Guide to rating comments at Bleeding Heartland

Some intensely competitive elections are coming up in Iowa, and naturally, Bleeding Heartland readers will have different preferences regarding the best Democratic candidate for governor, first Congressional district, or other races. I noticed some problems with comment ratings on this post about the Des Moines City Council at-large election, which pits two well-liked Democrats against each other.

It’s time for another reminder about the rules for rating comments at Bleeding Heartland, so I’ve posted them after the jump. “Zero” ratings can lead to comments being hidden from view and should not be used to signal your disagreement with the commenter. Doing so is ratings abuse. A “2” is sufficient to show that you strongly disagree with the person. If you have applied a 1 or zero rating to a comment based solely on your opinion, please go back to that diary and remove your rating from the comment.  

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What's a troll to do....

From Wikipedia:

In Internet slang, a troll is someone who posts inflammatory, extraneous, or off-topic messages in an online community, such as an online discussion forum, chat room or blog, with the primary intent of provoking other users into a desired emotional response[1] or of otherwise disrupting normal on-topic discussion.[2] In addition to the offending poster, the noun “troll” can also refer to the provocative message itself, as in that was an excellent troll you posted. While the term troll and its associated action, trolling, are primarily associated with Internet discourse, media attention in recent years has made such labels highly subjective, with trolling being used to describe many intentionally provocative actions outside of an online context.

There have been some recent discussions (comments, mostly) that are of the “troll” variety.  They ride a fine line, but I thought I would open a discussion of proper etiquette, self-identification, and the like.  For example, I'm pretty open that work for Iowa's Water & Land Legacy…the campaign working to pass Iowa's Water & Land Legacy constitutional amendment….Why are you here?  Why do you use a pseudonym? Discuss….

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A few reminders for Bleeding Heartland readers

It’s time for another post about guidelines for participating on this blog. Since the last time I covered this ground, many new users have registered at Bleeding Heartland, and competitive elections can bring out bad behavior on political blogs. Here are a few rules to keep in mind.

I welcome diaries by other contributors and will promote some of them to the front page. Diaries can be about any local, statewide or national subject you think would interest the Bleeding Heartland community. A news report or post at another blog can be the basis for a diary, but do not post lengthy excerpts or the entire text of copyrighted materials. Legal “fair use” involves posting a link to the original article and an excerpt of a few paragraphs. Going beyond that will get your diary deleted.

If you write a long diary, put the first few paragraphs in the “main text” section to let readers know what you’re writing about. The rest of your diary should go in the “extended text” section. E-mail me at desmoinesdem AT yahoo.com if you have trouble creating an account or posting diaries here.

The upcoming elections should provide plenty of material. You can offer your own take on one of the statewide races; last summer American007 posted early odds on Republican race for governor. You can take a longer view, like BJazz did in predicting that marriage equality is here to stay in Iowa. You can educate us, as ragbrai08 did in this post on “Redistricting the Iowa Way.” I would love to see detailed write-ups on state legislative campaigns, so if there’s a competitive Iowa House or Senate race going on in your corner of the state, please consider writing about how the campaign looks from the ground and local media reports.

You can put a personal spin on your diary. For instance, PrairieBreezeCheese mentioned how unemployment affected his own family in this post about the need for different priorities at the Federal Reserve. I love first-person accounts of candidate forums and town-hall meetings. You don’t have to be as detailed as John Deeth (though that is useful). You can write up highlights from the event, like IowaVoter did for one of Chuck Grassley’s meetings in 2008 and iowademocrat did for a Tom Harkin meeting on health care reform last summer.

I can’t keep track of everything going on at the statehouse, so go ahead and write about specific bills being considered if you think those are newsworthy. Sean Flaherty brought a bill on post-election audits to our attention recently.

While this is a Democratic blog, feel free to criticize Democratic candidates or elected officials where warranted. (I wasn’t a cheerleader in high school, and I’m not interested in being one now.) If you have a beef with a fellow Democrat, though, you need to do more than call names. For instance, if you are upset about a bill that Iowa House or Senate Democrats are or are not supporting, tell us the bill number, what the bill does, and why that’s a good or bad idea. If you feel someone is running a bad campaign, explain what you don’t like about the campaign strategy and/or how it could be better.

Bleeding Heartland commenters and diarists can write under any screen name they choose. No one is required to reveal real names or any personal information. “Outing” other Bleeding Heartland users will get you banned here. I do ask Bleeding Heartland users not to make false statements about themselves. You’re free to never mention your age, gender or location, but if you say you are a 40-year-old, Jewish mother living in Windsor Heights, you should be a 40-year-old Jewish mother living in Windsor Heights.

I also ask that you stick to one username whenever you comment at Bleeding Heartland. In other words, creating “sock puppets” to lend support for your own position is not acceptable.

Democratic candidates are welcome to post here, and I generally promote their diaries to the front page. In order to avoid problems that have cropped up at other political blogs, I ask paid campaign staffers to disclose that fact if they write about the campaign they’re working on. However, someone employed by a campaign can post anonymously about topics not related to that candidate’s race.

Bleeding Heartland has fortunately attracted very few trolls. Registered users can rate comments, and comments are hidden if they receive too many “zero” ratings. I posted some guidelines for rating comments here and re-posted those after the jump.

