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You know you're living in a moment of liberal utopia when Markos can put up a post requesting civility, and get about 200 comments debating the meaning of ad hominem and the vagaries of the definition of ad hominem, another two hundred or so debating the relative existential ownership of the community by the community, another fifty or so roundly missing the point and going into ad hominem attacks, and another hundred or so just ignoring all of it and talking about football. Go, Fightin' Lattes!

That's about the point where, let's face it, any true liberal knows everything that's coming next. Personally, I keep a Bosch 18V cordless hammer drill next to my desk at all times, battery fully charged, for use as possible emergency escape if the meta ever gets too bad and I wish to abandon it all, succumbing to the sweet, slightly electric-smelling darkness of Having A Hole Drilled Through My Goddamn Head.

Sometimes I do these meta posts, you see, and every time I wish I had just chosen the drill.

I would like to clear up a few points. Please. Put down the drill. Here, we'll put down our drills together...


1) Copyright

Despite major site freakouts, copyright policy of this site has not changed.

Let me repeat that. The copyright policy of this site has not changed. It has always been the case that theft of copyrighted works was not permitted; reasonable fair use always was, and still is. This is the same policy that every other (responsible) site on the internet has, and it is the same policy that Daily Kos had a year ago, and two years ago.

The copyright "fight" has been so badly misrepresented, by so many parties, that I honestly can't figure out if people are intentionally trying to get it wrong, or if it's one of those purplemonkeydishwasher things where people are just hearing messages that nobody ever actually said.

As far as I know, the copyright policy came up again because of several minor incidents where diarists posted full copyrighted works. They were asked to take them down. They ignored the request, at which point the copyrighted works were removed for them, and they were banned. These were not prominent diarists. There were no site users "itching" to bring the subject up -- Markos brought it up on a single frontpage post because of a few completely egregious cases, as well as a more widespread sense that people weren't being careful enough about not stealing other people's work.

That's it. No freakin' conspiracy. No cabal of site users. Just the same policy as always, coupled with an apparently necessary reminder based on recent instances of people being a bit too liberating with other peoples' work. Thank you to all those in the community that reevaluated your own use of copyrighted text/images; that was the only goal of the reminder.

Similarly, the YouTube thing was simple: there was a YouTube hack going around, so we disabled YouTube until we were convinced we could make it "safe". It had nothing to do with copyright or anything else -- I have no idea where those other notions came from, and I don't want to know.

2) Frontpagers Who Have Opinions On Things

From time to time, a frontpage poster will enter comments and Express An Opinion.

Let me explain something. This does not mean that a group of people has ganged up on you and sent a representative to Express An Official Site Opinion at you. It means that one person saw your post, or saw your comment on it, and like any of the other 100,000 registered users of this site, expressed an opinion about it.

If that opinion is negative, it does not mean people are out to get you, any more than getting a positive message from a frontpager means that the entire frontpage staff wants to be your Secret Santa. Nooooooo. It just means that one person had a personal opinion and expressed it, just like anyone else. Unless they're talking about a guideline of the site that you need to be following, treat their opinion as an opinion.

Of course, frontpagers aren't like anyone else. Take a look at anything meta that Markos posts -- he says any one sentence fragment, like "please respect copyright law", and THE ENTIRE SITE ERUPTS INTO AN ORGY OF KREMLINOLOGY AS TO WHAT MARKOS MIGHT SECRETLY HAVE INTENDED TO MEAN INSTEAD OF THE THING HE ACTUALLY SAID WHICH MIGHT HAVE A HIDDEN MEANING THAT ONLY THE MOST TRICKSY AMONG US ALL CAN POSSIBLY DECIPHER. I think the frontpagers have all gotten a crystal-clear reminder of that, in the last few months, and you have our apologies for those instances in which it was not clear.

But seriously -- and I'm telling forbidden secrets of the site, here, so if I disappear tomorrow it will be BECAUSE MARKOS DIDN'T WANT YOU TO KNOW THIS... it is preternaturally impossible to get the frontpagers to "conspire" against you. Have you freakin' looked at the frontpage? We can't even decide amongst ourselves whether or not to hate Hillary -- there's very little damn chance that we've gotten around to poring over the liberal Necronomicon to decide what we should do about you.

