We promised a long time ago to add some functions to our automated letters to the editor, particularly the ability to flag letters that are abusive and violate our terms of service (read letters guidelines here). With your help, we’ve cleaned up Letters considerably over the last few years, mainly by requiring fixed screen names and ending the option to post anonymously. Today we're adding a new feature -- readers can flag posts they believe violate our terms.
Mainly, we'll use it as a guide and early warning system for posters who are breaking the rules. It lets us hear from you when there's something we haven't seen. There is no public flag: When you flag a post, Salon editors are alerted, and the individual reader gets an auto-reply from the system thanking them for the information. I don't expect people to abuse the system to flag posts they disagree with, so I won't include a plea that you not do that. Just to refresh your memories, here's what we say about why we remove letters:
Salon reserves the right to delete any letter at its discretion; we may remove letters that are off-topic, crude or vulgar, are of low quality or that violate the law or common decency. Letters that are not deleted may remain on Salon's site in perpetuity. We do not allow HTML links within the body of the letter, and we will not tolerate link spam, links to phishing sites, sites promoting illegal activity, etc.
At the same time, we are phasing out our Editor's Choice system. We simply don't have the person power to keep up with the number of smart letters being posted around the clock, which our readers noticed earlier than we did -- the Editor's Choice view of Letters accounts for roughly 1 percent of the traffic to letters. Down the road we hope to add a function to let you rate letters and help us surface the best ones (as we do with posts on Open Salon).
Thanks for your patience, and thanks for your contributions to Letters.