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AMA President's Blog Frequently Asked Questions


Read AMA Viewpoints at the new AMA Wire: Your destination for news and information impacting the medical community.

Who can be part of the community?

Any one can participate in the community features that we are offering. You must be registered with a valid AMA username and password.

How do I become part of the community?

If you are not already registered and have a valid AMA username and password we offer the user the ability to create an account.

What does it cost to become a member?

It's free to participate in our community.

How will you use my personal information I provide when becoming a member?

Please review the American Medical Association's privacy policy.

Who moderates content on this site?

The community team is responsible for moderation services. There are dedicated moderators employed by the American Medical Assoication whose moderation duties are spread across all community areas.

What hours do the moderators work?

We don't publish specific hours of operation, but there is moderation coverage throughout the day and overnight, seven days a week. Obviously, some times are busier and some periods have more cover than others, so we ask community members to be understanding that we will handle all moderation duties in a timely matter.

I have a complaint about moderation, how do I escalate it?

Unfortunately, the huge (and growing) quantity of user content within the American Medical Association website means that we can't enter into correspondence regarding specific moderation activity, although all correspondence will be read.

Why do you have moderation on this site? Isn't it in opposition to the idea of free speech?

Of course it would be lovely if we didn't need to have anyone looking out for the quality of conversation on the site. But the fact is that as a physician member-based nonprofit organization we have a responsibility to maintain the quality of content which appears on our website and so we employ a team to monitor and manage community participation. The aim of moderation is not censorship, but ensuring that the community participation areas of the site remain appropriate, intelligent and lawful.

Will my comments be moderated?

All community interaction is subject to some level of moderation, in order to ensure the spirit of the community standards is upheld. In general, we post-moderate community interaction, which keeps the conversation lively. However, because of the sheer quantity involved this unfortunately means we can't guarantee all comments live on the site are appropriate or in the spirit of the community standards.

Why don't moderators just remove the objectional bit of a comment, rather than deleting it?

Because moderators aren't editors. Participants should bear in mind that even if only one little bit (or line, or paragraph) of a comment is problematic, the whole comment will be removed. This is partly to avoid moderators editing your contribution to remove the offending bit (which might inadvertently change the meaning) but also to encourage contributors to think carefully before posting.

Why can I only comment on certain content within the AMA website?

Currently the American Medical Association has implemented community activities (Blog Comments and Straw Poll Participation) within 2 distinct areas: the AMA Corporate Site and On the Road with the AMA President. Going forward other areas of our Corporate site will offer community activities.

How do I post a comment on a blog post?

To add a comment on a particular blog post, you must be logged in and have accepted our Terms of Use. After you have signed in, you can type your comment in the box provided below each post and click "Submit." Your comment will show up directly below the comment box. You cannot edit comments once they're posted, and comments are filtered for inappropriate language before they're posted.

Why do some [usernames] have titles/roles displayed next to them?

Because we are a physician member-based nonprofit organization we think it is necessary to highlight a members status and role type with a badging feature when a comment is posted.

How can I request not to have a badge displayed next to my [username]?

Your membership status will not be reflected within the community unless you have signed into your community account prior to your membership status being updated.

I am a member of the AMA. Why is that not reflected on my previous comments?

The answer may be one of two possible scenerios. The badging feature which highlights and identifies user roles has been de-activated. Your membership status will not be reflected within the community unless you have signed into your community account prior to your membership status being updated.

Is there anything that I can't say in my comments?

We ask everyone interacting in community activities (such as submitting comments) to abide by our Terms of Use. These set out clearly the main behavioural and social norms for the website, but in general we want this to continue to be a safe place for stimulating discussion about topics and we welcome community participation which supports and extends this. Contributions which are deliberately offensive or off-topic are likely to be dealt with in line with these community guidelines.

What do you count as "personal attacks (on authors, other users or any individual)"?

