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PuneTech Comment Policy

PuneTech is a for-the-community, by-the-community site, and comments by our readers play an important part of the content. However, to ensure that the discussion always stays healthy, constructive and safe, we occasionally have to delete some of the comments. This note lays out our comments policy to help the community understand what kinds of comments we delete, and why.

PuneTech comment policy – Short version

  if (the comment is not relevant to the article)
     We will delete it;
       /* take your irrelevant rambling elsewhere */

  else if (the comment is a personal attack)
     we will delete it;
       /* rude people not welcome here */

  else if (the comment has abusive language)
     we will delete it;
       /* we are trying to have a civil discussion here */

  else if (the comment exposes PuneTech to legal liability)
     we will delete it;
       /* we don't want to get sued
          that distracts from the purpose of this website
          more details below */

  else
     your comment is welcome;

In select cases, we might allow a comment in spite of violating one of the above rules, if it has other redeeming qualities. Also, if we delete a comment, and you really, really want your voice heard, we suggest a workaround that will allow the world to still see the comment.

PuneTech comment policy – Long version

Relevance

Our primary objective is to provide PuneTech readers with focused, relevant articles and discussions. Anything that distracts from this reduces the value of PuneTech for our readers. Hence, any comment that has nothing to do with the article (and trust me, we get a bunch of these), will be deleted (unless we find it very interesting in its own right). If you want a job, please post your resume on naukri.com – don’t post a comment here. If you find yourself compelled to beg for jobs on PuneTech, seriously consider changing careers.

Personal Attacks

We are trying to build a community here, not poison it. Something about the internet makes people more rude than they would be in real life. Please resist the temptation. We love a good argument, we are after all argumentative Indians. But please argue the issues. You might be surprised to discover that it can be done without attacking the character of the other person.

Abusive Language

If it is worth saying, it can be said in polite language. If you have abusive language in a boring comment, we’ll delete it. If you have abusive language in an interesting comment, we will, at our discretion, remove the offending words, or sentences. If you don’t want your comment mangled like this by us, use polite language.

Defamation

PuneTech is a non-commercial website that is run by us on a part-time basis. We make no money from PuneTech. Which means that we have neither the time, nor the money to get involved in legal issues. We cannot afford to retain lawyers to get accurate legal advice. In the absense of that, we have to make a guess based on our understanding of the law. And anything that we think exposes us to legal liability, will be deleted.

Here is our limited understanding of the law:

If something can hurt the reputation of another person or company, legally, we can publish it if and only if it is true.  This is tricky because we need to be sure of the truth before we feel safe. Just because it is on wikipedia, does not make it true. Just because Times of India published it, does not make it necessarily true. And we can be sued even if we are simply relaying info published by someone else.

Even if the damaging statements are contained in a comment made by a third-party commenter (i.e. somebody other than us) we are still obligated to remove the comment. Otherwise PuneTech can be held liable.

So it boils down to this: if we cannot verify the truth of a damaging claim in a comment, we will delete the comment.

Please note, just because it is true, does not necessarily mean that we will allow a comment. The earlier filters of relevance, rudeness, etc. still apply. If we are unsure about the “public good” of a true but damaging statement, we will delete the comment.

Other Objectionable Content

Other reasons why comments might fall afoul of the laws are: obscenity; hurting religious sentiments; promoting violence; against security of the state; or infringing of someone’s right to privacy. In most cases, these will get deleted for violating one of our earlier policies (e.g. irrelevance, personal attack, etc.) . In the rare case that the comment somehow manages to not violate any of the earlier policies, it can still get deleted for being against the law.

Workaround

When we delete one of your comments, we are not really preventing you from expressing yourself. Please feel free to go ahead and post it on your own blog. If for some reason, you are ashamed of putting your own comment on your own blog, go ahead and create a brand new blog on blogger.com just for holding this one comment. It’s easy, it’s free, and anybody can do it. Then post a link in the comments on PuneTech. If it is relevant to the post, we’ll probably allow the link to remain.

Suggestions

If you have any feedback for us, please leave a comment below, or send us an email. The comment is subject to the same policies (ha! ha!) unless we decide to change the policy based on your suggestion. In any case, we promise to read everything, even if we delete it.

Moderation

Comments on PuneTech are moderated. Which means that one of us might have to take a look and approve the comment before it appears on the site. Sometimes, it takes us a while to get around to doing this. Please be patient. Don’t post the comment multiple times. If you are unsure of whether your comment has reached our moderation queue, send us an email.

Further Reading

What I’ve learned from Hacker News by Paul Graham. A good introduction to the issues to be considered when deciding why and how to moderate comments on a site.

Free to blog but accountable you are. The Supreme Court of India weighs in on blogging and online expression. – Dhananjay Nene

Of blogs, bloggers and freedom of expression – Mutiny.in

Bloggers Legal Guide from EFF – Note this applies to US law, but still worth reading, as it does a great job of explaining the issues.

Acknowledgements

Thanks to Dhananjay Nene, Rohit Srivastwa, Amit Kumar Singh, Unmesh Mayekar, Manas Garg, Rohas Nagpal, and Debasis Nayak for discussions that helped us clarify our thinking and craft this policy. Note: this comment policy does not necessarily reflect the views of these people – it is just that they helped us while we were struggling to figure out what the comment policy should be.

