Draft SEPARC Social Media Comment Policy

Hi Theresa, Andrea et al.,

Thanks for the feedback so far.

Just to offer some additional explanation, my interest in starting to think about a code of conduct that applies to SEPARC communications chairs (or other admins/moderators) is to let users know what they can expect when they "like" us on social media.

I do not think it’s as critical as the "user" code of conduct, at this stage.

So, we may want to table that portion of the discussion and focus for now on the "user" portion of the agreement.

I will put out there that I favor the idea of a "contract" of expectations between us and our members on our official communication channels, though, which is why I went ahead and included those items at this stage. I like the idea of the contract being two-way.

I am not sure about users posting graphic photos and I think I forgot to address that, so good catch. I can see that someone eager to get a message out about road killed animals might try to get an emotional reaction that could harm our followers and ability to get our conservation message out to the greatest number of people. So perhaps we should address that in the user agreement.

Personally, I follow the Kentucky Dept. of Fish and Wildlife Resources on Facebook, and find their images of dead, bloodied game animals disturbing. Even though 90% of their followers (sometimes literally) eat that up, and even though I support culling deer herds. I personally don’t like photos of people smiling with dead, bloody animals, even though I know hunting supports overall wildlife health.

It’s not a priority for me, but let me explain a few items related to the portion that applies to user’s expectations of our conduct (meaning, expectations for how administrators / moderators conduct themselves).

Also, my thinking is this "social media code of conduct" does not include the www.separc.org web site.

So, we can be as gross as we want there – and we kind of have to be:

There’s no way around that the disease task team and the roads task team both have to reckon with unpleasant images.

For social media, however… I think we risk losing followers if we post images of "traumatized" animals.

For example I follow National Geographic on Instagram.

They posted a photo of a lion with a dead buffalo calf dangling from its mouth.

No blood. Not offensive. Just nature.

But someone said "why this negative image? It ruins the other beautiful images. Unfollowing."

As far as a disclaimer, check out what Lake Jackson Eco-Passage did:


The story of road-killed animals is pretty much fundamental to their message.

But, recognizing the risk of the disturbing images interfering with reception of the message, they used a disclaimer that you actually have to "hover" over.

Anyway just a few thoughts on that.

Sidebar: is the word document working for everyone? I can make a google doc on SEPARC google drive if that would work better. I believe it would allow us all to collaboratively comment / edit it in real time.


On Wed, Mar 4, 2015 at 9:55 AM, Drayer, Andrea N <andrea.drayer> wrote:

Hi Tanner,

This is really good. I see Theresa’s point about the road-mortality, but I think if I am reading it right the first part is for the general public and the second part is for the SEPARC Communications Mode of conduct (Maybe should read SEPARC Moderators Code of Conduct? – To be more clear). Posting things on road mortality is only directed at the general public. I do think it is important to be clear about the general public posting graphic images as people really like to post pictures of dead snakes.

Maybe we can address this by putting a 4th clause in the SEPARC communications section about reserving the right to use graphic images for educational/fact based purposes when deemed necessary.


From: theresastrat [mailto:theresastrat] On Behalf Of Theresa Stratmann
Sent: Wednesday, March 04, 2015 8:18 AM
To: Tanner Jessel
Cc: Drayer, Andrea N; Thomas Gorman; Amanda Heh; Bill Sutton; jellyevans
Subject: Re: Draft SEPARC Social Media Comment Policy

Hi Tanner,

I think this looks really good.

I would hesitate to add the last part about not posting traumatic images… now let me try to rephase that in a way that doesn’t sound so horrible: I was just thinking about the roads task team and how they might use images like that to make a point/gain empathy. Maybe photos like this should be put up with a disclaimer or something. Sadly images like this are what a lot of people respond to. I personally hate seeing them but I also don’t want this to hinder any of our groups in getting out a message (in a non-advocacy kind of way, of course). Maybe these messages can be portrayed without such images. Don’t know. I’d be interested to get other people’s opinion.

Anyways, just my 2-cents.


B.S. Ecology, 2013
The University of Georgia

M.S. Candidate, Wildlife and Fisheries Biology
Clemson University
261 Lehotsky Hall
Clemson, SC 29634


803-767-6108 (cell)

On Mon, Mar 2, 2015 at 11:01 PM, Tanner Jessel <mountainsol> wrote:

Hi all,

Here is the draft that we can build on.

What I wrote for us is on page 3 and 4.

Pages 1 and 2 were just copied and pasted from FWS / DOI to give me something to start with (plus the FWS comment policy which I already linked to), but I thought I’d leave them there so you can see what I added and/or left out.

I’m hoping this is a "write once, use everywhere" kind of thing.

Oh and I included something about code of conduct for communications… sort of like "we have expectations for you, but also for ourselves." Just what I could think of for now that we’ve already talked about at PARC and the regional level.


