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This is a continuation of my last diary.  The main changes involve trying to address issues raised in the comments to my last diary and incorporating some of what Meteor Blades has written on moderation and meta.  This is a request for comments on changes, additions, and deletions that should be considered.

As I said before, this diary is a first step towards drafting a partial FAQ on comment ratings that can be incorporated into a larger DK4 FAQ.  This may become obsolete when Daily Kos adopts the planned Community Moderation scheme, but should still be adaptable to guidelines for flagging questionable posts in that system.

The intent is to create a draft that can be put up on dKosopedia, for all in the community to help maintain, as they wish.

What are comment ratings?  Who can rate comments?

Users have an option to vote to recommend, beginning one week after registration.  Additionally, "trusted users" have the ability to vote to hide comments.  They can give up to five hide ratings per day.  The ability to rate comments can be taken away due to misbehavior, either temporarily or permanently.

Why are trusted users limited to five hide ratings per day?

Unlimited hide ratings were tried and didn't work, according to kos.

Why can hide ratings no longer be recycled?

The ability to take back a hide rating so that you can use it on someone else was removed because an audit revealed "the VAST majority were used for nefarious purposes".

What is a troll rating?  What is a donut?  What is a 4?

Hide ratings were previously referred to as troll ratings, a term still used by some.  A "donut", or a "zero", is another name for a hide rating.  A "4" is another term for a recommend.  A former ratings system used to allow users to rate comments on a scale from 0 to 4.

How can you tell if a comment has been rated?  How can you tell who has rated a comment?

Next to the title of a comment are two numbers in parentheses.  (7+/2-) would indicate that seven people have recommended the comment and 2 people have hide-rated it.  Clicking on the numbers will show who has rated the comment.  Clicking on it again will hide the names.

What effects do ratings have?

Having your comments recommended increases your mojo.  Recommending comments also affects the recommender's mojo.

"If a comment has been hide-rated by two users and recommended by none, then that comment (and all replies to it) are automatically hidden. If a comment has been recommended at least once, then Hides must be applied to the ratio of 3x+1 (where x is the number of recommends) in order to hide that comment (again, all replies to the comment will also be hidden). Hidden comments and their responses can only be seen by Trusted Users."

If a commenter receives hide-ratings on a sufficient number of comments, that triggers an autoban.  The autoban formula is not publicly know, but kos has said that you need to receive a lot of HRs in a lot of different comments.  Piling on hide ratings does not trigger the autoban faster.  No amount of uprating will protect someone who has a history of being HRed.

What if I want to see hidden comments?

Trusted users can change their settings so that they can view hidden comments.  To do this, go to your profile and select "edit profile".  One of your options will be "Display hidden comments?"  The drop-down menu will have options of yes, no, or show until I hide rate.  In their "Welcome Back" box, trusted users can also click on "Hidden" to see a list of hidden comments.

Should I rate a comment?

It is up to you.  It is voluntary and there is no duty to recommend or HR any comment.  However, if you choose to HR someone who disagrees with you for incivility, you should be just as willing to HR people who agree with you if they break the same rules.  Ratings are a form of community moderation and this doesn't work as well if people adhere to double standards.

What are acceptable reasons for recommending a comment?

To the knowledge of the author of this FAQ, there has been no directive about what one can recommend, except for a prohibition again uprating comments that are HRable.

What are acceptable reasons for HRing a comment?

According to Hunter, "You're saying that the comment is so bad -- so disruptive or damaging to the community -- that it isn't worth even a debate, but should be deleted from the discussion as being simply inflammatory, simply off-topic, or simply a lie."

Can you be more specific?

  • "First" comments: in other internet forums, commenters in a new thread sometimes try to post a message along the lines of "first" in the first comment.  Not here.
  • Diary pimping: the practice of encouraging people to read an unrelated diary.  Diary pimping is permitted when relevant to the diary the comment is posted in.  It is also permitted in open threads.
  • Copyright violations: Copying entire copyrighted articles is not allowed.
  • Racist/sexist/bigoted language: such language is unwelcome.
  • Direct calls to violence : "Threatening to beat up or kill someone, or suggesting that people should kill themselves, or saying that poison should be put in somebody's crème brûlée, or making similar remarks, even as a joke, is prohibited and can lead to banning. This does not mean that all forms of cartoon violence, literary references, metaphors and the like are barred."  
  • Outing: "Revealing the real identity or other personal information of a registered user who has not him- or herself made that identity known at Daily Kos or otherwise given permission for such information to be publicly revealed will result in summary banning. Among other things, such revelations include, but are not limited to, phone numbers, addresses, including email addresses not publicly available at Daily Kos, places of employment or clients, gender, sexual orientation, and the identities of other family members. Asking hostile outing questions such as: Do you work at such and such a place? when research has shown this to be true or likely to be true is a form of outing and will be dealt with as such."

