Now, this is a phenomenon that I am familiar with. Part of what I do in real life is help communities get back in touch with their history and claim it so they can move into the future.
There's two ways they do that. One is to tell stories about themselves. Kos, if you or any of the other front-page diarists are reading this, I think it'd be great to open up a "reminiscing" thread, where folks can add what they know about the history of the place. They might even say a nice thing or two about you.
But the other way communities get ahold of their history (specifically the "rules" that define the community) is to spend some time spelling them out. That's what I'd like to focus on in the extended text.
2. No single-line diaries. If you want to bring attention to a single link, or make a one-line pithy comment, head on over to the Open Threads or an appropriate post or diary entry.
3. No repetitive diaries. If it's been blogged or diaried, there's no need to repeat it. Take a moment to ensure your topic hasn't been blogged. And if you post your same diary entry twice, consider it grounds for banning.
4. Use "Extended Copy" box. If your diary entry is longer than three paragraphs, use the extended entry box. Be considerate and don't clutter up the Diaries home page with epic entries.
To which we might add a word of explanation: the diaries go by mighty quick around here. The last I heard, we had somewhere north of 200 entries per day. That's a lot of information to wade through, and it's helpful for everyone if we don't have to waste it hearing the same stuff over and over, or getting a morsel of perspective that might have been better appended to somebody else's thread.
Update [2004-10-4 13:57:14 by pastordan]: If you plan on posting regularly, you may want to reset your diary display to show more than 10 diaries at a time. Many people use 50--it gives you a fair number of things to look at without getting to be too out of date. See the comments below for directions on how to do this.
Remember as well that you can always delete a diary, if you've accidentally duplicated somebody else's, or if you're just not satisfied with it.
Next, we might want to explain the rating system. There are almost as many systems as there are users, but the way it's designed to work is this:
- A 4 means the comment is superb. Generally, 4's get handed out for comments that are particularly insightful, informative, moving, or just plain funny.
- A 3 is for above-average comments. Not great, not terrible.
- A 2 is for a fairly marginal comment. These comments don't add much to the conversation, and the 2 serves as a kind of "shot across the bow" to warn that you may want to reconsider adding such comments in the future.
- A 1 is a "troll-rated" comment. These are comments that are basically devoid of content, add nothing to the conversation, and/or are offensive.
- A 0 is a "super-troll" comment. Generally speaking, 0s are reserved for auto-generated comments, or for comments that serve no other purpose than to sow hurt, confusion and dissent among the posters. Only Trusted Users may give 0s.
Comments that fall below an average ranking of "1" become hidden comments, meaning they disappear off the thread. Trusted Users can see hidden comments, and are allowed to either rate this comment down to keep it off the board, or to give it a higher rating so it remains visible, if this helps the conversation. If a comment collects two 0 ratings, it automatically becomes hidden, regardless of its average rating. (n.b. #1: a comment's rating does not become visible until two users have rated it. A rating of 0/1 is not necessarily a zero; it simply means only one person has rated that comment. n.b. #2: Comments currently cannot be edited, and ratings can be changed, but not removed altogether. Users are encouraged to exercise caution in what they say and how they rate.)
Ratings reflect an evaluation of behavior, not of agreement. Users should not give 1s or 0s to comments simply on the basis of disagreeing with another user's perspective. They should give out 1s for language that is rude, abusive, insulting or otherwise offensive. This is a self-policing community, and we covenant with one another to make this board a place where all voices can be heard without fear of ridicule, hostility, or overtly hurtful responses.
There is some disagreement about how best to apply these standards, and about what exactly "all voices" means. The first is probably an intractable argument; many users means many standards, unfortunately. But there is general agreement on the second that Republicans, Naderites, etc., are welcome on the board, as long as they're respectful, and as long as they don't try to sidetrack or defeat the overarching goal of the site: to build up a strong Democratic party capable of resisting Republican political domination. Update [2004-10-4 14:55:4 by pastordan]: As KidOakland points out in the comments, a good basic rule is to debate or rate, not both at the same time.
Onwards: this site relies on what's called the mojo system. The system boils down to this: hang around the board long enough and collect enough 4s, and you become a Trusted User. This enables you to see and review hidden comments, and to give comments a 0. In return, Trusted Users are asked to take extra responsibility in policing the site by helping to banish trolls and ensure the fairness of comment ratings. Trusted User status is not permanent for most folks: if you collect enough 1s and 0s, you can lose it. But it can also be regained by more productive contributions.
Hang around long enough and collect enough 0s and 1s, and you become a troll, and are liable to get kicked off the board. While Kos and some other users have the ability to summarily eject particularly difficult users, most banishees are removed by an automated system.
A dKos tradition for dealing with trolls' diaries is to post recipes on them, rather than address the substance of the post. This has caused a number of trolls to stumble off the board in confusion, as well as distributed some delicious food ideas.
The precise workings of mojo are shrouded in mystery deliberately to prevent gaming the system. How do you know you've become a Trusted User? When you see 0 included in your rating options, or when you can access the "Review Hidden Comments" page. How do you know when you've become a troll? Presumably, you get a notice informing you that you're no longer welcome to post.
General guidelines: generally speaking, the lower the User ID number, the more respect a user is accorded. (You can find the UID by holding your cursor over a user's handle in a comment.) This for a couple of reasons. One, they're assumed to know more about the ethos and history of the board, and therefore to be better instructors. Two, they often have established themselves as welcome and appreciated members of the community. It's considered bad form for a newbie to insult or mark down an established user without some strong justification.
Discussions on the board can get heated at times. Many Kossites (Kossacks, Kosopolitans) are people with strong opinions. Again generally speaking, it's acceptable to hold a contrary opinion; what's not acceptable is to shove that opinion in somebody's face, or to stick to it for so long that your insistence becomes obnoxious. If your exchange isn't producing new understanding on either side, or if other users are telling you that your enthusiasm is a bit misplaced, it's probably time to let it go. This is particularly true if your conversation is sidetracking the main thread or making it difficult to carry on the main conversation.
As Kos himself pointed out, you're liable to reap what you sow. Trash a candidate, and you'll hear from that candidate's supporters. Offer constructive criticism (outside a rallying thread), and you're likely to be thanked for your insight.
It's considered rude to insult or swear at a conversation partner on the board, and it is never acceptable to threaten physical violence. (Kos, if you're reading this, making threats should probably be grounds for automatic expulsion.) If you can't get through a conversation without telling the other person to go Cheney themselves, or threatening to hit them so hard their vertebrae come popping out like Chiclets, it's probably time to turn your computer off and go get drunk.
My personal guideline is to treat people as if I were meeting them at a diner until I get to know them: be polite, don't make assumptions, listen carefully to what they have to say. They may be the biggest jerk you've ever met; but they may also have something to teach you.
Whew. Anybody have anything to add?
[editor's note, by pastordan] Guess so. Thanks to everyone, whether you're credited or not!!