Online Community Commenting Guidelines

Online Community Commenting Guidelines

Across the Mayor’s blog, and social media properties, the overarching goal is to foster environments of respect and civility where every voice can be heard, every idea can be shared, and every question can be asked.

In 2019, Council approved a Social Media Policy to set guidelines for the creation, use and maintenance of social media communications, and outline social media governance for the Township of Zorra. This policy establishes criteria for acceptable use of Township social media accounts and actions.

The guidelines noted here are directed to all Staff, Council, and members of the public who choose to engage in discussion on any and all social media platforms related to the Township, staff members, and members of Council.

We live in a democracy where different points of view are welcome and we can challenge the decisions of our leaders, ask questions, and provide feedback. We don’t all have to agree. We do need to be respectful of each other.

We encourage intelligent and respectful dialogue on all of our online platforms. Profanity, personal attacks toward others, racism and other forms of discrimination, and the spreading of misinformation via comments will be removed without warning. Messages viewed to be spam or trolling, or from bots/anonymous users will also be removed.

These guidelines are similar to those found on the social media platforms themselves (have a look at those for Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Linkedin), as well as those employed broadly by other public figures (ie: Prime Minister’s Office, Government of Ontario)

To best support the goal of avoiding the spread of misinformation, especially during times of public emergency (such as COVID-19), content that cannot be easily verified for accuracy and credibility in a timely manner due to limited resources may be removed without warning and/or commenting may be turned off. This is in keeping with some of the additional precautions being taken elsewhere on social media, including, for example on Twitter. Any comments and/or concerns can always still be emailed to the Mayor or any member of Council or Staff and our team will respond as soon as possible.

Any commenter who violates these guidelines may be temporarily banned from commenting on the Mayor/Councillor/Township’s social media platforms without warning. This does not prevent users from continuing to share their points of view to their own network of connections, but rather limits the ability to leverage the audience the Mayor/Councillor/Township has built through their own accounts. Our community strives to be one where all voices can be heard without fear of bullying, intimidation, misinformation or disrespect. Our online community strives to be a trusted source of information where all voices can be heard without fear of bullying, intimidation or disrespect.

Please keep in mind that any member of our community is always able to share feedback and concerns directly with the Mayor or any member of Council or Staff through via email or telephone. All contact information is posted on this website. 

Best Practices and Guidelines to consider when commenting online:

  • Be civil and respectful to all users. If you would not say your comment in person, it is likely best not to say it online.
  • Focus on the issues being discussed and use facts and research from trusted and credible sources to support your point of view when possible.
  • Remember the difference between opinion and fact. You’re entitled to your own opinion, but facts are a shared and agreed-upon reality.
  • Accept that others may not agree with you and are entitled to their own point of view.
  • Stay on topic. Relate your comments to the original post and avoid unrelated tangents.
  • Be concise. Avoid lengthy posts that cannot be easily understood by others.
  • Consider moving a conversation to private messages with another user to continue a lengthy or heated debate.
  • Avoid all profanity, personal insults, and any language of a racist, obscene or hateful manner.
  • Avoid posting any private personal information such as telephone numbers or addresses. Use email, telephone or private messages for such info.
  • Be open and honest about who you are. Use your real name and stand behind your words the same as you would do in person.
  • Avoid selling products or services of any kind in others’ online communities without explicit permission to do so.
  • Be open minded and listen to others. You might learn something new or make a new friend!

The Township of Zorra is taking steps to support our community's response to COVID-19 (coronavirus disease) and measures taken by Southwestern Public Health. We are monitoring our operations daily to ensure we are taking the right actions to protect our residents, employees and visitors. Visit our COVID-19 page for regular updates.