Below are final draft rules incorporating feedback I've seen the last week. It's a "final" draft, but of course we can always tweak.
Also, before we get into the rules, I saw Bob Johnson's diary about the problems with the new instant posting. When we first added the waiting period, the idea was to weed out ideological trolls. When we eliminated that waiting period, our fear was that we'd be swamped with conservatives or third-party trolls. Instead, we've been hit hard with commercial spam. Who knew commercial spammers were being weeded out with a one-day waiting period?
We're in total agreement with everyone who thinks this is a problem and are already working on a technological solution to the problem. If that doesn't work, we might have to go back to the waiting period, but let's give this tech solution a shot. It's being implemented as we speak. Okay, now on to the new community guidelines:
One rule to rule them all
The core of the Daily Kos behavior guide is simple: don't be a dick. While we go into some depth below about sanctionable behavior, it's not an all-encompassing list. There are always types of behavior that while not listed below, rise to the level of "dickishness", and as such are actionable.
But below is a list of some of the more common violations, as well as things that are not actionable.
Our new reporting tools make it easier to track hidden comments and who HR'd them. If we determine that a comment should not have been hidden, those dropping the Hide Ratings will lose their ratings ability for a period of time, progressively longer for each infraction until that ability is removed forever. Uprating personal insults is as bad if not worse than making the insult itself because this rewards the insulters and encourages them to continue the same behavior. Doing so will likewise cost users their ratings privileges for a period, with long penalties for repeat infractions. In baseball, a tie goes to the runner. At Daily Kos, any gray area will be decided in favor of the commenter. So if you're not sure that something should be HR'd, then don't. Because if the situation is that iffy, chances are that it'll be you who gets burned. HRs are for clear and obvious violations.
2. Threats or calls to violence.
I grew up in a country where people were killed for their political beliefs. It's not fun. Violence has no place in our political discourse. It's not kosher to wish violence against each other, and it's not cool to wish it against our enemies. This does not mean that all forms of cartoon violence, literary references, metaphors and the like are barred. It does mean that 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
Any language designed to denigrate someone on the basis of race, sex, sexual orientation, religion, nationality, physical appearance, etc. is prohibited. Leave that shit to the Republicans.
4. Revealing a pseudonymous user's real identity.
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. This applies to those who have taken the proper care to protect their real identity. Now, if someone has outed themselves anywhere online, like their personal blog or a link to their Facebook profile, then they've outed themselves.
5. Dramatic exits.
Registered users who write GBCW [Goodbye, Cruel World] diaries – saying they are leaving and never coming back – will be banned after their diary is published. Users who change their minds may return to Daily Kos only after appealing to admins for reinstatement. Overly dramatic or repeated TTFN (Ta-Ta For Now) diaries will be treated the same as GBCWs.
It is impossible to have a real debate when you call the other party, say, "batshit insane." At that point, you're not engaging in debate, you're just engaging in a pissing match. And while that may be fun for you, it isn't fun for anyone else. So maintain a sense of decorum. There are plenty of people on the site who avoid HRs despite engaging in the most contentious topics. It can be done. Just be courteous and stick to the facts.
This is a fun one, because it truly is subjective on a variety of levels. Threadjacking is diverting a comment thread from its original focus. Based on this definition, it's actually hard to find any comment thread with more than 10 comments that doesn't have some threadjacking involved. Our diaries are less of a dictate on what to discuss, and more of a starting point for a free-wheeling discussion. So 99 percent of threadjacking is fine, and actually is what makes our comment threads so much fun.
The actual problem is with malicious threadjacking — the kind of threadjacking designed to derail a productive conversation, whether because the 'jacker hates the diarist, or because s/he is unhappy with the topic of discussion. This is obviously a problem in areas in which the community is internally divided. And it's one of those things that can't be easily defined.
The best way to call out an explicit threadjack is when it occurs together with a violation of one of the other rules — usually the one against personal insults.
Following a particular user around to reply directly after them in any thread they post whether or not you are truly interested in the topic, only to harass or intimidate, is not allowed. This is easy to declare, but one of the most difficult infractions to police. Some of the emails I get alleging this infraction include examples spaced months apart. I think legitimate threadstalking has to be confined to a shorter period of time and the volume has to be excessive.
Still, you know the best way to counter a threadstalker? Ignore him or her. Act like they don't exist. The more hysterical your reaction, the more you validate their efforts.
9. Pack behavior.
Yes, we're aware cliques exist, and we're aware that they coordinate, oftentimes offsite, their efforts against their enemies on the site. And if you think that's petty and a little bit pathetic, we would be in agreement. That said, the power of these cliques to cause harm should be lessened by more stringent policing of those doing the HRs or inappropriate uprates. Remember, the fact that people come together to work together is not a problem — it's kind of a point of the site. The problem is the behavior, and we think we have a way to remedy that.
