h2g2 Guidelines During the Afghanistan Crisis

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Please note that these rules are no longer in operation. They are left here for discussion purposes only.

Along with a handful of other areas on the BBC website, h2g2 is currently hosting debate about the Afghanistan crisis. As these constitute the first online public debates the BBC has ever operated under wartime conditions, it is essential to the continuation of these debates that they are conducted responsibly and with the sensitivites of all parties in mind.

During the crisis we do ask for your cooperation. The Moderators have been asked to err on the side of caution, as this is a very sensitive time; this means that some decisions will have to be made that would not be made in other circumstances. Please see the 'Recourse' section below for information on how to query moderation decisions.

The following guidelines will help to explain moderation decisions made during this time. They should be read in conjunction with the House Rules and the BBC's Producers Guidelines for the War in Afghanistan. Please note that these guidelines may be subject to change as the situation continues to develop; if we make changes to this document, we will announce them on the h2g2 Announcements page.

Respect for Others

The main things to bear in mind when using h2g2 to debate the current situation are:

  • Be especially aware of the sensitivities of all others using the site; try to look at things from the point of view of others on site.

  • Do not post inflammatory messages, as these do not contribute to an atmosphere of debate; tensions run high during heated debates, so please try not to cause or respond to argumentative behaviour.

  • It is vital to avoid racial or cultural abuse, so avoid posting anything that is simply offensive to others and does not contribute to the debate. For example, do not employ slang or offensive terms for people from a specific race or country.

Do Not Put Others in Danger

The Moderators will remove any content that may be seen to put lives in danger. The following two examples of content will result in removal by the Moderators.

Quoting from the BBC

We will remove any Postings or Guide Entries that quote the BBC without giving a link to the source on a BBC website (assuming those quotes do not put anyone in danger, as per the next section). The reason is that misquoting the BBC may make the BBC a target, so we have to ensure that quotes are spot on. If you want to quote something you saw or heard from a source like television that doesn't have a web version, then please do not attribute it to a specific source.

The following examples would not be acceptable without a link to the source to back it up, and would be failed:

  • 'Kate Adie said on the news last night that the Taleban was...'
  • 'The BBC said that the Taleban are planning to...'
  • 'On the BBC news last night it said that the US military...'

Naming People or Groups

Be extremely careful when naming anyone with regard to events, in case your naming of them puts them in danger (this includes the BBC). This applies to companies or locations as well as individuals; anything that might present someone as a target will be removed.

The following examples would not be acceptable and would be failed:

  • 'The man in charge of Airline X was working in league with the Taleban...'
  • 'John X works at Heathrow Airport, and I heard he was responsible for security and screwed up...'
  • 'The mosque in Suburbia is where loads of Taleban supporters go to pray...'

Other Guidelines

Here are some other guidelines that you should note during this period.

Viral Propaganda or Barracking

It's important that rumours and viral propaganda, such as those circulated by email, are not published on h2g2. We will remove anything that appears to be propaganda or false rumour.

Similarly we will remove content that appears to contain political barracking or propaganda. The site should be home to reasoned debate, but not a platform for political activism.

Impersonating Key People

Researchers will not be allowed to impersonate any key people involved in the crisis, as this could inflame any heated discussions on site. Although it is unlikely that anyone on h2g2 would actually be believed if they said they were a key person on the political scene, for the duration of this crisis we will remove any Nicknames or Personal Spaces that claim to be or relate to key people or key people's relatives.


As always, if you have had some content failed that you feel should remain visible, then you should reply to the email you will be sent when your content is removed. We will endeavour to answer your questions, and if the Editors agree that your content should not be failed, we will reinstate it.

If you have had a piece of content referred rather than failed, then it means that the Moderators have requested a decision by the Editors. The Editors will endeavour to deal with referrals as quickly as possible, but please remember that some decisions cannot be made instantly and require input from outside the h2g2 team, and the Editors also only work during normal office hours.

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