Burning Man values the spirit of a civil community discourse. We think that a lively, on-topic public conversation is one of the best reasons to write and host a Facebook page and a blog, and that without comments, they’re more or less just another webpage.
That said, we also have a responsibility to maintain this space for the benefit of all our visitors. The comments made on the Burning Man Journal, our Facebook page, and our Instagram page will have the power add to or detract from the their general vibe, and it is our responsibility to see to it that they serve to enhance the experience of our visitors, rather than chasing them away.
That means that we expect commenters to identify themselves in their posts, and conduct themselves as they would as guests at a party, where spirited conversation is welcome, but unruly and rude behavior is not. It also means that our moderators can and will remove posts that they believe run counter to the spirit of civil discourse.
This page is our attempt to give you some idea of what we mean by “civil discourse” on the Burning Man Journal and our Facebook and Instagram pages.
Anonymous comments are not permitted here. Our contributors will identify themselves when we write posts; in turn, we want to know who you are and that there’s a real person behind the words you post. We’ve seen what can happen in spaces that make it easy for “hit and run” comments: things can go completely septic, fast.
Comment Censorship (There, We Said The C Word)
Trust us: we will not censor comments because your point of view is different from ours. We will, however, censor comments that we believe run counter to the spirit of civil discourse. We also may choose at times to turn off the comments feature on a specific post (before it’s posted), due to a variety of factors including subject matter, web traffic patterns and timing, or the author just plain not having the ability to engage in the dialogue at the time of the posting. Feel free to trackback and post your thoughts wherever you like. (We may turn comments on that entry later. We also think it’s bad practice to turn comments off mid-conversation, and will avoid doing so if we can.) We also turn off comments on posts after 2 weeks so that we can focus our moderator efforts on contemporary conversations, not on nuking the piles of spam (and little else) that get posted to old conversations.
When We’ll Moderate
If you’re aware of expected behaviors in this forum and make an effort to be polite, you’ll never find one of your comments removed. The spirit of civil discourse, however, might be different to everyone, so here, as we see it, is a partial list of violations of that spirit (and possible causes for a post’s removal). The list includes, but is not limited to:
- Overtly off-topic posts.
- Intentionally disrespectful or disruptive behavior.
- Spamming: our linking policy can be found below. Posts containing more than one URL, or any URL not relevant to the conversation, will be considered spam.
- Snide, rude, threatening personal comments about or directed at any person, be they other users, the moderators, Larry Harvey, other Burning Man staff, Burning Man volunteers, your own mother…we don’t care if you have a low opinion of someone — that’s your business. But this isn’t the place to get personal about it.
- The above applies to the Burning Man Journal authors too. If you’re going to talk smack about an entry, talk about the entry. Don’t attack the author.
- Impersonation of a member of the Burning Man staff. It’s one thing to produce satire – we get that – but another to falsely impersonate another person with the intent to mislead people who trust our website for information from us. Impersonation posts will be removed at the discretion of the moderators.
- Unnecessarily attitudinal or inflammatory language, or posts that attack a point of view without explaining why. Again, disagreement is okay, but there’s a difference between saying, “That idea will never work because I don’t think people will clean up after themselves the way you think they will,” and saying, “That idea will never work. It’s stupid, and anyone who believes that is an idiot.”
- Posts that contain vulgar or abusive language targeted at any group, be it ethnic, racial, religious, class-related, etc. We hope this goes without saying.
- Conversation killers. A comment that doesn’t add to the conversation because it changes the subject, wanders off onto a tangent, or attempts to bait readers into an off topic discussion may be removed.
- Content that knowingly violates the copyright, trademark, or trade secret of any individual or entity.
- Spam-whinging. We made that word up. By it we mean, “The same exact whiney complaint, repeated ad nauseum as often as possible, with ‘fingers in ears,’ no matter what anyone says to you, at the expense of evolving dialogue.” Dissenting opinions and debate are absolutely welcome here, but dead horses should be tied up outside. If your fellow commenters express that you sound like a broken record, they may be right. Hey, we know it sounds like something nobody would ever do on purpose, but you’d be surprised…
- Note: repeat offenders and known trolls may find their IP addresses banned.
All edits, post removals, and user actions are at the sole discretion of Burning Man and its moderators, and are subject to appeal only if you can somehow establish that you’ve seen the error of your ways AND if we are feeling particularly magnanimous and/or perky that day. Otherwise, post-removal decisions are final.
Usually if you find yourself moderated, you’ll find that if you go back and attempt to say the same thing while trying to be a bit nicer (gasp! yes, nicer!) that very same opinion will be entirely welcomed. (Go ahead, make fun of us for saying this. We don’t mind.)
“Hey, I was just ‘expressing myself’! What about Free Speech??”
Burning Man supports the right to free speech. We firmly believe you have the right to host what you want on your own website (so long, of course, as it doesn’t violate anyone else’s legal rights) – and we have that right too. Thus, if one of the things we don’t want on our site is your comment, we reserve the right to simply remove it. Our aim is to be as hands-off as possible and let you enjoy a spirited dialogue, but we retain the right and the responsibility to maintain this space in the manner consistent with the atmosphere we hope to create for our visitors.
You’ll never find one of your posts removed if you remain true to the policies and guidelines posted here. You won’t ever be censored just because we disagree with your opinion. If you find you ever do feel you were unduly censored from posting your opinions to the Burning Man Journal comments forum, please do feel free to start your own blog to talk about those feelings.
The Burning Man Journal has a limit of one (1) relevant URL per post. If your post contains a link, it automatically goes into moderation, which is monitored by humans, so it may take a bit before it gets approved. Posts containing irrelevant, off-topic, vulgar, immaterially commercial, or downright spamtastic links will be removed.
Deleting Old Comments
If you feel you have a valid reason for asking to have a previous comment removed, you can contact the moderators and make your case; however, the default answer is no.
This is a living document and may be updated over time. We welcome your help in upholding these policies. Please report unacceptable content by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or contacting one of the moderators directly.