The following is prohibited: the promotion of commercial products unrelated to the site's mission. Multiple diaries or comments repeating the same information over and over again. The use of the site to aggressively and systematically promote another web property, without fully engaging on this one.
11. Copyright violations.
Do not steal other people's content, whether it's words or pictures, without explicit permission to do so. Doing so is a bannable offense.
Simultaneous use of separate user accounts is prohibited, with one exception listed below. You may abandon a username and create a new one at any time, as long as the old account remains abandoned forever. The one exception is that you're allowed a second organizational account (say, an advocacy group or campaign) as long as 1) you disclose the fact that you have two accounts, and identify your personal one, and 2) you do not use one account to uprate or recommend the other.
Incidentally, our ability to sniff out sockpuppets has gotten pretty good. Don't fall under the temptation to do so.
13. Conspiracy theories
Extraordinary claims require evidence. If you don't have evidence, don't make the claim. So such things as "Bush was behind (or let happen) 9-11 attacks", or "the Mossad executed the London Tube bombings", or "Diebold stole the 2004 elections" are not allowed. Linking to discredited conspiracy sites isn't "providing evidence". If you want to trade in unsubstantiated craziness, you are in luck! The internet has about a million resources for you. Daily Kos just isn't one of them.
14. Third-party advocacy
Daily Kos is dedicated to building a stronger, more progressive Democratic Party from the outside. We are not a party committee, we are base Democrats pulling the party to a more populist mainstream orientation. As such, we do not allow advocacy for any other party, whether it's the GOP, or the Greens, or anyone else. The exception is in states with fusion voting, where third parties are working in concert with Democratic-party endorsed or nominated candidates. But any party looking to harm the electoral prospects of Democratic candidates run counter to our mission, and must take that advocacy elsewhere. Lucky for them, it's a big internet!
15. Unfounded accusations of being paid hacks or zombies
Charging that a commenter is a paid troll or formerly banned user is a great way to delegitimize a user, and is particularly problematic against new users or those who seldom participate. As noted above, extraordinary claims should require evidence. People are too quick to jump to the conclusion that "the only reason anyone would disagree with me is because they're being paid" and such claims are toxic to debate and are as such, now banned.
On the other hand, people are REALLY good at sniffing out zombies. So if you think you've got a live one, drop a note to the Help Desk with your supporting evidence and we'll be more quick to research and act on it than if you just leave comments in a thread that we might miss.
I don't care about language. We're adults. If potty words make your ears bleed, I recommend Disney.com. Of course, there's a difference between "that's fucking awesome!" or "that's fucked up!" and "fuck you" or "you're a fucking asshole." If you know the difference, you're an adult.
There is one exception: diary titles. We don't allow obscenities in diary titles not because we're prudes -- we've established that we're not, but because it could cause Daily Kos to be blocked by internet filtering software, making the site unavailable at certain libraries, companies, and government buildings.
If you wrote it, we don't care where you post it. So feel free to take your own blog's content and slap it up on Daily Kos, including a link to your own blog. However, take note of the spamming restrictions above.
1. Debate-free zones.
Some users have asked about the ability to declare their diary off-limits to their detractors, so that they can discuss a topic without having opponents intrude. This would apply to internally contentious issues like Israel-Palestine, Snowden-NSA, and guns. Or primaries where the community is divided among the contenders.
While I find some validity in the request, and considered it deeply, fact is it conflicts with the debate-centric focus of the site. We're not an echo chamber, nor do I want it to become one. So if you want to be spared dissent, Daily Kos just won't be the place for you. If you can't handle dissent, then maybe political activism is not the thing for you.
There is one exception to this rule (the I Got The News Today diary highlighting those who lost their lives in our wars). There might be cause for additional exceptions in the future, but permission to do so can only come from site administration.
1. Relevant disclosure.
Registered users working in paid (or unpaid positions of authority) for political campaigns must disclose their affiliation when it is relevant to the conversation. If you don't, and we catch you, we won't just ban you, but out you and do everything we can to publicly embarrass your employer.
2. Tag editing.
Tags are designed to help folks search for information. Editing tags should be limited to correcting obvious typos, adding legitimate categories, or deleting abusive and derogatory language. Use of abusive language or other malicious editing in tags is a bannable offense.
Several people have scammed site users with scammy fundraising campaigns. There's been some desire to ban all fundraising activities as a result. However, there have also been serious and legitimate fundraising drives and we have no desire to curtail community attempts to support each other and their endeavours. So when someone outside of site staff attempts to fundraise off the community, caveat emptor applies. You are adults. It's your money.