Comments from readers on any of Independent Online's public forums are made on the understanding that IOL operates in a particular legal and social framework. We're aware that international trends are for moderation-free comment services, but we believe these operate best once a fully-established community is in place. We're hoping to be able to make this service moderation-free in time, but in the meanwhile readers who submit comments accept that they are subject to the following constraints:
1. All comments are moderated, and subject to editing or to deletion. There is no guarantee that comments will be published and neither will there be any commitment on moderation turnaround times.
2. When you submit a comment, our decision to publish will be based on whether your comment conforms with a set of guidelines, which are:
* Park your flame-thrower at the door. Misunderstandings are possible when we use electronic communication. If you see something that you don't understand please ask questions, rather than accuse or condemn. We will edit or delete comments that are likely to inflame passions.
* Refrain from personal attacks, hate speech (see definition below), racism, bigotry, or profanity, or comments that may expose IOL to defamation lawsuits under South African law (see definition below).
* Your comment should be relevant to the original post and subsequent discussion.
3. No discussion will be entered into on our moderation decisions.
4. IOL reserves the right to close discussion on a particular issue, and to close the entire comments service if necessary.
5. IOL reserves the right not to open comments on all stories. In particular, we do not open comments on stories which cover South African court cases, starting from the time at which a person or persons is or are arrested for the alleged crime.
6. We've asked for your email address in case we need to contact you, but it will not be published with your comment, nor will it be published anywhere else.
7. If you want to make a formal complaint or have spotted a mistake on the site, please don't use the post a comment to let us know: rather use the Report button that is on each comment..
When you suspect that somebody is a troll (someone who comes online to cause trouble), you might try responding with a polite, mild message, or ignore the comment. However, if the person persists and seems to enjoy being unpleasant, the only effective position is summed up as follows: The only way to deal with trolls is to limit your reaction to reminding others not to respond to trolls.
The South African constitution says (section 16, Chapter 2 – Bill of Rights):
16. Freedom of expression
* Everyone has the right to freedom of expression, which includes
- freedom of the press and other media;
- freedom to receive or impart information or ideas;
- freedom of artistic creativity; and
- academic freedom and freedom of scientific research.
* The right in subsection (1) does not extend to:
- propaganda for war
- incitement of imminent violence; or
- advocacy of hatred that is based on race, ethnicity, gender or religion, and that constitutes incitement to cause harm.
“The publication of words or behaviour concerning a person that tend to injure the good name of that person, with the intention of injuring that person and without grounds of justification." - Source: Reporting the Courts by Kevin Ritchie.
In terms of the user agreement, Independent Online, its subsidiaries, employees, contractors and officers and its editor take no responsibility for the accuracy or appropriateness of any comments on the site. Any opinion expressed by IOL staffers does not necessarily reflect the opinions of Independent Online, its editor, subsidiaries, contractors and officers.