'Your hair smells nice'. If they can smell your hair, they're too close. Picture: freeimages.com

IOL is changing the way it handles your comments in order to make it easier for you to join in the conversations on issues of the day and to cut the amount of time it takes for your contributions to get on to the site.

We’re going to be using a facility called Disqus and readers will have to register before they can post. This only takes seconds if you choose to use social media accounts that have links with Disqus. These include Twitter and Facebook.

The new system means comments will no longer be moderated by IOL editors.

We hope that this registration process will stop the trolls in their tracks, improving the quality of debate on our sites. We will also be able to open far more of our stories for commenting than resources allowed in the past.

Readers will be encouraged to report racist, sexist, abusive or otherwise unacceptable comments and these will be immediately taken off the site until approved by IOL.

Repeat offenders will be barred from commenting and will have to spew their vitriol elsewhere.

The current comments facility will be suspended completely at the moment we switch over to Disqus, which will be on Thursday February 23, 2012. Any ongoing debates at that point will unfortunately then end in that format.

Terms and conditions

Reported comments will be evaluated in the context of the guidelines below, so please bear them in mind when using our new service.

* 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.

* Refrain from personal attacks, hate speech, 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 story and subsequent discussion.

* IOL reserves the right to close discussion on a particular issue, and to close the entire comments service if necessary.

* IOL reserves the right not to open comments on specific stories

* Your email address will not be published with your comment, nor will it be published anywhere else.

If you want to make a formal complaint about a comment, hover over the comment to activate the Report facility. However, if you think the story itself is incorrect, PLEASE don't use the comment form to tell us. Rather use our feedback form at the bottom of any page on the site. - IOL