Main image of article Our New Guidelines on Discussions and Comments
I’ve written in the past about the guidelines we publish to make sure conversations and comments on Dice are courteous and on-point. (You can read them here.) Many of these are obvious: be courteous, don’t harass people, don’t say or link to anything that’s obscene, don’t spam, don’t violate laws. Our moderators review comments with the assumption that each one is relevant but, of course, that sometimes turns out not to be the case. Since deciding these things always involves subjective judgment, and since we've decided to tighten up our approach to deciding what's acceptable and what's unacceptable, what's on-topic and what's off-topic, I'm using this post to outline how we read the guidelines, and to offer some suggestions on how to keep the discussions valuable to everyone.

Stay on Topic

“On topic” means making sure your comments address the subject of a blog post or discussion thread, and that discussions you create must be about technology careers or job-related issues. It also means that any links you include should lead to tech-related items that are relevant to the discussion that's taking place. Our editorial is, first and foremost, about technology jobs and technology skills. While things like politics, guest workers and the like are of interest to many users, most of what we see on these subjects doesn't directly fit in with our focus. Reposted articles about immigration certainly don't, nor do vents about offshoring in response to a story about hiring trends.  So, when we see things like that we'll delete them. For example, advice about a job interview isn’t about outsourcing. A need for 30 project managers in Palo Alto isn’t an invitation to riff about how employers are conspiring to keep salaries low. Those kinds of responses are off-topic, and we’ll delete them. On the other hand, that post about needed project managers IS an invitation to argue that companies are having trouble finding PMs because they’re not paying enough. Or, that they’re behind the times because they care more about waterfalls than Agile. The bottom line is you can say what you want, as long as your comments to fit the story and are tech-related. Anything that we consider off-topic will be deleted. Blog commenters, remember: If you want to discuss something that’s unrelated to a particular post, you’re welcome to start a thread on our discussion boards.

Be Respectful

Similarly, if you disagree with another user’s comments, or the advice we give, feel free to argue. Just don’t insult anyone. If you can’t make your points in a respectful way, please don’t bother to post them. We’ll just delete them.

Some Specifics

So what kinds of things am I talking about? Here are some examples: Language to Avoid
  • Militaristic talk. This includes not only threats to others, but out-of-context terms. For example, when you’re talking about guest workers don’t say things like “war” or “invasion.” The truth is, nobody has invaded the United States with tanks and guns, and it’s never useful to insert hyperbole into a discussion that’s already emotional.
  • Generalizations. We see this on all sides of many debates. Statements that an entire group of people of people are lazy, uneducated, stupid, unsympathetic and so on are not only hurtful, but almost always untrue.
Language That Won’t Be Tolerated
  • Threats or personal attacks on any individual. This has always been the case and always will be.
  • Racial epithets or euphemisms for those epithets.
  • Attacks on culture. The food people eat, the clothes they wear, the music they listen to, the religion they practice, the contributions of their ancestors or anything else that comes even close to looking like a stereotype.
Online discussions are kind of like parties: There are always a few people who want to make trouble or are just insensitive. Fortunately, most of our posts come from people who are smart, friendly and certainly interesting. Those are the folks the boards and blogs are for. They may have never even read our guidelines, but probably no one ever had to tell them not to shout at people, either. If you have any comments or suggestions, feel free to email me. Or, of course, you can post a comment below. Image: Second Life