new commenting platform, Talk.

Thoughts? Sign up for Talk and leave a comment below.


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Mike Dougherty

About Mike

Mike Dougherty is VTDigger’s digital editor. He is a DC-area native and studied journalism and music at New York University. Prior to joining VTDigger, Mike spent two years as a program coordinator for the Vermont Humanities Council. Before moving to Vermont in 2015, he spent seven years managing recording operations for the oral history nonprofit StoryCorps, assisted Magnum photographer Susan Meiselas, and contributed to the Brooklyn-based alt-weekly L Magazine.

Email: [email protected]

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VTDigger is now accepting letters to the editor. For information about our guidelines, and access to the letter form, please click here.


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