EHI comment policy and TPP

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EHI comment policy and TPP
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For the past five months, EHI Primary Care has not permitted reader comments to be posted against news items concerning TPP.

This editorial policy has created confusion and led to suggestions that EHI is biased against TPP or censoring discussion.

Neither is true. We have suspended the facility to post comments against articles concerning TPP because of two written threats of legal action by TPP over individual reader comments, which the firm alleges are damaging to it.

We have vigorously rejected such claims and we have invited TPP to engage with critics and explain their position.

At no point has the news reporting of EHI or EHI Primary Care been challenged, although TPP has complained about it on several occasions.

This is a shame, because the company has been one of the most innovative vendors in the UK health IT marketplace in recent years and we feel our coverage reflects this.

The decision to suspend reader comments on articles about TPP was made reluctantly, after careful consideration, and having taken expert legal advice.

We were unwilling to have a position whereby EHI Primary Care's functions could be compromised by the disruption and distraction of legal claims, regardless of the fact that we believed that we had done nothing wrong.

We will continue to vigorously defend the right of readers to make comments on EHI and EHI Primary Care, something we consider a valuable service to the UK health IT community.

But the threat of a potentially costly and disruptive legal action made it necessary to put in place these unique measures.

However, given the concerns raised by readers we felt it necessary to provide an explanation of our editorial position. We regret not having done so earlier.

After a five month hiatus, we are now going to try once again allowing reader comments against articles relating to TPP, but will pre-moderate such posts.

This is a process that will inevitably delay comments going live. Bear with us. We will have to err on the side of caution for the reasons outlined above, and urge readers to re-read EHI’s community rules to inform all their comments.

Where posts are not published it is because these community rules have not been followed. They can be summarised as follows: don't generalise, don’t make unsubstantiated statements, don’t libel or defame individuals or companies, don’t be offensive, be nice to others.

Should a dispute with any other party arise in the future we will be open about them and inform readers of the nature of the challenge.

We look forward to the continued expert insight and wisdom of your reader comments.

Jon Hoeksma, editor, eHealth Insider.

Last updated: 28 March 2012 12:44

Jon Hoeksma

28 March 2012


Can I get clarity?

Mary Hawking 173 weeks ago

There seems to be a suggestion that all comments should be moderated - and a situation where some - or all? - comments are *not* moderated.

In this article you say that you will be moderating comments relating to TPP - and that the problem arose because you received two complaints from TPP against individual comments they considered damaging to them.

If there were only two comments in this category, could the situation be managed by warnings to the authors of the comments or moderating their comments in future?

And will the policy of moderating comments only apply to articles about or mentioning TPP or to comments on any article where the comment mentions TPP or implies TPP products regardless of the subject of the article?

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Mary, please read statement above

Jon Hoeksma 173 weeks ago

Hi Mary

If you'll read the statement above a little more carefully you'll see that you've slightly mis-read it - "two written threats of legal action" is not the same as complaints about two comments.

And as you well know we regularly contact commenters to give them a steer on why comments can't be posted or might need to be re-thought. Such conversations are our preferred approach but is not currently possible in this case.

We are pre-moderating only on articles about TPP, but will be keep an eye on other comment threads.

But I would very strongly urge you Mary to re-read our community rules, http://www.ehi.co.uk/comments/commentingrules.cfm.

Follow them and you won't go far wrong.

Thanks

Jon

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Thank you EHI

SarahTPP 173 weeks ago

Thankyou for re-enabling the comments. This is something TPP and our users have wanted for a while. We welcome debate from EHI journalists and their readers - and value both positive and negative feedback.

As a company we must protect ourselves from inaccurate information being posted on what is a professional and well-respected industry site. We are therefore grateful EHI has reminded readers about the community rules.

Thanks again - TPP

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Sarah, TPP

Mary Hawking 173 weeks ago

Thanks for this, Sarah

Will TPP be responding to comments in future?

Most commentators on EHI would like a response to any concerns they raise - and public responses to legitimate concerns - and explainations of why*ilegitimate* concerns are not legitimate (often because of misapprehensions) would raise the public profile of the company rather than threaten it.

