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Editorial Guidelines

Adverts Business directory Calendar Comments
Copyright Defamation & fair comment Editing Forum
Introduction Language Links Local Businesses
Race Religion and politics Stereotyping Taste & decency

Introduction

The Brookmans Park Newsletter is independent of any political party or business interests and is run by local volunteers who give their time without charge. The site was set up in July 1998, and quickly became a rich resource of local information thanks mainly to two groups, the former North Mymms Local History Society and the former Gobions Woodland Trust.

They allowed large parts of their content, including records, archives, books, data and reports, to be published on this site and to be available to all.

That work makes up much of this site's history section, although, in recent years, that section has grown thanks to the sharing of information and documents by two local residents and local historians, Mike Allen and Peter Miller. The site's environment section has also benefited by the sharing of content by local groups. Many, including many local people and overseas users, have also contributed features to this site.

At the beginning of 2002, the site's interactive message board was replaced with a new forum enabling registered users to discuss local issues, and non-registered users to read the resulting contributions.

The editorial guidelines, which underpin the integrity of the Brookmans Park Newsletter, also apply to the forum.

The guidelines on this page will also help explain why posts to the forum might be edited or removed.

These guidelines should not be viewed as restrictive, but rather as central to maintaining the standards that have seen this site win various national media awards and commendations since its launch in 1998.

The Brookmans Park Newsletter takes no responsibility for statements made by forum users, however we undertake to take action, as soon as possible, to remove offending posts.

To do this we use both post- and reactive-moderation. We do not use pre-moderation, which means that we do not see or edit forum content before it goes live. This means that we have no control over what is written until after the comments have been posted.

If the moderators see a post that is suspect we will remove it and discuss. This could result in the post being edited or deleted. In some cases we might contact the author of the post to explain our decision.

Defamatory or other legally offensive comments won't be tolerated and will be removed.

In all cases the onus is on forum members to ensure that what they post meets the forum's guidelines, and the rules set out in the forum agreement, which all sign up to when registering.

Anyone who feels a post fails to match these guidelines is able to use the 'report to moderators' tab at the bottom right of a post. The moderators will then receive an alert and will take the appropriate action.

Taste and decency   Return to top

The Brookmans Park Newsletter will not display any material that could be considered offensive in terms of taste, decency, or public feeling, nor will it display material likely to encourage or incite crime, or lead to disorder.

Parents, guardians, and teachers should feel comfortable with young people using the Brookmans Park Newsletter as a trusted source of information.

Language   Return to top

Swearwords, inappropriate sexual references, and abusive names relating to disabilities can cause great offence. Such language will be edited from any contributions or, in extreme circumstances, the post removed.

Links   Return to top

This site will not link to sites where the content, in the first click, does not adhere the same editorial guidelines as those set out by the Brookmans Park Newsletter.

When posting links on the Brookmans Park Newsletter Forum, members may link to any other site that provides information that helps answer another member's question, or is just of general interest to members of that particular forum; the Brookmans Park Newsletter forum support this type of exchange.

However we do not allow links that invite forum members to leave the Brookmans Park Newsletter Forum in order to continue the discussion on another forum. The aim of this forum is to have a healthy debate on local issues, and it makes no sense to transfer that discussion elsewhere.

Stereotyping   Return to top

Disparaging comments based upon race, age, disability, social status, or sexuality will not be tolerated. They will be edited from forum contributions or the posts will be removed.

Defamation & fair comment   Return to top

The Brookmans Park Newsletter's editorial team will remove any posts which are defamatory.

In a court of law a judge will usually rule that something has been defamatory if it ...

  • Reduces a person in the eyes of the local community
  • Causes a person to be shunned or avoided
  • Exposes the person to hatred, ridicule or contempt
  • Injures them in their office, profession or trade.

The Brookmans Park Newsletter does not allow so-called 'name and shame' campaigns. The site will also make edits to avoid what is known as the "jigsaw effect", where individuals are identified by location or circumstance.

Local businesses and services   Return to top

Edits will rarely be made to forum contributions where a correspondent is questioning the services provided by the government, local authorities, or a public service. The government and local authorities are elected on a mandate, and a site like this is an excellent tool for examining their record in delivering what they promise. Similarly, posts about the service provided by rail or bus companies, which have customer charters and are duty-bound to deliver, will rarely be edited.

Recommending or criticising the services provided by local restaurants and businesses is not allowed under the forum rules. If a precedent were to be set allowing that to happen it could open the floodgates to all sorts of abuse for commercial advantage and gain. However, people are allowed to discuss the impact of a local business, such as the behaviour of people visiting and leaving a restaurant (but not criticise or recommend the services provided by the restaurant), or the likely impact of building development plans (but not criticise or recommend the services provided by the builder/developer), because those are local issues that are in the public interest and affect the lives of people living nearby.

The only exception could be where a local business has invited a discussion about its services and users respond. Even then, the tone of those responses will be carefully monitored to ensure they comply with the forum agreement and these guidelines. Unfortunately, this means that innocent, and often humorous, observations also have to be edited for consistency reasons.

Race   Return to top

Forum posts that are threatening, abusive, or insulting towards a racial group and which are likely to incite hatred or violence will be removed.

Religion and politics   Return to Top

This site's forum exists to enable local residents to discuss local issues. By the very nature of local debate, political and religious points of view will often be part of those discussions. However, political campaigning by a sitting or prospective politician, or by a supporter/campaigner, is not allowed. Promoting a political party and pushing its agenda is also not allowed in this forum. Neither is promoting political fund-raising events. Unfortunately, this also covers joint fund-raising events where a political party and a local charity are set to gain.

