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Herein I attempt to rewrite the rules on community moderation. The site has changed since the FAQ were first birthed Athena-like from the brow of Kos, both in terms of interface and in terms of how the users view the site.

I have no authority for attempting this. My UID is 207733; I have a middling number of followers but far from the most; I've never met Kos and lack any semblance of a blessing. I'm just trying this because I've seen a lot of discussion but no one actually trying to clearly state "This is how we should all work together to make this site work".

Since I have no authority and not too much expertise I am willing to accept any and all criticism of my ideas. Comment at will. Comments that resonate with my two remaining functional brain neurons may be included in the diary via update. More below the Orange Squiggle of Power.

Reference Material


The Purpose of the Site

From the DK3 FAQ (2010):

Daily Kos will be what Daily Kos is, and that oftentimes evolves. I know everyone wants their clearly defined rules, but nothing is that simple.

This site is CERTAINLY NOT for all Democrats. Joe Lieberman learned that. Blanche Lincoln is about to learn it.

This site is about more and better Democrats, not necessarily in that order.

An earlier (2004) and more verbose statement was:

This is a Democratic blog, a partisan blog. One that recognizes that Democrats run from left to right on the ideological spectrum, and yet we're all still in this fight together. We happily embrace centrists like NDN's Simon Rosenberg and Howard Dean, conservatives like Martin Frost and Brad Carson, and liberals like John Kerry and Barack Obama. Liberal? Yeah, we're around here and we're proud. But it's not a liberal blog. It's a Democratic blog with one goal in mind: electoral victory. And since we haven't gotten any of that from the current crew, we're one more thing: a reform blog. The battle for the party is not an ideological battle. It's one between establishment and anti-establishment factions. And as I've said a million times, the status quo is untenable.

Both quotes are from Kos.

Putting those together, and putting my own spin on it, I interpret the purpose of this site to be:

Making the World Better by Means of the Democratic Party

That is, there's no point to politics just as a game where our team "wins" and their team "loses". We want to elect more and better Democrats because that way the world winds up a better place. Part of the fun, of course, is defining "better place", and part is time horizons - a better place in 24 hours, or in 24 years? But that's another conversation.

We have rules, then, so that this site may serve its purpose. The purpose of community moderation is to enforce the rules in such a way that the site is more useful for the stated purpose.

Some derived assumptions

Democrats are better than non-Democrats

That is true only in general, not in every case. It does mean, though, that diaries or comments which argue that Democrats are no better than Republicans, or that we should abstain from voting at all, or that we should support a third party, are contrary to the purpose of the site, even if your arguments are from the left flank rather than the right. You shouldn't come here and say what Karl Rove wants said, even from pure and sincere motives.
Since it is true only in general, that does leave open the possibility that a certain Democrat, somewhere, is unworthy of a vote or support. But you had better have a good alternative in mind.

We must be tolerant of different Democrats

This is clearly stated in the 2004 "purpose" block quote. Whatever an HR is for, it is not a way of telling someone they are wrong.

We are supposed to be gadflies to the Democratic Establishment

Sycophancy is for Republicans. If the Robert Gibb's wasn't angry with the "professional left", it would mean Daily Kos was not doing its job. Which also means, of course, that being angry with him for being angry means that you just don't get it. There is no record of any heifer Io being grateful to a gadfly.

We are in a battle with the Republicans and the malign forces which control them

Which means defeating Republicans is always a worthwhile goal even if the Democrat in question is not particularly worthy.

In order to have better Democrats, we have to criticize Democrats

The ultimate form of criticism, of course, is calling for a primary. No one is immune from discussion of the question. Just to provide an example, I hereby suggest that maybe we should primary Bernie Sanders prior to the next election. Bernie is getting up there in age, but he doesn't seem to have designated a "heir apparent" to take over for him in a smooth transition. To avoid having Bernie's seat go the way of Ted Kennedy's, I hereby call for someone younger to mount a primary challenge.

OK, re-assemble your exploded heads and remember it was just an example :-)

What, then, should be Hide Rated?

The Ban-able Offenses

From the D3 FAQ, search for "ban". Refer therein for details.
  • Sufficiently Obnoxious Behavior
  • Copyright violations
  • Hotlinking to sites not designed for that purpose
  • Violence
  • Outing
  • Undisclosed affiliation when germane
  • GBCW
  • Bigoted language
  • Thread Stalking
  • Return after banning
  • Tag Abuse
  • Conspiracy Theories
  • Use of Sock Puppets

Discussion of the ban-able offenses

I think we all agree these are Bad Things. But some of these are vague. Some are deliberately vague, e.g., "obnoxious behavior". The only one that seems clear-cut is the GBCW ban, which is not normally a matter for trusted users. I would suggest that trusted users HR posts or comments which violate these rules as a "warning shot" to someone who may not know the rules, or may have forgotten them due to typing without thinking. Egregious violations, OTOH, don't deserve an HR. They deserve a visit to the bottom of the page, where there is a "Contact | General Inquiries" link. Copy the URL of the post or comment, and send it to the site administration. Don't waste your time debating with people who think they are within their rights to out someone, or threaten to beat you to a pulp. They don't need donuts, they need some time in the metaphorical corner. If you aren't completely certain that someone has committed a serious offense, HR rather than contact. BTW, many of these offenses have a "warn - suspend - ban" sequence, so you aren't asking for someone to be banned if you complain about, e.g., bigoted language.