Final reminder: a free Bleeding Heartland application is available for iPhone or Android users. The application lets you read posts, view recent topics covered, and search for stories containing certain names or keywords. The application can also send you alerts (free text messages) within a few minutes whenever a new post goes up here, and lets you access the story faster than if you used your phone’s web browser. After the jump I’ve posted a couple of screen shots of the new application, which looks the same on iPhone and Android. Here is the link for the Bleeding Heartland iPhone application at the iTunes store. Android users, including those who have Android 1.5, can find it by searching for “Bleeding Heartland” on your phone.

Feedback and suggestions about the blog are welcome in this thread.  

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A few guidelines for diarists and commenters at Bleeding Heartland

Traffic at Bleeding Heartland has increased in the last few months with the growing interest in the upcoming elections. For the benefit of new users, I want to restate some guidelines for this community.

Anonymity is respected at Bleeding Heartland, and people are free to write under a username of their choosing.

Exposing or threatening to expose the real name or other identifying details of any Bleeding Heartland user will not be tolerated.  The admin will delete accounts and posts by anyone who breaks this rule.

Each person who writes here should stick to one username for Bleeding Heartland. Creating “sock puppets” will lead to banning.

It’s fine to write under one screen name at Bleeding Heartland while continuing to use different names at other blogs.

It’s also ok to abandon one username and choose a new name, as long as you are consistent in using the new identity here.

While no one has to reveal any personal details here, I ask people not to make false statements about themselves either. You’re free to never mention your gender, age or place of residence at Bleeding Heartland, but if you say you are a thirty-something mom of two living in Windsor Heights, you should be a thirty-something mom of two living in Windsor Heights.

I also want to repost some guidelines for rating other people’s comments at this blog:

You don’t have to rate comments (my personal style is to be sparing in handing out ratings), but if you do, you can give five possible ratings.

“4” is for excellent. That means the comment has valuable insight, original information or analysis, and makes a strong contribution to dialogue at Bleeding Heartland.

“3” is for good. You might use this if you largely agree with someone’s comment, but not with every point he or she makes.

“2” is for marginal. You might use this if you strongly disagree with the content of someone’s comment. Also, a 2 rating could be a “shot across the bow” to warn someone that the line of argument in the comment didn’t do much to advance dialogue here, or comes close to crossing a line.

“1” is for unproductive. If you not only strongly disagree with a comment, but feel that it detracts from the atmosphere here (for instance, because it is disrespectful or contains ad hominem attacks), you might give it a 1.

“0” is for troll. If more than one user gives a comment a zero, it will be hidden so that some Bleeding Heartland readers cannot see it.

Never use a zero rating to express disagreement with the argument someone is making. That is ratings abuse, and if you do it repeatedly, Bleeding Heartland administrators will either take away your ability to rate comments or potentially ban you from posting here.

A zero rating should be reserved for extreme circumstances, when the comment deserves to be hidden. For instance, if someone is impersonating someone else by choosing a different real person’s name as a screen name (for instance, if I signed up as “Leonard Boswell” and posted ridiculous comments pretending to come from him).

Comments that use racist or otherwise bigoted language also would merit a zero.

Trying to expose the real names of Bleeding Heartland users who choose to write under screen names will not be tolerated either.

Slanderous, ad hominem attacks could get a zero rating too, but be careful not to accuse other posters of slander just because you disagree with their point of view or interpretation of events.

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Warning to sock puppets

When you post a comment at Bleeding Heartland, your IP address appears in the comment.

If you sign up for a bunch of new usernames and post multiple comments in the same diary, pretending to be several different people, it will be obvious because the same IP address will appear in your comments purporting to come from different individuals.

Do not use sock puppets to create the impression that a lot of Bleeding Heartland users agree with you. Pick one username and stick with it for the purposes of writing diaries and commenting here.

Sock puppetry is grounds for banning at most blogs, and Bleeding Heartland is no exception.

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A few words on rating comments at Bleeding Heartland

The past few days have been intense for candidates and their advocates, and unfortunately we’ve run into some problems with how comments at Bleeding Heartland are rated.

I take part of the blame for not posting clear guidelines on this subject before now.

You don’t have to rate comments (my personal style is to be sparing in handing out ratings), but if you do, you can give five possible ratings.

“4” is for excellent. That means the comment has valuable insight, original information or analysis, and makes a strong contribution to dialogue at Bleeding Heartland.

“3” is for good. You might use this if you largely agree with someone’s comment, but not with every point he or she makes.

“2” is for marginal. You might use this if you strongly disagree with the content of someone’s comment. Also, a 2 rating could be a “shot across the bow” to warn someone that the line of argument in the comment didn’t do much to advance dialogue here, or comes close to crossing a line.

“1” is for unproductive. If you not only strongly disagree with a comment, but feel that it detracts from the atmosphere here (for instance, because it is disrespectful or contains ad hominem attacks), you might give it a 1.

“0” is for troll. If more than one user gives a comment a zero, it will be hidden so that some Bleeding Heartland readers cannot see it.

Never use a zero rating to express disagreement with the argument someone is making. That is ratings abuse, and if you do it repeatedly, Bleeding Heartland administrators will either take away your ability to rate comments or potentially ban you from posting here.

A zero rating should be reserved for extreme circumstances, when the comment deserves to be hidden. For instance, if someone is impersonating someone else by choosing a different real person’s name as a screen name (for instance, if I signed up as “Leonard Boswell” and posted ridiculous comments pretending to come from him).

Comments that use racist or otherwise bigoted language also would merit a zero.

Trying to expose the real names of Bleeding Heartland users who choose to write under screen names will not be tolerated either.

Slanderous, ad hominem attacks could get a zero rating too, but be careful not to accuse other posters of slander just because you disagree with their point of view or interpretation of events.  

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