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We’ve got a great bunch of commenters here at PopSci, and we love that readers can contribute their own opinions and expertise to our articles. But there’s been some confusion about our commenting policy lately, so it seems like a good idea to clear up what makes a good comment, and what kind of comment can result in a deletion or banning.

We’re honestly pretty lenient here–we don’t ban many commenters, and we don’t want to. But there are a few things that will lead to a commenter getting banned.

What Not to Post

1. Spam

Pretty obvious. Do not include any links in your comments that are not there exclusively to support whatever you’re saying. Any link to a site that sells anything (that, again, is not there to support an argument–something like an Amazon link to a product you like better than something we’ve reviewed would obviously be fine) will result in the comment being deleted. Any appearance of automated spam will result in the commenting account being banned.

2. “First”/”Slow News Day”

This sort of comment does not contribute to or initiate any sort of worthwhile discussion. Don’t do it.

3. Crazily Off Topic

We can’t stop, nor do we want to stop, the natural progression of discussion, even if it takes the comments section away from the topic of the original article. But that’s not the same as posting something completely irrelevant, without any sort of build-up. Please at least try to keep comments relevant.

4. Offensive Language

Sometimes we post articles that are not offensive themselves, but which can lead to hurtful or offensive language (this recent Sex Files column being a prime example). Any kind of racist, homophobic, or otherwise profane/offensive speech will result in a ban. Using a racial or homophobic slur is probably the quickest non-spam way to get yourself a one-way ticket to Banville.

In addition, try to refrain from attacking other commenters in ways that are particularly disrespectful or offensive. I know sometimes the guy who commented above you is just such a total idiot that you need to let him know, but please try to attack arguments and not people.

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