Exactly what you might imagine. The main things we want to avoid are (but are not limited to) vicious or persistent name-calling or accusatory comments; comments which attack the individual rather than the topic; abusive or defamatory phrases (epithets, especially those attached to religious, sexual, racial, gender or ethnic contexts); extreme or contextually-inappropriate profanity directed at an individual; and ad hominem arguments (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ad_hominem).

Can I edit my comments?

It's not possible to edit comments left on areas of the site, which is why we ask you to think carefully before you post. Annoying as it may be to submit a carefully thought-out comment only to notice a glaring typo moments later, the problems with allowing comments to be edited would greatly outweigh the benefits.

How do I recommend a story?

Anyone can recommend a blog post or comment to other users, and you do not have to be signed in to do so. On any article that you want other visitors to notice, you can click "Recommend" at the top of the article, near the headline.

Why am I unable to comment on this article?

You need to be logged in to post comments, so that could be it, though you are usually prompted to log in if for some reason you've been signed out. We also have the ability to restrict or close comment threads after a particular period (this time limit is dependent on the blog post). If the comment thread is still open and you are logged in, but still cannot post, you may have been barred from participating because of acting against the community standards.

Will authors of posts reply to my comments?

Community staff and moderators do regularly spend time in the community areas of the site and will ensure that any particularly interesting/funny/insightful comments are highlighted to the author.

Who owns the copyright of comments I have posted? Why was my comment removed?

Comments are removed by moderators if they go against the Community Terms of Use, which every participant on the site is bound by.

How do I report abuse or offensive content?

You can report offensive content by clicking the "Report Abuse" link that appears along with the posted item. These abuse reports then go into a notification queue to be dealt with by the duty moderators.

I've spotted a bad comment. Why hasn't it been removed?

I've spotted a problem - how do I report something as abusive? Why hasn't [user name] been banned for what he/she said? How come [one comment] was removed, while [another one] is still on the site?

Our moderators work in two main ways: keeping an eye on conversations across the site in a general fashion and responding to abuse reports made by community members and other visitors to the site. At any moment there can be several active conversations taking place and needing to be monitored on the site. So unfortunately, we don't see every problematic comment or abusive user straight away, and in some cases we might not spot such issues for a while. Because of this, we also rely on our users to report abusive, offensive or otherwise inappropriate comments when they spot them, by clicking on the "Report Abuse" link which appears next to each comment. These abuse reports then go into a notification queue to be dealt with by the duty moderators. Don't rely on someone else to tell us about an issue if you spot one: it only takes a moment to send a report.

If you click on 'Report Abuse' is the comment automatically deleted?

No. When you click on 'Report Abuse" the comment goes into a report queue to be viewed by a duty moderator, who will then judge whether it contravenes the community standards. We never remove a comment just because it's been reported. However, it's worth noting that the more abuse reports something gets, the higher it appears in the report priority queue, and so we'll probably get to see it sooner.

Can you tell me why my comment was deleted or why another poster's comment was deleted

The answer is probably that something you posted was perceived to contravene the Community Terms of Use, which govern the activity of everyone who contributes to this site. Sorry, but lack of available resource means we're not in a position to discuss specific moderator actions or queries about deletions.

I've been banned from the site, why? Why has [username] been banned?

We don't like removing people's ability to comment on our content, but in some cases when a pattern of abusive, trolling or offensive behaviour is demonstrated, certain users can be banned from using the site. We hope this doesn't seem heavy-handed, but we sometimes have to make decisions to block some users in order to improve the overall experience for everyone else.

If I've been banned, how can I come back?

A user can be reinstated if the moderation team are confident that he or she understands the cause of their suspension, agrees to abide by the site's community standards and will be able to contribute reasonably and sociably to the conversation in future. In such cases, it's normal for the user to have a short trial period with limited functionality, before being returned to full user privileges.

Who can participate in a Straw Poll?

To participate in a particular straw poll, you must be logged in. After you have signed in, you can view the straw poll question and related answers, select your response and click "Vote."

What will you do with my straw poll responses?

The straw polls that we will offer are not scientific and the results will only be used in aggregate form and are for research purposes only.