Why we are pre-moderating comments

I am picking up on some comments made on a previous post. Readers had noticed that recently we have been pre-moderating comments more than usual and wondered why.

Sadly, we have been at the receiving end of a lot of trolling lately. Not only that, but comments have been posted that are defamatory and possibly libellous. Whatever the legal position may be about what appears on our pages (it is not clear whether we could be sued for something written by a commenter) we simply do not want to be associated with that kind of illiberal and hurtful content.

As many of you know most of the LDV team have day jobs (some very demanding ones) – I’m the only one who is enjoying retirement – and we are all politically active. So we fit our editorial duties around the other demands in our lives, including our families. It would be much simpler for us if we didn’t have to moderate every single comment, and it would be so much less frustrating for our commenters if they didn’t have to wait a couple of hours whilst their comments are sitting in limbo, so it isn’t a decision we take lightly.

We do try to pre-warn you with this note under the post:

This post has pre moderation enabled, please be patient whilst waiting for it to be manually reviewed. Liberal Democrat Voice is made up of volunteers who keep the site running in their free time.

Of course, people do get cross if their comment is binned, but there can be several reasons for that happening:

  1. It may include a personal attack on another commenter or on someone else. We ask you to address the argument not the writer.
  2. It may disclose personal data or information that is sub judice.
  3. It may contain false or misleading information.
  4. It may express intolerant attitudes towards minority groups. (Such comments are immensely hurtful to readers who fall into those categories)
  5. It may be off topic. Some people seem determined to air their views on something close to their heart whether or not it is relevant to the original post.
  6. It may be too long.
  7. It may not make sense.
  8. It may undermine a current election campaign.
  9. The authorship may not be clear. Now you are welcome to use a pseudonym but we do expect you to use a valid email address, which is never published. We occasionally email commenters to check – if it bounces then the comment is deleted.

And remember – heavy irony and sarcasm don’t work online.

Moderation is not an exact science, and we do occasionally make mistakes, sometimes when we have misunderstood a comment. We don’t usually get into conversation about binned comments as that has put some of us at serious personal risk in the past, so we may not respond if you ask us why.

LDV is a public space, not a corner of a busy bar. A good rule of thumb is not to write anything that you would not be happy to say in a speech at Conference.

We are sometimes accused of censorship when we have turned down posts and comments.  And yet everyone accepts that a newspaper is free to choose which articles and letters it publishes. That’s what editors are for. And that’s what we are – editors.

Finally, some people seem to believe that LDV is an official arm of the Liberal Democrats. It isn’t. We are a team of card carrying members, which is completely independent of the party. If MPs and others choose to send us a post that is because they understand our reach, not because we are an official communications channel.

You are very welcome to start up another Lib Dem blog, of course. It would be an interesting experiment to see whether there is room for an alternative approach to content and moderation.



* Mary Reid is a contributing editor on Lib Dem Voice. She was a councillor in Kingston upon Thames, where she is still very active with the local party, and is the Hon President of Kingston Lib Dems.

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This entry was posted in Op-eds.


  • Jenny Barnes 30th Jun '23 - 10:08am

    Thank you and the other moderators for keeping this a fairly safe and sane place to comment.

  • Nonconformistradical 30th Jun '23 - 11:28am


  • Just to also thank the team. Over time some of my comments have been moderated out, whilst it is a little disconcerting not knowing why a comment hasn’t appeared, (LDV) moderation does remind us that we are engaging with real people.

  • Steve Trevethan 30th Jun '23 - 2:40pm


    In the longer run, might it be wiser to delete number 8, as considered criticism of aspects of a current election campaign could result in better future election campaigns?

  • @Steve Trevethan – The time to review an election campaign is after it is over. Letting people criticise the candidate or a strategy during a campaign is just giving fuel to the opposition.

  • John Wilkes 1st Jul '23 - 1:46pm

    When are the moderators next up for election?

  • Robin Bennett 1st Jul '23 - 8:56pm

    Grateful thanks to the moderators for maintaining the high standard of discussion in LDV.

  • Chris Moore 2nd Jul '23 - 7:58am

    Forgive me, Paul and other moderators, but the analogy of LD Voice with the letters page of a newspaper is completely inappropriate.

    The letters page of the Times or Telegraph or Guardian are severely space-limited. The editors therefore choose which letters to publish based on the quality and interest of the letters. The vast majority of letters are not published. A tiny minority are.

    On LD Voice and other blogs space below articles is unlimited. Therefore moderators are not making decisions on what to let through based on positive judgements of quality or interest.

    Rather, you are taking decisions to reject certain posts because of negative features: these negative qualities are outlined in the rules.

    I think you all do an excellent job, but it is not that of a letters’ page editor.

    Nor is LD Voice a newspaper.

  • Catherine Crosland 2nd Jul '23 - 8:48am

    I’m sure most people would agree that comments should be rejected if they are libelous or offensive.
    And I’m sure most of us do very much appreciate all the hard work of the editors of Lib Dem Voice, and realise that you often have difficult decisions to make.
    But it does seem to be the case that recently there have been far fewer interesting and lively debates in the comments on articles. If you look back through the Lib Dem Voice archives, it is clear that just a few years ago articles usually got far more comments than is now usually the case, and there was a much larger number of people who regularly commented. This could be for a number of reasons, but I do wonder if the moderation policy could be playing a part in this? It seems that there is now a policy of not allowing comments which may “undermine an election campaign”. Does this mean that comments are now being rejected just for disagreeing with party policy? Paul, you mention above that people can just publish their views directly on twitter or WordPress. Perhaps changes in the moderation policy mean people are indeed choosing to do this, to the detriment of Lib Dem Voice

  • Jason Connor 2nd Jul '23 - 2:05pm

    I never quite understand why supporters, who are not the same as members, don’t have much of a say in decision making as far as the party concerned. The Elon Musk comment is beyond me but then not all of us use social media or have an interest in it. The idea to set up a new blog is a good one. I may do so to promote social liberal views, you never know it may even lead to a new party that’s if there is funding for council tenants.

  • Peter Watson 2nd Jul '23 - 10:13pm

    @Paul Walter “It is worth noting the word “supporters”.”
    That’s a very interesting point for me.
    I discovered this site during the Coalition years while trying to find out why the Lib Dems in Government didn’t seem to be what I thought they were despite my having voted for the party for 20+ years and having once been a member. I was – and often still am – reassured to see on LDV individual Lib Dems with whom I empathise, but the party as a whole … not so much. I’m disappointed with how the party has presented itself for such a long time now, though I can never quite break the habit of visiting this site!
    I still consider myself a potential supporter, but like my interest and motivation, that potential has waned.

  • Tristan Ward 3rd Jul '23 - 8:40am

    Here’s a take on it that may be interesting:


    @ Catherine Crossland

    The problem with not publishing anything “offensive” is that the bar is way too low. Some people seem to find it offensive merely to have some one disagree with them.

  • Ruth Bright 4th Jul '23 - 10:49am

    Over the years the LDV Team have allowed a lot of painful subjects to be aired, particularly during the coalition.

    I suppose one question to ask might be: “Had LDV existed in the 70s would it have been brave enough to publish a whistleblower’s account of Cyril Smith?” As an avid reader my strong belief is that LDV would be up to that challenge.

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