Commenting FAQ

Why does union-bulletin.com have comments?

We want the stories, visuals, columns and editorials we publish to be a starting point for conversation, not a dead end. The goal of commenting is to maintain a civil space where people who live in or care about our region can have meaningful, informed conversations about the facts presented in the Walla Walla Union-Bulletin.

How do I report a comment that breaks the rules?

Bring it to our attention by clicking on the "report" link that appears with each comment. We will review it as soon as possible (at times there could be a delay of a few hours).

Who reviews the reported comments?

The Union-Bulletins digital audience team and other staff in the newsroom.

As a Union-Bulletin subscriber, can I still be suspended or banned from commenting?

Yes, the code of conduct applies to all users, regardless of subscription status. If you violate the code of conduct, your commenting privileges may be suspended or revoked, but you will still be able to read articles.

Will you tell me when I’ve been suspended or banned? Will you tell me why? And can I be reinstated?

If you are suspended or banned from commenting, we will notify you via the email address associated with your commenting account.

Why are you censoring peoples’ opinions?

The Walla Walla Union-Bulletin reserves the right to allow or disallow any kind of content that doesn't meet its standards as outlined in the code of conduct, Terms of Service and this FAQ. The Union-Bulletin is under no obligation to publish every comment it receives. Generally, a comment is removed not because of the opinion it expresses but because it violates those basic rules.

What about my right to free speech?

The right to free speech described in the First Amendment concerns the relationship between the U.S. government and its citizens. Any private business can require certain standards of conduct, as we do with our code of conduct.

Why don’t you make commenters use real names?

We have considered requiring real names, and decided not to for a few reasons.

First, we don't have the resources to independently verify that names used by commenters are indeed real. Some sites have tried to get around this by connecting comments to Facebook profiles. But Facebook's verification mechanisms are imperfect as well, and not everyone has a Facebook profile. We think you shouldn't have to join another site to have conversations on ours. Plus, our commenting vendor — unlike Facebook — keeps users’ data private.

Another reason for not requiring real names: Research on commenting communities shows that using real names doesn't actually compel people to act more civilly toward each other. Comments on Facebook posts offer countless examples of this.

There's also evidence that, when commenters are all using their real names, people with names that suggest they're women or people of color are more likely to be harassed, and we don't want to invite those kinds of attacks into our community.

Why don’t you pre-screen all of the comments?

We do actively moderate and pre-screen comments on some stories when there's a high likelihood the discussion will stray off topic. But we don't have the staff resources to read and approve every comment on our site before it is posted. That's why we provide readers the tools to help us keep the conversation civil through the "report" and "respect" links. We encourage readers to report comments that violate the code of conduct.

Why do you require a subscription in order to comment?

We made this decision based on the amount of time necessary to moderate comments that violate our code of conduct. It helps keep spam out of the comments. It allows us to better control the legitimacy of commenters. And adding the step of having to be subscribed and logged in deters the hit-and-run troll.