AT on: Stores That Don't Like Comments

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Last week we were shocked that a reader was being harassed by a store due to her comments. She had called asking us to take down her comment because she couldn't take it anymore. We asker her how they had found her. She thought that WE had given them her information. No way, we told her, they must have figured out who she was from her comment. We took down her comment, but the whole thing sucked.

Stores don't understand how important customer service is these days, when the web is just a few taps away...This week we've already been called by two lawyers who want us to take down comments that are not positive about their client's stores (they shall remain unnamed). Complain away, we said, we're not taking down reader's comments without permission. It is also our understanding that, legally, we are in the right here.

Indeed, the tension seems to be mounting, because we've gotten a sprinkling of these things over the years, but never like this.

Therefore, we felt this was a good time to make our current editorial position clear:

We do everything in support of our mission: to help folks make their homes more beautiful, organized and healthy.

Therefore...

- We post all stores and services that we feel are good and useful
- We support all comments that we feel are honest and useful to our readers, regardless of whether they are positive or not
- We don't remove comments without the commenter's permission, EXCEPT FOR...
- We do remove comments that are not honest or useful to our readers, such as spam, nonsense or those that are not on the subject at all.

Also in the process of updating posts, we have in the past summarized old comments inside the post before deleting the comment, always giving credit. This has been to keep the post fresh and updated, not to eliminate voices.

As for the stores themselves, we've worked with many over the past few years to help them understand the web and teach them how they can address their concerns without suing, sicking their lawyers on us or harassing readers. The big lesson here is that if you work with communities on the web, you will be rewarded.

In keeping with this, we always tell them the same thing:

- They are free to address their detractors in the comment thread directly.
- They are free to elicit comments from their other customers who have had positive experiences with them.
- They may try to write bogus positive reviews, but folks generally pick this up pretty quickly and it can really backfire.
- They are free to offer us more information (factual) that will make their post clearer and up to date.

Finally, we hope that this makes it absolutely clear to our readers that we are here first and foremost for YOU, but we are also not in the business of muckracking or shit slinging. If a store's bad, we're probably not going to spend much time on it, but if it becomes an issue with our reader's we will.

And we will always protect your comments.

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Healthy Living

Maxwell left teaching in 2001 to start Apartment Therapy as a design business helping people to make their homes more beautiful, organized AND healthy. The website started up in 2004 with the help of his brother, Oliver.

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