So I'm begging you, give it a rest. Yes, sometimes frontpagers have individual opinions on things. I'm asking you for the basic decency to allow them to have those individual opinions without making them sign, in blood, that they're not "speaking for Markos" or otherwise part of a plot.

Here is another well-kept secret of Daily Kos: different frontpagers have different personalities. Sometimes, some of us are jerks.

Well, duh.

3) What Markos Said, Damn It

If you're going to post here, be prepared for a bit of criticism. One of the better purposes of this site is to hash approaches out before trying them in the real world. If your hard-fought position can't stand the heat of this community, use the experience to refine your approach. If your argument for or against candidate so-and-so doesn't jibe with the arguments people throw back at you, then refine your argument. That's what we're all here for. It's supposed to be a good thing.

If you're only interested in telling people your point of view, and not listening to theirs... why are you here? The whole point of the site is that interplay, back and forth, of ideas. If you want to just preach at people, put up flyers, or better yet get a damn newspaper column. (Hell, try for Cal Thomas's spot, he's hardly even trying at this point.)

At the same time, don't be a damn jerk about criticizing other people -- and this has been getting out of hand, lately, on multiple sides of multiple arguments. It's a discussion, not an inquisition. People can honestly have vastly different approaches or experiences or philosophies and still fit in that "liberal" or "progressive" penumbra just fine.

The goal of Daily Kos is to be as big a Democratic/progressive/liberal tent as possible -- the one thing that will get you in serious trouble is telling other people that if they don't fit your issue criteria, they aren't "liberal" enough and should leave. There's a name for that sort of argumentation: it's called Purity Trolling. There's a place for it, too: it's called Not Here. We're looking to build a movement through numbers, and we're looking to have real-world impact through numbers. That means we have to team up, even if there are (gasp) certain things we disagree on. Where possible.

Where's the only big, huge line? It's at the boundary between "liberal" and "conservative", and the boundary between "Democrat" and "not Democrat". We'll presume everything else is negotiable, and if that's too damn scary for you, you might try a more narrowly focused site where you don't have to speak to people who might like Edwards more than Obama, or have a different opinion on the Israel-Palestine conflict, or who may have different opinions as to whether or not George Bush is truly evil or simply stupid beyond the capacity of the English language to express. Or whatever.

4) Yes, The Rules Really Do Apply To Everyone

We have certain guidelines on what constitutes acceptable community behavior. Generally speaking, when someone points out to you that you're not entirely behaving in line with that policy, it's not their $#@%ing fault, it's yours. Listen to them, and consider whether or not hey might have a point. They may very well be helping you avoid hot water.

Yes, sometimes people go over the top. But more often then not, they've got at least the inkling of a point. If you're going to skirt close to the line of what's allowed and what's not, don't get upset when people mention that. This place has more threads than the site administrators could ever possibly keep track of -- there's no damn way we could do it without the help of the community doing what they are supposed to do, which is to self moderate.

Site guidelines apply to everyone -- but that doesn't mean that we have a hard-and-fast rulebook that gets applied. I'm going to let you in on another super-duper insider secret of Daily Kos here, which is what happens at the decision point of trying to figure out whether to ban someone -- presuming it's a non-obvious case.

There's only one big question I've ever personally had, in any of those decisions: whether or not the person is hurting the site more than they are contributing positively to it. And yes, that means that if you do a lot of good on the site, it tends to work out that the community will allow you to be an ass sometimes, and if you are relentlessly annoying in every thread, all the time, the community is likely to get more and more pissed with every minor infraction. This is called the... um... OK, let's call it the "Theory of Net Positive Contribution". Community goodwill is like mojo: if you don't have much, it doesn't take much to go negative. If you historically tend to have a lot, people are marginally more forgiving of the occasional screwup.