In case you don't know, the URL of a comment is "hidden" behind the comment time / date string at the bottom of the comment - the line that says "by user on X", the "X" string is a link to the comment.

Bigoted language

Although the FAQ do not mention religion, I think that it is a useful practice to not refer to the members of any sect (including, e.g, fundamentalist Christians or Salafist Muslims or Scientologists) in a way that lumps everyone in a particular group together as The Other. I'm not asking you to not mock evolution denial or anachronistic practices or Xemu; I'm asking you to keep your own head on straight. It does not help YOU as a person or a blogger if you think all of Them are exactly the same, which is EVIIIIIIIIL (or otherwise inferior to you).

Conspiracy Theories

As I understand it, this began with 9/11 Truthers. Once the tenth anniversary is past, perhaps we can remove CT from the list of ban-able offenses. If Kos does not want to do that - because being "reality-based" is still important - then I think we need to precisely list which ideas are regarded as CT, so that HR's can be distributed fairly.

For example, I find the meme that the prolonged negotiations between Democrats (or Obama) and Republicans are all kabuki or a charade because really they are all the same party serving the overlords to be a CT. For starters, it requires everyone to be in on it - Bernie Sanders, Al Franken, Alan Grayson, Russ Feingold, Nancy Pelosi, everyone. If this is true, then this site is pointless and a waste of time. Therefore, regardless of the merits of this theory, it flies in the face of the purpose of the site, discourages participation in politics (unless you call violent revolution politics), and should therefore be HR'd if we are going to shun CT. That's one example; there are others, and if we want to community moderate CT, we need a list that can be pointed to by community moderators.

Aside: I once had someone tell me that Alan Grayson didn't call Obama a Republican because he was "too polite". I came within millimeters of blasting coffee out my nose at the thought of a timid, overly polite Alan Grayson.

Stuff to HR other than ban-able offenses

Briefly - anything that detracts materially from the goal of "Making the World Better by Means of the Democratic Party" and has no other redeeming social value is a candidate for being hidden. I will try to describe identifiable categories - of course, your mileage may vary, and comments are welcome. Distinguish between "detracts" and "doesn't advance as much as something else, IMNHO". Community diaries, whether about Top Comments or Pooties, build community and are blessed by the Great Orange Satan himself. They do not "detract" just because they aren't clearly about Democrats.

Ad hominem attacks on fellow Kossacks

Wee Mama wrote a nice post on civility, citizenship, and siglines, which included this image.

I would say that the bottom row should sometimes be HR'd - and being a middle-class suburban petite bourgeoisie, the more profane, the more HR'able I find it. It would help raise the level of comment threads if people would avoid name calling. This is not critical.
The next row up, though, should almost always be HR'd. Name calling diminishes community, which is bad; ad hominem arguments are a form of lying. If you can't make an argument without calling a fellow Kossack untrustworthy because they are One Of Those People, then you don't have an argument. Lying by definition reduces the utility of this site. To be clear, disagreement is not the same as dishonesty.

Advancing Republican arguments

If you're agreeing with Rush Limbaugh, don't say it here. Or even Mitt Romney, who says the same things as Rush but with less vivid imagery. An exception must be made for those issues, like the ACA mandate, where the Republicans are attacking because they are hypocritical asshats, and some Democrats are attacking on principle. This really doesn't happen that often, though.

Intolerance of Democratic Diversity

It is fine to like some Democrats more than others, and some Kossacks more than others. It really isn't fine to carry a disagreement from one topic into every other topic, whether discussing politicians or your fellow Kossacks. If you can't pie fight with someone in post "A" because they are just wrong ... and then give them mad recommends in post "B" because they are just right ... maybe you need some time away from the keyboard. I've had to swallow hard sometimes before hitting "recommend" because the Kossack's sig line made me cringe - but I go ahead and do it. Focus on personalities rather than content of posts / comments detracts from the utility of the site and when you see someone carrying a fight from one post to another an HR is probably in order.

Failure to recognize we're in a war

Posts and comments which give aid and comfort to the enemy are candidates for HR. Better Democrats means that any Democrat can be criticized, as noted above. Or even primaried. That's not at all the same as running down the entire party en masse. Or promulgating theories which assert every or almost every Democrat is a sell out or corrupt. If you think that's true, this isn't your site. In the end, the presumption of innocence (in opinions) should go TO Democrats, but NOT TO Republicans.

OK, meta dump ends. Your meta comments begin. Have fun.

Originally posted to aardvark droppings on Wed Aug 31, 2011 at 02:22 PM PDT.

Also republished by Cranky Users, J Town, and Meta Groupies.

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