# Trolls

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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