Note that this does tend to mean that site admins aren't prone to freaking out over minor infractions of site guidelines, if it was accidental or trifling. That's a good thing, right? But it does mean that a pattern of such behavior is taken very seriously, and encouraging other people to follow in the same bad footsteps is much, much worse. That's usually when it's time for someone to leave, no matter how much good they're contributing.

An aside -- one thing that sets me off, all the time, is people telling me how they're allowed to act like jerks because so-and-so was a jerk first, and why aren't I yelling at them too? Well, often times someone has yelled at the other person, in private -- that's what the new "warning" system is for, to give people private messages that aren't for the rest of the site to see. But more to the point, it has been historically the case that people who are constantly focused on what other people are getting away with are usually not sufficiently reflective what they themselves have been doing -- and why that might be a problem.

5) There are No Banned Subjects, Only Banned Methods of Argumentation. Except...

I have the electric drill in my hand, pointed at my head. I really, really do. But I'll still squeak this out yet again: you can have whatever opinion you want about 9/11, Katrina, or whatever else. It's the point where you assert things that are categorically not demonstrated to be true, e.g. propagate false information, that you will find yourself in trouble.

This rule exists for one and only one reason: because it is not fair to the other users who post known-accurate diaries and stories on this site to have their own credibility diminished because it's been put alongside false information. It is not fair to the site to cause people to discount good and important information here because of any misinformation surrounding it. It means people can't trust the site. It damages the credibility of the site, it damages the credibility of the community, and it damages the credibility of the netroots.

False information from dodgy sources is not welcome. Linking to sites with a track record of misleading claims or faked stories is forbidden, except as pure comedy.

You are responsible for knowing which sites those are before you link to them.

9/11 conspiracy theories, unlike nearly any other subject you can mention, have been given a special status among all subjects in that they are, despite my lovely subheading up above there, explicitly banned. This is because the "theories" have, over the past years, proven to be so full of disinformation and dishonesty, the same roundly disproven claims coming up again and again and again, that we're quite sure there is no "good" evidence out there. And if there by some miracle someday is such evidence, we're perfectly happy for some other site to break it -- and not us.

You can still say we don't know the whole truth about 9/11. You can still say that there's plenty of things the government is covering up -- hell, who doesn't believe that there's at least some portions of this story that haven't yet seen daylight? You can still say that the administration should damn well have known more about what was coming. That's not "conspiracy theory", that's information put into the record by the 9/11 Commission itself, of all places.

But you can't say it was caused by the Jews, or by space aliens, or by the CIA, or by Bush himself. We've been over them all. Do it somewhere else. Markos has been crystal clear that linking to sites that spout such claims will result in immediate banning. Period. Arguing the point will get you nowhere.

6) Getting A Trollrating Is Not Like Somebody Killing Your Puppy

If you get trollrated for one post -- seriously. Get over it. Learn from it. You may have deserved it, it doesn't mean anyone hates you, and if people are using trollratings correctly the same people who trollrated your post when you went over the line may be the same people to give you a 'recommend' the next time out. A single trollrated post affects your trusted user status hardly at all.

If you get trollrated for lots of posts, I'm going to give you the advice of a lifetime: stop commenting until you've reevaluated your approach. It's like a damn IQ test: if you're digging a hole, how fast can you figure out that you should stop digging?

7) Everyone Who Disagrees With You about Israel Is not Either A Zionist Or An Anti-Semite

On the contrary, you're just an idiot. Please stop sucking the life out of all those around you.

Did I cover every one of the recent freakouts?

I am deeply sorry if any of this sounds like I am talking down to anyone. I'm merely trying to make it as drop-dead simple as I can possibly make it, in the hopes of avoiding endless parsing. In fact, I deeply apologize for this damn meta diary in entirety, and will now go drill that hole through my skull as penance.

I will also speak for the community at large here and say that we are very, very tired of fights about any of the above subjects. Get it out of your system, presume that there is no conspiracy except for those caused by your own actions, and then get on with things. The rest of us have officially gone beyond merely being tired of it, and are now getting angry about it.

Originally posted to Hunter on Mon Feb 05, 2007 at 06:20 AM PST.

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