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Comments and moderation policy

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We encourage and welcome open, lively debate, but the decision to publish comments received via our sites remains at our discretion. The views expressed by any third parties are solely theirs and are not necessarily endorsed by the Department.

Moderation Policy

We welcome lively discussion, but ask you to please bear in mind our guidelines when submitting comments.

Where views have been sought, all comments will be considered before the response is published.

Moderation guidelines

We pre-moderate most of the comments we receive.

‘Pre-moderation’ means that comments will not be published instantly. Comments will be checked first by moderators who will monitor the site during normal working hours and aim to process comments as quickly as possible. Our commitment is to publish comments within 24 hours.

This is not about censoring your views. The aim is to ensure that comments relate to the particular subject being discussed. Moderation will not be used to suppress legitimate, reasoned discussion.

We will normally approve comments for publication as long as they:

  • are on-topic. Please don’t post messages that are not related
  • respect other people. Comments should not be malicious or offensive in nature, and should not constitute a personal attack on a person’s character
  • don’t incite hatred on the basis of race, religion, gender, nationality or sexuality or any other personal characteristic
  • don’t reveal personal details, such as private addresses, phone numbers, email addresses or other online contact details
  • are reasonably concise, and don’t constitute spamming of the site
  • don’t impersonate or falsely claim to represent a person or organisation
  • are not party political in nature. This is a Government website and comments used for party political purposes cannot be published for propriety reasons
  • don’t include swearing, hate-speech or obscenity
  • don’t break the law – this includes libel, condoning illegal activity, and breaking copyright
  • don’t advertise commercial products and services – you can mention relevant products and services as long as they support your comment
  • are in English – unfortunately, we do not currently have the resource to moderate comments in other languages
  • if you are aged 16 or under, please get you parent/ guardian’s permission before submitting a comment. Users without this consent are not allowed to participate or provide us with personal information.

We reserve the right to suspend comments at any time. Where we choose not to publish a comment for a reason other than those listed above, we will reply to the commenter by email explaining our reason and inviting them to make appropriate changes so that the comment can be reconsidered.

Responding to comments

We read every comment, and respond wherever we can.

It tends to be the content authors who moderate and respond to comments, but DH staff are encouraged to participate in the comments stream where appropriate, using their own name, and signalling that they are commenting in an official capacity.

Staff who are not comfortable participating in public conversations may use the convention Firstname@DH when commenting (eg Stephen@DH).

The Civil Service Code has further guidance on online participation for staff.

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