    "The rule is that unless the information is expressly made here by the user, it is not available for use here by others. A link to his website does not grant rights to publish personal information from that website. People have been banned for doing so.

  • Stalking: Thread stalking is defined as having three requirements:
    (1) On multiple occasions, one or more commenters follow a community member into diary threads; and,
    (2) The commenter(s) posts comments that include false information, personal attacks, lies, or implied/express disclosure of private information; and
    (3) The commenter(s) engages in this conduct with the intent to harass, harm, humiliate, frighten or intimidate another poster. This intent may be inferred from the number of times that the commenter follows a community member into threads and/or the nature of the comments posted.

    Stalking does not include the mere expression of disagreement, seeking out diaries or comments of favorite diarists or simply frequent interaction on the boards.  Certain topics, such as I/P (Israel/Palestine), have a group of posters who will inevitably come into regular contact because they have a common interest, not because they are stalking.

    Before calling someone a stalker or tossing HRs at a person thought to be a stalker, community members should post a comment explaining what conduct and/or statements constitute the stalking with a link to relevant evidence so that administrators and the community have a record to review.

  • Personal attacks on other users:  "Insults are HRable. Period".  Terms such as "Obamabot" or "firebagger" may be HRed, but people don't get warned or suspended for using them.  (Autoban may kick in for a user who is consistently getting HRed for insults.)  HRing an insult is voluntary.  Example of Meteor Blades saying he won't intervene if a user is HRed for "incessant name-calling".
  • Supporting conspiracy theories and other debunked talking points:  This includes claims that American, British, Israeli, or any government assisted in the attacks on 9/11.  Speculation can be wrong without being conspiracy theory.

    "This site needs to be grounded in reality for it to be successful. We compromise on that, and everything we've accomplished has been for naught."

  • Advocating for third parties: Advocating primaries is permitted.  Advocating not voting, even if it's a stupid idea, is permitted.  Advocating for a third party is not permitted.  Two exceptions are "places with fusion voting like NY when the Working Families Party has endorsed the Democrat. Or, in those rare cases where an election doesn't have a Democrat on the ballot" such as Bernie Sanders in Vermont.

    "Diary-pimping for Ron Paul - and promoting his candidacy - got people banned in 2008. And still does.

What are some unacceptable reasons for recc'ing or HRing a comment?

What about groups that coordinate off-site?

Using Facebook, Twitter, e-mails, and other media to coordinate and encourage users to recommend diaries is not against the rules and would be impossible to enforce, if it were.  By extrapolation, that suggests that coordination to uprate or HR comments is also permissible, so long as there is no ratings abuse.

What are some alternatives to HRing someone?

  • "When encountering someone who is breaking the rules as stated in the FAQ or behaving in a "trollish" manner, a user should first ask that person not to engage in rule-breaking. Even if the user has a long-standing disagreement with that person. If the response is to continue on the same route, then and only then should the user proceed to throwing HRs."
  • "The main way HR abusers should be moderated is by challenging them and asking them to take down their inappropriate HRs. But if they refuse, it is NOT inappropriate to HR them in return."
  • "There is nothing in the FAQ about HRing for HR abuse being against the rules. The rules state that one cannot engage in retaliatory HRing. And that one cannot engage in HRing someone with whom one is in a direct dispute. But that doesn't mean people not directly involved are forbidden to HR someone who engages in HR abuse."  However, "criticizing what you consider abuse is usually enough."
  • Simply ignoring "people trying to create strife from the opposition" is an acceptable option.

When should I recommend a tip jar?

The tip jar was created, in part, to allow readers to >a href"http://www.dailykos.com/story/2011/08/30/1011917/-On-tip-jars-and-auto-ban?detail=hide">"give props" without recommending the diary.