Adverts   Return to top

This site's classified adverts facility moved to the forum in 2015. The new category has been set up to enable local people to sell unwanted goods locally. It is for personal sales only, not trade. Any trade sales will be removed, as will any adverts that contravene this site's guidelines on taste and decency.

This section is not for people selling items or offering services outside the area covered by the site. However, local people with holiday homes who want to offer them to rent can do so.

The Adverts section is not the place to offer local commercial services. That facility exists in the Business Directory (see below).

Business directory   Return to top

This site's Business Directory enables local commercial concerns to post and edit their company details. It is another free service offered by the Brookmans Park Newsletter, and is available to all businesses in North Mymms as long as the business meets this site's guidelines on taste and decency.

All adverts should have a local resident's name or local address which can be identified. A nationwide business cannot be entered just because a local resident works for the company. Similarly, the service is not for local agents working for national companies.

Calendar   Return to top

The calendar enables local people to promote local, non-commercial community events.

The calendar is not the place to advertise large-scale car boot sales, factory surplus sales, commercial promotions, or damaged goods sales.

Forum users are welcome to add fund raising events for local charities. However, such posts are not allowed if the event is also raising money for businesses, political parties, or religious groups.

We try to encourage people to draw attention to events within the North Mymms area only, however exceptions can be made for some charitable events that border the area. Please contact the site if your event fits this category.

Editing of posts   Return to top

The forum's volunteer moderators are able to make edits to forum posts. When an edit is made to a contribution, the moderator will sometimes write to the author of the original post explaining why the action has been taken. All correspondence about the reason for edits and the removal of posts will be in private between the moderating team and correspondent and not aired in the public forum.

A moderator will not edit a thread just because she or he disagrees with the views being expressed, but only when the content contravenes the rules - or the spirit of the rules - set out in these guidelines and in the forum agreement, which all forum users sign up to when registering for the Brookmans Park Newsletter forum.

It is totally understandable if people are annoyed when their contributions are edited. Most people put a great deal of thought into posts, and it is not nice to find they have been changed. Since the new forum was launched in February 2002, there have been a number of disagreements about edits. So far users of this site have been extremely generous in their attitude, despite some heated exchanges. However, some exchanges have become abusive and in those cases the moderators and editors will terminate the correspondence.

Edits are made so that the forum can continue to serve the community without damaging anyone involved in the community. In all cases, the final decision on thread removal rests with the editor of The Brookmans Park Newsletter.

The guidelines, set out above, are similar to the core editorial rules observed by the majority of respectable newspapers and broadcasters in the UK.

These guidelines will satisfy most potential users in most respects. We want all to feel at home using the Brookmans Park Newsletter but those wishing to air views outside these guidelines will have to do so elsewhere.

Disgruntled forum members who have had their posts edited and decide to challenge the site's guidlines in the public forum will have those posts removed, too.

Google Groups, for example, provides a wide-range of noticeboard topics where those who feel restricted by this site's guidelines might be more comfortable.

Copyright   Return to top

All the content on the site is released under Creative Commons BY-NC-SA 4.0, which means you are free to use it for non-commercial purposes and that if you do, you share the material under the same Creative Commons spirit. We have other rules regarding the use of material on this site. Please take a look at our Copyright page.

Comments on previously published text   Return to top

Apart from posts in the public forum, as stated earlier, this site is lagely made up of content contributed by the former North Mymms Local History Society and the former Gobions Woodland Trust.

More than a dozen complete history books and many documents have been reproduced on these pages. In some cases, published details might need to be revised as more information is uncovered.

The policy of this site is to leave originally published text as it is, even though facts are later disproved, but to add a comment if the facts of the original are in dispute or need clarification and to refer to other sources where possible. Any such edits will be written in maroon italics and look like this sentence.

Forum behaviour   Return to top

All forum members who sign up to the Brookmans Park Newsletter Forum agree to a set of rules that determine the behaviour in the forum.

The forum will not tolerate spamming, trolling, and flaming, either in the public forum or via the private message system. All three are explained below.

Spamming is repeatedly posting the same link on multiple boards, or trying to get people to go to another site to buy something. It's okay to post the same content on a couple of local boards. For example, if what you want to say could be of interest to people on another forum in Welwyn Hatfield or Potters Bar, it's fine to post a copy there, too.

Trolling is going onto a board for the sole purpose of starting trouble or instigating an argument.

Flaming is going onto a board and insulting people because of their beliefs, sexual preference, gender, ethnicity or any number of things.

None of these three will be tolerated on this site's forum, and those that perpetrate these acts will be contacted by one of the administrators and encouraged to edit, or remove the post.

If they fail to do so, and persist in spamming, trolling, or flaming, they will have their access to the forum removed. There are no exceptions to these rules.

Similarly, when two forum members get involved in a to and fro on a side issue to a current debate we recommend they take that discussion out of the public forum and continue via the forum's private messaging system.

Bumping

Also, please refrain from using BTTT (back to the top or bumped to the top) to push forum threads to the top of the list. If you want a thread to go to the top again, please just add something current and meaningful, otherwise others might do the same, and this could lead to an extremely poor forum experience when forum users click on a topic expecting to see a new contribution.

Reporting   Return to top

Despite all these rules, I hope you enjoy using the Brookmans Park Newsletter. Please let us know if you have any suggestions for improvements.

Thanks


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