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10 thoughts on “PuneTech Comment Policy”

  1. navin says:

    IamSB asked on twitter: if i say XYZ doesnt understand a thing abt technology. Will that comment b deleted as per your new guidelines?

    @IamSB, if you say XYZ doesn’t understand a thing about technology, and the rest of your comment gives reasons why, or gives counterarguments, or simply lists the specific technical issue on which you have a difference of opinion, your comment will certainly not be deleted.

    If you say “XYZ doesn’t understand a thing about technology” with no further explanation, then you are on the borderline. Basically, in my opinion, for a reader, this comment is not very useful. Chances are that we will delete it, unless there is something in the context or previous comments that makes this oneliner useful.

    Does that make sense?

  2. navin says:

    The following exchange happened between Sridharo and PuneTech over on twitter. Being reproduced here for the benefit of others:

    Sridharo: Changing ToS,Comments Policies…..this is what WEB is NOT about. 😐

    PuneTech: @sridharo, Web has always been about moderation. Every unmoderated forum gets taken over by idiots and trolls and becomes useless.

    Sridharo: @punetech Truly said.But you know in many cases,the comments actually enhance the post. Remember Slashdot?

    PuneTech: @sridharo that is why our comment policy encourages relevant comments (whether agreeing or disagreeing) and deleting irrelevant/illegal ones

    Sridharo: @punetech completely agree to your second case…rest all seem overdone…imho….

    Sridharo: @punetech Esp since the site is techie..a post about programming lang wouldnt have many ‘off the mark’ comments.We arent into philosophy 🙂

    PuneTech: @sridharo Right. most of our comments are relevant. But forced to define the comments policy after a few ‘off the mark’ recent comments.

  3. IamSB says:

    Okay now that does make sense.
    I just wonder what made you change these policies. You said on twitter that there were some off the mark comment, can you point us to them?

    1. navin says:

      @IamSB, here’s a longish answer to your question:

      1. The main comments that triggered this policy have been deleted and I cannot “resurrect” them for the purpose of this discussion because they were in the “defamation” category. Bringing that content back opens PuneTech up to legal liability.

      2. In one case, it was a long personal attack against the author of an article, not talking about the issues in the article, and had at least one factual inaccuracy. Had to delete that based on our understanding of defamation law.

      3. Here is another example of a comment that I had to delete:
      I have heard that you do not have any of your own software and u have mixed of pirated software and that is the reason when my Technical Person called you to visit your facility, he was told that you do not allow people inside later on we have come to know that you are having all pirated software but you do not have anything of your own

      I am able to reproduce it here because it does not give any indication of which company this comment is directed towards. But as soon as this were to be attached to a specific post (or contains name of the company) this is immediately defamatory, and grounds for suing. You would agree that this is not appropriate for PuneTech.

      4. In a third case, I had carried an excerpt from a news report of some software being developed in Pune. A commenter is pointing out that this software is stolen. I deleted it and let the commenter know why. Now they are pointing out that this was in the news some months ago. I can’t find the news item online, and I can’t carry the comment unless I confirm that the news item indeed exists and says what the commenter says. (Note: if the news item later turns out to be false, the said software company can sue PuneTech for damages. Yes, sadly, this is the law. I don’t think it is in the best interests of PuneTech to get into this.)

      In this particular case, a carefully worded comment that points to the source of the news might still be OK to put on PuneTech, because it does contain information that would be useful for the readers. If indeed there is dispute about the copyrights issues with some software, then it is our duty to inform the readers. But we need to tread very, very carefully. So we are still keeping a dialogue open with that commenter and hoping that we can reach a mutually agreeable comment that we feel can be carried without putting PuneTech in jeopardy.

      Makes sense?

      5. Requests for jobs! I post an article about company X. Some idiot posts a comment on PuneTech saying that they want a job with company X. This happens on a regular basis. In some cases in the past, I allowed these comments to remain, because we did not have a clear comment policy. Now we’re going to delete all such comments in the future.

      6. I’d like to re-assert that we do NOT have a problem with carrying comments that disagree with us, or with the author of the article. Take for example your interview on PuneTech. There were comments that disagreed with that article, but we left them in because they were each raising specific issues that they had a contention with. And lots of credit to you as well as the other commenters for keeping that discussion polite and civil.

  4. IamSB says:

    After the reading the details abt the comments that are getting moderated, I feel you are moving in the right direction. Now we, as readers of Punetech, can endorse the comment policy. Good job.

  5. navin says:

    I think it is always a good idea to read the relevant laws yourself to double check what the lawyers are telling you. I’ve often found that I understand the law better than some of the lawyers I know. With that in mind, I’ve posted on my blog the full text of the defamation law, and also a relevant snippet from the IT Act of 2000/2006. You should read it.

  6. navin says:

    Update 1: 3 March 2009. Added a link to a relevant Paul Graham article in the “Further Reading” section.

    Update 2: 3 March 2009. Added an acknowledgments section.

    Update 3: 4 March 2009. Added an exception to the “Relevance” rule. Now zero-content-praise comments are allowed in some cases.

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