On Mon, Mar 2, 2015 at 4:07 PM, Drayer, Andrea N <andrea.drayer> wrote:


Thanks for being on top of this and handling the situation well. It’s frustrating that people feel the need to post comments like this, even if it is a good point being made. It is just not constructive. I like all the points the FWC has in their policy, but I would like to see one a little more professional for our site. We definitely need at least a temporary one up asap. Thanks for being willing to draft one for us.

PS: Good work on growing our followers. It’s great that we have some momentum online now. Thanks for all your hard work.


From: Tanner Jessel [mailto:mountainsol]
Sent: Monday, March 02, 2015 3:48 PM
To: Thomas Gorman
Cc: Theresa Stratmann; Drayer, Andrea N; Amanda Heh; Bill Sutton; jellyevans

Subject: Re: Justin Collins (friends with Christopher L. Jenkins) commented on a link Southeast Partners in Amphi…

Yes I will bring my work computer home (has MS Word) and send out a draft tonight.


On Mon, Mar 2, 2015 at 3:45 PM, Thomas Gorman <gormant> wrote:

Hi All,

I agree we need to come up with something asap. Tanner, I completely support your decision in regards to this post. I’m fine with the spirit of the FWC policy, but I think it could be cleaned up a bit. Any way you could put it in a word document and then we could float it by the entire steering committee as our adopted SEPARC policy? .



From: Theresa Stratmann [mailto:theresastrat]
Sent: Monday, March 02, 2015 3:30 PM
To: Tanner Jessel
Cc: Drayer, Andrea N; Thomas Gorman; Amanda Heh; Bill Sutton; jellyevans
Subject: Re: Justin Collins (friends with Christopher L. Jenkins) commented on a link Southeast Partners in Amphi…

Thanks Tanner for taking action and for reaching out to PARC… concerning but not surprising, that they don’t have a policy. I think a policy probably should be in place and emphasize this idea that the page is meant to host constructive, respectful discussion between open-minded people and that means using language that is respectful and professional, fostering discussion not alienation.

On Mon, Mar 2, 2015 at 3:24 PM, Tanner Jessel <mountainsol> wrote:


I agree,

The problem of geo-sensitivity and "over-herping" is a worthwhile discussion, although:

the OP (Original Poster) apparently did not read the original post or the linked article before complaining.

The article names "overall regions" like "Florida Panhandle" and "generic places" like "tin fields"

"Eastern North Carolina" is not giving away any top-secret herping spots.

That’s about as specific as the entire article gets.

I agree it’s a valuable discussion – and informative for me to avoid posting sensitive geo-location information or risk the wrath of herpers.

All that being said, at this point, I’m in the wrong for "moderating" when we don’t have a clear policy concerning profanity.

But the potential harm of profanity leading us to lose followers is at this point greater than the potential harm of annoying one follower for moderating a comment.

So, that’s partly why I followed up right away with Val, Priya, and the new PARC social media intern (James).

Here is the link to the post.

By the way, by "hiding" a comment (as opposed to deleting it), Admins can see it and the OP can see it, but I can’t see it when I’m using facebook as my work social media account (IBSS).



On Mon, Mar 2, 2015 at 3:14 PM, Theresa Stratmann <theresastrat> wrote:

Hmmmmm, we should definitely allow a diverse array of opinions (which post was he referring to?) but I guess profanity is not okay (cover your ears at the meeting … I think we all use it) on a professional site.

If he’s referring to not making good herp spots known, he’d be starting a worth-while conversation, but his wording is not okay/ does not create a comfortable place for a discussion….

Maybe that’s what we should emphasize in any policy we make… that we want this page to host constructive, respectful discussion between open-minded people and that means using language that is respectful and professional.

But now this is the new co-chairs’ problem to deal with 🙂


On Mon, Mar 2, 2015 at 2:58 PM, Tanner Jessel <mountainsol> wrote:

FYI – forgot to include you on this e-mail to SEPARC / PARC leaders.

By the way there is one step up from "moderate" on Facebook’s profanity filter.

I’m not really sure what all each level entails, and there’s still "creative uses" of unicode like @$$ etc.

Anyway, I suppose now that we are popular, I do need to add a "comment policy" to the site.

I checked – national PARC does not have one.

We talked about this a bit back when I set up the SEPARC blog.

FWS has a comment policy.

We could copy either / both for SEPARC, for now?

Maybe call it "interim comment policy."


About Tanner Jessel

I am a recent M.S. in Information Science graduate from the University of Tennessee School of Information Science. I was formerly a graduate research assistant funded by DataONE (Data Observation Network for Earth). Prior, I worked for four years as a content lead and biodiversity scientist with the U.S. Geological Survey's Biodiversity Informatics Program. Building on my work experience in biodiversity and environmental informatics, my work with DataONE focused on exploring the nature of scientific collaborations necessary for scientific inquiry. I also conducted research concerning user experience and usability, and assisted in development of member nodes with an emphasis on spatial data and infrastructure. I assisted with research designed to understand sociocultural issues within collaborative research communities. Through August 1, 2014, I was based at the Center for Information and Communication Studies at the University of Tennessee School of Information Science in Knoxville, Tennessee.

Posted on March 4, 2015, in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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