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Last Friday I was reading the comments posted to the NOLA.com NOLA Media Group will open Baton Rouge office story and found this posted by Veritas70124:

I just read the version of this story in today’s newspaper. It was a little longer and seemed that about 75% of it was boasting about how advertisers will be served by this expansion, kind of like how we have been told advertisers will benefit by the new three days of newspapers since that’s the days they preferred.

Advertisers seem to be all the TP cares about, so I called to cancel my subscription after I finished reading the story. My next call is to The Advocate to begin new delivery with them.

I posted the following reply (I didn’t save a copy of what I posted, and this may not be the exact wording, but it’s close):

> Advertisers seem to be all the TP cares about

You are correct, Veritas70124. Here’s what I wrote about it on my blog just yesterday: http://www.dumpthepicayune.com/who-are-the-customers/

A couple of hours later I checked to see whether other comments had been posted, only to discover that mine had been deleted!

I then read both the Community Rules and the User Agreement that govern what can be posted to NOLA.com and found nothing there that would explicitly prohibit my comment, so I posted the following as a comment on the article page:

To the moderator: Please explain why my response to Veritas70124 was deleted.

I suspected that comment would be deleted, because it violated one of the Community Rules:

Submissions regarding the administration or moderation of forum posts or comments are not permitted and will be removed. If you have a issue or question regarding our administrative policies or actions, Contact Interactivity Management.

Dutifully following the instructions, I sent the following message via  the Contact Interactivity Management page:

Please explain why my response to Veritas70124 at http://www.nola.com/business/index.ssf/2012/09/nola_media_group_will_open_bat.html was deleted.

Later that evening, I received the following email response:

Hi,

I’m sorry, I don’t have access to information on individual deletions, but if you have reviewed our User Agreement and Community Rules, and your post didn’t fall into any of those categories, here are a few common reasons comments disappear:

Sometimes comments disappear because the comment that they were responding to violated the guidelines and was removed. That deletion took your innocent comment with it. It’s an unfortunate quirk of our system we are working to resolve.

Sometimes comments disappear because people don’t realize what constitutes spam, and don’t realize their comments fell into that category. Comments that are posted repeatedly in multiple forums, or URLs that are posted repeatedly in multiple forums, violate our guidelines and will be removed. We want everyone to have a chance to be heard, which means we don’t want anyone monopolizing the site.

Hope this helps. If you feel that there’s cause for concern, please feel free to contact us again.

Thanks.
Betty

I replied to “Betty”:

… I have reviewed both the User Agreement and the Community Rules, and I don’t see how what I posted violated them. What I posted was not complementary to the Picayune, and it contained a link to my blog, but many others have posted critical comments and links to other sites that were not deleted, so I don’t see why mine should have been. I have posted another comment on the page asking the moderator to explain why my comment was deleted, but they have not responded.

In view of the above, I would appreciate it if you would ask the moderator to restore my comment.

Despite “Betty’s” reassurance that I should “feel free to contact us again”, there was no response to my reply.

The next morning I discovered that, sure enough, my “To the moderator” comment had been deleted.

It’s now Monday afternoon, and I’m still waiting for a reply from “Betty” or for my original comment to be restored. I suspect I won’t see either.

I further suspect that the anonymous and all-powerful NOLA.com moderator felt justified in deleting my comment because of this catch-all CYA clause in the User Agreement (emphasis added):

… you may not … directly or indirectly … use any language, or post, upload, transmit, send or otherwise make available on or through the Service any Content that we deem to be offensive, immoral, vulgar, crude, harmful, violent, deceptive, or otherwise inappropriate

In other words:

If we don’t like it, we’ll delete it.

So much for free speech and fostering a sense of community among the visitors to NOLA.com.