Frequently asked questions

We want to help you get to get the most out of our site. If you have a problem with Have Your Say please read the answers to frequently asked questions.

Debate topics

Posting messages

Registration and signing in


How do I suggest a topic for discussion?

We welcome suggestions for topics of discussion from our users. If you have an idea for something you would like to talk about click here and fill in the form at the bottom of the page.

Why can't I start a new thread?

The BBC has a responsibility to encourage those who are new to message boards to take part. We believe having one thread per debate keeps the process of contributing and viewing a debate simple.

Why have you rewritten and changed the questions on a debate?

As many of our debates follow current and developing news events/stories, the content and questions are updated in relation to any changes in the story.

How do I find an old debate?

Search for the corresponding news story using BBC search where there will usually be a link to a debate from within the story.

Why have you closed a debate?

Debates are closed because the topic of discussion has moved out of the news headlines and a more important or relevant story has taken its place. Due to the volume of comments we receive on a daily basis we will only keep the most relevant and current topics open.

Why do you have a character limit?

Moderators set the character limit when a debate is opened. A character limit is set to encourage users to make their point in a short and concise way. This will enable moderators to publish as many comments as possible from the thousands we receive each day.

How can I see if my comments have been published?

If you are a registered user and are signed in you will see a link called MY COMMENTS under the moderation status. If you click on this link you will be taken to your profile page where you can see the status of each of your comments. There is a comment status key on the right-hand side. Unfortunately, if you are a guest user there is no way of searching for your comments other than manually looking through the pages of the debate you have contributed to.

Why can't I add a URL to my comment?

It is necessary for moderators to check any external internet sites to ensure that it does not contain any questionable or illegal content. If you know of a worthy web site relevant to the discussion, please inform the Have Your Say moderators via the Contact Us link.

My real name appears on my comments, can I change it so my user name appears instead?

Yes. Sign in to your account and click on the 'retrieve my details' tab at the top of the page. For security purposes, you will be asked to enter your password again. At the bottom of the page, click on the 'make changes' button next to "Have Your Say Preferences". You can then decide on what information appears alongside your comments.

How do I register to become a member of Have Your Say?

If you would like to become a member of Have Your Say you will need to register. You can do this by clicking on any debate from the Have Your Say index. At the top of every debate you will see a "create your membership" button. Click on this and follow the on-screen instructions.

I have registered but I have not received a confirmation e-mail, what do I do?

If you have not received a validation e-mail we may need to send it to you again. To do this, sign in with your member name and password.

Click on the 'send me the e-mail again button', you should then check your inbox to see if you have received the e-mail.

I am having problems registering, what do I do?

If after 10 minutes you are still experiencing the same problems, please click here for details of how to contact us.

Can I change the e-mail address that I registered with?

Yes. Sign in to your account and click on the 'retrieve my details' tab at the top of the page. For security purposes, you will be asked to enter your password again. Click on the 'make changes' button underneath your e-mail address. Please note that if you change your e-mail address we will need to verify the new address.

How do I change my details once I have registered?

Sign in to your account and click on the 'retrieve my details' tab at the top of the page. For security purposes, you will be asked to enter your password again. You can then view, change or delete any of your membership details.

Can I change my user name once I have registered?

Unfortunately you cannot change your user name once you have registered. If you want a different user name you will need to re-register and create a new account.

Once I have registered, do you pass my personal details on to any external sources?

In general, any information you provide to the BBC will only be used within the BBC and by its agents and service providers. Your information will be disclosed where we are obliged or permitted by law. Also, if you post or send offensive, inappropriate or objectionable content anywhere on or to or otherwise engage in any disruptive behaviour on, the BBC can use whatever information that is available to it about you to stop such behaviour. This may involve informing relevant third parties such as your employer, school e-mail/Internet provider and law enforcement agencies about the content and your behaviour.

For full details of the BBC's privacy policy please click here.

How secure are my personal details?

