We welcome and encourage lively and spirited discussion among Columbian.com members. But that doesn’t quite mean that Columbian.com is the Wild West of the Internet. In that spirit, we’re establishing a few guidelines and asking that our users adhere to them while commenting.

We don’t moderate comments before they are posted, but offending comments will be removed and the responsible user accounts monitored. Users who repeatedly break these guidelines will lose posting privileges.

This is the final (current) draft of our guidelines, but we are always open to feedback. If you have comments, questions or concerns about our guidelines, e-mail Web Editor John Hill or leave a comment in the section below.

As our Editor Lou Brancaccio might say … "Don’t do stupid stuff."

(What, you wanted more? Okay, here are our community guidelines.)

  • Stay on point. Keep your comments and questions focused on the topic, article or column at hand. Some might care about your thoughts on health care overhaul, but probably not in an article about the new Vancouver Community Library. Focus your points, arguments and assertions on positions, not personalities.
  • Don’t attack back. Comment or lurk long enough, and you’ll see a comment that riles you up. If you see a commenter who you think is attacking you or another user, don’t engage or attack back. E-mail John with a link to the article in which the comment was found (or the article's headline) and a brief description of the comment in question; we’ll take care of the rest.
  • Keep it clean. Controversial topics occasionally prompt emotional responses, and we love to see energetic debate and vigorous discussion. But before you wade into those conversations, keep a few things in mind. Don’t use profanity (including alternate characters to mask swear words), obscenities, personal attacks, libel, defamation or hate speech. Steer clear of name calling and posting anything that can be interpreted as threatening, harassing, obscene, pornographic, sexist or racist. Derogatory use of sexual orientation, race, age, gender, religion, nationality, disability and so on is not allowed.
  • Be original. You are welcome to link to relevant content and include limited excerpts from other people’s work -- with attribution, of course. But don’t copy and paste wholesale.
  • Respect privacy. Don’t post personal contact information. You probably wouldn’t appreciate it if that was plastered on Columbian.com, so don’t do it yourself.
  • Don’t post rumors. Along those lines, steer clear of posting allegations, unfounded accusations, innuendo and other information known to be false or unsubstantiated.
  • Keep it commercial-free. Comments that serve as recommendations or reviews of companies and services are allowed and even encouraged (on that note, can you help me find a good pizza spot on the west side of Vancouver?). But posting of ads, spam or other marketing-related material is not allowed, and those posts will be removed.
  • Using Facebook to comment on stories? Use your real name. If you're using your Facebook account to comment on stories on Columbian.com, we ask that you use your real name. We feel that real names help improve the discourse and keeps posters accountable. Read more about the decision.

Now that you know our expectations of commenters, join the discussion. We've even put together a helpful video on how to comment on Columbian.com with your Facebook account.

We reserve the right to remove offending comments. Break any of these rules, and don’t be surprised if your comment disappears from the site. We’re not the government – we can and will remove comments that don’t follow these guidelines. We don’t like to remove comments, but it happens from time to time.