Acceptable Use Policy for comments

We want an environment in which freedom of speech and expression can co-exist with responsible, mature and inoffensive online discussion. We don’t want to take a heavy-handed approach to comments.

However, the University reserves the right to take appropriate action if the provisions of any the following codes and policies are broken:

In addition, there is an Acceptable Use Policy: see below for details of content that is (un)acceptable.

The University reserves the right to remove any comments that contravene this Acceptable Use Policy.

Don’t allow others to use your Sussex IT account

Don’t allow others to use your IT account to add a comment or engage in any way with the Broadcast system: you must be a member of the University and you must use your own IT account.

Don’t advertise a product

Advertising or promoting external companies, products, services or websites is not allowed. This may include links to: personal websites or forums; surveys and questionnaires; commercial websites or auction sites that mainly exist to sell products; and details of charity or fundraising events.

Don’t breach copyright law

Copyright law exists to stop someone from taking another person's work and passing it off as their own. It applies to the internet in the same way as it does to TV, books and the press.

Please do not post large chunks of text copied from other sources as this may be an infringement of copyright. Short quotes to illustrate a point may be permissible.

If you wish to refer to external sources of information, it's better to include a link to an appropriate external website.

Information on copyright can be found in the Records and Information management website.

Comment in English

Comments that are not in English are not allowed. This is because we have to ensure comments can be checked and to ensure that all readers understand the comment.

Don’t risk breaking UK law

Contributing a comment with the intention to commit a crime, break the law, or condone or encourage unlawful activity is prohibited.

Don’t endanger other users

We may remove comments that we consider could endanger other users - for example, offering medical and health advice, or encouraging drug or alcohol abuse or self harm.

Don’t post potentially defamatory statements

Defamation laws exist to protect individuals or organisations from unwarranted, mistaken or untruthful attacks on their reputation. Posting a defamatory statement in an online comment is the same as publishing it in a newspaper or magazine.

To avoid breaking defamation laws in your comments, ensure that you verify the information in your posting, especially when presenting negative statements as facts. Also avoid jumping to conclusions, exaggerating or making subtle implications. Remember that adding the word 'allegedly' to a statement does not stop it being defamation.

Don’t be abusive or disruptive

Abusive or disruptive behaviour is not allowed. This includes:

Don’t be offensive

Comments that contain offensive or discriminatory content are not allowed. Racist, sexist, homophobic, disablist, sexually explicit or abusive material will be removed.

Don’t comment off-topic

Make sure your comments are related to the news items to which you are contributing. Please do not contribute ‘off-topic’ comments.

Don’t include others’ personal details

Please do not reveal any personal information - such as home/mobile phone numbers, postal or personal email addresses - about other people.

Legal responsibility

You are legally responsible for any comment you make about a news item.

Frequently asked questions (FAQs)

Q: Why hasn't my comment appeared?

A: Your comment may be awaiting moderation. If your comment does not appear, it may have been rejected by the moderator. If so, you will be sent an email telling you why.

Q: What is moderation?

A: Comments are checked to ensure that they are meet this Acceptable Use Policy.

Q: Why must we have moderation on comments?

A: At Sussex, we allow as much freedom as possible to have relevant discussions online. However, we are also responsible for making sure that these discussions stay polite, safe and relevant and do not violate any laws. This is why we have an Acceptable Use Policy that we ask everyone to follow. Moderators will decline or remove any comments that break this policy.

Moderation is necessary so all users can participate without fear of intimidation by other users or being subjected to offensive content. Also, people may intentionally or unintentionally post content that is unlawful, putting themselves as well as the University at risk of legal action.

We provide explanations through email for all moderation decisions so that we can make the moderation process as transparent and as fair as possible. In some cases the reasons for removal may not be apparent to other users, but the person who posted the comment will receive an email explanation.

Unfortunately we cannot give detailed individual explanations as to why a comment was removed, and can consider appeals against the removal of comments only if they concern a serious legal or editorial issue.

Q: Why has my comment been removed when other comments are allowed to remain?

A: There will always be some grey area when making moderation decisions. When deciding whether to remove a comment, a moderator assesses the level of potential risk, especially in cases of libel, contempt of court, etc. and may remove a comment to be on the safe side. Occasional inconsistencies are inevitable.

Q: Are posts more likely to be removed if a complaint is made about them several times?

A: No, a post is removed as soon as a moderator finds that it has broken the Acceptable Use Policy. However, there can be times when initial complaints don't have enough information to tell a moderator why or how it breaks the Acceptable Use Policy.