We will hold your personal information on our systems for as long as you use the service you have requested, and remove it in the event that the purpose has been met, or, in the case of membership you no longer wish to continue your registration as a member. For safety reasons, however, the BBC may store messaging transcript data (including message content, member names, times and dates) arising from the use of Where personal information is held for people who are not yet registered but have taken part in other services (eg competitions), that information will be held as long as is necessary to ensure that the service is run smoothly. We will ensure that all personal information supplied is held securely, in accordance with the Data Protection Act 1998.

For full details of the BBC's privacy policy please click here.

Why has my account been suspended?

If you consistently break house rules your account will be suspended. You will receive an e-mail from the team detailing why your account has been suspended. Moderators will also suspend accounts if you have registered with an unsuitable name. If you receive an e-mail requesting a change to your details please make the changes and reply to the e-mail in order for us to reactivate your account.

Why has my account be banned?

If you register with a user name which has broken a house rules your account will be banned. You will receive an e-mail from the team detailing why your account has been banned. Please ensure that when registering with Have Your Say that you choose a user name that is not vulgar or offensive. We may also ban your account if you consistently break the house rules.

Why has my comment not been published?

Due to the large volume of comments that we receive, we cannot guarantee that all comments submitted will be published on the site, but we try our best to publish as many as we can. We currently moderate about half of the comments we receive. If you have not registered, or a debate is fully moderated, we have to read all comments to make sure that they have not broken any house rules before they are published. Your contribution could be waiting to be viewed by a moderator or it is possible that a moderator has read your comment and decided it has broken one of our house rules. Be sure to read the house rules as keeping your comments within those guidelines will increase your chance of getting them published. We do not have any preferences to any particular users and we try to get as wide a range of opinion published as possible.

How many messages do you moderate?

On a normal day we receive between 3,000 and 6,000 comments. Some topics obviously attract more attention than others, which can mean we receive anything up to or around 20,000 per day. At the height of the Big Brother race row in January 2007, we received 16,734 comments on one day alone. Some debates are harder to moderate because of the subject matter and can take longer than others.

Who are the moderators and what else do they do?

There is a small team of moderators who write, publish and moderate the debates. This team updates the debates if a story changes and suggests new ideas for topics that our users might be interested in. If the moderators spot any good comments or stories they will then pass these on to a team of journalists and you may be contacted to take part in a BBC News programme.

Why have no comments been published on a debate for a while?

Our moderators are regularly on hand to review messages 24 hours a day seven days a week. Although we try to read messages as quickly as possible, there may be delays at busy times and on popular debates.

Please also bear in mind that the time displayed at the top of each published comment is the time from when a user submitted a comment and not the time it was published by the moderators.

Why has my comment been removed?

Our policy is to remove posts that break our house rules. If you feel a message you posted has been removed without justification, you can reword it and resubmit it for consideration. We will also remove anything that contains a copy of the comment that has broken the house rule and any subsequent replies.

A comment has broken a house rule, how to do I alert a moderator?

Click here for an explanation of how to alert a moderator.

I have alerted a moderator about a comment but nothing has been done about it, why?

If the moderators feel that the comment you complained about does not break the house rules, the message will remain on the site. If you still feel that your complaint has not been dealt with satisfactorily you can contact us by clicking here.

Why do you not correct the spelling and grammar of some of the comments that are posted?

Correcting the spelling and grammar of the thousands of comments we receive each day would be time consuming and would lead to fewer comments being published.

Why do you not have more debates reactively moderated?

We want to keep as many topics as possible in reactive moderation because it will allow many more people to contribute to the debates. But there are some that will have to remain fully moderated because of the contentious issues surrounding them.

Why are non-licence fee payers allowed to contribute?

Although the BBC is funded by the licence fee we do encourage users from all over the world to contribute to our debates. This enables us to get a broad spread of opinions from as many different countries as possible.

Why do you have an age limit?

People of all ages are encouraged to read and use Have Your Say, but in the interests of child protection, those under 16 aren't allowed to become members. They can still submit comments, and these will be read by the Have Your Say moderators before being published on the site. If you are aged 16 or under, please get your parent/guardian's permission beforehand whenever you provide personal information to the BBC's website. Users without this consent are not allowed to provide us with personal information.

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