What about HRing Tip Jars?
HRing a tip jar should be done sparingly. "When you HR someone’s tip jar, what you are saying is that the diary is so disruptive, so inflammatory, so false, so damaging to our community that it isn’t even worth debating but should be deleted from any discussion. Unfortunately, inevitably, we will always be a target for such diaries. They deserve to be HRed. And for exactly that reason, tip jars that receive large numbers of HRs will come under special scrutiny from site administrators. On the other hand, a hide rating should never be used (in a tip jar or a comment) to express disagreement with a poster’s opinion.

A poorly written, ill-argued, tendentious diary may be the product of a troll, or it may simply be an upstanding member of the community having a bad day. When the latter seems to be the case, the best way to deal with the matter is probably a barbed comment or two.

Hide rating a tip jar is not intended to be used against anyone but the most obvious and egregious of trolls. To reiterate, if it's simply a matter of not liking the point of view in a diary, don’t tip or recommend the diarist. Make a comment. Debate. Challenge. Argue. Persuade. If your definition of obvious and egregious is consistently not the definition used by the rest of the community or by site administrators, expect your rating ability to be suspended."

HRing tip jars without an explanation (or rec'ing someone else's reasoning that you share) borders on HR abuse.

I know many people would like razor-sharp rules about this. But, ultimately, each person must her- or himself decide what makes a diary too disruptive, incendiary, et cetera, that it deserves an HR in the Tip Jar. It's subjective. Subjectivity cannot be done away with.

Do some users merit a "hide on site" policy?
A troll is not somebody who merely expresses a different point of view than yours. Moreover, a troll is not someone who normally engages in honest and productive discussion who occasionally slips into trollish behavior because s/he is provoked, has imbibed too much or because s/he's in a bad mood. Such behavior certainly deserves to be hide rated, but such commenters or diarists should not, based on one or two instances of misbehavior, be transformed into a "hide on sight" troll.

"Hide-on-site ratings, which is what you're doing here, ought to have an extremely high threshold. I'm not saying there aren't h-o-sers among the diarists in I/P discussions (and elsewhere, of course), there are. And HRing them every time you encounter them is acceptable. But anyone who engages in h-o-s should be able to defend it, not least of all by employing it across the board based on diarists'/commenters' behavior, not on disagreement with their opinions, the latter being unacceptable HR abuse."

HRing a HOS troll is not an exception to the rule of not HRing someone you are in a dispute with.

Here is an example of a troll who was explicitly described by Daily Kos staff as worthy of HOS.

What is the punishment for HR abuse?
Punishment has usually followed a trajectory of warning(s), suspension(s), then banning (or loss of ratings privileges, as appropriate).  

What are the primary documents used to compile this list?
The old Daily Kos FAQ
The DK4 FAQ
The Tao of Troll Rating by Hunter.
The diaries/posts and comments of Markos "kos" Moulitsas and Timothy "Meteor Blades" Lange


So, what else needs to go in here?  As I said before, a question such as "What is racism?" deserves its own FAQ.  I believe that documents such as FAQs should be broken up into several documents rather than being allowed to grow to an unwieldy size.  Both kos and Meteor Blades have expressed a distaste for big, fat rulebooks.  I suspect they both believe that more rules just creates more opportunities for internet "lawyers" to cause mischief by justifying bad behavior through a technicality or by hitting their opponents over the head with the rulebook.  I simply believe that fewer people will read it if it is too long.

Almost everything here is directly from authoritative sources.  I included what seems to me a very common-sense extrapolation about coordinating to rate comments from what has been said about coordinating to recommend diaries and I though long and hard before I included it.  Meteor Blades once said, "I urge people to extrapolate from the moderating comments I do make instead of taking the most narrow, legalistic approach and viewing my comment directed at one person as applying only to her or him and/or only someone with her or his point of view."

In doing the research for this, I have come to have great sympathy for those who have been thrust into an administrative moderation role.  Let me just give you one number: 617.  Meteor Blades once gave that as the number of e-mails that he had regarding moderation on a certain day.  If you've ever felt you had an email ignored, consider that.  

Originally posted to Anthony de Jesus on Mon Sep 26, 2011 at 03:53 PM PDT.

Also republished by Cranky Users.

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