(Jon, if this comment is considered not publishable, could you forward it to Sarah? *If it is published, remove this remark!*TIA)

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Nice to be appreciated Sarah

Jon Hoeksma 173 weeks ago

Good to know EHI is so appreciated by TPP Sarah. Just to be clear though, editorially EHI reporters aim to report the news impartially and our readers provide the debate.

Exception being editorials or insight and opinion pieces.

Jon

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Freedom of speech?

Dave Kelsall 173 weeks ago

I'll be very careful in what I write here as I would hate to cause offence!

This reminds me of the super injunction fiasco where a small group of very rich people thought they had the right to restrict Freedom of Speech. It would have been interesting to see what effect Giggs, Marr and Co threatening to sue Twitter over the content of tweets on the topic would have had.

Perhaps your lawyers could produce a rider along the lines of "Comments against this thread have been restricted under legal advisement" whenever anyone tries this approach again.

Alternatively, we could always re-tweet this thread :-)

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Agreed, freedom of speech

eohl 173 weeks ago

I remember this site in the early days and if I remember rightly it was a bit of free for all. It certainly needed moderation then :)

It was also a frequent topic of conversation at work with NPfIT coming in and our jobs potentially on the line, so some topics would obviously get heated.

But it's different now.

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Interesting points

Jon Hoeksma 173 weeks ago

Hi NHSTechie

As explained in the above clarification of our position we will not be switching off comments in the future but will on occassion pre-moderate all comments on certain articles. When we do will inform readers what is going on. But basic point about communicating with readers is one we absolutely agree with.

Media law is particularly onerous in the UK, particularly for small publishers. There's a reason why Russion Oligarchs, Footballers and celebs reach for the lawyers...

We'd absolutely love to know what Ryan Giggs' views are on finer points of NHS IT though. Can promise though that we've not been editing out his close to the knuckle posts on HL7, GP2GP, ITK and Spine compliance though.

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No surprise

clivelayton 173 weeks ago

Don't ever be surprised if you get what you wish for. My last post, essentially asking for all readers' comments on all subjects to be moderated was moderated out of existence! So I'll try again. For a professional site 'social' type comment is out of place. There is a fundamental difference between moderation and censorship. The quality of the information available here will only benefit if all posts are moderated.

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Dare I say it . . .

clivelayton 173 weeks ago

Told you so! When you extended the reader comments and removed moderation from some of them I recall stressing that what was needed was a professional not a social approach. Looks like the chicken came home to roost.

But I'm sorry it has happened. As a supplier I would hope that if a reader posted a comment about my company our response would be to post a reasoned reply and leave it to your readers to judge. The law is a heavy-handed way of dealing with this sort of issue. Just look at the footballers and others who have attempted to use the law to suppress information that they preferred not to see the light of day.

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Well done

Paul Cundy 173 weeks ago

Dear Jon and Co,

We all knew as much. I get really annoyed by those who shirk behind anonymous posts or other defences which is why I allways sign my posts and never post anything i'm not prepared to defend. Keep up the good work and stand up to those bullies wherever and whatever form they take! (lets see if that gets through?)

Regards

Paul Cundy

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Many thanks for the explaination

eohl 173 weeks ago

As already mentioned, I'd assumed this was the case. Keep up the good work.

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Explains a lot

Steve Fuller 173 weeks ago

It makes interesting reading, and I (probably like many others) suspected that something along these lines was afoot.

It will be interesting to see how future unfolds regarding interoperability (will that bit get edited out ?)

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TPP Comments

RAF 173 weeks ago

Thank you for your honesty Jon, I hope this comment will pass the scrutiny! There is no place for libellous comments, or plain rudeness, in responses from your readers, but I would hope the EHI community was better than that, and your moderation has always been seen to work in the past, in my opinion. Please be honest with your readers, and perhaps a little earlier, in the future? :-)

[Close, Roz - just edited a bit by EHI]

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Pragmatic or regretful?

Mike Oneil 173 weeks ago

"However, given the concerns raised by readers we felt it necessary to provide an explanation of our editorial position. We regret not having done so earlier."

Good to hear. Can you tell us if there are any other suppliers or organisations that you are in the same legal position with?

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Yes we can

Lyn from Digital Health 173 weeks ago

And no there aren't.

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