One of the biggest complaints I hear from members of the community stems from the comments on YumaSun.com.

Frankly, what could be a constructive dialogue about issues and concerns in Yuma County too often turns to bullying or name-calling.

As a result, countless readers have told us they no longer will comment, for fear of what others may say in response. And that, frankly, is a tremendous problem.

The Yuma Sun has never moderated comments on our website, unless we receive a complaint about a specific comment, which we then investigate.

We consider the commenting section to be a sandbox of sorts, where everyone is invited to play. 

For those readers who have wanted to participate, but weren’t comfortable, we apologize for that.

After much discussion and debate internally, and checking with other news outlets across the country on their commenting policies, Publisher Lisa Reilly and I have decided to make some changes at the Yuma Sun. Going forward:

• Any comments containing personal attacks or abusive statements will be deleted.

• We will not tolerate comments or letters that contain racist, sexist or otherwise discriminatory or hateful language, nor will we tolerate threatening language.

• We will not tolerate comments posted on multiple pages — readers can post a comment once on a story, but if the same comment appears on other stories, we’ll take it down. Likewise, we won’t allow posting ads or commercial content. (“Buy my weight loss solution…” — that’s not OK)

• And, if someone posts something online, and then sends it in as a Letter to the Editor, we will not print it in the newspaper, as letters are subject to a review and editing process.

These policies will apply to both Letters to the Editor and comments on YumaSun.com. We strongly feel that we can provide spaces for people to exercise free speech. It’s a tenet on which this newspaper is built. But that environment should be one that everyone feels comfortable in.

Discuss politics, whether or not you feel government has served the community, or hot-button issues of the day. That’s fine. But keep it civil, and stay focused on the issues. We don’t expect everyone to agree on any given subject, but on our site, we do expect you to be able to discuss it in a civil manner.

If a comment violates our policies, it will be moderated. And those people who consistently violate Yuma Sun’s policies will be blocked.

We want to foster smart, intelligent, civil conversations. It starts by moderating these conversations online, and inviting readers back to our pages to give it another shot.

Readers, if you see comments going forward that are inappropriate, please let us know. Email our newsroom at newsroom@yumasun.com, send me an email at rmolenar@yumasun.com, or contact one of our moderators — Publisher Lisa Reilly (lreilly@yumasun.com), Features Editor Darin Fenger (dfenger@yumasun.com).

We invite you to join the conversation. Together, let’s keep this sandbox — both in print and online — a place to foster community discussions.

As always, thank you for reading!

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